In this history of the sexual laws, beliefs and practices before, during and after the Nazi regime, Herzog, an associate professor at Michigan State University, proves yet again that the personal is the political. Contraceptive techniques, the treatment of sexual minorities, the prevalence of pornography, how people talked-or didn't-about sexual practices all come under Herzog's examination as she argues that if we set sexual practices aside as "irrelevant, we lose the opportunities to comprehend the extraordinary appeal of Nazism both to those Germans who sought the restoration of conservative family values and to those who benefited from Nazism's loosening of conventional mores." Herzog begins by pointing out that, while popular accounts often portray Nazi Germany as sexually repressive, the reality was much more complicated. Most Germans, she explains, were actually urged to "seek and experience sexual pleasure" since the conception of healthy, heterosexual Aryans was high on the list of Nazi priorities. Yet, at the same time, "sexual demonization was a pervasive feature of antisemitism," and the Nazis often portrayed Jews as carnal, bestial creatures while equating Christians with purity and spirituality. And Nazism continues to leave its mark on German sexuality today, Herzog argues as she guides readers through the collapse of communism and the rebellions of the 1960s all the way to the present. Though perhaps too dense for most lay readers, Herzog's book succeeds elegantly as both a scholarly history of sexual morality in Germany and an examination of the way this history is so often distorted in the present day.
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Honorable Mention for the 2005 Bonnie and Vern L. Bullough Award
"Herzog's book succeeds elegantly as both a scholarly history of sexual morality in Germany and an examination of the way this history is so often distorted in the present day."--Publishers Weekly
"Forcefully argued and elegantly written. . . . Herzog's passionate insistence on the centrality of sexuality as an explanatory category and on the uncomfortably tight link between pleasure and evil provides fresh and bold insight into two of modern German history's most confounding questions: how National Socialism established and maintained its 'extraordinary appeal' and, conversely, how postwar Germans managed to morph so quickly into peaceful stability."--Atina Grossmann, American Historical Review
"Sex after Fascism
is one of the best books of the past twenty years on the history of sexuality, and certainly the best book on this particular subject."--Thomas Laqueur, BookForum
"Dagmar Herzog's source-rich and solidly researched analysis surprises and challenges; it convinces over and over again through an unpretentious presentation of forgotten facts and connections. With nuance and yet also with clarity, the American historian shows how human beings who talk about sex are always also talking about other things entirely--and thereby revealing much about themselves."--Urs Rauber, Neue Zürcher Zeitung
"An always provocative and fascinating account of 20th-century German social, political, and cultural history. . . . Herzog provides valuable insights for an understanding of the historical contretemps and conundrums of 20th century Europe."--Jane Slaughter, Labour/Le Travail
"In this forcefully argued and elegantly written book, Dagmar Herzog delivers a truly provocative--in the best sense of thought-and-debate provoking--reconsideration of ruptures and continuities across the three regimes of National Socialism, state socialism, and democratic capitalism 'through the lens' of sexual discourses and practices."--Atina Grossmann, Europe: Early Modern and Modern
"Sex after Fascism
is an original contribution. . . . Dagmar Herzog analyzes shifting attitudes towards two seemingly separate strands of cultural expression: sexual morality and discourse on memory. . . . Fascinating and stimulating reading."--Björn Krondorfer, German Studies Review
"[A] brilliant, deeply researched and beautifully written book. . . . Sex After Fascism
is one of the best books of the past twenty years on the history of sexuality, and certainly the best book on this particular subject. But it is also a book for anyone who wants to figure out why homophobia, antifeminism, and a passionate opposition to abortion and premarital sex have become the emotional core of right-wing politics in the United States."--Thomas Laqueur, Artforum International
"This study is highly original, deeply researched, and lucidly written, providing pioneering work on the history of sexuality in twentieth-century Germany and challenging and reshaping the extensive scholarship on memory and the Holocaust."--Mary Nolan, The Historian
"It is hard to imagine a more brilliant, original, and passionate reading of German discourses of sex and fascism, from the 1930s to the present, than this work offers. As scholars dig deeper, they may revise some of Herzog's conclusions. But they will have come to the task in large part because Herzog has so profoundly challenged our thinking on the history of sexuality, Nazism, and its aftermath."--Elizabeth Heineman, Journal of Modern History
"This is a conceptually 'big,' enormously ambitious, and stimulating book, one that tackles head-on a whole range of complex, interesting, and important questions and offers a wealth of convincing and exciting insights. Herzog's discussion of the sexual politics . . . is superb. All in all, whether historians agree or disagree with particular aspects of Herzog's account, the book is a bold contribution, one that will be fruitful not only because it offers readers important and original insights, but also because it will generate important questions."--Edward Ross Dickenson, Central European History
"Dagmar Herzog's study is a magisterial account. . . . Well researched, solidly reasoned, and drawing on a great wealth of resources ranging from low-brow magazines to highly theoretical treatises, it will establish itself as a standard reference work for the study of German civilization and its (post-)modern (dis-)contents."--Frederick A. Lubich, Monatshefte
"[Dagmar Herzog] has succeeded in producing one of the most thought provoking and erudite booles that the field has seen in recent years. Her arguments are impressively grounded in a thorough contextual familiarity with the whole of the twentieth century in Germany. . . . Dagmar Herzog challenges us to think afresh about topics that have sometimes been taboo yet have a crucial bearing on the march of history."--Geoffrey J. Giles, Journal of the History of Sexuality