Days of Masquerade: Life Stories of Lesbians During the Third Reich

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Columbia University Press, 1996 - History - 158 pages
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In Days of Masquerade Claudia Schoppmann offers the first in-depth account of lesbians living in Germany during the Third Reich. Through a series of interviews, Schoppmann recounts the lives of perpetrators, bystanders, and victims: women who fought against Hitler's regime, others who married gay men to ward off suspicion, and one who remained active despite fairly clear pronouncements of her sexuality.
Schoppmann enriches these vivid oral histories with the findings of her archival research, including a fascinating look at Nazi policy papers. She explores the drive toward sexual emancipation in Imperial and Weimar Germany and presents a comprehensive overview of Nazi attitudes and policies toward homosexual men and women. Identifying ways in which the Nazi positions were highly gender-specific, she points out that lesbianism was seen as less reprehensible than male homosexuality, since it was not considered a threat to women's reproductive potential.
Days of Masquerade demonstrates that lesbianism, though not criminalized or subjected to systematic persecution as was male homosexuality, was driven underground by the Nazis, the thriving lesbian communities that had flourished during the Weimar Republic effectively destroyed.
An eloquent reminder of the "forgotten victims" of the Third Reich, Days of Masquerade also points out that the experiences of gay men and lesbians during the Nazi era were not one and the same. As a major chapter in the social history of lesbians, Schoppmann's work opens new doors for students of lesbian and gay history, women's studies, and modern German and European history.

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About the author (1996)

Claudia Schoppmann is a writer on German women's history. She is the author of Nationalsozialistische Sexualpolitik und weibliche Homosexualitaet(1991), on Nazi politics and female homosexuality, and coeditor of Nach der sho geborren(1994), on second generation Jewish women in Germany. She lives in Berlin and works for Geschichtswerkstatt, a local history project. Allison Brown has translated several books, including with Belinda Cooper, H. Bredekamp's Anti-Semitism in the Federal Republic of Germany (1995), as well as numerous articles and papers. She lives in Berlin.

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