Institute for Sexual Science (1919-1933)Online-Exhibition by the Magnus-Hirschfeld Society

The Number One Address in Berlin

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Location of the Institute’s premises (map detail, 1896)

On July 6, 1919, Magnus Hirschfeld made an old dream come true: the Institute for Sexual Sience was inaugurated. During the Weimar Republic’s initial phase of political emergence, Hirschfeld attempted to establish sexual sience as an autonomous discipline by founding the Institute. 6

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Location of the Institute’s premises (Congress Hall) marker: Location of a Hirschfeld memorial (map detail, 1989)

In 1918/1919, Hirschfeld, therefore, set up a foundation “for the advancement of scientific research into all aspects of sexual life and of sex education”. The Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation was recognized as a charitable organization. Both Foundation and Institute were backed – anonymously – by wealthy benefactors because fees and rental failed to meet the Institute’s running costs.

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marker red/right: Location of the Institute’s premises (Congress Hall), marker green/left: Location of a Hirschfeld memorial (plan of the Spreebogen location for the new Government buildings – plans by Axel Schulte, November, 1993)

On the one hand, the Institute for Sexual Sience perceived itself as an institution involved in counseling work, treatment of patients and sex education and, on the other, as a place of research harnessing its findings for the benefit of envisaged sexual reforms. Several sexual-political organizations had their headquarters at the Institute. This diverse orientation made the Institute the number one address for those threatened by prevailing sex laws. By linking sexual research and sexual policies, it became a unique institution in the world, drawing visitors from all spheres of society – politics, science and the arts.

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Plan of the sites around 1937 (Archives of the Land of Berlin, rep. 202, acc. 1559, no. 2160)
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Entrance of 9a In den Zelten (“Unsere Arbeit” / second report, 1924)
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Institute for Sexual Science (Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation) Berlin, 9a and 10 In den Zelten / 3 Beethoven Street Conducted by Sanitätsrat Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (Hirschfeld: Geschlechtskunde, vol. 4, Stuttgart, 1930, p. 851)