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

Sexual Reformers

Portrait of Kurt Hiller (Picture: Lotte Jacobi)

Kurt Hiller, J.D.

1885 – 1972 – Lawyer and Author

After the publication of his law dissertation “The Right over One’s Self,” he came in contact with Hirschfeld in 1908 via Arthur Kronfeld. Hiller joined the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee (WhK), in which he was a member until its end.

Hiller was critical, if not dismissive, of Hirschfeld’s theories on sexual intermediaries. However, this did not prevent him from working intensively with Hirschfeld in the WhK, nor from writing two respect-winning obituaries for Hirschfeld after 1945.

In 1926, on Hirschfeld’s recommendation, Hiller revised the “counter proposal” of the “Cartel for the Reform of the Sexual Penal Code.” After intensive debate about the future tactics of the WhK (which culminated in Hirschfeld’s resignation from the chairmanship on November 24, 1929), Hiller was elected as the second chairperson of the WhK. He held this position until the dissolution of the WhK.

In addition to his engagement for the rights of homosexuals, he was a well-known activist for pacifism in the 1920s. In 1933 he was arrested three times, was held in the Columbia House, and later in the concentration camps Brandenburg and Sachsenhausen. After being released in 1934, he succeeded in escaping first to Prague and then to London. From there, he returned to Hamburg in 1955, where he tried to reestablish the WhK in 1962. However, he remained alone in his efforts.

Portrait of Helene Stöckervergrößern
Portrait of Helene Stöcker (Hirschfeld: Geschlechtskunde. vol.4, Stuttgart 1930, p.886)

Helene Stöcker, Ph.D.

1869 – 1943 – Philosopher, Publicist, and Women’s Activist

Helene Stöcker was the organizer and prophet of the so-called radical wing of the bourgeois women’s movement. She propagated a “new ethic” for one’s sex life that was based on the ideal of love of German Romanticism and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche.

Stöcker engaged herself in the struggle for the right of a woman to study, and was one of the first female students at the Berlin University (Art History, Philosophy, National Economics) In 1901 she completed her doctor title in Bern. She then lived as an independent publicist in Berlin and gave speeches and lectures at the Lessing-College.

In 1905 was co-founded the Federation for the Protection of Mothers. She led the Federation until its end in 1933 (even though she was never officially its chairperson) and edited the organ of the Federation: “Protection of Mothers: Journal for the Reform of Sexual Ethics” from 1904-07, from 1908-33 “The New Generation.”

The fight against the penal code draft of 1909 that would also criminalize female homosexuality, brought Stöcker in closer contact with Hirschfeld and the WhK (Scientific-Humanitarian Committee). In 1912, she became a member of the WhK. In the twenties, she took part in the Cartel for the Reform of the Sexual Penal Code and in the founding of the World League for Sexual Reform.

Since the First World War, an additional focal point of her work was the fight against war and militarism. After the Reichstag was burned, Helene Stöcker left Berlin. She then went to Czechoslovakia; from there she went to the United States in 1941 via Switzerland, England, Sweden, and the Soviet Union. At that time, she already suffered from heart disease and cancer.

Portrait of Georg Plockvergrößern
Portrait of Georg Plock (1910) (Jahrbuch für sexuelle Zwischenstufen vol. XXII, Leipzig, 1922, no. 3/4)

Georg Plock

1865-1930 – Pastor

Plock was a former pastor. After he served a prison term stemming from a homosexual affair, Liberal politician Friedrich Naumann asked Hirschfeld to “look after him.”

From 1919 to 1923, Plock worked at the Institute as chief secretary of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee. In 1923 he took over as editor of the homosexual journal “Die Freundschaft” (Friendship).

Photograph of a private theatrical performance in Berlin. Peter Limann (right) plays an excentric female depart-ment store customer. Hellmuth Astfalck (left), architect and co-editor of the Institute’s journal “Die Aufklärung”, plays the nerve-racked shop-assistant. The photograph was taken by his wife, the famous photographer Martha Astfalck-Vietz. (Picture: Martha Astfalck-Vietz)

Peter Limann

Limann worked at the Institute as second secretary of the “Scientific-humanitarian Committee” (Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee) from 1923 to 1929. He systematized the Committee-archives and organized the press and public relations service. In 1928, he lectured students taking part in the Institute’s training programme.

From 1928 to 1929, he lived with his friend, Richard Linsert, on the Institute’s ground-floor.

After they moved out and took lodgings elsewhere, Limann set up an arts and crafts shop in their new flat.

Portrait of Richard Linsertvergrößern
Portrait of Richard Linsert (Kaiser: Liebeslehre. Berlin 1928, p. XV)

Richard Linsert

1899-1933 – Commercial clerk, communist, sexual reformer

After working as a commercial clerk, he joined the Institute on recommendation of the jurist Kurt Hiller in 1923. Here he took up his post as secretary of the “Scientific-humanitarian Committee” (Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee). From 1926, he was head of the “Department of Sexual Reform” and organized public question-and-answer evenings on sexual matters in the Institute’s lecture hall.

It was owing to his active commitment that a call for the scrapping of § 175, the homosexual clause, found entrance into the Communist Party of Germany’s (KPD) programme.

After falling out politically with Hirschfeld and parting from the Institute, he set up the “Sexological Archives” in 1930, with former Institute physicians offering their cooperation. He remained secretary of the “Scientific-humanitarian Committee” right up to his death.

Group photographvergrößern
Group photograph with participants in the Congress of the World League for Sexual Reform in Brno, 1932: Felix Abraham, Wilhelm Kauffmann, Norman Haire (in front, from left to right) (Magnus-Hirschfeld Society)

Wilhelm Kauffmann

Civil servant, writer

After 25 years in the civil service, he was dismissed in 1929 following disciplinary action because of a homosexual love affair.
He then worked at the Institute as head of the “sexual reform department”, later to become secretary of the “World League for Sexual Reform”. Kauffmann lectured at the Institute on sexual penal law. He ran a publishing company which brought out “Sexus”, the mouthpiece of the “World League for Sexual Reform”, whose international congresses he attended in Vienna,1930, and in Brno,1932.