An Award For Sexuality In Cold War East Germany

Related Articles

Love In The Time Of Communism

Three historians from the University of Bristol are celebrating success in the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History, awarded by the Wiener Library, London.

Dr Josie McLellan’s book Love In The Time Of Communism: Intimacy and Sexuality in the GDR has been named joint winner of the 2011 prize category for established authors.  Dr Tim Cole’s book Traces of the Holocaust: Journeying In and Out of the Ghettos was specially commended. This follows a special commendation for Dr Juliane Fürst’s book Stalin’s Last Generation: Soviet Postwar Youth and the Emergence of Mature Socialism in the same category in 2010.


Drs Cole, Fürst and McLellan are the nucleus of a team of social and cultural historians at the forefront of innovative research and creative teaching of contemporary European history.  Students at Bristol have already benefited from their prize-winning research, in the form of undergraduate and postgraduate units on ‘Holocaust Landscapes’, ‘Goodbye Lenin: Culture, Society and Dissent in the USSR’, and ‘German Bodies’, amongst others.

Dr Cole has recently commenced a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship to write a major monograph on Holocaust Landscapes, while Dr Fürst and Dr McLellan hold an AHRC research grant to investigate subcultures in late socialism.  Dr Fürst is writing the first study of hippies in the Soviet Union, while Dr McLellan is investigating gay subcultures and activism in East Germany.  Current research students are pursuing projects on a range of topics from building managers in wartime Budapest to the black market in music in 1980s Russia.

Dr Josie McLellan‘s book Love In The Time Of Communism: Intimacy and Sexuality in the GDR (Cambridge University Press, 2011) examines the history of sexuality in Cold War East Germany.  Drawing on sources ranging from secret police files to private collections of erotica, Dr McLellan finds that ordinary citizens had a surprising degree of power over their private lives, resulting in soaring rates of nudism, divorce, abortion, and single parenthood. Nevertheless, the state kept a firm grip on the public discussion of sexuality, and was ever eager to turn sex to its own ends, whether in the use of prostitutes as Stasi informers, or the inclusion of topless young women in official parades.

Dr Tim Cole’s Traces of the Holocaust: Journeying In and Out of the Ghettos (Continuum, 2011) adopts an innovative multi-perspectival approach framed around a wide variety of material traces – from receipts to maps, name lists to photographs – to tell stories of journeys into and out of Hungarian ghettos. These stories of the perpetrators who oversaw ghettoization and deportation, the bystanders who witnessed and aided these journeys, and the victims who undertook them reveal the spatio-temporal dimensions of the Holocaust.  But they also point to the visibility of these events within the ordinary spaces of the city, the importance of an economic assault on Jews and the marked gendering of the Holocaust in Hungary.

In Stalin’s Last Generation: Soviet Postwar Youth and the Emergence of Mature Socialism (Oxford University Press, 2010), Dr Juliane Fürst creates a detailed picture of late Stalinist youth and youth culture, looking at young people from a variety of perspectives: as children of the war, as recipients and creators of propaganda, as perpetrators of crime, as representatives of fledgling subcultures, as believers, as critics, and as drop-outs. In the process, she illuminates not only the complex relationship between the Soviet state and its youth, but also provides a new interpretative framework for understanding late Stalinism – the impact of which on Soviet society’s subsequent development has hitherto been underestimated, including its role in the ultimate demise of the USSR.

The Fraenkel Prize, sponsored by Mr Ernst Fraenkel OBE, joint President of the Wiener Library and former Chairman, is awarded for an outstanding work of twentieth-century history in one of the Library’s fields of interest, that is the political history of Central and Eastern Europe; Jewish history; the two world wars; anti-semitism; and the ideologies and movements of political extremism and totalitarianism.

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic


Prehistoric killing machine exposed

Judging by its massive, bone-crushing teeth, gigantic skull and powerful jaw, there is no doubt that the Anteosaurus, a premammalian reptile that roamed the African continent 265 to 260 million years ago - during a period known as the middle Permian - was a ferocious carnivore.

Noushabad – The Hidden Underground City

Noushabed, also called Oeei or Ouyim is an ancient subterranean city, built beneath the small town of Nushabad in present-day Iran.

10 British Iron Age Hill Forts

A hill fort is a type of earthworks used as a fortified refuge or defended settlement, located to exploit a rise in elevation for defensive advantage.

Stabiae – The Roman Resort Buried by Mount Vesuvius

Stabiae was an ancient Roman town and seaside resort near Pompeii, that was largely buried during the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius in present-day Italy.

Astronomers Accurately Measure the Temperature of Red Supergiant Stars

Red supergiants are a class of star that end their lives in supernova explosions. Their lifecycles are not fully understood, partly due to difficulties in measuring their temperatures. For the first time, astronomers develop an accurate method to determine the surface temperatures of red supergiants.

Researchers Overturn Hypothesis That Ancient Mammal Ancestors Moved Like Modern Lizards

The backbone is the Swiss Army Knife of mammal locomotion. It can function in all sorts of ways that allows living mammals to have remarkable diversity in their movements.

Archaeologists Discover one of Poland’s Largest Megalithic Tomb Complexes

Archaeologists excavating in Poland have discovered a large megalithic complex, containing several dozen tombs dating from 5500 years ago.

New Technology Allows Scientists First Glimpse of Intricate Details of Little Foot’s Life

In June 2019, an international team brought the complete skull of the 3.67-million-year-old Little Foot Australopithecus skeleton, from South Africa to the UK and achieved unprecedented imaging resolution of its bony structures and dentition in an X-ray synchrotron-based investigation at the UK's national synchrotron, Diamond Light Source.

Popular stories

Ani – The Abandoned Medieval City

Ani is a ruined medieval city, and the former capital of the Bagratid Armenian kingdom, located in the Eastern Anatolia region of the Kars province in present-day Turkey.

Interactive Map of Earth’s Asteroid and Meteor Impact Craters

Across the history of our planet, around 190 terrestrial impact craters have been identified that still survive the Earth’s geological processes, with the most recent event occurring in 1947 at the Sikhote-Alin Mountains of south-eastern Russia.

The Sunken Town of Pavlopetri

Pavlopetri, also called Paulopetri, is a submerged ancient town, located between the islet of Pavlopetri and the Pounta coast of Laconia, on the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece.

Exploring the Avebury Stone Circle Landscape

The area was designated part of the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites by UNESCO in 1986, in recognition for one of the most architecturally sophisticated stone circles in the world, in addition to the rich Neolithic, and Bronze age remains found nearby, such as the West Kennet Avenue, Beckhampton Avenue, West Kennet Long Barrow, the Sanctuary, and Windmill Hill.