State of Liberation: Gay Men in Cold War Germany

After the fall of Nazi Germany and the onset of the Cold War, gay men in the now-divided Germany underwent a historic change in their status and visibility and influence.

George Mason University history professor Samuel Clowes Huneke joins us to talk about this time of momentous transition. It's the subject of his first book, States of Liberation, which traces the paths of gay men in East and West Germany from the violent aftermath of the Second World War to the thundering nightclubs of present-day Berlin. Following a captivating cast of characters, from gay spies and Nazi scientists to queer politicians and secret police bureaucrats, Dr. Huneke tells the remarkable story of how the two German states persecuted gay men—and how those men slowly, over the course of decades, won new rights and created new opportunities for themselves in the heart of Cold War Europe. Relying on untapped archives in Germany and the United States as well as oral histories with witnesses and survivors, Huneke reveals that communist East Germany was in many ways far more progressive on queer issues than democratic West Germany.

Join us for an online discussion about the history of gender, sexual history, the law, and politics.


Photos courtesy the speaker.

Image - Samuel Clowes Huneke

Samuel Clowes Huneke

Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Modern German History, George Mason University; Author, States of Liberation: Gay Men between Dictatorship and Democracy in Cold War Germany

Image - Michelle Meow

Michelle Meow

Producer and Host, "The Michelle Meow Show" on KBCW/KPIX TV and Podcast; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors; Twitter @msmichellemeow—Co-Host

Image - John Zipperer

John Zipperer

Producer and Host, Week to Week Political Roundtable; Vice President of Media & Editorial, The Commonwealth Club—Co-Host