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Documents - Family, Sexuality and Nation: East Germany
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1.   Letter from Karl Lewke to the Central Committee of the SED (December 2, 1945)
The letter by KPD functionary Karl Lewke and the enclosed memorandum from December 1945 made clear the difficulties that the Communist leadership in the Soviet occupation zone faced in reintegrating....
2.   The District Court [Amtsgericht] of Meiningen: Decision about the Termination of a Pregnancy Following a Rape (January 9, 1946)
Beginning in August 1945, abortion after a rape was permitted in the Soviet occupation zone. However, in any given case it was hardly possible to determine whether a pregnancy was in fact the result....
3.   Wilhelm Pieck, "To the Returnees" (1946)
The Soviet Union supported the SED through numerous measures – one of which was the release of some German prisoners of war into the Soviet occupation zone beginning in July 1946. In his words of....
4.   "The Family – The Core of the Rebirth of Germany," Article by School Councilor G. Wolff, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Germany (August 30, 1946)
In the face of the profound breakdown of German society from dictatorship and war and the deracination of survivors under the difficult living conditions of the postwar period, the bourgeois Liberal....
5.   The Problems of the Young Generation from the Perspective of an SED Functionary (September 1946)
In September 1946, SED youth functionary Paul Verner offered younger Germans a forceful summary of the devastating consequences of World War II and the collapse of the Third Reich – a large percentage....
6.   Magdalene Gutenberg, Speech at a Gynecologists' Conference on the Termination of a Pregnancy after a Crime of Violence (October 5-6, 1946)
The mass rape of German women at the end of the war, especially by Soviet soldiers, the problems of establishing families in a shattered society, and the political and economic pressure on women....
7.   The Bishop of the Protestant Church in Thuringia, Moritz Mitzenheim, on the Draft Bill about the Termination of Pregnancy (November 24, 1947)
After 1945, there were efforts in the states of the Soviet occupation zone to reform § 218 of the Penal Code. The goal of these efforts was to permit abortion without punishment not only when the....
8.   Circular from the Ministry for Labor and Health Care on the Termination of Pregnancy (October 2, 1950)
The beginning of the 1950s spelled the end of the liberalization of abortion that was briefly discussed in the Soviet occupation zone. Issued within the framework of the “Law on the Protection of....
9.   Press Review: "Where to Put the Baby?" Critical Voices on the Subject of Day Nurseries (1953)
In the 1950s, the GDR government vigorously promoted female employment, and it celebrated the rising ratio of women in the workforce as a breakthrough toward gender equality. One indispensable precondition....
10.   East German Minister of Justice, Hilde Benjamin: "Who Has the Say in the Family?" (February 1, 1958)
The equality of men and women was stipulated in the constitution of the GDR, and the SED celebrated its realization as a great socio-political accomplishment. However, in this 1958 lecture, the East....
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