Maedchen in Uniform, p. 2
by B. Ruby Rich

from Jump Cut, no. 24-25, March 1981, pp. 44-50
copyright Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 1981, 2005


Leontine Sagan was born in Austria in 1899 and was married at some point to a doctor from Vienna. She trained as a stage director and actress. She worked with such directors as Bernofskey and Max Reinhardt, teaching for a time at Reinhardt's drama school. As an actress, she appeared alongside Salka Viertel (the woman who would go on to write Garbo's screenplays) in an early production of the Ibsen play, John Gabriel Borkman, and also in a rare production of Franz Blei's The Wave.

The circumstances of her taking on the direction of MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM are not now available, though she was certainly a popular figure in the Berlin theatre scene. She left Germany soon after and went to England, where Alexander Korda sought to capitalize on her success by engaging her to direct MEN OF TOMORROW, a sort of "boys in uniform" film about Oxford; not surprisingly, the success was not repeated. Sagan worked in theatre in London, judging by the published script and cast list for a production of Maedchen in Uniform. The play, retitled "Children in Uniform," is listed as being "produced by Leontine Sagan" at the Duchess Theatre, London, opening October 7, 1932. Soon after, Sagan left England. She moved to the U.S. for several years and thence to South Africa (where she co-founded the National Theatre in Johannesburg) until her death in 1974. So far as is known, she never made another film.

The two leading actresses in MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM, Hertha Thiele and Dorthea Wieck, starred together in another film shortly afterward. Directed by Frank Wysbar in 1933, ANNA AND ELISABETH returned to the traditional view of intimate attachments between women as debilitating and demonic. Hertha Thiele played a young girl with miraculous powers who drove Dorthea Wieck to attempt suicide because Thiele failed to resurrect her husband. The women are portrayed as having an unnaturally close, almost supernatural, relationship; lesbianism is explicit only as the power of darkness. Both actresses are still alive today, and much additional material should be forthcoming from Karola Gramann (the Frauen und Film editor who has been interviewing Thiele).(18)

Christa Winsloe is the best remembered of the MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM women, perhaps simply because her intimates wrote memoirs. Erika Mann, who herself played one of the schoolgirls in the film, remembered Christa (the Baroness von Hatvany) in Mann's memoirs of 1939. Smiling and confident, dressed in white shirt and tie, Christa Winsloe looks out at us from a photograph captioned "once a maedchen in uniform." Erika Mann recalls Christa's life as a "beautiful and amusing society woman" who ran an expansive household in Munich. Christa hosted salons in Budapest and Vienna as the wife of Baron Ludwig Hatvany, a Hungarian writer and "grand seigneur." She made animal sculptures and ran exquisite dinner parties, at one of which Mann remembers her announcing her plan to write a play about her own childhood boarding-school experiences. Trying to explain the play's phenomenal success, Mann suggests:

"How was it? ... Because Christa Hatvany had guarded in her heart, and now rediscovered, a simple, strong and genuine feeling, and because she could so express it that hundreds of thousands of people [sic] recognized the pain and ecstasy of their own childhood, their own first love, which had, in their own hearts, been overlaid, but never stifled. The poignant feeling of recognition ... " (19)

If Mann holds to the favorite view of lesbianism as a phase through which hundreds of thousands of women pass during adolescence, she at least manages to hold out a phrase of reservation regarding the impulse which is yet "never stifled."

Certainly it was never stifled in Christa. Nor in Dorothy Thompson, the U.S. journalist who was married to Sinclair Lewis when, in 1932, at her own ten-day Christmas party, she fell in love with Christa, who was then on the verge of getting a divorce from the Baron. Dorothy Thompson's diaries of the time reveal her struggle to name her experience, to try to understand how she can be

"happily married, and yet wanting that curious tenderness, that pervading warm tenderness — there are no words for it..."(20)

When the party guests had left, Dorothy followed Christa to Budapest. In March, the two met in Italy where they shared a villa at Portofino for several months. Upon leaving the villa, Dorothy brought Christa back to the United States with her. In August, the two women traveled back to Austria together. When apart, they wrote constantly. In early 1934, Sinclair Lewis had to he out of town for several months and Dorothy stayed in New York with Christa. Their friend John Farrar said,

"They were a couple. If you asked Dorothy for dinner, you asked Christa too."(21)

After two years, however, relations between the two began to break down, with Dorothy answering one of Christa's letters:

"I feel that something between us has broken ... I had a strange dream last night. I dreamed I was putting out into a very rough sea in a frail ship, and the crew were all women. I was afraid, and woke up, sweating ..." (22)

By this time, Thompson was persona non grata in Germany, having been expelled on her last trip by Adolph Hitler himself because of an uncomplimentary interview (and, no doubt, her habit of laughing at Bund rallies). Christa couldn't return to her home, so she went instead in 1935 to live in southern France. Their continued intimacy was so strong that in 1940 when the Nazi occupation of France made it impossible for Christa to withdraw money from her Munich bank, Dorothy began sending her money every month to live on.

Christa Winsloe's life had a sad end, but nothing at all like a Marks' fairy tale formula. She was murdered on June 10, 1944, by a common criminal named Lambert who pretended to be operating as a member of the French resistance. His claim led to ugly speculation that Winsloe had been a Nazi spy and to an old friend's writing Dorothy Thompson at the end of the war (1946) to inform her of the death and beg help in clearing Christa Winsloe's name. The friend explained the rumors by referring to Christa's liaison at the time with a French-Swiss girlfriend, Simone Gentet, who was alleged to be a spy:

"Christa once described her as a hysterical, dissolute, morphine addict and alcoholic, but she certainly knew nothing of Simone's other activities, should the rumor be true ... We know with such absolute certainty that Christa was the most violent enemy of National-Socialism and that she would never have made the slightest compromise. On the contrary, we were always worried that the Gestapo would grab her and we still believed this is what happened to her because she had helped many Jewish friends get out of the country."(23)

Thus, the author of MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM was killed by a man claiming to be a resistance fighter but whom her friends believed to be a Gestapo agent. Such an ambiguity lends her death the same confusion that continues to surround the relations between homosexuality and the Nazi era.

Rossellini's ROME, OPEN CITY established an early tradition of identifying homosexuality with fascism through his narrative of hearty male resistance fighters betrayed by a lesbian morphine addict and her Gestapo lover. Bertolucci continued the tradition by consistently portraying fascists as suffering from sexual repressions or "perversions" in his films (with time out, in THE CONFORMIST, for a lesbian resistance fighter in the person of Dominique Sanda, though he did equip her with a male mentor and suggest that her attraction to women was her weakness). The connections have not depended upon cinema, either Italian or German, for promulgation. The stereotype of Nazi campiness, of SS regalia as S&M toys, of the Gestapo as a leather-boy thrill, of the big bull dyke as concentration camp boss ... all these images seem to have a firm hold in our culture's fantasy life and historical mythology. This, despite the facts of the Third Reich's large-scale massacre of homosexuals as a pollutant of Aryan blood and a stain on the future master race. Hitler apparently agreed with Manuela's boarding school Principal in seeing homosexuality and lesbianism as "revolutionary." He didn't hesitate to purge his own ranks, as on the infamous "night of the long knives" of June 1934, when Ernst Rohm (the SA chief of staff and a well-known homosexual) and his followers were murdered on account of their sexuality in order to make the SA, as Hitler put it, "a pure and cleanly institution."

Why the Nazis wanted to eliminate homosexuals along with Jews, communists, and various national minorities, is a question that seems fairly well answered and understood by now in the light of Nazi ideology and the "final solutions" it proposed for the united, fascistic, patriarchal Aryan race. Why gay men, or any women, should have joined the Nazi party at all is quite another question.

What circumstances led to the existence of a Rohm? What sort of outlook could have lent credence to Christa Winsloe's murder as an act of Resistance, or alternately, as an act of Nazi vengeance? What sort of lesbian community inhabited Berlin during the Weimar Republic and the rise of the Third Reich? What sort of women's movement was there to combat the Nazi ideology of woman's place? What were social and legal attitudes toward homosexuality? Who liked MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM, and why? To answer these questions fully lies outside the possibilities of this article. But to address them at least in part is crucial to our understanding the film at hand and to our recognizing just how exemplary was Leontine Sagan's combination of personal liberation and collective action.(24)

Germany had had a radical women's movement in the early years of the century, beginning with the country's first large rally for women's suffrage in 1894. The movement for women's rights was part of a larger movement for overall reform known as the Lebensreformbewegung (the Life Reform Movement), which encompassed groups working on behalf of women and homosexuals as well as for youth, natural health, clothing reform, and nudity. There don't seem to have been lesbian political organizations as such, but many lesbians were active in women's suffrage and feminist groups (notably Anita Augspurg and Lida Gustava Heymann who fought for suffrage and opposed World War I as "a men's war fought between men's states") and many others worked with the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, founded by Magnus Hirschfeld (the key figure in homosexual rights struggles). As early as 1904, Anna Ruling had addressed the Committee at a meeting on the common struggles of women's and homosexual rights groups. She complained that women's organizations were "not lifting a finger ... doing nothing, absolutely nothing" in support of homosexual emancipation.

In 1909, however, a bill was proposed to criminalize lesbianism, which up until now had not been subject to the Paragraph 175 laws against male homosexuality. Seeing the bill as a clear retaliation against the gains of the women's movement, Dr. Helene Stocker (who in 1905 had founded the League for the Protection of Maternity and Sexual Reform) spoke at a meeting held jointly with the Committee to support its petition drive against the proposed bill and to denounce the criminalization of lesbianism as "a grave error." The arguments on behalf of both women and homosexuality were diverse and at times contradictory, with variations in ideology so wide that some elements could be supportive of the new Russian Revolution as a model while other elements drifted into support of National Socialism. Stocker's argument for keeping lesbianism legal rested on the defense of

"individual freedom in the most private part of private life — love life."

Hirschfield rested his arguments on scientific theories of human sexuality/psychology and upon a human-rights-type plea for tolerance. Certain other groups based their homosexuality upon theories of male supremacy and past models of soldiery and lovers-in-arms leading to an early Nazi identification. Even other groups initially supportive of sexual freedoms for women, like those in the "sexual hygiene" movement, turned anti-abortion for racial reasons and ended up merging with the proto-Nazi "racial hygiene" groups.

Varying definitions of private and public life — and private versus public rights — are key to the differences. Hirschfield, unlike many others, threw all his energies into effecting social education and legal changes (although with a tone of apology and tolerance-begging foreign to our styles today). The years of the Weimar Republic witnessed a flowering of women's rights and of struggles for homosexual emancipation, as well as a bursting forth of a large lesbian and gay subculture quartered largely in Berlin.

The sexual theories of the times are fascinating. In 1919, Hirschfield opened the doors of his Institute of Sexual Science and won substantial support for the theory of "a third sex" that was neither male nor female. He called homosexuals "Uranians" and based much of his strategy upon this notion of a literally alien species. The move to criminalize lesbianism had been dropped with the advent of the Republic and the end of World War I, which had seen women move so totally out of the former spheres as to make such a bill ineffective as a stay-at-home device. Much of Hirschfield's Committee's efforts, then, went toward the repeal of Paragraph 175 prohibiting male homosexual practice. The Coalition for Reform of the Sexual Crimes Code (founded in 1925) worked to legalize acts between "consenting adults." The German Communist Party, following the lead established by early Soviet laws in support of homosexual rights, had a strong presence on the Reichstag committee for penal code reform. That committee succeeded in recommending for approval the repeal of Paragraph 175. (Unfortunately, its approval came on October l6, 1929. The crash of the U.S. stock market changed the whole nature of the political scene in Germany, leading to the tabling of the resolution and the quick rise of the Nazi forces). As anti-Semitism, misogyny, and homophobia grew alongside of the move to the Right in Germany, Hirschfield became an ever more popular target. Attacked in 1920, his skull fractured in 1921, fired upon in 1923, attacked verbally by a Nazi delegate to the Reichstag in 1927, he had the dubious honor of seeing the library of his Institute become one of the first victims of book burning on May 10, 1933, just four months after Hitler became chancellor.(25)

The cycle of free expression followed by total persecution experienced by Magnus Hirschfield was symptomatic of the treatment of the larger gay population and culture he had come to symbolize. Jim Steakley provides a partial answer to the obvious reaction (how could such a thing happen?) in pinpointing the Weimar contradiction

"between personal and collective liberation."(26)

It was a contradiction that was manifested in the existence of a widespread social tolerance of homosexuality, including the flourishing of gay culture, the growth of bars, and de facto police acquiescence, at least in Berlin. Simultaneously, there were repressive laws and the frequent failure of most legal actions on behalf of lesbians or gay men. The history of Berlin's gay male subculture is fairly well known today. According to Steakley, there were some 40 gay bars and some 1-2,000 male prostitutes in the city by 1914, as well as some 30 homosexual journals published during the course of the Weimar years. However, the same "invisibility" that granted lesbians immunity from the criminal laws has also granted the Weimar lesbians a less welcome immunity from the history books.

Recently, research has begun to yield materials that can outline for us the contours of the lesbian community that was so lively during the same period, especially in the larger cities of Berlin and Munich. In the same year that Christa Winsloe wrote her play, director G.W. Pabst gave the world the vision of Berlin that has stuck for so long, including lesbian passion in the decadent mode. In Pabst's PANDORA'S BOX, Louise Brooks (as Lulu) played object of desire not only to a succession of men but also to Alice Roberts (as the lesbian Countess Geschwitz). Louise Brooks has reminisced about the mood of Berlin, recalling for example a lesbian bar, the Maly, where

"there was a choice of feminine or collar-and-tie Lesbians."(27)

Alex de Jonge provides a more embroidered account in a male visitor's account of the Silhouette, which was "one of Berlin's most fashionable night spots." De Jonge, too, describes the scene of role-dressed couples on a night out, but makes an important point:

"You could see women well known in German literature, society, the theater and politics ... There was no suggestion of vice about the place. It was a usual phenomenon in German life."(28)

While the Silhouette admitted men if accompanied by a lesbian regular, other women's bars did not. De Jonge mentions Die Grotte and Entre Nous as two of the "more exclusive" places, about which he therefore can provide no information.

Ilse Kokula has provided one of the most complete accounts of the period in her brief but tantalizing summary, "The Uranian Ladies Often Meet in Patisseries."(29) She expands upon the meaning of "uranian" by tracing its root as an epithet of Aphrodite taken to mean "celestial" or spiritual, and she reiterates Hirschfield's popular theory of "a third sex." The estimate of homosexuality in Weimar Berlin is placed at 50,000 out of a population of two and a half million (though the methodology behind the statistics is not specified). While bars, hotels, and saunas were there to service gay men, there were also, more surprisingly, various services for lesbians seeking to meet each other. For example, there were Vermittlungsburos, or agencies, that fixed up single lesbians. There were personals columns in which lesbians advertised for partners. One such ad from the period listed:

"Fraulein, decent, 24 years old, looking for pretty fraulein as a girlfriend."

There were also a number of social clubs for lesbians that met in cafes and Konditoreien (patisseries), such as one group of "Israelite" (Jewish) lesbians who met from 4:00 to 6:00 in the afternoon to talk and play chess. Balls were held regularly, run by and for lesbian women. There was a general attitude of self recognition, with many lesbian couples eager to convince the world how well adjusted they were and to combat the stereotypes of depravity and tragedy.

From 1918 on, lesbian journals were part of the culture, usually presenting a perspective that was part political, part educational. They had such titles as Frauenliebe (woman love), Ledige Frauen (unmarried women), and Die Freundin: Weekly Journal for Ideal Friendship Between Women. Die Freundin was published continuously during 1923-32 by the damenklub (women's club, or bar) "Violetta" — itself a coded name, as violets were considered a sign of lesbianism at the time. Some of Ilse Kokula's information is evidently derived from first-hand sources, as she is able to comment that many older lesbians still remembered the cafes "with great pleasure" and that one such woman, "Kati R," remembers that the secret lesbian balls continued into the 1950s and 60s, with as many as 200 women attending. What emerges, then, is a picture of lesbian life as a widespread phenomenon, surprisingly aboveground, organized around its own publications, clubs, and rituals. And reflected in virtually none of the films or official histories of the time.


MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM emerges from such a review of Weimar's lesbian subculture not as an anomaly any longer, but as a survivor. The film assumes a new importance when seen as something other than a curiosity. Rather it is a clue, an archaeological relic pointing back to an obliterated people, And it is pointing ahead, for us, to a much-needed perspective on our current situation, here in the midst of our excavations and reconstructions.

At no point, either in its own time nor in ours, has the film been critically discussed as a lesbian text. And yet the histories specify its initial "success de scandale," implying an at least unofficial recognition of the film's true meaning. Most critics have been eager to harness its tale of schoolgirl struggle to an assumed "universal" of humankind's fight against fascism. With hindsight, however, we can equally read the film as a celebration of, and warning for, its most sympathetic audience: the lesbian population of Germany in 1931. Like Manuela and Fraulein von Bernburg, the lesbian community was proud and outspoken, romantic and idealistic, opposed to a rejected bourgeois morality as well as to outdated models of woman's proper place. The schoolgirls may be stand-ins for the lesbian women they may surely become (if they pass through Erica Mann's famous "phase" intact). If the boarding school was chosen as a literary and cinematic motif because it was more socially acceptable than the grownup realities, then how ironic that it is all that remains for us to go by. We need more research into our history. We need more information on films of the period that have been almost entirely forgotten (like ANNA AND ELIZABETH, like DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHERS).(30) We need to heed carefully Blanche Cook's warning not to judge the authors entirely by their texts, lest social conventions of the time blind us to the unexpected. We need to recognize MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM not only as a beloved fairytale but also as a powerful expression of its own time: an individual record of a collective aspiration.

MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM has been extremely influential for other films and writers as well as for lesbian viewers down to the present day. Colette herself wrote the text for the subtitles of the French-release print.(31) None other than Hollywood mogul Irving Thalberg was a fan of the film. He quizzed Salka Viertel, as she worked on the screenplay of QUEEN CHRISTINA, as to whether she'd seen Sagan's film. He asked,

"Does not Christina's affection for her lady in-waiting indicate something like that?"

Thalberg urged Viertel "to keep it in mind" because,

"if handled with taste it would give us very interesting scenes."(32)

Today we can acknowledge what Colette, Thalberg, Viertel, and Garbo all seem to have known: that MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM was a film about women's love for each other. And what Louise Brooks knew: that such love was no rarity in Weimar Berlin. And what Alex de Jonge knew: that it was no vice. And today we can also begin to consider what Jim Steakley knew: that there was a disturbing gap at the time between "personal" and "collective" liberation.

The first lesson of MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM is that lesbianism has a much larger and finer history than we often suspect, that the film indicates as much, and that we need to do ever more work on reconstructing the image of lesbian culture that has been so painfully erased. The second lesson is that, in looking backward and inward, we cannot afford to stop looking forward and outward.

The bells and bugles that sound periodically throughout the film, casting a prophetic pall upon the love of Manuela and Fraulein von Bernburg, are waiting just outside the gates for us as well. The ending of the film, as I have suggested, can be interpreted as a warning to heed to forces mounting outside our narrow zones of victory and liberation. Such an interpretation, if it was perceived at the time, went unheeded by the film's lesbian audience in 1931. Today, the work on building a lesbian culture cannot afford to ignore the context of such labor in a society veering so strongly in the opposite direction. When, at the film's end, the Principal appears to be defeated, she exits through a darkened hallway. But at the end of the hallway is the light of the outdoors, site of the buglers and the patriarchal forces mobilizing against any such lesbian victory.

Today, we must begin to consider the contemporary gap between "personal" (or, lifestyle) freedoms and "collective" (or, legal/political) rights. We must begin to examine what the links and coalitions are, in our own time, between lesbian, gay male, and feminist organizations. We must learn strategy, and remember that when the pre-Weimar misogynist, F. Eberhard, wanted to attack the women's movement, he accused the emancipated women of being lesbians and, therefore, depraved. The women's groups of the late Weimar period exhibited a distressing willingness to take such attacks to heart and try to accommodate themselves accordingly. Polite cooptation sapped the strength of the groups. Even Hirschfield persisted in seeing the fight for homosexual rights as "nonpolitical" and therefore no enemy of National Socialism. Too late, many lesbians must have learned that patisseries do not grant asylum.

The struggle was postponed to a fatally late date due to false perceptions of homosexuality as a "private" issue that was being adequately handled and of lesbians/gay men as somehow more protected than others because of the history of social tolerance. Many women's groups turned to the right, taking up anti-abortion and racial-hygiene positions, supporting National Socialism in spite of its clear racist and misogynist platform. Some gay men and lesbians supported it as well, again in the face of all evidence that should have suggested otherwise. In the 80s, our struggles for sexual freedom must be tied to the struggles against racism, economic injustices, rearmament, and growing U.S. imperialism. The celebrations on the staircase must listen hard to the rallying cries outside the school. Today, we can't afford to ignore history, nor to repeat it. While lesbianism and feminism are certainly "revolutionary" (to quote the Principal yet again), the history of Weimar politics demonstrates that they are not inherently so unless linked to a pragmatic political strategy and set of principles. We have to do better.


Acknowledgement is due here to two people who contributed the very heart of this article. Thanks to Karola Gramann, who has written me extensively from Frankfurt and shared with me her own knowledge and research on MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM: her work will benefit us all. Thanks to Bill Horrigan, who brought numerous sources to my attention and even located copies of rare materials like the original playbill and theatre script. Thanks also to Ramona Curry, who provided encouragement and translations, and to Renny Harrigan, who offered me background information and suggested avenues of research. The section of this article which deals with specific textual analysis of the film was originally presented as a paper at the 4th Annual Purdue Film Conference, March 1979, on a panel devoted to early German cinema. Many thanks to Jim Franklin for his encouragement and comments at that time.

1. Jonathan Katz, Gay American History (New York: Avon Books, 1976), p. 843.

2. Lotte H. Eisner, The Haunted Screen (Berkeley: University of CA Press, 1969), p. 326.

3. Siegfried Kracauer, From Caligari to Hitler (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947), p. 227.

4. Alex de Jonge, The Weimar Chronicle: Prelude to Hitler (London: Paddington Press, 1978), p. 138.

5. Gayle Rubin, "The Traffic in Women: Notes on the 'Political Economy' of Sex," in Toward an Anthropology of Women (ed. Rayna R. Reiter, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1975), p. 180.

6. The comparison with PERSONA is pointed out by Nancy Scholar as well, in an article which marks the 70s revival of the film. See Nancy Scholar, "MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM," in Sexual Stratagems: The World of Women in Film (ed. Patricia Erens, New York: Horizon Press, 1979), pp. 219-223.

7. For a fuller discussion of this issue, see my article on "The Crisis of Naming in Feminist Film Criticism" in JUMP CUT, 19 (1979) and the considerably revised version printed as "In the Name of Feminist Film Criticism" in Heresies, No. 9 (Spring 1980).

8. Variations on the theme of a double ending have been repeated by Nancy Scholar as well as by Sharon Smith (in her Women Who Make Movies (New York: Hopkinson and Blake, 1975) and by Caroline Sheldon (in her "Lesbians and Film: Some Thoughts", appearing in Richard Dyer, ed., Gays and Film (London: British Film Institute, 1977).

9. Both Eisner and Kracauer specify the averted suicide of the ending, and neither makes reference to another "home market" ending. In correspondence with me, German film critic Karola Gramann writes that Hertha Thiele (whom she has just interviewed) reported that a suicide ending was filmed, but that it was never included in the finished film because it was too pathetic looking. No one saw any such "home" version of the film.

10. Gayle Rubin, p. 183.

11. Quotations and data here are derived from my copies of an original playbill (Blackstone Theatre, Chicago, "beginning Sunday Night, March 11, 1934") and the published play: Christa Winsloe, Girls in Uniform, a Play in Three Acts (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1933).

12. Elaine Marks, "Lesbian Intertextuality," in Homosexualities and French Literature: Cultural Contexts/Critical Texts (ed. George Stambolian and Elaine Marks, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1979), pp. 357-58.

13. Ibid, p. 357.

14. I refer here to Leontine Sagan alone, but that is inaccurate. It should be noted that Carl Froelich, who is usually listed as "supervisor," is claimed by some to be co-director or even director of the film, though there is no firm evidence of such a claim. Other credits include: screenplay by F.O. Andam and Christa Winsloe, cinematography by Reimar Kuntze and Fritz Weihmayr, art direction by Fritz Maurischat and Friedrich Winkler Tannenbery, and music by Hansom Milde-Meissner. Leontine Sagan's MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM should not be confused with the remake, in 1958, by Geza Radvanyi, with Romy Schneider as Manuela and Lilli Palmer as her teacher.

15. At one point, in the first locker-room scene, the model of heterosexuality even comes under discussion and, obliquely, attack. There're a photo of a male actor in Ilse's locker, a male pin-up some girls are giggling over. Finally, highlighted, an illustration in Manuela's book that depicts a woman being rapaciously carried off by a swashbuckling man on horseback makes a rather dark statement on the power principles of heterosexual fantasy and reality.

16. Kracauer, p. 229.

17. Blanche Wiesen Cook, "'Women Alone Stir My Imagination': Lesbianism and the Cultural Tradition," in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 4, No. 4 (1979), 722.

18. Information on ANNA AND ELIZABETH is taken from: David Stewart Hull, Film in the Third Reich (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969), pp. 3738; and also from private correspondence with Karola Gramann.

19. Erika and Klaus Mann, Escape to Life (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1939), pp. 50-51.

20. Katz, p. 841.

21. Marion K. Sanders, Dorothy Thompson, A Legend in Her Time (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973), p. 190.

22. Ibid, p. 193.

23. Ibid.

24. The three basic texts to consult on issues of feminism and homosexuality in Weimar Germany are these:

  • Richard Evans, The Feminist Movement in Germany 1894-1933 (Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1976);
  • Lillian Faderman and Brigitte Eriksson, Lesbian-Feminism in Turn-of-the-Century Germany (Tallahassee: Naiad Press, 1979);
  • James D. Steakley, The Homosexual Emancipation Movement in Germany (New York: Arno Press, 1979).

Relevant information in this article is culled almost entirely from these sources. For a superior review and perspective piece, see: Carol Anne Douglas, "German Feminists and the Right: Can it Happen Here?" in Off Our Backs 10, No. 11 (December 1980). She discusses at length the political crosscurrents I have barely managed to summarize here.

25. Interestingly enough, Hirschfield appeared in a film that he must have taken a part in producing. DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHERS (directed by Richard Oswald in 1919) starred Conrad Veidt as a homosexual blackmail victim who is "saved" by the intervention of a philanthropic doctor played by Hirschfield himself. It was widely banned, but evidently more for reasons of anti-Semitism (directed against Hirschfield) than homophobia, if such a distinction can indeed be made. The film was redone in 1927 as LAWS OF LOVE, again starring Veidt but this time minus Hirschfield, whose absence in this version led to Veidt's character's suicide.

26. Steakley, pp. 78-79.

27. Louise Brooks, "On Making Pabst's LULU," in Women and Cinema (ed. Karyn Kay and Gerald Peary, New York: E.P. Dutton, 1977), p. 81.

28. Alex de Jonge, p. 140.

29. Ilse Kokula, "Die urnischen Damen treffen sich vielfach in Konditoreien," in Courage, No. 7 (Berlin, July 1980), copy courtesy of Karola Gramann.

30. See footnote 25.

31. The French subtitles and a preface explaining Colette's role in writing them can be found in Colette au cinema (ed. Alain and Odette Virmaux, Paris: Librairie Ernest Flammarion, 1975). Unfortunately, the entire MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM section has been omitted from the English-language edition (translated by Sarah W.R. Smith, New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1980).

32. Salka Viertel, The Kindness of Strangers (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969), p. 175. Viertel's memoirs are discreetly restrained on virtually all topics of sexuality and therefore shed no light on the nature of her relationship with Greta Garbo. Viertel wrote the screen treatments for Garbo's films and was her frequent companion. In his dirt-digging Hollywood Babylon (San Francisco: Straight Arrow Books, 1975), Kenneth Anger wrote:

"Garbo's genuine reserve held the gossips at bay for the most part. There was, however, occasional speculation about how close her friendship really was with writer Salka Viertel" (p. 172).

MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM is available from: Films Incorporated, 733 Green Bay Road, Wilmette, IL 60091. (There are also offices in New York, Hollywood, and Atlanta, so contact the appropriate office for your geographic area.)