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Encyclopedia > Scientific Humanitarian Committee
The WHK board in 1901: left to right, Georg Plock, Dr Ernst Burchard, Dr Magnus Hirschfeld, and baron von Teschenberg.
The WHK board in 1901: left to right, Georg Plock, Dr Ernst Burchard, Dr Magnus Hirschfeld, and baron von Teschenberg.

The Scientific-Humanitarian Committee (Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee, WhK) was founded in Berlin on the 14th or 15th of May, 1897, to campaign for social recognition of homosexual and transgender men and women, and against their legal persecution. It was the first such organisation in history. Magnus Hirschfeld Magnus Hirschfeld (Kolberg, May 14, 1868 - Nice, May 14, 1935) was a prominent German physician, sexologist, and gay rights advocate. ... (help· info), IPA: , is the capital city as well as a state of Germany, and also the countrys largest city. ...

The initial focus of the WhK was paragraph 175 of the Imperial Penal Code, which criminalized "coitus-like" acts between males — the WhK assisted defendants in criminal trials, conducted public lectures, and gathered signatures on a petition for the repeal of the law. Signatories included Albert Einstein, Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke and Leo Tolstoy. Petitions were submitted to parliament, in 1898, 1922 and 1925, but failed to gain the support of the parliament, and the law continued to criminalise all male-male sexual acts until 1969 and wasn't entirely removed until 1994. Paragraph 175 (known formally as §175 StGB; also known as Section 175 in English) was a provision of the German Criminal Code from 15 May 1871 to 10 March 1994. ... Albert Einstein photographed by Oren J. Turner in 1947. ... Hermann Hesse in 1927 Hermann Hesse (2 July 1877 – 9 August 1962) was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. ... Thomas Mann Paul Thomas Mann (June 6, 1875 – August 12, 1955) was a German novelist, social critic, philanthropist and essayist, lauded principally for a series of highly symbolic and often ironic epic novels and mid-length stories, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and intellectual and... Rainer Maria Rilke (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926) is generally considered the German languages greatest 20th century poet. ... Leo Tolstoy, pictured late in life Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (help· info) (Russian: Лев Никола́евич Толсто́й; commonly referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy) (September 9, 1828 – November 20, 1910, N.S.; August 28, 1828 – November 7, 1910, O.S.) was a Russian novelist, social reformer, pacifist, Christian anarchist, vegetarian, moral thinker and...

Original members of the WhK included the doctor Magnus Hirschfeld, publisher Max Spohr, lawyer Eduard Oberg and writer Max von Bülow. Adolf Brand, Benedict Friedlander and Kurt Hiller also joined the organisation. At its peak, the WhK had about 500 members, and branches in approximately 25 cities in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. Magnus Hirschfeld Magnus Hirschfeld (Kolberg, May 14, 1868 - Nice, May 14, 1935) was a prominent German physician, sexologist, and gay rights advocate. ... Adolf Brand (1874-1945) was a German journalist and school teacher who began publishing the first German homosexual periodical, Der Eigene (The Special), in 1896. ...

The committee was dissolved in 1933 when the Nazis destroyed the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft in Berlin where the WhK was based. The Institut für Sexualwissenschaft was an early sexology research institute in Germany, 1919-1933. ...

In 1962 in Hamburg, Hiller, who had survived Nazi concentration camps and continued to fight against anti-homosexual repression, tried unsuccessfully to re-establish the WhK.

See also

  Results from FactBites:
Magnus Hirschfeld - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (789 words)
He was interested in the study of a wide variety of sexual and erotic urges, at a time when the early taxonomy of sexual identity labels was still being formed.
In 1897, Hirschfeld founded the Scientific Humanitarian Committee to defend the rights of homosexuals and to repeal Paragraph 175.
He can be viewed as a brave and tireless campaigner and was a well-known public figure of his time, most identified in the public mind with the campaign against Paragraph 175.
Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) (935 words)
Hirschfeld believed that sexual orientation was a naturally occurring trait worthy of scientific inquiry and political emancipation rather than social hostility.
He urged homosexuals from all walks of life to come out and get involved in the growing campaign for emancipation that was developing under the auspices of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee which he had formed in 1897.
Though much of Hirschfeld's work rested largely on scientific investigation and political argument, the dramatic success of the Committee at mobilizing large sectors of German and European society on behalf of homosexual emancipation was due to Hirschfeld's own personality.
  More results at FactBites »



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