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Who was Richard Linsert?

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This site is named after Richard Linsert (1899-1933) in recognition of his work bringing together the anti-Stalinist left and the gay rights movement. Linsert was a radical who devoted his life to freeing human sexuality from the bonds of capitalism while also criticising the dogmatism of the Soviet Union's attitudes to same-sex love.


Linsert, an openly gay man, played a significant role in the fledgling 'gay rights' movement in Germany prior to the rise of the Nazis. Working with Magnus Hirschfeld and Kurt Hiller, Linsert played a significant role in advocating gay rights in Weimar Germany. Always willing to engage in dialogue with government and society Linsert fought to strike down Paragraph 175 of the German Penal Code which outlawed sex between males. A member of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft from 1926 until 1930, he left after disagreements with Hirschfeld and set up the Sexological Archives. Linsert remained a member of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee until his death.


Linsert the Communist


"Richard Linsert died on 3 Feb. 1933. On 30 January, as Kurt Hiller tells us, despite a feverish cold and miserable, wet weather, he went to an extraordinary meeting of leading functionaries of the German Communist Party called to discuss the consequences of Hitler's seizure of power that same day. Linsert suffered a relapse, pneumonia and heart failure. The Communist MP Kippenberger spoke at his cremation ceremony in Wilmersdorf.


Linsert was spared the situation after the Reichstag fire … Kurt Hiller writes 'If Linsert hadn't succumbed to pneumonia, then, together with Kippenberger, he would certainly have sought asylum in the Soviet Union, where he would with equal certainty have met his death, just as Kippenberger did. If he had stayed in Germany, the Nazi scum would probably have prepared an even more terrible fate for him ...'"

- Friedrich Kröhnke, introduction to Marxismus und freie Liebe, trans. Simon Taylor.


"Linsert was an idealist who was convinced that communism had opened the door to a better world. He was a keen member of the Party"

- Charlotte Wolff (1986) Magnus Hirschfeld, p221


Linsert the anti-Stalinist

"The most active member of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee during the late twenties, Richard Linsert, was an anti-Stalinist member of the [Communist] Party."

- John Lauritsen and David Thorstad The Early Homosexual Riths Movement (1864-1935), p68



Linsert the homosexual



The circumstantial evidence that Linsert was gay is overwhelming.



"That Richard Linsert (1899-1933) was homosexual is only probably, not certain. There is no statement by Linsert in which he declared his sexual orientation. He was, however, active in the WhK from 1923 until his death, as was his friend Peter Limann, with whom he shared a Charlottenburg apartment for a time."


- Manfred Herzer "Communists, Social Democrats, and the Homosexual Movement in the Weimar Republic" in Hekma, Oosterhuis and Steakley (eds) Gay Men and the Sexual History of the Political Left, p222 fn27 (also published as Journal of Homosexuality, Vol 29, No.s 2/3 & 4)




Leading member of the SHC, later in conflict with Hirschfeld


"In 1923 Hirschfeld followed Kurt Hiller's advice and engaged the young Richard Linsert as secretary of the SHC.


Dr Flato, a barrister, had been so much impressed by Linsert's intelligence and rhetorical gift as a public demonstration in Munich that he asked Kurt Hiller to contract him. He did so and fully agreed with Flato's judgement...


On 1 July 1923, Georg Plock [SHC secretary] resigned his post for health reasons. This lucky "coincidence" made Flato's and Hiller's "dream" of seeing Richard Linsert as his successor come true. Linsert was willing to move to Berlin and meet Hirschfeld. They apparently understood each other well, and soon after Plock's retirement, the twenty-four-year-old Linsert was installed as secretary of the SHC. … He collaborated with Hirschefeld in writing the books Empfängnisverhütung (Birth Control; 1928) and Liebesmittel(Aphrodisiacs; 1929)" Charlotte Wolff, Magnus Hirschfeld, p221


For Hirschfeld "the welfare of sexual variants still remained his urgent concern, thirty years after he had created the SHC. He had, in later years, been much helped in his welfare work by Kurt Hiller and Richard Linsert, who gained eve greater influence in the affairs of the committee., Hiller had been elected to a post inside the Praesidium, and Linsert became clerk of the organization." Charlotte Wolff, Magnus Hirschfeld, p230


In 1929 Linsert becomes a member of the Praesidium of the SHC - Charlotte Wolff, Magnus Hirschfeld, p228


"Kurt Hiller, whom [Dr L.E.] called a self-righteous and arrogant man, was the driving force behind the antagonism against Hirschfeld which was not only evidence in the SHC but also in the Institute. Geise, Dr L.E. and Hirschfeld were on one side, Hiller and Linsert on the other" Charlotte Wolff, Magnus Hirschfeld, p428


Works by or about Richard Linsert



"Erste Lesung des Strafgesetzentwurfs im Reichstage", Bulletin of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, no. 28 (July-August 1927)



"Die Inversion" in Margarete Kaiser (ed) Die Liebeslehre, Berlin (1928)



"Die Denkwurdigkeiten des Fürsten Bernhard von Bülow" in Bulletin of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, No31, (?1928-1932), pp319-27



"Marxismus und freie Liebe", Der Rote Aufbau, Heft 9, Berlin (1931) (reprinted in Marxismus und freie Liebe, (1982))



Kabale und Liebe; Über Politikund und Geschlechtsleben; (von Richard Linsert vom Archiv fur Sexualwissenschaft in Berlin), Man Verlag, Berlin, (1931)



Marxismus und freie Liebe, (with an introduction by Friedrich Kröhnke), Libertäre Assoziation, Hamburg, (1982)



sub nom Herbert Heinersdorf "Akten zum Falle Röhm", Bulletin of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, no. 32 (September 1932-February 1933), no. 33 (April-August 1932) and No. 34 (September 1932-February 1933) cited in Manfred Herzer "Communists, Social Democrats, and the Homosexual Movement in the Weimar Republic" in Hekma, Oosterhuis and Steakley (eds) Gay Men and the Sexual History of the Political Left, p222 fn27 (also published as Journal of Homosexuality, Vol 29, No.s 2/3 & 4)



with Kurt Hiller "Fur Magnus Hirschfeld zu seinen 60 Geburtstage" supplement to Bulletin of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, EV, Berlin (1928)


with Magnus Hirschfeld Empfängnis-Verhütung; Mittel und Methoden, [Birth Control], Neuer Deutscher Verlag, Berlin (1928)


with Magnus Hirschfeld Liebesmittel; Eine Darstellung der geschlechtlichen Reizmittel, [Aphrodisiacs], Mann Verlag, Berlin (1929)


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