Mädchen in uniform; gender, power and sexuality in times of militarisation

05 February 2016

The film Mädchen in Uniform (1931), a love story between a teacher and student in Germany, is widely recognised as the first pro-lesbian film. Banned by the National Socialists, it opened the way for pro-lesbian film production and was followed by films such as Acht Mädels im Boot (1932), Anna and Elisabeth (1933) and Ich für dich, du für mich (Me for You, You for Me, 1934). These films strongly contrasted with documentaries and popular films of the Third Reich that portrayed a new and heroic German nation growing from the ashes of defeat following the uneasy Peace of Versailles. The film Aimée & Jaguar (1999) revisited the theme of lesbian love during the National Socialist regime. Based on a true story, the film is a narrative of the love between a German and a Jewish woman. Despite controversy, the film won numerous prizes in Germany. This article investigates the portrayal of gender and power in Mädchen in Uniform and Aimée & Jaguar. It seeks to explain how lesbian women and the love between them were portrayed in a time of male domination, militarism and what was seen as hetero-normality. This contribution examines gender-related power struggles and the political climate in Germany at the time of the Weimar Republic and the build-up to National-Socialist militarism