Wolves in Women’s Clothing? Cross-dressing in the German Army – Sex in the Third Reich

Pages upon pages of photos of Nazi soldiers… in drag – that’s what’s in Martin Dammann’s book Soldier Studies: Cross-dressing in der Wermacht. Were the Nazis more diverse than we ever thought? Or is there something more insidious lurking here? Today we take a look at the situation in which cross-dressers found themselves in the Third Reich.

This episode has been sponsored by LetsGetChecked. Go to www.trylgc.com/btnewberg and use code “history” to get 20% off your purchase.

Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review. Support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/btnewberg. Research, writing, editing, and production by B. T. Newberg. Logo Design by Rachel Westhoff. Animation by Maxeem Konrardy. Additional credits, references, and more at www.historyofsexpod.com.

Dammann 02

The dancer on the far right – male or female? From: Burger Collection


Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. New York: Anchor, 1986.

Brashler, Karin Lynn. “Mothers for Germany: A Look at the Ideal Woman in Nazi Propaganda.” Thesis. Iowa State University, 2015.

Carney, Amy Beth. “Victory in the Cradle: Fatherhood and the Family Community in the Nazi Schutzstaffel.” Thesis. Florida State University, 2010.

Clark, Anna. Desire: A History of European Sexuality. New York: Routledge, 2008.

Crouthamel, Jason. “Sexuality, Sexual Relations, Homosexuality.” 1914-1918 Online: International Encyclopedia of the First World War. 2017.

Dammann, Martin. Soldier Studies: Cross-dressing in der Wermacht. Berlin: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2018.

De Montbaston, Jeanne. “Why So Much Cross-dressing in Nazi Germany? Holocaust Apologetics and the Appropriation of LGBT Histories.” Reading Medieval Books. 2018, Nov. 26. Retrieved May 17, 2020, from: https://readingmedievalbooks.wordpress.com/2018/11/26/why-so-much-cross-dressing-in-nazi-germany-holocaust-apologetics-and-the-appropriation-of-lgbt-histories/

“FBI Shows Gay-Bashing Increase in 2006.” The Advocate. 2007, Nov 20. Retrieved May 3, 2020, from: https://web.archive.org/web/20071122223957/http:/www.advocate.com/news_detail_ektid50559.asp

Gellately, Robert, and Stoltzfus, Nathan. Social Outsiders in Nazi Germany. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Giles, Geoffrey. “The Denial of Homosexuality: Same-sex Incidents in Himmler’s SS and Police.” Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 11, No. 1/2, 2002, Jan-Apr: pp. 256-290.

Giles, Geoffrey. “The Institutionalization of Homosexual Panic in the Third Reich.” In: Social Outsiders in Nazi Germany. Gellately, Robert, and Stoltzfus, Nathan. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Guenther, Irene. Nazi Chic? Fashioning Women in the Third Reich. New York: Berg, 2004.

Gorden, Mel. Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin. Port Townsend, WA: Feral House, 2000.

Gordon, Terri J. “Fascism and the Female Form: Performance Art in the Third Reich.” Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 11.

Hancock, Eleanor. “Only the Real, the True, the Masculine Held Its Value: Ernst Röhm, Masculinity, and Male Homosexuality.” Journal of the History of Sexuality. Vol. 8, No. 4, Apr. 1998, pp. 616-641.

Hopper, Tristin. “Cross-Dressing Nazis: A German Artist Found So Many Photos of Them He Published a Book.” National Post. 2018, Nov 27. Retrieved May 3, 2020, from: https://nationalpost.com/news/cross-dressing-nazis-a-german-artist-found-so-many-photos-of-them-he-published-a-book-about-it

Huebel, Sebastian. “Stolen Manhood? German-Jewish Masculinities in the Third Reich, 1933-1945.” Thesis. University of British Columbia, 2017.

Kühne, Thomas. “Protean Masculinity, Hegemonic Masculinity: Soldiers in the Third Reich.” Central European History. Vol. 51, 2018, pp. 390-418.

Kühne, Thomas. The Rise and Fall of Comradeship: Hitler’s Soldiers, Male Bonding, and Mass Violence in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: University Printing House, 2017.

Loroff, Nicole. “Gender and Sexuality in Nazi Germany.” Constellations. University of Alberta, 2012.

Marhoefer, Laurie. “Among Abnormals: The Queer Sexual Politics of Germany’s Weimar Republic, 1918-1933.” Thesis. State University of New Jersey, 2008.

Marhoefer, Laurie. “Degeneration, Sexual Freedom, and the Politics of the Weimar Republic, 1918-1933.” German Studies Review. Vol. 34, No. 3, 2011, pp. 529-549.

Marhoefer, Laurie. Sex and the Weimar Republic: German Homosexual Emancipation and the Rise of the Nazis. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015.

Michael, Robert, and Rosen, Philip. Dictionary of Antisemitism from the Earliest Times to the Present. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2007.

Milton, Giles. Fascinating Footnotes from History. John Murray Publishers, 2010.

Murray, Jacqueline. “Twice Marginal and Twice Invisible: Lesbians in the Middle Ages.” In: Handbook of Medieval Sexuality, ed. Vern Bullough and James A. Brundage. New York: Garland, 1996.

Neumann, Boaz. “The Nazis Tolerated Gays. Haaretz. Then Everything Changed.” 2019, Jan 24. Retrieved May 2, 2020, from: https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/holocaust-remembrance-day/.premium.MAGAZINE-the-nazis-tolerated-gays-then-everything-changed-1.6869815

Oyler, Lauren. “A Farewell to Pants: The Role of Cross-dressing During WWI.” Vice. 2016, Feb 11. Retrieved May 3, 2020, from: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ypa8qy/a-farewell-to-pants-the-role-of-cross-dressing-during-wwi

Roelens, Jonas. “Visible Women: Female Sodomy in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Southern Netherlands (1400-1500).” BMGN – Low Countries Historical Review. Retrieved May 9, 2020, from: https://www.bmgn-lchr.nl/articles/10.18352/bmgn-lchr.10101/#fn37

Rupp, Leila J. Sapphistries: A Global History of Love Between Women. New York: New York University Press, 2009.

Schneider Hilton, Ella E. Displaced Person: A Girl’s Life in Russia, Germany, and America. Louisiana State University Press, 2004.

Sigel, Lisa Z. “Best Love: Female Impersonation in the Great War.” Sexualities. Vol. 19, No. 1-2, 2016, Jan. 24.

Statutory Order of the Leader and Chancellor on the establishment of the Cross of Honour of the German Mother of 16 December 1938. Reich Law Gazette (RGBl) Part I, 1938, No. 224, Page 1923)

Steakley, James. “Homosexuals and the Third Reich.” The Body Politic, 11, January/February, 1974.

Stryker, Susan. Transgender History. Berkely, CA: Seal Press, 2008.

Audio Credits

Podcast theme music mixed from “Gregorian Chant”, “Mystery Sax”, and “There It Is” by Kevin MacLeod. Short Shorts theme music mixed from “Gregorian Chant” by Kevin MacLeod and “Short Shorts” by the Royal Teens.

Additional music and audio from “Book Flipping Pages Sound Effects”, “Falling In Love Again – Marlene Dietrich” from Timbobtim4, and “Marching 3” by Freesound.org.

Image Credits

Dancing Nazi cross-dresser – ElToroViking

Hitler face – Needpix.com

SS Flag – Wikipedia

One thought on “Wolves in Women’s Clothing? Cross-dressing in the German Army – Sex in the Third Reich

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s