Hirschfeld Institute

Berlin, Germany

Closed 1933

The Disappointed Tourist: Hirschfeld Institute, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

The Hirschfeld Institute or Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute of Sex Research) was a private research institute located in Berlin, founded in 1919 by Magnus Hirschfeld, a campaigner for LGBT rights, and his collaborator Artor Kronfeld. The Institute housed a major archive and conducted research and provided counselling on sex, sexual orientation, health and women’s emancipation as well as endocrinologic and surgical services, including the first sex reassignment surgeries. It had around 20,000 visitors and conducted around 1,800 consultations each year. When the Nazi party conducted its purge of gay clubs and groups in 1933, the Institute became a target. Its administrator was sent to a concentration camp, its archive was burned by Nazi youth brigades and its list of names was seized and used to round up gay men. The building was taken over and was largely destroyed in the war. Later, West German courts ruled the expropriation of the Institute legal, with the result that neither the Humbolt University of Berlin or the other heirs to whom the assets of the Institute had been left could claim restitution. Some of the archive survived and were collected by W. Dorr Legg and ONE, Inc in the 1950s. In 1973 a new Institut für Sexualwissenschaft was opened at the University of Frankfurt am Main, and in 1996 at the Humbolt University. The painting is based on an engraving from the Hirshfeld Institute archives that I found on Making Gay History website.

Requested by Anon.