Did Communists Have Better Sex? Sex and the Body in German Unification

  • Josie McLellan


‘Sex at last!’ gasped German weekly newspaper Die Zeit in June 1990, reporting the opening of the first sex shop to the east of the German– German border. This, according to the newspaper, was a significant event in the dying days of the GDR, a country whose citizens ‘were not allowed to show themselves naked or see the naked bodies of others, except at the nudist beach’. ‘The workers and peasants’, the article went on, ‘could only practise voyeurism under the covers of the marriage bed’. Now, at last, currency reform and the impending unification were giving them the opportunity to make up for lost time (Stock, 1990, pp. 1–2). Around the time of unification, accounts such as this one were common, presenting sex as one of many areas in which East Germans had to ‘catch up’ with their Western neighbours. East Germans, it seemed, had led lives which were sexually as well as politically repressed. The brave new world of the market economy now offered new erotic opportunities.


Collective Memory Sexual Culture German Unification Naked Body German Border 
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© Josie McLellan 2011

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  • Josie McLellan

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