Conversation Jews Queers Germans

Jews Queers Germans © Seven Stories Press


Goethe-Institut New York

30 Irving Place
New York, NY 10003

Martin Duberman and Masha Gessen talk about history

Jews Queers Germans (Seven Stories Press, 2017) is a historical novel by Martin Duberman that recreates the intimate milieu around Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II from 1907 through the 1930s: a period of great human suffering and destruction but also of enormous freedom and creativity, a time when the remnants and artifices of the old world still mattered, while art and the social sciences were pirouetting with successive revolutions in thought and style. 

Adhering closely to the historical record, Duberman portrays the gay life of a very upper-crust intellectual milieu. The story revolves around three of Kaiser Wilhelm's closest friends: Prince Philipp von Eulenburg, the emperor’s closest friend, who becomes the subject of a notorious 1907 trial for homosexuality; Magnus Hirschfeld, a famed, Jewish sexologist who gives testimony at the trial; and Count Harry Kessler, a leading proponent of modernism and the keeper of a famous set of diaries which lay out in intimate detail the major social, artistic, and political events of the day while alluding as well to his own homosexuality. 

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Martin Duberman is a historian, playwright, activist, and the founder of the Center for LGBTQ Studies (CLAGS) at CUNY. He is the author of more than twenty books, including the acclaimed James Russell Lowell (1966), Stonewall (1993), and Left Out: The Politics of Exclusion, Essays 1964–2002, among many others. Duberman has received multiple awards and has been a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in New York City.

Masha Gessen is a journalist and the author of ten books of nonfiction, most recently The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, to be published in October 2017. She is also the author of the national bestseller The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (2012). She is a contributing opinion writer to The New York Times and a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, among other publications. She has received numerous awards and currently serves as vice-president of PEN America.
Gessen was born in Moscow and immigrated to the US with her family in 1981. She returned to Moscow as a correspondent ten years later and stayed, becoming a Russian-language journalist in addition to her work for American magazines. She re-immigrated to the US in 2013, after her family was targeted by Putin’s antigay campaign. She lives in New York City.