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date: 21 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores transformations in European sexual mores and practices in the era of the two world wars. It pays particular attention to the contradictory dynamics of the interwar era: on the one hand, a considerable loosening of sexual customs, especially for females; on the other, an unprecedented effort on the part of national and local governments to intervene in their citizens’ private lives. The phenomenon of increased state intervention in the intimate sphere—that of relationships, bedrooms, and bodies—would be true both for those nations that turned to fascism and those that remained democratic. But no changes would be as convulsive and consequential as those wrought by the slaughter unleashed in the Second World War, as sexuality also exploded out of the familial framework—a fact that explains a great deal about the renewed turns to conservatism and domesticity which would follow in that war’s wake.

Keywords: abortion, anti-Semitism, disability, eugenics, fascism, fraternization, heterosexuality, homosexuality, Nazism, rape

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