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Stolperstein for Heinrich Habitz Liddy Bacroff in Hamburg © James Ssteakley

Bodie Ashton: The Parallel Lives of Liddy Bacroff. Transgender History and the Tyranny of the Archive in Twentieth-Century Germany

Friday, April 29, 2022, 7 p.m.

Pursued by authorities throughout the 1930s, Heinrich Habitz left behind a significant paper trail of official documentation, arrest warrants, and imprisonment records. As Germany slipped further under the National Socialist yoke, Habitz’s status as a homosexual man who sold sex marked him as a target of police repression; even after the end of the war, the Hamburg Prosecutor’s Office attempted to locate and again prosecute him under the infamous §175 ‘sodomy law.’

By rights, the study of Habitz provides insights into the continuities of anti-queer repression between authoritarianism and democracy, but for one key point: ‘Heinrich Habitz’ existed only as a paper identity in official bureaucracy, and the ‘man’ authorities repeatedly persecuted was, in fact, a self-identified woman named Liddy Bacroff. Through a series of semi-autobiographical writings, alongside official paperwork, Liddy Bacroff presents the value of but also the difficulties facing the (re)construction of queer and, in particular, transgender (pre)histories.

In this instance, the historian is faced with the problem not just of how this life, and others like it, should be represented in historiographical terms. Rather, we are left with the question of how this victim of National Socialist barbarity should (or rather, can) be remembered: as the paper identity that provided a succession of carceral authorities with the justification to persecute and ultimately murder a cisgender gay man, or as the lived experience of a woman whose unique understanding of herself allowed her to carve out her place in a society that otherwise relegated her to its margins?

The event is a part of TransVision. This series of events includes the exhibitions "TransTrans: Transatlantic Transgender Histories" and "TransMünchen: Geschichte und Gegenwart Münchner Trans*Menschen" as well as a diverse range of event formats accompanying the exhibitions.
Click here for more information on TransVision.

Free admission, no registration necessary.

Photo: Stolperstein for Heinrich Habitz Liddy Bacroff in Hamburg © James Ssteakley

Bodie Ashton © Bodie Ashton

About Bodie Ashton

Dr. Bodie A. Ashton is a postdoctoral research fellow and lecturer at the Universität Erfurt, Germany, where he works in the VolkswagenStiftung-funded Freigeist research group “The Other Global Germany: Transnational Criminality and Deviant Globalisation in Germany.” His focus is on queer and, in particular, trans and gender non-conforming identify formation in the twentieth century. He is the author of The Kingdom of Württemberg and the Making of Germany, 1815-1871 (2017) and the coeditor of Talking Bodies, vol. II: Bodily Languages, Selfhood and Transgressions (2020). Together with Sabrina Mittermeier he is the series editor of Transnational Queer Histories (De Gruyter) and is currently editing the collection The Pet Shop Boys and the Political: Queerness, Culture, Identity and Society (2023).


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