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The Sexual Revolution and Children: How the Left Took Things Too Far

By and Wiebke Hollersen

Part 3: 'That Hurts'

Photo Gallery: A Sexual Revolution that Went too Far Photos
DPA

Others found it noticeably more difficult to deal with the situation. The records of a Stuttgart Kinderladen from December 1969 include an account by a mother who suddenly found several children reaching under her skirt. When one of the boys began pulling her pubic hair, the woman wasn't sure how to react. On the one hand, she didn't want to seem inhibited, but on the other hand, the situation was unpleasant for her. "That hurts," she finally said, "I don't like that."

An account by the sociologist Monika Seifert, who described her experiences in the "Parents' Collective of the Frankfurt Children's School" in the magazine Vorgänge (excerpts of which later appeared in SPIEGEL in the fall of 1970), reveals how difficult it was for the Kinderladen parents to eventually decide between their own ideological expectations and their sense of right and wrong.

In the account, Seifert critically asks herself why, in her project, "no cases of attempted, direct, purposeful sexual activity between a child and an adult were observed." It should be noted that she sees this as a shortcoming, not a success. As a mother, Seifert concludes that the "inhibitions and insecurities of the adults" were probably to blame for their passivity, and that the children were likely "suppressing their sexual curiosity in this regard because of the subconscious reactions of the adults."

'An Incredibly Erotic Game'

Does what happened in a number of the Kinderladen qualify as abuse? According to the criteria to which Catholic priests have been subjected, it clearly does, says Alexander Schuller, the sociologist. "Objectively speaking, it was abuse, but subjectively it wasn't," says author Dannenberg. As outlandish as it seems in retrospect, the parents apparently had the welfare of the children in mind, not their own. For the adherents to the new movement, the child did not serve as a sex object to provide the adults with a means of satisfying their sexual urges. This differentiates politically motivated abuse from pedophilia.

Here, too, the distinctions become blurred. How should we react when Cohn-Bendit writes, in his memoirs, about "little, five-year-old girls who had already learned to proposition me?" It wasn't the only time the Green politician raved about his experiences with children. In a largely unnoticed appearance on French television on April 23, 1982, Cohn-Bendit, a member of the European Parliament today, said the following:

"At nine in the morning, I join my eight little toddlers between the ages of 16 months and 2 years. I wash their butts, I tickle them, they tickle me and we cuddle. … You know, a child's sexuality is a fantastic thing. You have to be honest and sincere. With the very young kids, it isn't the same as it is with the four-to-six-year-olds. When a little, five-year-old girl starts undressing, it's great, because it's a game. It's an incredibly erotic game."

Cohn-Bendit later claimed that his portrayals in the book were meant as a provocation. Whether or not one believes his assertions, the development of the Greens in the 1980s shows that their nonchalant talk about sex with young children eventually attracted real pedophiles.

No Age Restrictions

In the wake of the emerging gay movement, so-called Pedo groups soon appeared. Taking their cue from homosexuals, they also claimed that, as a minority, they were entitled to certain rights. The best known of these groups was the "Indian Commune" in Nuremberg, an "alternative living project" of adults of children. The "Indians," brightly painted and vocal, appeared at the first Green Party convention, in the southwestern German city of Karlsruhe in 1980, to drum up support for their cause, which they called "free sex for children and adults."

The Greens were not long immune to the argument that the government should not limit the sexuality of children. At its convention in Lüdenscheid in 1985, the Greens' state organization in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia argued that "nonviolent sexuality" between children and adults should generally be allowed, without any age restrictions. "Consensual sexual relations between adults and children must be decriminalized," the "Children and Youth" task force of the Green Party in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg wrote in a position paper at about the same time. Public protests forced the party to remove the statement from the document.

During this time, no other newspaper offered pedophiles quite as much a forum as the alternative, left-leaning Tageszeitung, which shows how socially acceptable this violation of taboos had become in the leftist community. In several series, including one titled "I Love Boys," and in lengthy interviews, men were given the opportunity to describe how beautiful and liberating sex with preadolescent boys supposedly was. "There was a great deal of uncertainty as to how far people could go," says Gitti Hentschel, the co-founder and, from 1979 to 1985, editor of Tageszeitung. Those who, like Hentschel, were openly opposed to promoting pedophilia were described as "prudish" -- as opposed to freedom of expression. "There is no such thing as censorship in the Tageszeitung," was the response.

Carte Blanche

One of the few leaders of the left who staunchly opposed the pedophile movement early on was social scientist Günter Amendt. "There is no equitable sexuality between children and adults," Amendt said, expressing his outrage over the movement. Alice Schwarzer, the founder of the political women's magazine Emma, also spoke out against the downplaying of sex with children and defined it as what it really was: outright abuse.

Amendt recalls how he was disparaged as a reactionary in flyers and articles. "There was an outright campaign against Alice and me at the time," he says. It wasn't until the mid-1990s that this horrific episode came to an end. In 1994, the Pedos appeared in Tageszeitung for the last time, and even that publication recognized that intercourse with little boys was no different than with little girls, who, thanks to the women's movement, have long been deemed worthy of protection.

The revolutionaries of the late 1960s are still a long way from confronting this part of their history. When questions about the activities of members of the movement of 1968 were raised in connection with the abuse cases at the Odenwald School, the apologists for the movement were quick to give themselves a carte blanche.

"Such accusations are also part of an attempt to denounce social progress," sexologist and 1968 veteran Gunter Schmidt wrote in the Frankfurter Rundschau. "On the whole, the social changes that are associated with the number 1968 were more likely to have led to the prevention of abuse."

This is a very mild way of recalling the past. It is certainly not shared by everyone who was part of the leftist educational experiments of the day.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

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1. It never was about the children, but always about the adults.
donald doug 07/02/2010
Let me begin by saying, that I was part of this sexual revolution as a child, and that I am reeling from the aftermath of what happened to me to this very day. That said, I want to point out, that when an adult engages in sexual activity with a child, it is not about love or sensuality, but about power. And it is exactly that level on which the abuse causes damage. No matter how often I was told that in an anti authoritarian household every member has equal rights, at the end of the day, I was still a child with all the limitations that that entails. I have a problem with the term Sexual Revolution. Screwing anything that moves hardly qualifies to be called that. The Left, as you call it, did exactly the same as the "Right". Adults having sex with children know no class boundaries. It happened just as much in conservative households, the only difference being, that the Left did it openly. And that was a huge step, yet clearly not enough. When adults consider children as adequate sex partners, it is about deep seated psychological damage, and has little to do with liberation of any kind. By openly engaging in these kind of practices, the 'Left' put the limelight on a topic that is of utmost importance. What angers me, as someone who happened to be on the child end of the spectrum at the time, is the fact that the issue was merely scratched on the surface and then left at that. It was never about the children, in my opinion, but about an attempt of the adults to confront something from their past, belonging to their childhoods. Considering, that the childhoods of those adults happened to be during World War II, complicates everything exponentially. I was used sexually as a child by various adults. It was never about me and always about them, even though it might have looked differently at the time. I confronted some of them over the years. Most of them belong(ed) to the establishment. Some of them are praised members of the establishment to this very day. Healing from this kind of abuse is a slow and often painful and extremely intimate process. It was very important for me to understand that the adults that chose to engage in sex with me as a child, did so out of their own damaged selves and had nothing to do with me as a human being. And that is exactly my point of critic with the "Left". Throwing a loaded topic like this onto the table could be considered courageous. Being unwilling to understand its true depth and impact is unforgivable.
2. lacking arguments
dein spiegel 07/03/2010
An interesting article, unfortunately it is just communicating the opinion that we're oh-so enlightened today, and back then people were just doing really wrong things because, well, everybody knows that, no? However, if there is no reason given for right or wrongs, the only thing that distinguishes both is the prevailing opinion, and that was what caused the problem to begin with. What is lacking in this article are scientifically well established studies that demonstrate effects of sexual abuse or intrusion into the private sphere on children. Without that, there's no rights or wrongs.
3. Legends debunked
sganarelle 07/03/2010
These are two of the legends that led to the fatal ideologies of the 1968 movement: The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead: A Historical Analysis of Her Samoan Research (http://www.newsweekly.com.au/books/0813336937.html) Secret History: Kinsey's Paedophiles (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8606305708018993332#)
4. Really?
ibesq 07/05/2010
I left Germany in 1965 and spent the rest of the 60s and 70s in the U.S., with the 70s in San Francisco, so I have experience with left and progressive groups. I find it hard to believe that the conduct and attitude described in this article with questionable source material was so widespread in the late 60s and 70s in Germany. If you read between the lines, the author acknowledges the absence of widespread sexual abuse of children.
5. s
mae 07/05/2010
Zitat von sysopGermany's left has its own tales of abuse. One of the goals of the German 1968 movement was the sexual liberation of children. For some, this meant overcoming all sexual inhibitions, creating a climate in which even pedophilia was considered progressive. http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,702679,00.html
If leftist politicians have written books admitting to trysts with children, why hasn't the German police filed charges against them for child molestation? It appears that German society has a double standard when it comes to child molestation - one standard for priests and another for intellectuals and the artists. It is quite pathetic how this article tries to justify child molestation by the 68er's by saying they didn't realise they were harming the children - what did the have an IQ of 10? This basic common sense . This is what fanaticism does to people - they lose their morals. Any kind of fanaticism whether of the left or right inevitabley leads to an absence of morals. Fanaticism is not restricted to politics, it can also be fanatical atheism , fanatical environmentalism. Once an fanatical envirnomentalist told me that he didn't give a damn about millions of children dying of poverty becaue it was ultimately beneficial as over population was damaging the environment. He clearly had lost his morals but believed himself to be morally superior everybody else.
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