Personal Views

Sex and sin

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 07 December 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1492
  1. David Berger

    I had always known that my maternal grandfather, a Jew and a society gynaecologist in the swinging Berlin of the 1920s and 1930s, had written a book analysing the roots of sexuality and its position in modern society. But, like his detective novel, Sperm Type D1, in which the fetus of a drowned woman is transferred to another woman's womb, I had always presumed that all the copies had been incinerated in the book burnings which characterised the early years of the Third Reich. What a surprise, then, to come across a copy of Sex and Sin—The Crisis in Sexuality and the Decline of Marriage by Dr Heinz Schmeidler in my parents' attic.

    I picked up the red, cloth backed book and opened it with some trepidation. I had been brought up to regard my grandfather, who I never met, as a man of great intellectual gifts and much larger than life. Overflowing with humour and kindness, he was the darling of the Berlin film and theatre set in those Bohemian years before everything went so horribly wrong.

    His surgery was two floors above the fashionable Cafe Kranzler in central Berlin and one floor above the offices of the German Stage and Theatre Club. He was also doctor to the Ufa film studios, and it was not long before he was on the closest of terms with such icons …

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