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30 July 2022

Henriett B. (1908 - ?) maid, sex worker

B., raised in Hanover, Germany, had worn women's clothes exclusively since the age of 17 and worked as a maid, in one job for as long as seven years. Also in 1925 she had sexual contact with a man for the first time and considered self-castration because "he felt as a woman and wanted to be one”.

In 1939 B. had become engaged to a workmate and claimed that she was pregnant by him, even sending a picture of an infant and wrote that it was his child.

In July 1941, a few weeks after the start of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union and its support mobilisation, B. moved to Vienna where she was arrested on suspicion of "commercial fornication”. The discovery that she was male-bodied led to immediate charges for “draft evasion”, and also questions about homosexuality. B. admitted sexual contacts with men but "firmly denied in his interrogation that he had consorted with homosexuals. His partners had always been of the opinion that in B. they had a woman in front of them".

Chief Inspector of Criminal Investigation Hans-Heinrich Huelke accepted this reasoning, and further wrote in his report: 

“While the social harmfulness of the homosexual lies primarily in the fact that he supports other persons in acting out their degenerate sexual instinct, [...] this danger is not present in the case of the accused. His sexual partners believed that he was a woman and were not homosexuals. The accused thus did not have a degrading effect on his surroundings due to his female attitude and therefore appears less dangerous to the community than a homosexual appearing in male clothing.”

B. was sentenced to six months in prison for non-registration for the Wehrmacht, § 5 War Special Criminal Law Ordinance, by the Vienna Regional Court . 

At the end of her sentence she requested castration. The health department went further and, as a matter of eugenics, did a penectomy. After returning to Hanover B. applied to change her first name from Hinrich to Henriett. No objections to this were raised.

Chief Inspector Huelke wrote up the case in 1949 when WWII was over.   In 1955 he wrote a textbook on criminology.    

  • Hans-Heinrich Huelke. “Ein Transvestit (Der Fall Hinrich B.)”. Zeitschrift für die gesamte kriminalistische Wissenschaft und Praxis, 3, 1949: 91- 92.
  • Annette Runte. Biographische Operationen: Diskurse der Transsexualität. Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1996: 400-2.
  • Rainer Herrn. “Transvestitismus in der NS-Zeit – Ein Forschungsdesiderat”. (Transvestitism in the Nazi era - a research desideratum). Zeitschrift für Sexualforschung, 26,2, 2013: 363.

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Compare this to what happened to Liddy Bacroff. Which police officer and which doctor processed your case could make a lot of difference.

Henriett had pretty much the same operation as Christine Jorgensen 10 years later, but without the enhancing of hormone therapy.

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