The year 1968 made history. It was a year of troubles in Ireland, of riots in Paris, and
interestingly enough the year of unrestrained sex in Germany's new intellectual youth.

Photo: Stefan Franke/

East... West?

 These phenomena could not be observed in all European countries. In the Eastern states, where totalitarian regimes still reigned, this political-sexual atmosphere did not develop. Reason enough for having a look at the differences between the "skirt-lifting" west and the "trouser-wearing" east.
Are politics more linked with sexuality than we can imagine?
The disturbing actions and sights of World War II and the insufficient accounting for the past of their parent's generation led the emerging youthful generation in Germany into a rebellion against their elders in the form of "free love". A new way of life and love occurred.

In Berlin the first commune was founded. It made way for a new community with politically engaged and intellectual young thinkers. Perhaps the most famous example of this new sexual movement was Uschi Obermaier, an iconic sex symbol of the late sixties. Uschi was a fashion model and known as the first "groupie".  She not only slept with Mick Jagger, but also with Keith Richards. However she not only showed her sexual liberation in private, but also in public and had to bear the loud abuses hurled by appalled older generation passengers while taking the tram in Berlin in 1968 because of her innovative micro-miniskirt. All the protest came too late, miniskirts were en vogue, and the shorter it was the more freedom it promised. This type of clothing (or lack thereof), aroused sneaky glances from young men sitting in cafés and discussing their parent's ease of handling with their own past in World War II.

In the end of the 1960s Europe was in a state of emergency. A new era began, in which not only young intellectuals, but also workers in France fought against their rigid society and for more justice. The political atmosphere in Western Europe was characterized by a moral-standard and generation conflict. The students not only approached the communistic ideas but especially their new life-style displeased the older generation. Youth argued a lot, drank loads of wine and had sex with whoever they wanted to copulate with, whenever and wherever they wanted. Determining this was the introduction and blossoming of the contraceptive pill  market in Europe. This meant that the act of sex was freed from the previously singular result of starting a family. Parents were silenced when the youth talked about sex as a form of self-realization. Far from it: Sexuality was now the symbol of the dissociation of conservatism, a symbol of freedom and self-determination.

But what was it like in the neighbouring communist countries?

Photo: Eva Sablovska
A moment from the past

In the 1920s after the October Revolutions a sexual revolution came about in the Soviet Union. Thereby women were more self-confident and liberated - they could now put into practice their new findings.Day nurseries were founded, the first communes originated,  and organizations were established which tried to displace the original view of family life.

But the sexual revolutions already found their demise in the late 1920s when repressive laws, asceticism, prudery and philistinism again took the control. Politicians bethought of the conservative values and declared family as the society's gamete and the previously abolished patriarchate  was gaining popularity again. This social sexual structure did not change in 1968. While Germany and the other Western European States surpass themselves in sexual experimentation, with the sexual emancipation of women, Eastern Europe upheld the old-fashioned gender structures of the bashful female, dominate male and traditional family life.

Sexually educating films like "Helga" by Oswalt Kolle - the most famous German sex educator - did not exist in the communistic reigned countries. The movie follows a naive newlywed who gets pregnant. The movie shows sex in a very libertine way and as a wonderful experience shared between partners. Such films filled whole cinema halls and had great successes not only in Germany. Taboos of sex were being removed with the help of such films all over Europe.

In Western Germany, France and Great Britain a hedonistic way of life was possible, single life had it's own charm and was contrary to the romantic-based relationships. It was not necessary to enjoy sexuality with a constant partner as the open sex market was profuse with promises of a new and exciting way of life. People without partners rejoiced in the arising porn industry. The gluttons enjoyed flourishing prostitution, developments of which were enabled by the new governmental system.

 Would this have been possible in the repressive East of the 60s?

Photo: Max Seibert/ www.europeandme.eu

It is so easy when there's no political pressure!

In the Soviet Union it was not easy to get to know people of the same age. A life with discos, clubs and student parties was refused by the government whose strict repression  closely controlled the thoughts, and thus the desires of the youths, so they bethought of relationships as their way of life instead of the "being single" like in Western Europe.

Eastern Europe's ladies did not even have the possibility to put emphasis on their sexual needs by wearing hot miniskirts. Also forbidden was commercial sexuality, so vegetables got no competition in the sex toy market. Life's sexualisation in public did not exist, thus sex was edged strictly into the people's bedrooms.

In the early 1970s  the situation changed in Western Europe. The end of the student riots and the arising feminism finished the hype of sex and gave Germany a more conservative view on sexuality back. The sexual revolution in Eastern Europe still needed implementation.

What we can learn from this: Do not let politics dictate your sex life, feel free to have sex!

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