IES: Austria


A Young Girl's Diary (1919), supposedly the diary of a 14-year-old Viennese girl name Grete Lanier, Austrian psychoanalyst Hermine Hug-Hellmuth (1871-1924; allegedly the discoverer of the diary) was accused of fabricating it to support Freudian theories of childhood sexuality (Swindells, 1995)[1]. Reich[2] reported that in 1928 Vienna childhood masturbation was still strongly opposed. A short history of developmental sexology in Austria is presented by Borneman (1985:p123-34)[3].

As excerpted from Wegs (1992)[4] [refs. footnoted]:


“Most Austrian Socialist leaders thought working-class youth were suffering from premature and excessive sexual activity as a result of their early exposure to sexual matters. Julius Tandler, in charge of Vienna's Public Welfare Office and a socialist member of the city council in the 1920s, assumed that inferior housing had led to excessive sexual activity and social debilitation among the working class (Tandler 1936)[[5]]. Some socialists were particularly concerned about masturbation among the youth. Otto Kanitz, editor of Die sozialistische Erziehung, responding to a study that claimed 90 percent of young boys masturbated, wrote "Masturbation? The danger of the lack of restraint is great. What can be done? Abstinence and early marriage" (Kanitz 1922, p. 89)[[6]]. He maintained that those who wished to realize the socialist ideal "must be sexually pure" (Kanitz 1922, p. 91). Kanitz viewed sexual control as a part of a necessary self control demanded by the socialist ideal. Therese Schlesinger advised working-class youth to abstain from sexual intercourse until "they were mature enough to choose the right partner and to take up the obligations of an adult" since "the unbridled satisfaction of sex drive thwarts the development and deepening of eroticism," and "separates sexual intercourse from reproduction" (Schlesinger and Stein 1932, p. 236)[[7]]. Schlesinger and others feared that an uninhibited sexual activity would lead to large working-class families and crowded housing and thereby not remove those conditions that had led, in their opinion, to the impoverishment and debilitation of the lower working-class stratum”.


Borneman’s field work has been mentioned. A study to Austrian “firsts” was done in 1990/91, reported by Nöstlinger and Wimmer-Puchinger (1994)[8]. Another report on 11- to 14-year-olds was offered by Kromer et al. (1995)[9], Kromer and Tebbich (1998)[10] and Kromer (1999)[11]. In the former study (N=1,108, mean age=17.15), first being-in-love occurred at age 12.9, first date at 13.1, as is the first kiss, the first going-steady at 14.3, the first heterosexual petting at 14.9, the first homosexual petting at 13.4, and the first heterosexual intercourse at 15,5 (for those experienced at the time of questioning). Some three percent of girls and four percent of boys would have had sexual intercourse before age 13. In the latter 1995 KIDS-study, some 35% of 11-year-olds had experienced their basiarche [first kiss], 40% had “held hands”, 15% has “smootched” (“Schmusen”), 9% had had a French kiss, 12% had masturbated, 2% had petted, and 1% had had sexual intercourse (percentages estimated from graphic presentation).



“On 27 November [1996], the Lower Chamber of Austrian Parliament debated and voted on repealing the antilesbian and anti-gay articles in the Austrian penal code: Article 209 - higher age of consent of 18 years for male homosexual relations compared to 14 years for lesbians and heterosexuals […]”[12].



Additional refs:


§         Brongersma, E. (1989) Effekten van AIDS-voorlichting op school, Tijdschr Seksuol [Dutch] 13,4:285-9

§         Perner, R. A. (2001) Austria, in Francoeur, R. T. ( chief) The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. Vol. 4. New York: Continuum. Online ed.

§         McEwe, B. (2005) ‘Education to Purity’: Catholic Responses to Children’s Sexual Education in Republican Austria. Paper to be delivered to International Conference "Sex Education of the Young in the Twentieth Century: A Cultural History", 16th to 17th April, 2005 at CollingwoodCollege, University of Durham, UK





Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Dec 2004


[1] Swindells, J. (1995) What’s the use of books? Knowledge, authenticity and A Young Girl’s Diary, Women's Hist Rev 5,1:55-66

[2] Forword to the 1949, 4th ed. of Die Sexualität im Kulturkampf. Copenhagen: Sexpol. 1966 Dutch transl., De Seksuele Revolutie, p11

[3]Borneman, E. (1985) Das Geschlechtsleben des Kindes. München: Urban & Scharzenberg

[4] Wegs, J. R. (1992) Working-Class 'adolescence' in Austria 1890-1930, J Fam Hist 17,4:439-50

[5] Tandler, J. (1936) Die Sozialbilanz der Alkoholikerfamilie. Wien: Gerold

[6] Kanitz, F. (1922) Die sozialistische Erziehung 4:82-97

[7] Schlesinger, Th. & Stein, P. (1932) Leitsatze fur die sexuelle Augklarung der Jugend, Bildungsarbeit 19:232-8

[8] Nöstlinger, Ch. & Wimmer-Puchinger, B. (1994) Geschützte Liebe: Jugendsexualität und AIDS. Vienna

[9] Kromer, I., Tebbich, H. & Friesl, Ch. (1995) Abschied von der Kindheit: Die Lebenswelten der 11- bis 14jährigen Kids. Vienna: Österreichisches Institut für Jugendforschung

[10]Kromer, I. & Tebbich, H. (1998) Zwischenwelten: Das Leben der 11- bis 14jährigen. Vienna: Österreichisches Institut für Jugendforschung

[11]Kromer, I. (1999) Vom Anbandeln, Schmusen und Miteinanderschlafen: Jugendsexualität in den 90er Jahren. Vienna: Bundesministerium für Soziale Sicherheit und Generationen

[12]Krickler, K. (1996) Partial Victory Ban on Information and Association Repealed Age of Consent Law Unchanged,EuroLetter [ILGA Europe] 46:2. Cf. Graupner, H. (1998) Complaint against discriminatory age of consent filed with UN-committee for the Convention on the Rights of the child,EuroLetter [ILGA Europe] 61:8