Alice Schwarzer

Alice Sophie Schwarzer[1] (born 3 December 1942) is a German journalist and prominent feminist. She is founder and publisher of the German feminist journal EMMA. Beginning in France, she became a forerunner of feminist positions against anti-abortion laws, for economic self-sufficiency for women, against pornography, prostitution, female genital mutilation, and for a fair position of women in Islam. She authored many books, including biographies of Romy Schneider, Marion Dönhoff and herself.

Alice Schwarzer
Allice schwarzer I 2010.jpg
Schwarzer in Munich on 8 October 2010
Born (1942-12-03) 3 December 1942 (age 79)
  • Journalist
  • Feminist
  • Publisher
  • Author

Biography and positionsEdit

Schwarzer was born in Wuppertal, the daughter of young single mother,[2] and was raised by her grandparents in Wuppertal;[3] she described them as anti-Nazis.[4] During World War II, they were evacuated to Bavaria, only returning to the Ruhr district in 1950.[4] After learning French in Paris, Schwarzer began a trainee job in journalism in Düsseldorf in 1966,[2][4] and was sent to Paris as a correspondent.[3]

From 1970 to 1974, she worked as a freelancer for different media outlets in Paris. At the same time, she studied psychology and sociology in classes lectured by Michel Foucault, among others.[2] Schwarzer met Jean-Paul Sartre and Daniel Cohn-Bendit.[4] She was one of the founders of the Feminist Movement in Paris (Mouvement de libération des femmes, MLF), and also spread their ideas to Germany.[3] In April 1971, Schwarzer joined Simone de Beauvoir, Jeanne Moreau, Catherine Deneuve, and 340 French women in publicly announcing that they had had illegal abortions, in a successful campaign to legalize abortion in France.[4]

Schwarzer c. 1977

She convinced the Stern magazine to do something similar in Germany;[3] and in June 1971, Schwarzer and 374 German women, including Romy Schneider and Senta Berger, confessed that they had an abortion in a successful campaign to legalize abortion in Germany.[4] Decades later, Schwarzer revealed she had never had an abortion.[3] She called her project Frauen gegen den § 218 ("Women against Section 218", which was the section of the German Penal Code that made abortion illegal). In autumn 1971, Schwarzer released her first book of the same title. The law was changed by the German Constitutional Court abortion decision, 1975.[3]

One of Schwarzer's best-known books is Der kleine Unterschied und seine großen Folgen (The little difference and its great consequences), which was released in 1975 and made her famous beyond Germany.[3] It was translated into eleven languages. Since its release, Schwarzer has become Germany's most high-profile but also most controversial feminist.[3]

One of her goals was the realization of economic self-sufficiency for women. She argued against the law that required married women to obtain permission from their husbands before beginning paid work outside the home. This provision was removed in 1976.[3]

In January 1977, the first issue of her EMMA magazine was published,[2] her focus of work as chief editor and publisher for the following years.[3]

With her PorNo campaign, started in 1987, she advocated the banning of pornography in Germany,[2] arguing that pornography violates the dignity of women, constitutes a form of media violence against them, and contributes to misogyny and physical violence against women. The ongoing campaign has not been met with much success.[5]

From 1992 to 1993, Schwarzer was host of the TV show Zeil um Zehn on German TV channel Hessischer Rundfunk.[2] With her frequent appearances in German TV talk shows, she has become an institution on German television in all matters related to feminism.[6]

Schwarzer in 2010

When her journal EMMA changed to bimonthly release in 1993, she continued to write an increasing number of books, among them one about Petra Kelly and Gert Bastian, called Eine tödliche Liebe (Deadly Love), and biographies of Romy Schneider and Marion Dönhoff. In total, she has released 19 books as a writer, and 21 as publisher, as of 2014.[2]

Regarding Prostitution in Germany, she campaigned against the law of 2002 that fully legalized brothels. She views prostitution as violence against women, and favors laws like those in Sweden, where the sale of sexual acts is legal, but their purchase is not.[7]

In 2002, in the program Unsere Besten, she was voted the greatest living German, and the 23rd-greatest overall. She published an autobiography, Lebenslauf (Curriculum vitae), in 2011.[3]

She has been highly critical of political Islamism and the position of women in Islam; she favors prohibitions against women in public schools or other public settings wearing the hijab, which she considers a symbol of oppression. She has warned of a creeping Islamicization of Europe, which, in her opinion, would lead to an erosion of human rights, especially women's rights.[8]

She has written in favor of the continued legality of circumcision of male children.[9]

In June 2018, Schwarzer married her long-time life and business partner Bettina Flitner.[10]

Her most recent book, "Transsexualität. Was ist eine Frau? Was ist ein Mann? Eine Streitschrift." (2022), repeats the unresearched claim that transness is trending and advocates for transexclusive policies and institutionalised transphobia; Emma the magazine has since begun publishing transphobic content as well.[11]

Tax fraudEdit

In the 1980s, Schwarzer set up an account at the Zürich-based private bank Lienhardt & Partner to keep her assets hidden from German tax authorities.[12] During the following years, Schwarzer transferred earnings gained from book sales and public presentations to this Swiss bank account, thus avoiding taxation in Germany. Including interest and compound interest, her illegal assets piled up to an amount of 4 million euros.[12]

According to Section 371 of the German tax code ("Abgabenordnung"), the perpetrator of a tax fraud may avoid punishment if he or she admits to the offence and provides full disclosure of unpaid taxes to the authorities (German: strafbefreiende Selbstanzeige). Schwarzer attempted to make such disclosure in secret to German tax authorities. However, in February 2014, the German newspaper Der Spiegel wrote an investigative article on the topic, turning the whole affair public.[13]

As a reaction, Schwarzer made a statement on her private webpage on the matter.[14] Under the heading "In eigener Sache" ("on one's own account"), Schwarzer admitted to being a tax fraudster.[14] In that statement, Schwarzer tried to self-exculpate her crimes by claiming that in the past, she had been scared of political opponents in Germany and "was honestly afraid" that she might have to leave the country and thus needed to be financially prepared.[15]

In May 2014, German tax authorities and criminal prosecutors raided a number of properties owned by Schwarzer.[16] At the same time, judge-issued search warrants on several of Schwarzer's banking accounts were executed.[16] It turned out that Schwarzer's initial voluntary disclosure submitted to German tax authorities was incorrect and she had in fact never admitted the whole amount of her unpaid taxes. In such cases, voluntary disclosures do not have any exculpatory effect under German tax law. Consequently, in July 2016, Schwarzer was fined for tax fraud with a penalty of a six-figure amount by the local court ("Amtsgericht") of Cologne.[17]



  • Frauen gegen den § 218. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt 1971.
  • Frauenarbeit – Frauenbefreiung. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt 1973.
  • Der kleine Unterschied und seine großen Folgen. Frauen über sich; Beginn einer Befreiung. Protokolle und Essays. S. Fischer, Frankfurt 1975, several editions
  • So fing es an – 10 Jahre neue Frauenbewegung. Emma Frauenverlag, 1981.
  • Mit Leidenschaft. Texte von 1968–1982. Rowohlt Verlag, Hamburg 1982.
  • Simone de Beauvoir heute – Gespräche aus 10 Jahren. Interviews und Essays. Rowohlt Verlag, Hamburg 1982.
  • Warum gerade sie? Weibliche Rebellen. Luchterhand Verlag, Frankfurt 1989
  • Von Liebe + Haß. S. Fischer, Frankfurt 1992.
  • Eine tödliche Liebe – Petra Kelly + Gert Bastian. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1994, ISBN 3-462-02288-1.
  • Marion Dönhoff – Ein widerständiges Leben. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1996, ISBN 3-462-02531-7.
  • So sehe ich das. Texte von 1992–1996. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1997.
  • Romy Schneider – Mythos und Leben. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1998, ISBN 3-462-02740-9.
  • Der große Unterschied. Gegen die Spaltung von Menschen in Männer und Frauen. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2002, ISBN 3-462-02934-7.
  • Alice im Männerland. Eine Zwischenbilanz. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2002, ISBN 3-462-03143-0.
  • Alice Schwarzer porträtiert Vorbilder und Idole. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2003, ISBN 3-462-03341-7.
  • Frauen mit Visionen, with photographer Bettina Flitner, Knesebeck, Munich 2004
  • Liebe Alice, liebe Barbara. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2005.
  • Die Antwort. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2007, ISBN 978-3-462-03773-9.
  • Simone de Beauvoir. Ein Lesebuch mit Bildern. Rowohlt, Reinbek 2007
  • Simone de Beauvoir. Weggefährtinnen im Gespräch. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2007
  • Journalistin aus Passion. Picus, Vienna 2010
  • Lebenslauf. (autobiography). Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2011, ISBN 978-3-462-04350-1.
  • Reisen in Burma. with photographer Bettina Flitner, DuMont Verlag, Köln 2012, ISBN 978-3-8321-9424-6.
  • Meine algerische Familie. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2018, ISBN 978-3-462-05120-9.
  • Lebenswerk. Zweiter Teil der Autobiografie. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2020.

In EnglishEdit

  • Schwarzer, Alice (1984). After the Second Sex. Pantheon. ISBN 0-394-72430-5.
  • Schwarzer, Alice (1984). Simone de Beauvoir today: Conversations, 1972–1982. Hogarth Press. ISBN 0-7011-2784-8.


  1. ^ Müller-Urban, Kristiane; Urban, Eberhard (4 October 2016). Starke Frauen im Bergischen Land: 30 Porträts (in German). Droste Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7700-4130-5.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Alice Schwarzer geb. 1942". Lebendiges Museum Online (in German). 1 April 2017. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Cords, Suzanne (1 December 2017). "Germany's most famous women's rights activist Alice Schwarzer at 75". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 21 June 2018. she and her fellow activists revealed decades after the "I had an abortion" campaign that they had not actually had one themselves — that the action was pure political provocation.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Alison Smale (1 April 2017). "A Pioneering German Feminist Looks Back in Anguish". The New York Times. p. A8. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  5. ^ Zauberhafte Zeiten (interview in German with Lore Maria Peschel-Gutzeit) in Emma, Mai/Juni 2009, retrieved 13 August 2012.
  6. ^ Kuzmany, Stefan (3 February 2014). "Steuersünderin Alice Schwarzer: Die Einzige und ihr Eigentum". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 16 September 2017. "Seit Menschengedenken wird Alice Schwarzer zu jeder Talksendung eingeladen, in der auch nur im Entferntesten über so etwas wie Frauenrechte geredet wird.... Alice Schwarzer hält das Monopol auf die mediale Vermittlung des Feminismus in Deutschland." (Since time immemorial, Alice Schwarzer has been invited to every talk show in which women's rights are being discussed in even the slightest connection... Alice Schwarzer has a monopoly on the presentation of feminism in the German media.)
  7. ^ Oestreich, Heide (15 November 2013). "Alice Schwarzers Buch über Prostitution: Motiv Selbstzerstörung". taz (in German). Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  8. ^ Schwarzer, Alice: Fereshta Ludin – die Machtprobe / Die Kopftuch-Entscheidung des Verfassungsgerichtes ist für uns alle von großer Bedeutung. (editorial, in German) in Emma, Juli/August 2003.
  9. ^ Schwarzer, Alice (2 July 2012). "Soll die Beschneidung verboten werden?". Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2013. (Automated English translation via Google Translate: "Should circumcision be banned?")
  10. ^ "Alice Schwarzer hat ihre Lebensgefährtin geheiratet". Hamburger Abendblatt (in German). dpa. 7 June 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  11. ^ Dudley, Michaela (25 December 2021). "Alice Schwarzer zu Transsexualität: Agenda statt Authentizität". (in German). Retrieved 13 November 2022.
  12. ^ a b "Strafbefehl gegen Alice Schwarzer". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). 10 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Alice Schwarzer beichtet Schweizer Steuergeheimnis" (in German). Spiegel Online. 2 February 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  14. ^ a b "Alice Schwarzer schreibt: In eigener Sache". (in German). 2 February 2014. Archived from the original on 15 September 2017. See also "German feminist Alice Schwarzer admits to Swiss account, then goes on offensive". Deutsche Welle. 2 February 2014.
  15. ^ "Alice Schwarzer schreibt: In eigener Sache". (in German). 2 February 2014. Archived from the original on 15 September 2017. "Ich habe in Deutschland versteuerte Einnahmen darauf eingezahlt in einer Zeit, in der die Hatz gegen mich solche Ausmaße annahm, dass ich ernsthaft dachte: Vielleicht muss ich ins Ausland gehen."
  16. ^ a b "Durchsuchung bei Alice Schwarzer – Neuer Verdacht auf Steuerhinterziehung" (in German). Spiegel Online. 7 June 2014.
  17. ^ "Steuerhinterziehung: Strafbefehl gegen Alice Schwarzer". (in German). Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 10 July 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  18. ^ UDE: Alice Schwarzer wird Mercator-Professorin 2010. (in German) In: Informationsdienst Wissenschaft. 13 September 2010, retrieved 14 September 2010.
  19. ^ Alice Schwarzer erhält Markgräfler Gutedelpreis 2018 (in German) in Süddeutsche Zeitung 2018

External linksEdit