Marc Baer, German, Jew, Muslim, Gay: The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus

When and Where

Monday, November 27, 2023 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Jackman Humanities Building
170 St. George St., Toronto, ON M5S 2M8


Marc Baer (London School of Economics)


Edward and Belle Freid Memorial Lecture

Marc Baer (London School of Economics)

German, Jew, Muslim, Gay: The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus

Hugo Marcus (1880–1966) was a man of many names and many identities. Born a German Jew, he converted to Islam and took the name Hamid, becoming one of the most prominent Muslims in Germany prior to World War II. He was renamed Israel by the Nazis and sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp before escaping to Switzerland. He was a gay man who never called himself gay but fought for homosexual rights and wrote queer fiction under the pen name Hans Alienus during his decades of exile.

In German, Jew, Muslim, Gay, Marc David Baer uses Marcus’s life and work to shed new light on a striking range of subjects, including German Jewish history and anti-Semitism, Islam in Europe, Muslim-Jewish relations, and the history of the gay rights struggle. Baer explores how Marcus created a unique synthesis of German, gay, and Muslim identity that positioned Johann Wolfgang von Goethe as an intellectual and spiritual model. Marcus’s life offers a new perspective on sexuality and on competing conceptions of gay identity in the multilayered world of interwar and postwar Europe. His unconventional story reveals new aspects of the interconnected histories of Jewish and Muslim individuals and communities, including Muslim responses to Nazism and Muslim experiences of the Holocaust. An intellectual biography of an exceptional yet little-known figure, German, Jew, Muslim, Gay illuminates the complexities of twentieth-century Europe’s religious, sexual, and cultural politics.


Marc David Baer (PhD, History, University of Chicago) is Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author of six books: Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe, winner, Albert Hourani Prize, Middle East Studies Association of North America, Best Book in Middle East Studies; The Dönme: Jewish Converts, Muslim Revolutionaries, and Secular Turks; At Meydanı'nda Ölüm: 17. Yüzyıl İstanbul'unda Toplumsal Cinsiyet, Hoşgörü ve İhtida (Death on the Hippodrome: Gender, Tolerance, and Conversion in 17th century Istanbul, in Turkish)German, Jew, Muslim, Gay: The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus;  Sultanic Saviors and Tolerant Turks: Writing Ottoman Jewish History, Denying the Armenian Genocide, winner, Dr. Sona Aronian Book Prize for Excellence in Armenian Studies; and The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars and Caliphs, shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize.



This event will be delivered in-person in JHB100 (170 St. George Street) on Monday, November 27, 2023 at 4 PM.


Edward and Belle Freid Memorial Lecture


170 St. George St., Toronto, ON M5S 2M8