Convinced that sexual immorality and unstable gender norms were
endangering national recovery after World War One, German lawmakers
drafted a constitution in 1919 legalizing the censorship of movies
and pulp fiction, and prioritizing social rights over individual
rights. These provisions enabled legislations to adopt two national
censorship laws intended to regulate the movie industry and retail
trade in pulp fiction. Both laws had their ideological origins in
grass-roots anti-'trash' campaigns inspired by early encounters
with commercial mass culture and Germany's federalist structure.
Before the war, activists characterized censorship as a form of
youth protection. Afterwards, they described it as a form of social
welfare. Local activists and authorities enforcing the decisions of
federal censors made censorship familiar and respectable even as
these laws became a lightning rod for criticism of the young
republic. Nazi leaders subsequently refashioned anti-'trash'
rhetoric to justify the stringent censorship regime they imposed on
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