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Schwarzer during the 58th Congress of the German Society for Gynecology and Obstetrics in Munich on 8 October 2010
Schwarzer during the 58th Congress of the German Society for Gynecology and Obstetrics in Munich on 8 October 2010

Alice Sophie Schwarzer[1] (born 3 December 1942 in Wuppertal) is a German journalist and prominent contemporary feminist. She is founder and publisher of the German feminist journal EMMA, and a columnist of Germany's best-selling tabloid Bild.

In July 2016, Schwarzer was convicted of tax fraud by the Amtsgericht Cologne; in the course of the case, which began in 2013, it was revealed that, since the 1980s, she had failed to pay taxes on approximately 4 million euros that she had accumulated in a Swiss bank account.[2][3]

Biography and positions

As the daughter of an uninvolved 22-year-old single mother, Schwarzer was raised by her maternal grandparents in Wuppertal, who she says were outspoken anti-Nazis.[4] During World War II, she evacuated to Bavaria, only returning to the Ruhr in 1950.[4] After studying in France, Schwarzer began a trainee journalism job in Düsseldorf in 1966.[4] In 1969, she started working as a journalist.

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. 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. In April 1971, Schwarzer joined Simone de Beauvoir, Jeanne Moreau, Catherine Deneuve, and 340 Frenchwomen in publicly announcing that they had each had illegal abortions in a successful campaign to legalize abortion in France.[4]

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.[5] 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 West German legalization law was struck down by the German Constitutional Court abortion decision, 1975.

One of her best-known books is Der kleine Unterschied und seine großen Folgen (The Little Difference and Its Huge Consequences), which was released in 1975 and made her famous beyond the borders of Germany. It was translated into eleven languages. Since its release, Schwarzer has become Germany's most high-profile, but also most controversial, contemporary feminist. She is a second-wave feminist representing concepts of feminist equality.

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.

In January 1977, the first issue of her journal EMMA was published. The next years, she concentrated on the work for her journal, serving as chief editor and publisher.

With her PorNo campaign, started in 1987, she advocated the banning of pornography in Germany, 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 met with much success.

From 1992 to 1993, Schwarzer was host of the TV show Zeil um Zehn on German TV channel Hessischer Rundfunk. 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
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 16 books as a writer, and 15 as publisher.

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. (See also: Prostitution in Germany.)

In 2002, in the programme Unsere Besten, she was voted the greatest living German, and the 23rd-greatest overall.

In recent years, 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 warns of a creeping Islamicization of Europe, which, in her opinion, would lead to an erosion of human rights, especially women's rights.

She has written in favor of the continued legality of circumcision of male children.[7]

In June 2018, Schwarzer married her long-time life and business partner Bettina Flitner.[8]

Tax fraud

Zürich, Switzerland, one of the world's leading financial centers. Starting in the 1980s, Schwarzer had hidden over 4 million euros at the Zürich-based private bank Lienhardt & Partner.
Zürich, Switzerland, one of the world's leading financial centers. Starting in the 1980s, Schwarzer had hidden over 4 million euros at the Zürich-based private bank Lienhardt & Partner.

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.[2] 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.[2]

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.[9]

As a reaction, Schwarzer made a statement on her private webpage on the matter.[10] Under the heading "In eigener Sache" ("on one's own account"), Schwarzer admitted to being a tax fraudster.[10] 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.[11]

In May 2014, German tax authorities and criminal prosecutors raided a number of properties owned by Schwarzer.[12] At the same time, judge-issued search warrants on several of Schwarzer's banking accounts were executed.[12] 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.[3]




  1. ^ Müller-Urban, Kristiane; Urban, Eberhard (2016-10-04). Starke Frauen im Bergischen Land: 30 Porträts (in German). Droste Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7700-4130-5.
  2. ^ a b c "Strafbefehl gegen Alice Schwarzer". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). 10 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Steuerhinterziehung: Strafbefehl gegen Alice Schwarzer" (in German). Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 10 July 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  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. ^ Suzanne Cords (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.
  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. ^ 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?")
  8. ^ "Alice Schwarzer hat ihre Lebensgefährtin geheiratet". Hamburger Abendblatt (in German). dpa. 7 June 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Alice Schwarzer beichtet Schweizer Steuergeheimnis" (in German). Spiegel Online. 2 February 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "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."
  12. ^ a b "Durchsuchung bei Alice Schwarzer - Neuer Verdacht auf Steuerhinterziehung" (in German). Spiegel Online. 7 June 2014.