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Ina German man who goes by the name Marco came across an article in a Berlin newspaper with a photograph of a professor he recognized from childhood. They were thin, almost nonexistent, a trait that Marco had always found repellent. He was surprised to read that the professor, Helmut Kentler, had been one of the most influential sexologists in Germany. The experiment was authorized and financially supported by the Berlin Senate. Now he was thirty-four, with a one-year-old daughter, and her meals and naps structured his days.
I did what I do every day: nothing, really. I sat around Adult want sex Berlin Center front of the computer. Marco looks like a movie star—he is tanned, with a firm jaw, thick dark hair, and a long, symmetrical face. As an adult, he has cried only once. He was unemployed. Once, he tried to work as a mailman, but after a few days he quit, because whenever a stranger made an expression that reminded him of his foster father, an engineer named Fritz Henkel, he had the sensation that he was not actually alive, that his heart had stopped beating, and that the color had drained from the world.
He felt both curious and ashamed. In ways that Marco had never understood, Kentler, a psychologist and a professor of social education at the University of Hannover, had seemed deeply invested in his upbringing. But Marco told her he had lived in his foster home untilwhen he was twenty-one. A few weeks later, Marco phoned one of his foster brothers, whom he calls Sven.
He liked Sven, but felt little connection to him. They had never had a real conversation. But Sven seemed unable to process the information. As a young boy, Marco liked to pretend he was one of the Templars, an order of knights that protected pilgrims to the Holy Land. He was a lively child who occasionally wandered around his Berlin neighborhood unsupervised. At five, inhe crossed the street alone and was hit by a car. She sent Marco and his older brother to day care in dirty clothes, and left them there for eleven hours. Marco was ased to live with Henkel, Adult want sex Berlin Center forty-seven-year-old single man who supplemented his income as a foster father by repairing jukeboxes and other electronics.
The criminal investigation was suspended. It had five bedrooms and was on the third floor of an old building on one of the main shopping streets of Friedenau, an upscale neighborhood popular among politicians and writers. Two other foster sons lived there, a sixteen-year-old and a twenty-four-year-old, neither of whom was particularly friendly to Marco. But he was delighted to discover an armoire in the hallway that held a cage with two rabbits that he could play with and feed.
Every few months, Henkel drove nearly two hundred miles with his foster children to see Kentler in Hannover, where he taught. In a photograph taken during one of their visits, Kentler wears a white button-up shirt with a pen in the pocket, and Marco sits at a dining-room table beside him, looking bored and dazed. Marco had been living with Henkel for a year and a half when Sven moved in. The police had found him in a subway station in Berlin, sick with hepatitis. He was seven years old, begging for money, and he said that he had come from Romania. The two boys took on different roles in their new family.
Sven was the good son, docile and loving. Marco was more defiant, but at night, when Henkel came into his room asking to cuddle, or waited for him while he brushed his teeth before bed, he had to comply. I thought of it a little bit like food. People have different tastes in food, the way some people have different tastes in sexuality.
One night, Marco took a knife from the kitchen and slept with it under his pillow. When Henkel approached his bed and discovered the blade, he withdrew quickly, called Helmut Kentler, then handed the phone to Marco. Kentler had a calming, grandfatherly presence. He assured Marco that there was no such thing as devils, and Marco agreed to surrender the knife.
Afterward, Marco would sometimes urinate in his bed or lose focus in school, writing s and letters backward. When a school psychologist referred Sven for counselling, too, Henkel would not allow him to take any psychological tests, according to records. In a letter, Kentler advised the youth-welfare office that, if a psychological assessment had Adult want sex Berlin Center be done, he would perform it. Henkel needs from the authorities is trust and protection.
When Marco was nine, his mother petitioned a district judge in Berlin to allow her to spend more time with him. A hearing was held in March,a month before Marco turned ten. He told the judge that his foster father, whom he called Papa, loved him, and his birth family did not. An early memory was of walking in the forest on a spring day and running to keep up with his father. Kentler was ten during Kristallnacht, inwhen Nazi Storm Troopers raided Jewish temples, stores, and houses.
He came out of his bedroom and saw his father in a nightdress, holding the phone. Soon, the doorbell rang. A Jewish family—a mother, father, and three children—who lived in the apartment below stood at the door. Their apartment had been destroyed, and they asked if they could spend the night with the Kentlers.
He shut the door. He rose to the rank of colonel, and moved his family to Berlin, where he worked at the High Command of the army of Nazi Germany. He became involved in the student movement, and at a meeting of the Republican Club, a group established by left-wing intellectuals, he publicly identified himself as gay for the first time.
He was inspired by the Marxist psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reichwho had argued that the free flow of sexual energy was essential to building a new kind of society. Like many of his contemporaries, Kentler came to believe that sexual repression was key to understanding the Fascist consciousness. The trials of twenty-two former Auschwitz officers had revealed a common personality type: ordinary, conservative, sexually inhibited, and preoccupied with bourgeois morality.
Sexual emancipation was integral to student movements throughout Western Europe, but the pleas were more pitched in Germany, where the memory of genocide had become inextricably—if not entirely accurately—linked with sexual primness. Suddenly, it seemed as if all relationship structures could—and must—be reconfigured, if there was any hope of producing a generation less damaged than the one.
Kentler inserted himself into a movement that was urgently working to undo the sexual legacy of Fascism but struggling to differentiate among various taboos. He was asked to lead the department of social education at the Pedagogical Center, an international research institute in Berlin whose planning committee included Willy Brandt, who became the Chancellor of Germany and won the Nobel Peace Prizeand James B. Conant, the first U. Ambassador to West Germany and a president of Harvard.
Funded and supervised by the Berlin Senate, the center was established, into make Berlin an international leader in reforming educational practices. Kentler worked on the problem of runaways, heroin addicts, and young prostitutes, many of whom gathered in the archways of the Zoo Station, the main transportation hub in West Berlin. In exchange, they slept with him. He held consultations with the foster fathers and their sons, many of whom had been so neglected that they had never learned to read or write.
His summary did not seem to provoke concerns. When Kentler publicly discussed his experiment, he offered details about only three foster homes. Marco remembers Kentler and his foster father talking for hours on the phone about politics.
The intensity of their conversations surprised him, because Henkel was laconic at home, rarely speaking in full sentences. Both boys kept their doors closed. Once, when the neighbors played loud music, breaking the silence in their apartment, Henkel told the boys that he wanted to drill holes in two microwave ovens and then aim the radioactive waves toward each other, at just the right angle, to give the neighbors a heart attack.
She was still allowed visits every few weeks at the youth-welfare office, but the meetings went increasingly badly. He repeatedly asked to leave, until his mother reluctantly agreed. There is no record of anyone responding. He imagined his mother as a lazy woman who spent her days eating sausages, his father as a violent patriarch. Some nights, when Marco was eating dinner with Sven and Henkel, he would have the sensation that he was among strangers. When Marco was eleven years old, a new foster son, Marcel Kramer, moved in.
Kramer was a small boy with dimples, crooked teeth, and a sweet, open smile. He was half a year Adult want sex Berlin Center than Marco and had spastic quadriplegia, a congenital condition that left him unable to walk, talk, or eat on his own. Kramer was the first person in years for whom Marco had felt love.
At school, Marco had no close relationships. Henkel encouraged him to misbehave, rewarding him with computer games if he spat, talked out of turn, or overturned chairs. He skipped class and rarely did his homework. One night, when Henkel tried to fondle him, Marco hit his hand. He just walked away. Henkel stopped trying to sexually molest Marco, but he Adult want sex Berlin Center punitive. He also hit Marco. One day, Kramer developed the flu. In the course of forty-eight hours, his breathing became increasingly labored.
For years, Marco had checked on Kramer several times each night, to make sure that he was breathing.
Now he was so worried that he lay in bed beside him. Henkel had always resisted calling doctors for the boys.Adult want sex Berlin Center
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