M4C Logo AHRC Logo

Leonie Bausch

History, University of Nottingham

Thesis title:

Hierarchies of Gender, Nation, and Race: Sexual Encounters in the French Zone of Occupation in Post-War Germany, 1945-1955

My doctoral research demonstrates that a broad spectrum of sexual encounters occurred in French-occupied Germany following the Second World War, including marriages, long-term relationships, casual sex and dates, commercial sex, sexualised violence, and rape.

Throughout the occupation, the everyday life of civilians and military personnel retained many ordinary aspects, from complaining about one’s landlord to having a drink in the local pub, from experiencing sexual harassment to going out on a date or getting married. Yet, their extraordinary circumstances shaped their experiences, including military service, the presence of garrisons, and changing regulations and procedures under the military government and High Commission.

Combining literature on Allied-occupied Germany as a military, political, and cultural project with scholarship on sexuality in wartime and postwar Europe, I argue that separating the ordinary from the extraordinary hinders our understanding of everyday life under occupation. It contends that people in French-occupied Germany engaged in a diverse range of sexual encounters, expanding upon existing research that is largely limited to rape at the end of the Second World War, and explores how abstract processes of rebuilding postwar society translated into everyday experiences.

Research Area

  • Economic and Social History
  • History


  • 'Neither Citizen Nor Foreigner: Gendered Negotiations and Hierarchies of Belonging in Alsace, 1918-1919', Citizenship, Migration and Social Rights. Historical Experiences from the 1870s to the 1970s. Ed. Beate Althammer (London: Routledge, 2023)


  • 'Dating Across the Divide: Casual Sex and Intimate Socialising in French-Occupied Germany after the Second World War', German History in the North, 10 May 2024, Manchester Metropolitan University

  • 'Dating Across the Divide: Sex, Alcohol, and Jealousy in French-Occupied Germany after the Second World War', History Research Seminar, 13 December 2023, University of Nottingham
  • '"We don’t have much on this topic, I’m afraid": Finding Sexuality under Occupation in the Archives', 17th Annual Graduate Conference in European History (GRACEH): Voices Heard and Unheard: Authority, Truth, and Silence in Historical Perspective, 18 April 2023, Central European University, Vienna
  • 'Post-Archive Blues: Reframing Archive Findings as an Enemies-to-Lovers Story', Work-in-Progress Seminar, 8 February 2023, University of Nottingham
  • '"I am Playing Theatre, Out of Fear, Out of Self Defence": Perceptions  and Experiences of Sexual Relationships in the French Zone of Occupation in Germany', Besetzter Alltag/Vivre avec l'ennemi, 20 January 2023, EHESS Paris

  • 'Let's Talk About Sex: Narratives of Rape, Barter, and Romance in Allied-Occupied Germany', Contemporary History and Politics Seminar (CHaPS), 14 October 2022, University of Nottingham (hybrid)

  • 'Between Citizen and Foreigner: Gendered Boundaries and Stakes of Belonging in the Borderland, Alsace 1918-1919', Citizenship, Migration and Social Rights - Historical Experiences from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Century, 4 March 2021, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin / re:work (online)
  • 'Nested Belonging and Gender: How to Claim Frenchness in 1918-1919 Alsace', Europäische Grenzregionen. Neue Wege im Umgang mit historischen Raum- und Grenzkonzeptionen in der Geschichtswissenschaft, 26 February 2021, Arbeitskreis Deutsch-Niederländische Geschichte / FID Benelux/Low Countries Studies / Universität zu Köln (online)

  • 'Contradicting Nationalities: Re-Thinking National Belonging in Post-WW1 Alsace', Adjusting the Focus: Scales, Spaces and Trajectories in European History, 14th Annual Graduate Conference in European History (GRACEH), 26 May 2020, European University Institute (online)

Public Engagement & Impact

  • Co-convenor of the Contemporary History and Politics Seminar (CHaPS), University of Nottingham (2022-present)
  • Co-convenor of the History PG Work-in-Progress Seminar, University of Nottingham (2023-present)

Other Research Interests

  • Gender & nationalism
  • Sexual/ised violence
  • Post-conflict societies
  • Borderland identities


  • Occupation Studies Research Network (2023-present)
  • Arbeitskreis Historische Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung (2022-present)
  • German History Society (2021-present)
  • University and College Union (2021-present)
  • Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes / German Academic Scholarship Foundation (2019-2020)


  • University of Nottingham, UK - PhD in History (2021-present)
  • Central European University, Hungary - Master of Arts in European Women's and Gender History (MATILDA) - Thesis: 'Alsatian by sentiment': Gendered negotiations of multi-layered national belonging in Alsace, 1918-1919 (2018-2020)
  • University of Cambridge, UK - Bachelor of Arts (Honours), History - Dissertation: Traditionalism and feminism in the writings of National Socialist women, c.1932-c.1937 (2015-2018)

Professional Experience

  • University of Manchester, UK - Teaching Assistant (September 2023-February 2024)
  • University of Nottingham, UK - Teaching Affiliate (January-February 2023)
  • Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany - Invited Researcher at the DFG Graduate School 2571 Empires (January 2023)
  • European Commission, Belgium - Blue Book Trainee in the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture - Press & Briefings (March-July 2021)
  • German Academic Scholarship Foundation, Germany - Member of the "Digital History" Academy (2019-2021)
  • German Historical Institute London, UK - Research Intern (July-August 2019)

Awards & Scholarships

  • German History Society Small Grant (2022, 2023)
  • AHRC Midlands4Cities Doctoral Studentship (2021-present)
  • Outstanding Academic Achievement Award, Central European University (2020)
  • Studentship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (2019-2020)
  • CEU Master's Excellence Stipend, Central European University (2018-2020)
  • Ivo Forde Prize in History, St Catharine's College / University of Cambridge (2018)
  • Lady Katharine Barnardiston Scholarship, St Catharine's College / University of Cambridge (2018)