|HOMOSEXUALS IN NAZI GERMANY|
For most of the medieval and early modern times death was the penalty for homosexual acts. Due to the impact of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, many German States, starting with Bavaria, decriminalized homosexuality. Prussia was the exception. It heightened legislation concerning this issue which eventually was carried over in 1871 on to the Reich as a whole (Burleigh and Wipperman,184)
Homosexuals were never recognized as "victims" of Nazi persecution in either of the post-war German states. This is despite the fact that while the concentrations camps they were branded with the pink triangle, signifying sexual preference. They were harshly mistreated by camp guards and fellow inmate. Two main factors produced this unsatisfactory state of affairs. For one, it is a reflection of mass widespread dislike toward homosexuals and their indecisiveness to prosecute their instigators due to fear of rejection among their peers towards their preference. Secondly, the interpretation of paragraph 175 of the 1871 Reich criminal code, criminalizing 'acts of indecency' as well as sexual intercourse between two men, was not repealed until 1969. This meant that homosexual who had been prosecuted and sent to concentration camps could now be punished under the same law. Also, homosexuals were not counted among Hitler's victims. Neither post-war German state had a "relevant" record in this area (183).
In direct relation to the fears of homosexuality came the pretext of restoring "traditional morality." The media used sexual preference in political campaigns to deter the others opponent. The general population was mainly against their type of relationship. For example, any foreigner determined to have a sexually transmitted disease was simply deported due to suspicion of homosexuality. Still, the difficulty to prove sexual relations between two men in privacy did not discourage convictions which amounted to five hundred per annum. Although not a significant number, homosexual lived in constant fear. During the Kaiserreich, they were vulnerable to blackmailers known as Chanteure on the homosexual scene. As a result, blackmail, and the threat of public exposure, resulted in frequent suicides. Nonetheless, gradually a recognized homosexual subculture developed (184).
Furthermore, the beginnings of a homosexual rights movement in Germany started to develop, closely related to Magnus Hirschfield. He founded, in 1919, an Institute for Sexual Science, devoted to the scientific discussion of marital problems, sexually transmitted diseases, laws relating to sexual offenses, and homosexuality. This new openness for homosexuality led to a conservative government coalition in 1925 to tighten up the law. Still, Hirschfield struck a counter proposal on the 16 of October 1929. Despite SPD and KPD opposition, the draft went through. Conservative committee members claimed that sexuality was not a private matter and there should be a new proposal to maintain the generative powers of the nation. The Nazi Regime, bitterly against homosexuals, soon nullified this so called "achievement" (187)
-Article in the Völkisher Beobachter on 2 August 1930:
"We congratulate you, Herr Kahl and Herr Hirschfield on this success! But don't you
believe that we Germans will allow such a law to exist for one day when we have
succeeded into coming to power" (187).
II. Röhm Affair
-SPD Munchner Post ran a series of articles:
-National Socialism and Homosexuality
Hitler, clearing his party platform from homosexual attacks at his leaders and associates leads him to murder Ernest Röhm, head of the SA, who for the main part was the spark of the attacks against Hitler. Thus on 1 July 1934, the Koelnische Zeitung reported that the Führer could no longer tolerate the burden in which homosexuals have engendered on their society. Hitler used the homosexual issue as a ploy to resolve a political power struggle. Their statement that the murder of homosexuals evidently corresponded with 'the healthy instincts of the people,' including many which were originally opposed to the regime (188).
-Report by the Social Democratic Party in exile (SOPADE) concerning the Röhm Affair (30 June 1934).
"Baden . . . The immediate result of the murders was great confusion, both as regards the way they were viewed and as regards their future political consequences. On the whole, Hitler's courage in taking decisive action was stressed the most. He was regarded practically as a hero. Hitler's slandering of the victims, their homosexuality, and their 30,000-Mark meals, was at first also adjudged heroic. As to what repercussions to the events of the 30th June and their aftermath will be, an agreed and definitive answer cannot yet be given. Out comrades report that Hitler has won strong approval and sympathy from that part of the population which still places its hopes in him. To these people his action is proof that he wants order and decency. Other sections of the population have been given cause for thought" (189).
III. Heinrich Himmler
-In May 1935, Das Schwarze Korps article by SS-Untersturmführer Professor Eckhardt.
-'Unnatural Indecency Deserves Death'
-An immediate consequence to Himmler's appropriation; (191 - 192).
From 1937 and onward homosexuals were sent to concentration camps. Himmler, at the
outbreak of war developed his own ideology on the effects of homosexuality in Germany.
"Sexual Behavior was no longer a matter for the individual, for it involved the life and
death of a people and/or power" (192).
-Heinrich Himmler's speech to SS-Gruppenfuehrer on 18 February 1937 concerning the question of homosexuality.
-"If you further take into account the facts I have not yet mentioned, namely that
with a static number of women, we have two million men too few on account of
those who fell in the war, then you can well imagine how this imbalance of two
million homosexuals and two million war dead, or in other wards a lack of about
four million men capable of having sex, has upset the sexual balance sheet of
Germany, and will result in a catastrophe.
In the SS, today, we still have about one case of homosexuality a month. In a whole
year, about eight to ten cases occur in the entire SS. I have now decided upon the
following: in each case, these people will naturally be publicly degraded, expelled,
and handed over to the courts. Following completion of the punishment imposed by
the courts, they will be sent, by my order, to a concentration camp, and they will be
shot in the concentration camp, while attempting to escape. I will make that known
by order to the unit to which the person so affected belonged. Thereby, I hope
finally to have done with persons of this type in the SS, so that at least the good
blood, which we have in the SS, and the increasingly healthy blood which we are
cultivating for Germany, will be kept pure.
Raids on homosexual bars and meeting places took place from 1933 onwards. Lists were complied by the arrests the Gestapo concerning all homosexuals working in particular factories and firms, which in turn enabled them to remove whole groups of homosexuals (example, Hamburg Power Stations). Those arrested were then sent to the concentration camps. The actual numbers of homosexuals imprisoned in concentration camps has never been established. Figures are estimated to be as high as 10,000 but it could have been as high as 15,000. Camp guards as well as fellow inmates treated homosexuals horribly (194, 196).
In camps, homosexuals lacked any opportunities of friendship with other inmates.
-Dachau reports 'The prisoners with pink triangles did not live very long; they were quickly and systematically exterminated by the SS' (197)
Exact numbers of death are remote. It should be known that the Third Reich treated homosexuals in such a manner never experienced previously. They were used as a means to cope with Germany's degrading societal standards. Also, the "euthanasia" of homosexuals occurred between 1937-1939 and were not solely caused by the impact of the war as thus implied (197).
IV. Penal Laws
b. Paragraph 175a:
V. Personal Accounts
-Homosexual in the mid-thirties; Reinbeck near Hamburg: "With one blow a wave of arrests of homosexuals began in our town. One of the first to be arrested was my friend, with whom I had had a relationship since I was 23. One day people from the Gestapo came to his house and took him away. It was pointless to inquire where he might be. If anyone did that, they ran the risk of being similarly detained, because he knew them, and therefore they were also suspect. Following his arrest, his home was searched by Gestapo agents. Books were taken away, note- and address books were confiscated, questions were asked among neighbors . . . The address books were the worst. All those who figured in them, or had anything to do with him, were arrested and summoned by the Gestapo. Me too. For a whole year I was summoned by the Gestapo and interrogated at least once every fourteen days or three weeks . . . After four weeks my friend was released from investigative custody. The fascists could not prove anything against him either. However the effects of his arrests were terrifying. Hair shorn off, totally confused, he was no longer what he was before . . . We had to be very careful with all contacts. I had to break off all relations with my friend. We passed each other by on the street, because we did not want to put ourselves in danger. There were no longer any homosexual meeting places. When I wanted to meet people I went to Hamburg. Each time that was a clandestine undertaking, because I had to make sure that no one was following me. I went up to the platform, waited until a train came, and let it depart. When I had seen that no one was left on the platform, I got on to the next train. At Berliner Tor I got out, went over to the train stop, and when every one had got on, quickly ran over to the underground and went further . . . We lived like animals in a wild game park, always sensing the hunters" (194).
-Concentration Camp Sachsenhausen: Pink Triangle
"Those wearing the pink triangle had to use wheel barrows to pile up earth and clay as an
artificial mound, to stop the bullet on the rifle range. However, after a few days, a group
of SS men appeared at the range, to practice their shooting, while we were still emptying
the earth from our wheelbarrows on to the mound. Naturally, while the shooting was
going on, we did not want to bring any more earth up to the mound, in case we were hit
by one of the bullets. However, with threats and blows the Kapos and SS men forced us
to go on working.
-Heinz Heger: Saschsenhausen;