I. Background
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the 1871 Reich criminal code, criminalizing 'acts of indecency' as well as sexual intercourse between two men, was not repealed until 1969.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
Hitler and his Nazi Regime soon started their full frontal attack on homosexuals, even his own government associates. The German left began to smear the Nazi movement with the charge of Homosexuality within their party.

-SPD Munchner Post ran a series of articles:

-National Socialism and Homosexuality
-Stammtisch 175
-Brotherhood of Poofs in the Brown Houses
-The party's Rheinisch Zeiturg warned;
-'Parents, protect your sons from "physical preparation" in the Hitler Youth'

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
The Röhm affair allowed Himmler to order the central registering of all persons engaged in homosexual activities, especially those in prominent political power opposed to the Nazi's. This proved in the evidence of public character assassination of General Fritsch and members of the Roman Catholic Religious Order. In 1934, Paragraph 175 was amended with Paragraph 175a which henceforth covered any form of 'criminal indecency' between men or behavior which was likely to offend 'public morality' or 'arouse sexual desires in oneself or strangers'. In simple terms this meant that if one male looked at another male in an 'enticing' way, he could be prosecuted under Paragraph 175a (190).

In 1936 Himmler created a Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion, led by Josef Meisinger. All forms of the government were trying to rid themselves of such sexual acts which led to mass hatred. For example, the SS, in majority, wanted the death penalty for any case involving homosexual acts (191).

-In May 1935, Das Schwarze Korps article by SS-Untersturmführer Professor Eckhardt.

-'Unnatural Indecency Deserves Death'
-justified the arcane wisdom that 'nordic Germany' had dealt with homosexuality in a harsher sense as it should be. The 'nordic Germanic' people were purer in consciousness of the idea of race. Recognized that homosexuality was 'degenerate and racially-destructive phenomenon', and therefore present day Germany should reach back in their primeval Germanic point of view by instigating "the eradication of degenerates."

-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).

Prisoners in Sachsenhausen concentration camp, 1938. Photo from the National Archives.

-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.

I would like to develop a couple of ideas for you on the questions of homosexuality. There are those homosexuals who take the view: what I do is my business, a purely private matter. However, all things which take place in the sexual sphere are not the private affair of the individual, but signify the life and death of the nation, signify world power or "swisstification." The people which has many children has the candidature for world power and world domination. A people of good race which has too few children has a one-way ticked to the grave, for insignificant in fifty or a hundred years, for burial in two hundred and fifty years . . .

Therefore we must be absolutely clear that if we continue to have this burden in Germany, without being able to fight it, then that is the end of Germany, and the end of the Germanic world. Unfortunately, we don't have it as easy as our forefathers. The homosexual, which one called 'Urning', was drowned in a swamp. The professorial gentlemen who find these corpses in the peat-bogs are certainly unaware that in ninety out of a hundred cases, they have a homosexual before them, which was drowned in a swamp, clothes and all. That wasn't a punishment, but simply the extinguishing of abnormal life. It had to be got rid of, just as we pull out weeds, throw them on a heap, and burn them. It was not a feeling of revenge, simply that those affected had to go . . .

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.

However this does not represent a solution to the problem for the whole of Germany. One must not have any illusions about the following. When I bring a homosexual before the courts and have him locked up, the matter is not settled, because the homosexual comes out of prison just as homosexual as before he went in. Therefore the whole question is not clarified. It is clarified in the sense that this burden has been identified, in contrast to the years before the seizure of power"
(192 - 193).

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
a. Paragraph 175 of the 1871 Reich Criminal Code:
1. A male who indulges in criminally indecent activity with another male, or who allows himself to participate in such activity, will be punished with imprisonment.
2. If one of the participants is under the age of twenty-one, and if the offense has not been grave, the court may dispense with the sentence of imprisonment (184).

b. Paragraph 175a:
A term of imprisonment of up to ten years or, if mitigating circumstances can be established, a term of imprisonment of no less than three years will be imposed on:
1. Any male who by force or threat of violence and danger to live limb compels another man to indulge in criminally indecent activities, or allows himself to participate in such activities;

2. Any male who forces another male to indulge with him in criminally indecent activities by using the subordinate position of the other man, whether it be at work or elsewhere, or who allows himself to participate in such activities;
3. Any male who indulges professionally and for profit in criminally indecent activities with other males, or allows himself to be used for such activities or who offers himself for the same (190).

c. Paragraph 175b:
Criminally indecent activities by males with animals are to be punished with imprisonment; in addition, the court may deprive the subject of his civil rights (191).

V. Personal Accounts
-A homosexual male recalls in 1933: "Then came the thunderbolt of the 30 January 1933, and we knew that a change of political climate had taken place. What we had tried to prevent, had taken place.

"Over the years, more and more of my political friends disappeared, of my Jewish and of my homosexual friends. Fear came over us with the increasingly coordinated pressure of the Nazis. For heaven's sake not to attract attention, to exercise restraint. 1933 was the starting-points for the persecution of homosexuals. Already in this year we heard of raids on homosexual pubs and meeting places. Maybe individual, politically uneducated homosexuals who were only interested in immediate gratification did not recognize the significance of the year 1933, but for us homosexuals who were also politically active, who had defended the Weimar Republic, and who had tried to forestall the Nazi threat, 1933 initially signified a reinforcing of our resistance.

"In order not to mutually incriminate ourselves, we decided to no longer recognize each other. When we came across each other in the street, we passed by without looking at one another. There were certainly possibilities for us to meet, but that never happened in public.

"For a politicized homosexual, visiting places which were part of the homosexual subculture was too dangerous. Friends told me that raids on bars were becoming more frequent. And someone had written on the walls of the subway tunnel of the Hamburg S-Bahn between Dammtor station and the main station, 'Street of the Lost'. That was some sort of film or book title. We found this graffiti very amusing, for most of us tried to cope with the thing by developing a sort of gallows humor" (182 - 183).

-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.

"The bullets started to fly between our rank, and many of my comrades in suffering fell together, some only wounded, but many hit fatally. We soon discovered that the SS men were less happy to shoot at the targets than to use us work detail prisoners as targets, and to hung individuals pushing their wheelbarrows up" (196 - 197).

-Heinz Heger: Saschsenhausen;

IV. Bibliography
Burleigh, Michael and Wipperman, Wolfgang. The Racial State: Germany 1933 - 1945. Berlin: Cambridge University Press, 1991.