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Homosexuals The Forgotten Victims Of The Nazis

Updated on January 17, 2012

1930s Germany to Modern Day Europe

In 1934 by order of Heinrich Himmler a special gestapo division was set up for the arrest of Homosexuals, one of the first acts that this division was the order of ‘pink lists’ from the police from all over germany that had been compiled since 1900 naming those they suspected of being Homosexual.Long before this on May 6th 1933 the Nazis ransacked the ‘Institute of Sexual Science’ in Berlin, taking the books and files they considered to be ungerman to a large public book burning that occurred four days later, destroying them all.

The institute was founded by Dr Magnus Hirschfeld (1868 - 1935) who researched and discussed marital problems, sexually transmitted disease, and also the laws relating to sexual offences, abortion and homosexuality. Himself a homosexual and author of many works he led efforts for three decades to reform the laws criminalizing homosexuality in Germany. At the time of the raid on the institute by the nazis Hirschfeld was in France where he remained till his death. September 1st 1935 an amended version of paragraph 175 of the criminal code (which was originally framed in 1871) came into effect, punishing a broad range of lewd, lascivious behavior between men and completely banning homosexuality in german society with the threat of imprisonment. In 1936 Heinrich Himmler created a ‘Reich Central Office’ for the combatting of homosexuality and abortion. Special Office (IIs) of the executive was its name.The linking of homosexuality with abortion reflected the nazi regimes population policies to promote a higher birth rate of its aryan population. It is known that on February 18th 1937 before a group of high ranking ss officers Heinrich Himmler gave a talk on the dangers that homosexuality and abortion posed in Bad Tolz. Paragraph 175 brought the number of prosecutions to an increase peaking in the years 1937 to 1939 in both Germany and the then Annexed Austria in 1938 half of all the convictions were of homosexual activity under the regime occurred at this time. The police had stepped up raids on known homosexual meeting places, seized address books leading to the arrest of more homosexuals as well as creating vast networks of informants to compile lists of names of those they suspected of homosexual behavior. Between 1933 and 1945 100,000 homosexuals were arrested of these 50,000 were sentenced most were incarcerated in prisons and an estimated 15,000 were imprisoned in concentration camps. It is unknown how many perished to this day but it believed to be more than the 15,000 estimated.

Two concentration camps known for the incarceration of homosexuals were Dachau which was the first concentration camp to open in 1933 and Buchenwald which opened later. All prisoners in the camps wore marks and various colors to make them mor easily identifiable by the camp gaurds and the camp functionaries it is known that the homosexual prisoners wore a black dot and a large 175 drawn on the back of the jacket that they wore, and later a pink triangle appeared (Rosa Winkel).

Conditions in the camps were harsh for the inmates many of whom perished from hunger, disease, cold and brutal treatment. Many survivors have testified that homosexual prisoners who wore the pink triangle were treated particularly more severely by the ss gaurds and also other inmates because of widespread biases against homosexuality. In Buchenwald concentration camp an SS physician ‘Doctor Carl Vaernet’ performed experimental operations designed to convert homosexual men to heterosexual men, this was to insert a capsule (by surgery into a homosexual inmate) that would release the male hormone testosterone thus converting them to heterosexual. Many homosexual prisoners in concentration camps were subjected to medical experiments like this and also were castrated to, such procedures reflected the desire by Heinrich Himmler and others to find a medical solution to homosexuality as he considered it to be mental illness. After the war homosexual prisoners who survived the horrors of the concentration camps were not acknowledged as victims of the nazi persecution until recently and under the allied military government of germany were re-arrested and forced to serve out their term of imprisonment (regardless of their horrific ordeal they had endured in the concentration camps).

The 1935 version of paragraph 175 remained in effect in the ‘federal republic’ (west germany) until 1969 when it was repealed, so for 34 years since it was amended by the nazis, many homosexuals still feared arrest and incarceration long after the liberation of 1945. Recently in Berlin they erected a monument to the homosexual victims of the holocaust and apologized to the gay community in Germany. Homosexuality is more socially accepted in society these days, since gay rights were granted in the 1970s by America and Great Britain and more recently the legalization of gay marriage in 2005 . It is considered very fashionable to have a gay friend, however bigotry against homosexuality is now criminal but does still occur in certain areas.


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    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 5 years ago from Tasmania

      A question I would like to put to any person who is strongly biased against homosexual persons: (To the person) "If you and I were there, while they were throwing homosexual individuals, sometimes not actually dead, into the open door of the furnace, what would you be doing? Would you be assisting to throw the body into the furnace? Or would you be protesting and refusing to help?

      I am the one you will be throwing! I have not even had a fair trial. Someone simply pointed a finger at me, and here I am. I have never done an unkind act, especially one of cruelty, to anyone that I am aware of. I am in love with my very, very dear friend, and I have not seen him since the guards took him away to the medical centre. I was helping at a centre for invalid elderly people and the police simply came for me at 3 o'clock in the morning without any explanation or warning.

      So - where would you be standing in relation to me and the furnace?

    • profile image

      J.Smith 5 years ago

      I have two books that document Hitler's homosexuality. This seems contridictory to his sending homosexuals to concentration camps. Not if you concider that certain homosexuals knew of Hitler's sexual orientation. Even Ernst Rohm, a long time friend and supposedly a homosexual lover, was killed in June 1934. Why? He knew a lot about Hitler's perversion.

    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Thanks Jonny nice to meet you too :-)

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 6 years ago from Tasmania

      calpol25, greetings, Brother. Well done, keep up the good work.

    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Thank you allan :)

    • alian346 profile image

      alian346 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Hello there - I've just come across your Hub and I wondered if you were aware of some gay individuals who were persecuted by the Nazis - namely, Pierre Seel and Gad Beck. They've both written books you'll find at Amazon.

      Sorry - it's probably a bit late for your thesis!

      Well done on a well written article!

    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 8 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Thank you Autumn, I could not believe some of the things that I have learned about the homosexuals of that time and the other victims but it just had to be brought to light.

    • profile image

      autumn 8 years ago

      this is really enlightening, it brough alot more to my attention than what i had already know, thnks

    • profile image

      alison robinson 8 years ago

      i am proud of you my younger brother you will go far it brought a tear to my eye.

    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 8 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      I have been writing my thesis for over a year now on the forgotten victims others I know of are Gypsies and Jehovas Witnesses too xx Your welcome if you have any more questions on this please ask me xxx

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 8 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      OMG! I never knew that happened thnk you so much for breaking that to light, how dark and sinister! There are still homophobic people in today's society which I will never understand. ***sigh*** if only they would understand and just listen maybe they to could learn something. :) Another great read! :)


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