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LGBT People Of History Part Thirty Two Otto Peltzer
Born March 8th 1900 Otto Paul Eberhard Peltzer in Ellenbrook-Draag in the province of Schleswig Hosltein in Germany.
Otto became a middle distance runner for Germany setting many world records during the 1920s. He attended the University of Munich in the 1920s and was nicknamed “Otto Der Seltsame”. Translated in to English it means “Otto the Strange.”
Gaining his doctorate in 1925 from the university, Otto later was invited to take part in the AAA Championships in London, where he won the 800m in 1926 and beat the reigning champion Douglas Lowe of Britain who had two years previously won the same event at the Olympics.
Otto was homosexual and was persecuted for this; in 1933 Adolf Hitler came to power and became Chancellor of Germany. Otto joined the SS but unfortunately in 1935 he was arrested under the amended version of paragraph 175, a much stronger law outlining harsh penalties for homosexuality between men. Paragraph 175 had been on the statute book since the nineteenth century but was not strictly enforced especially in the 1920s. Otto served eighteen months in prison and was released under the condition that he would have no further involvement in sport.
He then left Germany and lived rough in Denmark, Finland and Sweden. He was promised by Germany that all charges would be dropped if he returned, but sadly in 1941 when he did return the Nazis did not keep their word and Otto was imprisoned in the notorious Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria.
Most concentration camps at that time housed inmates of all categories. However Mauthausen mostly housed the Intelligentsia who had been sentenced to extermination through labour. The conditions in Mauthausen were atrocious and very hard to bear, as inmates suffered from malnutrition, overcrowded huts and constant abuse and beatings by the guards and Kapos, as well as exceptionally hard labour.
Mauthausen had a quarry where many inmates were forced to work to death. Those who did not work in the quarry and in the other areas such as the workshops or other manual labour feared the quarry as it was also used as a punishment. This was due to people being selected to work there for so called ‘crimes’ they may or may not have committed in the camp such as not saluting a German passing by. In this quarry were the ‘stairs of death’ where prisoners were forced to carry slabs of granite up 186 steps whilst enduring the abuse of the SS. This inevitably resulted in severe injury or death.
Mauthausen was a concentration camp for men. In 1944 a female camp was built and the first female inmates arrived from Auschwitz in September. Eventually more women and children arrived from many concentration camps such as Belsen and Ravensbruck.
Mauthausen was eventually liberated by the by the soldiers of the 41st Recon Squad of the US 11th Armoured Division, 3rd US Army on May 5, 1945.
Fortunately Otto survived his imprisonment at Mauthausen camp and after the liberation returned to Germany. He struggled to find work as homosexuality was still illegal as Paragraph 175 remained in place until 1969. Otto did however manage to find a position reporting at the Melbourne Olympics, but afterwards he returned to the struggle of finding work.
He eventually left Germany and went to live in India where he became a coach and founded the “Olympic Youth Delhi Club” which was later renamed the “Otto Peltzer Memorial Athletic Club” in his honour.
Otto suffered a heart attack in the late sixties and unfortunately on the 11th August 1970 he died.
Callum and Ian.
With thanks to Wikipedia.
For More Information About Paragraph 175, Then Please Follow This Link To My Hub That Will Explain It More In Depth.
- Paragraph 175 & The Fight To Repeal It
In 1934 by order of Hienrich Himmler a special Gestapo division was set up for the arrest of homosexuals in Germany. One of the first orders given to this division was obtaining so called ‘Pink Lists’ from the police from all over Germany that had be
Here Are Links To Our Many Other LGBT People Of History Series
- LGBT People Of History Collection
Here are the links to each of the LGBT People Of History hubs that Ian and I have wrote. As mentioned above, each time a new one is published you will find it on here.
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Laurence Michael Dillon was born Laura Maud Dillon on May 1st 1915 into an aristocratic family. Laurence’s brother was Sir Robert Dillon the Eighth Baronet of Lismullen in Ireland. Sadly Laurence’s mother died ten days after his birth. Laura (Laurenc
- LGBT People of History 31 - Gad Beck
Gad (Gerhard) Beck (1923 - ) should be an inspiration to us all. He was a gay half-Jew who spent WW2 in the appalling chaos and hell which was Berlin. He helped and supported innumerable people whilst still managing to hold on to decency, self-respec