LGBT People of History 33 - Pierre Seel
The story of Pierre Seel is harrowing.
Pierre Seel (1923 – 2005) was born to an affluent family who ran a patisserie in Mulhouse, Alsace, France. He was gay but found it difficult to accept. He came from a strong Catholic background and was a sensitive soul with a fiery temperament. In 1939, he was cruising for other men in a park when he lost a new, valuable watch. He reported this to the police, who put his name on a ‘known homosexual’ list. At this time he had a young lover named Jo.
After the Nazi invasion of France he was arrested because his name was on this list and was tortured in the local police station by the SS. Fingernails were pulled out and he was brutally raped by the SS using a broken ruler. From there he was transferred to Schirmeck concentration camp. Conditions there were brutal. He wore a blue bar on his clothes denoting a ‘homosexual’ (unlike the more recognised ‘pink triangle’) in this camp. The inmates were forced to do heavy manual work from dawn to dusk and lived in ghastly conditions with not enough food to keep a mouse alive. They were forced to build crematoria at the neighbouring camp of Struthof. Camp orderlies would use gay prisoners for dartboard practice using syringes.
There follows one of the most appalling incidents we have ever read. One day all inmates were called to the main ‘square’ in the camp to witness an execution. His young lover, Jo, was dragged into the square, stripped naked, tied and had a metal pail placed on his head. The Nazis then loosed their German Shepherd dogs on him and he was devoured alive.
He was 18 years old.
Pierre spent 6 long months in the camp and was then released after he was sworn to secrecy. He was then forced to undergo military training and after an injury spent most of the rest of the war in administrative positions in various places in the Reich.
After the war he returned to France and had to hide his homosexuality due to the laws and attitudes prevailing at the time. He married in 1950 and became a father. He became more and more depressed as the years went on having to hide who he really was and ended up abusing tranquilisers and alcohol. By this time (1978) he was estranged from his wife.
One day, in 1979, he attended a debate about a book about to be published by Heinz Heger ‘The Men with the Pink triangle’. From then he became an activist fighting for the recognition of the gay victims of the Nazi regime. He became perhaps the most vocal activist on this subject and gained recognition from many quarters including President Chirac.
He spent the last decade of his life with his partner, Eric Feliu. He died of cancer in 2005.
We hope that the last years of his life gave him some relative peace from the horrors he had endured.
Ian and Callum.
Thanks to Wikipedia and http://andrejkoymasky.com/mem/holocaust/ha47.html
Here is a link to all of our Hubs on LGBT People of History:
- 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.