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LGBT People of History 33 - Pierre Seel

Updated on April 1, 2012
Cover of 'I, Pierre Seel - Deported Homosexual'
Cover of 'I, Pierre Seel - Deported Homosexual' | Source
Pierre Seel in later life
Pierre Seel in later life | Source

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

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    • alian346 profile image

      alian346 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Thanks again for reading, Ryan. It is very, very difficult to even read about such events, never mind live them. We must never ever forget and must educate others and especially those who would deny that these events even took place. I hope that we are doing just that.


    • rlbert00 profile image

      rlbert00 5 years ago from USA

      The other article I read was a difficult read, this one was nearly impossible. I had a hard time getting past the segment of the article in which you tell of the story of the death of Pierre's lover was horrendous. Awful, Awful stuff the depth to which inhumanity can sink. Again, nicely done (even though I struggled through it and had to make two attempts to get through it.

    • alian346 profile image

      alian346 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      It was really, really hard to write.


    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Its so sad this one, I remember during early study in to LGBT History his story was one of the ones I focussed on. I was emotional then and am now reading this hub.

      He was a brave man and such a sad story, thanks Ian :)