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Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals
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The Pink Triangle
The pink triangle has become one of the symbols of the modern gay rights movement, but it originated in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. In many camps, prisoners worebadges. These badges were colored based upon the reason for imprisonment. In one common system, men convicted for sexual deviance, including homosexuality wore a pink triangle. The icon has been reclaimed by many in the post-Stonewall gay rights movement as a symbol of empowerment, and, by some, a symbol of rememberance to the suffering of others during a tragic time in history.
Persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust
In the 1920s, homosexual people in Germany, particularly in Berlin, enjoyed a higher level of freedom and acceptance than anywhere else in the world. However, upon the rise of Adolf Hitler, gay men and, to a lesser extent, lesbians, were two of the numerous groups targeted by the Nazi Party and were ultimately among Holocaust victims. Beginning in 1933, gay organizations were banned, scholarly books about homosexuality, and sexuality in general, were burned, and homosexuals within the Nazi Party itself were murdered. TheGestapo compiled lists of homosexuals, who were compelled to sexually conform to the "German norm."
Between 1933–45, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested as homosexuals, of which some 50,000 were officially sentenced. Most of these men served time in regular prisons, and an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 of those sentenced were incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps. It is unclear how many of the 5,000 to 15,000 eventually perished in the camps, but leading scholar Ruediger Lautman believes that the death rate of homosexuals in concentration camps may have been as high as 60%. Homosexuals in the camps were treated in an unusually cruel manner by their captors.
After the war, the treatment of homosexuals in concentration camps went unacknowledged by most countries, and some men were even re-arrested and imprisoned based on evidence found during the Nazi years. It was not until the 1980s that governments began to acknowledge this episode, and not until 2002 that the German government apologized to the gay community. This period still provokes controversy, however. In 2005, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the Holocaust which included the persecution of homosexuals.Purge On May 10, 1933, Nazis in Berlin burned works of Jewish authors, the library of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, and other works considered "un-German".
In late February 1933, as the moderating influence of Ernst Röhm weakened, the Nazi Party launched its purge of homosexual (gay, lesbian, and bisexual; then known as homophile) clubs in Berlin, outlawed sex publications, and banned organized gay groups. As a consequence, many fled Germany (e.g., Erika Mann, Richard Plaut). In March 1933, Kurt Hiller, the main organizer of Magnus Hirschfeld's Institute of Sex Research, was sent to a concentration camp.Autobiography of Pierre Seel, a gay man sent to a concentration camp by the Nazis.
On May 6, 1933, Nazi Youth of the Deutsche Studentenschaft made an organised attack on the Institute of Sex Research. A few days later the Institute's library and archives were publicly hauled out and burned in the streets of the Opernplatz. Around 20,000 books and journals, and 5,000 images, were destroyed. Also seized were the Institute's extensive lists of names and addresses of homosexuals. In the midst of the burning, Joseph Goebbelsgave a political speech to a crowd of around 40,000 people. Hitler initially protected Röhm from other elements of the Nazi Party which held his homosexuality to be a violation of the party's strong anti-gay policy. However, Hitler later changed course when he perceived Röhm to be a potential threat to his power. During the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, a purge of those whom Hitler deemed threats to his power took place. He had Röhm murdered and used Röhm's homosexuality as a justification to suppress outrage within the ranks of the SA. After solidifying his power, Hitler would include gay men among those sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust.
Himmler had initially been a supporter of Röhm, arguing that the charges of homosexuality against him were manufactured by Jews. But after the purge, Hitler elevated Himmler's status and he became very active in the suppression of homosexuality. He exclaimed, "We must exterminate these people root and branch... the homosexual must be eliminated." (Plant, 1986, p. 99).
Shortly after the purge in 1934, a special division of the Gestapo was instituted to compile lists of gay individuals. In 1936, Heinrich Himmler, Chief of the SS, created the "Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion".
Gays were not initially treated in the same fashion as the Jews, however; Nazi Germany thought of German gay men as part of the "Master Race" and sought to force gay men into sexual and social conformity. Gay men who would or could not conform and feign a switch in sexual orientation were sent to concentration camps under the "Extermination Through Work" campaign.
More than one million gay Germans were targeted, of whom at least 100,000 were arrested and 50,000 were serving prison terms as convicted gay men. Hundreds of European gay men living under Nazi occupation were castrated under court order.
Some persecuted under these laws would not have identified themselves as gay. Such "anti-homosexual" laws were widespread throughout the western world until the 1960s and 1970s, so many gay men did not feel safe to come forward with their stories until the 1970s when many so-called "sodomy laws" were repealed.
Lesbians were not widely persecuted under Nazi anti-gay laws, as it was considered easier to persuade or force them to comply with accepted heterosexual behavior. However, they were viewed as a threat to state values.Homosexuality and the SS
According to Geoffrey J. Giles (mentioned earlier) the SS, and its leader Heinrich Himmler, were particularly concerned about homosexuality. More than any other Nazi leader, Himmler's writing and speeches denounced homosexuality. However, despite consistently condemning homosexuals and homosexual activity, Himmler was less consistent in his punishment of homosexuals. In Geoffrey Giles' article "The Denial of Homosexuality: Same-Sex Incidents in Himmler's SS", several cases are put forward where members of the Nazi SS are tried for homosexual offences. On a case by case basis, the outcomes vary widely, and Giles gives documented evidence where the judges could be swayed by evidence demonstrating the accused's "aryan-ness" or "manliness", that is, by describing him as coming from true Germanic stock and perhaps fathering children. Reasons for Himmler's leniency in some cases may derive from the difficulty in defining homosexuality, particularly in a society that glorifies the masculine ideal and brotherhood.Concentration camps
Estimates vary widely as to the number of gay men imprisoned in concentration camps during the Holocaust, ranging from 5,000 to 15,000, many of whom died. Larger numbers include those who were both Jewish and gay, or even Jewish, gay, and communist. In addition, records as to the specific reasons for internment are non-existent in many areas, making it hard to put an exact number on exactly how many gay men perished in death camps. See pink triangle.
Gay men suffered unusually cruel treatment in the concentration camps. They faced persecution not only from German soldiers but also from other prisoners, and many gay men were beaten to death. Additionally, gay men in forced labor camps routinely received more grueling and dangerous work assignments than other non-Jewish inmates, under the policy of "Extermination Through Work". SS soldiers also were known to use gay men for target practice, aiming their weapons at the pink triangles their human targets were forced to wear.
The harsh treatment can be attributed to the view of the SS guards toward gay men, as well as to the homophobic attitudes present in German society at large. The marginalization of gay men in Germany was reflected in the camps. Many died from beatings, some of them caused by other prisoners. Nazi doctors often used gay men for scientific experiments in an attempt to locate a "gay gene" to "cure" any future Aryan children who were gay.
Experiences such as these can account for the high death rate of gay men in the camps as compared to the other "anti-social groups." A study by Rüdiger Lautmann found that 60% of gay men in concentration camps died, as compared to 41% for political prisoners and 35% forJehovah's Witnesses. The study also shows that survival rates for gay men were slightly higher for internees from the middle and upper classes and for married bisexual men and those with children.Post-War One point of the Homomonument, in Amsterdam, to gay and lesbian victims of persecution, which is formed of three largepink triangles made of granite.
Homosexual concentration camp prisoners were not acknowledged as victims of Nazi persecution. Reparations and state pensions available to other groups were refused to gay men, who were still classified as criminals — the Nazi anti-gay law was not repealed until 1994, although both East and West Germany liberalized their criminal laws against adult homosexualityin the late 1960s.
"Gay Holocaust" survivors could be re-imprisoned for "repeat offences", and were kept on the modern lists of "sex offenders". Under the Allied Military Government of Germany, some homosexuals were forced to serve out their terms of imprisonment, regardless of the time spent in concentration camps.
The Nazis' anti-gay policies and their destruction of the early gay-rights movement were generally not considered suitable subject matter for Holocaust historians and educators. It was not until the 1970s and 1980s that there was some mainstream exploration of the theme, with Holocaust survivors writing their memories, plays such as Bent, and more historical research and documentaries being published about the Nazis' homophobia and their destruction of the German gay-rights movement.
Since the 1980s, some European and international cities have erected memorials to remember the thousands of homosexual people who were murdered and persecuted during the Holocaust. Major memorials can be found in Berlin, Amsterdam (Netherlands), Montevideo(Uruguay), and San Francisco. In 2002, the German government issued an official apology to the gay community.
In 2005, the European Parliament marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz camp with a minute's silence and the passage of a resolution which included the following text:"...27 January 2005, the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Nazi Germany's death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where a combined total of up to 1.5 million Jews, Roma, Poles, Russians and prisoners of various other nationalities, and homosexuals, were murdered, is not only a major occasion for European citizens to remember and condemn the enormous horror and tragedy of the Holocaust, but also for addressing the disturbing rise in anti-Semitism, and especially anti-Semitic incidents, in Europe, and for learning anew the wider lessons about the dangers of victimising people on the basis of race, ethnic origin, religion, social classification, politics or sexual orientation...."
An account of a gay Holocaust survivor, Pierre Seel, details life for gay men during Nazi control. In his account he states that he participated in his local gay community in the town of Mulhouse. When the Nazis gained power over the town his name was on a list of local gay men ordered to the police station. He obeyed the directive to protect his family from any retaliation. Upon arriving at the police station he notes that he and other gay men were beaten. Some gay men who resisted the SS had their fingernails pulled out. Others were raped with broken rulers and had their bowels punctured, causing them to bleed profusely. After his arrest he was sent to the concentration camp at Schirmeck. There, Seel stated that during a morning roll-call], the Nazi commander announced a public execution. A man was brought out, and Seel recognized his face. It was the face of his eighteen-year-old lover from Mulhouse. Seel states that the Nazi guards then stripped the clothes of his lover, placed a metal bucket over his head, and released trained German Shepherd dogs on him, which mauled him to death.
Rudolf Brazda, believed to be the last surviving person who was sent to a Nazi concentration camp because of his homosexuality, died in France in August 2011, aged 98. Brazda was sent to Buchenwald in August 1942 and held there until its liberation by U.S. forces in 1945. Brazda, who settled in France after the war, was later awarded the Legion of Honour.Early Holocaust and genocide discourse
Arising from the dominant discourse of the Jewish suffering during the years of Nazi domination, and building on the divergence of differential victimhoods brought to light by studies of the Roma and the mentally ill, who suffered massively under the eugenics programs of the Third Reich, the idea of a “Gay Holocaust” was first explored in the early 1970s. However, extensive research on the topic was impeded by a continuation of Nazi policies on homosexuals in post-war East and West Germany and continued western notions of homophobia.
The civil rights movement, which began with Black movements in the United States as well as Women’s movements in Europe and the Americas was adopted by gay and lesbian organizations throughout the West, and yielded the first exploration of homosexuals within the context of the Holocaust. The idea of homosexuals as specific targets of Hitler’s final solution was however not salient with Zionist notions of victimhood during the Nazi regime and was also met with opposition within The United States during the conservative revival of the Reagan era and at the onset of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The word “genocide” was generated from of a need for new terminology in order to understand the gravity of the crimes committed by the Nazis. First coined by Raphael Limkin in 1944, the word became politically charged when The Genocide Act was enacted by the United Nations on December 9, 1948, which created an obligation for governments to respond to such atrocities in the future. The debate on the “Gay Holocaust” is therefore a highly loaded debate which would result in an international acknowledgement of state sponsored homophobia as a precursor to genocide should the proponents of the “Gay Holocaust” succeed. However the United Nations definition does not include sexual orientation (or even social and political groups) within its qualifications for the crime. Genocide by the U.N. definition is limited to national, ethnical, racial or religious groups and as this is the only accord to which nations have pledged allegiance, it stands as the dominant understanding of the term. It is, however, what Michel-Rolph Trouillot terms “an age when collective apologies are becoming increasingly common” as well as a time when the established Holocaust discourse has settled and legitimized claims of the Jewish, Roma and mentally ill victims of Nazi persecution so it would seem an appropriate time to at least bring attention to the debate of the Gay Holocaust, even if the issue is not to be settled.
A lack of research means that there is relatively little data on the dispersion of gay men throughout the camps however Heger suggests in his book The Men with The Pink Triangle that they were subjected to harsher labor than smaller targeted groups, such as the political prisoners, and furthermore suffered a much higher mortality rate. They also lacked a support network within the camps and were ostracized in the prison community. Homosexuals, like the mentally ill and many Jews and Roma, were also subjected to medical experimentation in the hopes of finding a cure to homosexuality at the camp in Buchenwald.
The conception of Jewish exclusivity in the Holocaust went unchallenged in the early years of study on the subject. It is undeniable that the Jews suffered the greatest death toll, and entire communities were obliterated in Eastern Europe and to a great extent in western countries. The notion of exclusivity however is challenged by the existence of similar forces working against different social and ethnic groups such as homosexuals and the Roma, which resulted in the victimization and systematic destruction of homosexual lives and lifestyles, as well as those of the Roma. An inclusion of social groups in a definition of genocide would further challenge the notion of the Jewish genocide as unique within the context of the Holocaust. While statistically speaking Jew suffered much more at the hands of the Nazis, Ellie Weisel’s belief that “a focus on other victims may detract from the Judaic specificity of the Holocaust” fosters a misrepresentation of history and devalues the suffering of other victims of Nazi atrocities. Simon Wiesenthal argues that “the Holocaust transcended the confines of Jewish community and that there were other victims.”] In the mid-1970s new discourses emerged that challenged the exclusivity of the Jewish genocide within the Holocaust, though not without great resistance.Changes with the civil rights movement
The civil rights movements of North America in the 1970s saw an emergence of victim claims through revision and appropriation of historical narratives. The shift from the traditionally conservative notion of history as the story of power and those who held it, social historians emerged with narratives of those who suffered and resisted these powers. African Americans created their own narrative, as firmly based on evidence as the discourses already in existence, as part of a social movement towards civil rights based on a history of victimization and racism. ]Along similar lines, the gay and lesbian movement in the United States also utilized revisionism to write the narrative that had only just garnered an audience willing to validate it.
There were two processes at work in this new discourse, revisionism and appropriation, which Arlene Stein teases out in her article “Whose Memory, Whose Victimhood?” both of which were used at different points in the movement for civil rights. The revisionist project was taken on in a variety of mediums, historical literature being only one of many. The play Bent and a limited number of memoirs, which recall The Diary of Anne Frank coincided with the appropriation of the pink triangle as a symbol of the new movement and a reminder to “never forget.” While the focus of these early revisions was not necessarily to determine the Nazi policy on homosexuals as genocidal, they began a current towards legitimizing the victimization of homosexuals under the regime, a topic that had not been addressed until the 1970s.
Historical works eventually focused on the nature and intent of Nazi policy. Heinz Heger, Gunter Grau and Richard Plant all contributed greatly to the early Holocaust discourse which emerged throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. Central to these studies was the notion that statistically speaking, homosexuals suffered greater losses than many of the smaller minorities under Nazi persecution such as theJehovah’s Witnesses and within the camps experienced harsher treatments and ostracization as well as execution at the hands of firing squads and the gas chambers.
These early revisionist discourses were joined by a popular movement of appropriation, which invoked the global memory of the Holocaust] to shed light on social disparities for homosexuals within the United States. Larry Kramer who was one of the founders of ACT UP, an HIV/AIDSactivist group that used shock tactics to bring awareness to the disease and attention to the need for funding popularized the AIDS-as-Holocaust discourse. “The slowness of government response at federal and local levels of government, the paucity of funds for research and treatment, particularly in the early days of the epidemic stems, Kramer argued, from deep-seated homophobic impulses and constituted ‘intentional genocide’.”
While the appropriation of the Holocaust discourse helped to grab the attention needed for an appropriate response to the pandemic it is highly problematic and perhaps counterproductive to the historical discourse of the time. The notion of AIDS-as-Holocaust and the accompanying notion of AIDS-as-genocide greatly oversimplify the meaning and the intention of genocide as a crime. While parallels can be drawn such as specific group experiencing disproportionate mortality resulting from a seeming neglect by the institutions designed to protect them, the central factors of intention and systematic planning are absent and the use of the word dilutes the severity of the act.
The Holocaust frame was used again in the early 1990s this time in relation to right-wing homophobic campaigns throughout the United States. The conservative response yielded a new discourse working against the “Gay Holocaust” academia which emphasized the gay and lesbian revisionism as a victimist discourse which sought sympathy and recognition as a pragmatic means of garnering special status and civil rights outside those of the moral majority. Arlene Stein identifies four central elements to the conservative reaction to the Gay Holocaust discourse, she argues that the right is attempt to dispel the notion that gays are victims, pit two traditionally liberal constituencies against one another (gays and Jews) thereby draw parallels between Jews and Christians and thereby legitimate its own status as an oppressed and morally upright group.
The victimist argument raises a central tenet as to the reasons for which the discourse of a “Gay Holocaust” has experienced so much resistance politically and popularly (in the conscious of the public). Alyson M. Cole addresses the anti-victim discourse that has emerged in western politics since the end of the 1980s. She asserts “anti-victimists transformed discussions of social obligation, compensations and remedial or restorative procedures into criticisms of the alleged propensity of self-anointed victims to engage in objectionable conduct.” Though she is clear that the anti-victimist discourse is not limited to right-wing politics, the case of the “Gay Holocaust” situates itself along these political boundaries and the anti-victim discourse is highly relevant to the debate on homosexual claims to genocide under the Third Reich. Cole also identifies a central conflict within the anti-victim discourse, which sheds light on the weakness in the conservative argument against the Gay Holocaust. While anti-victimists shun the victim and target it for ridicule as a pity-seeking subject-person while simultaneously extolling the virtues of what Cole identifies as the true victim. The true victim holds certain personal qualities, which allow for it to be beyond the ridicule given to the victimist. Propriety, responsibility, individuality and innocence are the central attributes of the true victim and in the case of the Gay Holocaust discourse, the claims made for the recognition of genocide or genocidal processes under Nazi Germany allow the claimants to be relegated to the victimist status, making their claims bogus.Post-revisionist framing of the "Gay Holocaust" Memorial "Stolperstein" for Arnold Bastian, a homosexual victim of the Nazis. It is located at Grosse Strasse 54 inFlensburg. The text reads: "Here lived Arnold Bastian, born 1908. Arrested 15 January 1944. Penetentiary at Celle. Dead on 17 February 1945 at the penetentiary inHameln.
In recent years new work has been done on the Gay Holocaust and rather than emphasizing the severity of destruction to communities or the exclusivity of the genocidal process of the Nazi regime, it focuses on the intersections of social constructions such as gender and sexuality within the context of social organization and political domination. Spurlin claims that these all functioned with one another in forming Germany’s social order and final solution to these social problems. Rather than being autonomous policies, “They were part of a much larger strategy of social disenfranchisement and the marking of enemies....” This discourse incorporates numerous disciplines including gender studies, queer studies, Holocaust studies and genocide studies to tease out the axis at which they meet in social control specifically under National Socialism in Germany.
The approach taken by Spurlin is highly effective as he cross-relates identity construction with enemy construction and analyzes the way that it functions within the institutions of social organization such as the medical institution and the camp. The study reveals that the homophobic impulse along with the anti-Semitic and other national threats seldom operated alone and that in terms of Nazi policy they were functioning on similar levels with differing opportunities to implement solutions, such as the Holocaust. This study is the most recent addition to the discourses of the “Gay Holocaust” and holds much promise in terms of generating a complete and interwoven understanding of where homosexuality factors into Nazi race policy and social organization. By re-evaluating the way in which National Socialism in Germany generated the other and how it functioned in terms of social organization, Spurlin asserts that homophobia was one of many forces that generated the Hitler’s Final Solution, along with anti-Semitism and misogyny.
Homosexuals and the Holocaust
Ben S. Austin
Around the turn of the century there was a fairly significant gay rights movement in Germany under the leadership of Magnus Hirschfeld and his organization, the Scientific Humanitarian Committee. The major goals of the movement were to educate the public and to bring about the repeal of Paragraph 175. At the close of World War I, there was a somewhat more liberal climate in Germany and the Weimar Republic, while it did not repeal the existing law, did not enforce the law with the same zeal as the First Reich. There was a proliferation of homosexual meeting places, books, articles and films and homosexuality was considerably more open and more openly discussed.
In the mid-1920's the government reacted to these developments by attempting to enforce the laws more vigorously and to pass more restrictive legislation. In 1929, after a couple of years of debate and discussion, the attempt failed by a narrow majority in the Reichstag. Homosexuals felt that a major victory had been achieved. However, in all of the discussion, a clear voice was heard from the Nazi deputies in the Assembly who voiced the conviction that it was the Jews who were leading this movement in an attempt to undermine the morality of the German people. The racial theme in their position also emerged in their argument that homosexuality has a detrimental impact on desired Aryan family size and population increase -- thus impacting German strength. Therefore, homosexuality was incompatible with racial purity. This was later to be one of Himmler's major arguments. That voice was to become very loud and clear when the Nazi Party gained control in 1933.The Roehm Affair and Persecution of Homosexuals
The leadership of the Nazi Party included at least one avowed homosexual, Ernst Roehm. He was a member of Hirschfeld's League for Human Rights and openly attended homosexual meeting places. Between 1933 and 1934, Roehm was the leader of the SA (Stormtroopers) and, before the death of Hindenberg in 1934, he was a potential challenger to Hitler's supremacy. With the Nazis' rise to power came an attack from Germany's political left. Attempts were made to discredit Hitler and the Nazis. One of their arguments was the charge of homosexuality in the Nazi ranks. Hitler's old friend Roehm was one of their main targets.
Interestingly, one of Roehm's principal defenders was Heinrich Himmler. He articulated the belief that accusations against Roehm were the work of Jews who feared the SS and were trying to discredit the movement. The mood of the party, and of Himmler, changed, however, when Hitler decided in 1934 that Roehm was a threat to his authority. Specifically, Hitler feared that Roehm was attempting to turn the SA (at this time, over 2 million strong) into a militia and was planning a military challenge to Hitler. While there is no evidence that such a plan existed, Hitler ordered a purge. On June 30, 1934, Roehm, many of his supporters, and over 1,000 of Hitler's political and personal enemies, were murdered in the famous “Night of the Long Knives.” While the purge was politically motivated, the justification given for it was the homosexuality of Roehm and several of his associates in the SS command.
Himmler, who had once defended Roehm, assumed leadership of the SS and, in the process, also assumed the role of ridding the movement and Germany of homosexuals. In the wake of the Roehm execution, Hitler ordered the registration of homosexuals and theGestapo was charged with the responsibility of creating dossiers on homosexuals and other “asocials” in the Third Reich.
The following year, in 1935, the Reichstag amended Paragraph 175 of the Criminal Code to close what were seen as loopholes in the current law. The new law had three parts:
Paragraph 175: A male who commits a sex offense with another male or allows himself to be used by another male for a sex offense shall be punished with imprisonment.
Where a party was not yet twenty-one years of age at the time of the act, the court may in especially minor cases refrain from punishment.
Paragraph 175a: Penal servitude up to 10 years or, where there are mitigating circumstances, imprisonment of not less than three months shall apply to: (1) a male who, with violence or the threat of violence to body and soul or life, compels another male to commit a sex offense with him or to allow himself to be abused for a sex offense; (2) a male who, by abusing a relationship of dependence based upon service, employment or subordination, induces another male to commit a sex offense with him or to allow himself to be abused for a sex offense; (3) a male over 21 years of age who seduces a male person under twenty-one years to commit a sex offense with him or to allow himself to be abused for a sex offense; (4) a male who publicly commits a sex offense with males or allows himself to be abused by males for a sex offense or offers himself for the same.
Paragraph 175b: An unnatural sex act committed by humans with animals is punishable by imprisonment; the loss of civil rights might also be imposed.
Paragraph 174 of the penal code forbad incest and other sexual offenses with dependents, while paragraph 176 outlawed pedophilia. Persons convicted under these laws also wore the pink triangle.
The Nazi's passed other laws that targeted sex offenders. In 1933, they enacted the Law Against Dangerous Habitual Criminals and Measures for Protection and Recovery. This law gave German judges the power to order compulsory castrations in cases involving rape, defilement, illicit sex acts with children (Paragraph 176), coercion to commit sex offenses (paragraph 177), the committing of indecent acts in public including homosexual acts (paragraph 183), murder or manslaughter of a victim (paragraphs 223-226), if they were committed to arouse or gratify the sex drive, or homosexual acts with boys under 14. The Amendment to the Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases dated June 26, 1935, allowed castration indicated by reason of crime for men convicted under paragraph 175 if the men consented. These new laws defined homosexuals as "asocials" who were a threat to the Reich and the moral purity of Germany. The punishment for "chronic homosexuals" was incarceration in a concentration camp. A May 20, 1939 memo from Himmler allows concentration camp prisoners to be blackmailed into castration.
In effect, the definition of "public morality" was made a police matter. In 1936, Himmler created the Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion and appointed Joseph Meisinger to head up the office. The results of these administrative changes is very apparent. According to Burleigh and Wipperman (1991:192):
Himmler's Speech to the SS Group Commanders, February 18, 1937
...While in 1934 766 males were convicted and imprisoned, in 1936 the figure exceeded 4,000, and in 1938 8,000. Moreover, from 1937 onwards many of those involved were sent to concentration camps after they had served their "regular" prison sentence...
In a particularly convoluted piece of Nazi logic, Heinrich Himmler put homosexuality under the ideology of racial theory and racial purity. Drawing upon the fact that Germany had lost over 2 million men during WWI, thus creating a serious imbalance in the reproductive sex ratio, he added an estimated 2 million homosexuals who had doubled the imbalance. Never mind the fact that they were not going to procreate anyway, Himmler proceeded to use those facts as a rationale for bringing homosexuality under Nazi racial policy. Portions of that speech follow:
If you further take into account the facts that 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 words 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 question 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...
After likening the homosexual who was killed and thrown into a peat bog to the weeding process in a garden, Himmler continued his tirade:
...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 court, 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 infected belonged. Thereby, I hope finally to have done with persons of this type in the SS, and the increasingly healthy blood which we are cultivating for Germany, will be kept pure.
Over the next two years, an intricate network of informants was developed. School children were encouraged to inform on teachers they suspected of homosexuality, employers on employees and vice versa. Homosexuals who were arrested were used to create lists of homosexuals or suspected homosexuals. The clear intention was to identify every homosexual in Germany and move them to concentration camps.
Himmler clearly recognized that these strategies would not solve the sexual imbalance problem in Germany. Instead, the purpose of the plan was, in Himmler's own words, to "identify" the homosexual and remove them from society. He still needed a rationale for exterminating them. As in the case with the Gypsies, Himmler fell back on “medical science” as the solution to the homosexuality problem.The Vaernet Cure
Several suggested solutions to the problem were taken under advisement by the Gestapo. One of the most attractive was that advanced by a Danish SS doctor, Vaernet, who claimed to have developed a hormonal implant which would cure homosexuality. The SS gave him a research position, necessary funds, laboratory facilities and the concentration camp population as experimental subjects. The testosterone implants were experimentally placed in homosexual inmates and their progress monitored. Some of the reports suggest improvement; however, for many others there was no significant change. We can only speculate as to the fate of those who, by this process, were determined to be "chronic" and "incurable" homosexuals. \The Extermination of Homosexuals in the Death Camps
Precise figures on the number of homosexuals exterminated in Nazi Death camps have never been established. Estimates range from 10,000 to 15,000. It does not appear that the Nazis ever set it as their goal to completely eradicate all homosexuals. Rather, it seems, the official policy was to either re-educate those homosexuals who were "behaviorally" and only occasionally homosexual and to block those who were "incurable" homosexuals through castration, extreme intimidation, or both. For a fascinating empirical sociological examination of this idea, the reader is referred to the work of Reudiger Lautmann. Nor does it appear that their efforts extended beyond Germany itself to the occupied territories.
However, the numerous testimonies by homosexuals who survived the camp experience suggest that the SS had a much less tolerant view. Those who wore the pink triangle were brutally treated by camp guards and other categories of inmates, particularly those who wore the green (criminals), red (political criminals) and black (asocials) triangles. The following testimony by survivor, Heinz Heger, provides a dramatic illustration:
Extracted from: Heger, Heinz. The men with the Pink Triangles. Alyson Publications 1980:34-37.
"... Our block was only occupied by homosexuals, with about 250 men in each wing. We could only sleep in our night-shirts, and had to keep our hands outside the blankets, for: 'You queer arse-holes aren't going to start wanking here!'
"The windows of had a centimetre of ice on them. Anyone found with his underclothes on in bed, or his hand under his blanket -- there were checks almost every night -- was taken outside and had serveral bowls of water poured over him before being left standing outside for a good hour. Only a few people survived this treatment. The least result was bronchitis, and it was rare for any gay person taken into the sick-bay to come out alive. We who wore the pink triangle were prioritised for medical experiments, and these generally ended in death. For my part, therefore, I took every care I could not to offend against the regulations.
"Our block senior and his aides were 'greens,' i.e. criminals. They look it, and behaved like it too. Brutal and merciless towards us 'queers', and concerned only with their own privelege and advantage, they were as much feared by us as the SS.
"In Sachsenhausen, at least, a homosexual was never permitted to have any position of responsibility. Nor could we even speak with prisoners from other blocks, with a different coloured badge; we were told we might try to seduce them. And yet, homosexuality was much more rife in the other blocks, where there were no men with the pink triangle, than it was in our own.
"We were also forbidden to approach nearer than five metres of the other blocks. Anyone caught doing so was whipped on the 'horse', and was sure of at least 15 to 20 strokes. Other categories of prisoner were similarly forbidden to enter our block. We were to remain isolated as the damnedest of the damned, the camp's 'shitty queers', condemned to liquidation and helpless prey to all torments inflicted by the SS and Capos.
"The day regularly began at 6 a.m., or 5 a.m. in the summer, and in just half an hour we had to be washed, dressed and have our beds made up in military style. If you still had time, you could have breakfast, which meant a hurried slurping down the thin flour soup, hot or luke-warm, and eating your piece of bread. Then we had to form up in eights on the parade-ground for morning roll-call. Work followed, in winter from 7.30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and in summer from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., with a half hour break at the workplace. After work, straight back to camp and immediate parade for evening roll-call.
"Each block marched in formation to the parade-ground and had its permanent position there. The morning parade was not so drawn-out as the much feared evening roll-call, for only the block numbers were counted, which took about an hour, and then the command was given for work detachments to form up.
"At every parade, those that had just died had to be present, i.e. they were laid out at the end of each block and counted as well. Only after the parade, and having been tallied by the report officer, were they taken to the mortuary and subsequently burned.
"Disabled prisoners also had to be present for parade. Time and again we helped or carried comrades to the parade-ground who had been beaten by the SS only hours before. Or we had to bring along fellow-prisoners who were half-frozen or feverish, so as to have our numbers complete. Any man missing from our block meant many blows and thus many deaths.
"We new arrivals were now assigned to our work, which was to keep the area around the block clean. That, at least, was what we were told by the NCO in charge. In reality, the purpose was to break the very last spark of independent spirit that might possibly remain in the new prisoners, by senseless yet heavy labour, and to destroy the little human dignity that we still retained. This work continued til a new batch of pink-triangle prisoners were delivered to our block and we were replaced.
"Our work, then, was as follows. In the morning we had to cart the snow outside our block from the left side of the road to the right side. In the afternoon we had to cart the same snow back from the right side to the left. We didn't have barrows and shovels to perform this work either, that would have been far too simple for us 'queers'. No, our SS masters had thought up something much better.
"We had to put our coats with the buttoned side backward, and take the snow away in the container this provided We had to shovel up the snow with our hands — our bare hands, as we didn't have any gloves. We worked in teams of two. Twenty turns at shovelling up the snow with our hands, then twenty turns at carrying it away. And so, right throught the evening, and all at the double!
"This mental and bodily torment lasted six days, until at last new pink-triangle prisoners were delivered to our block and took over for us. Our hands were cracked all over and half frozen off, and we had become dumb and indifferent slaves of the SS.
"I learned from prisoners who had already been in our block a good while that in summer similar work was done with earth and sand. "Above the gate of the prison camp, however, the 'meaningful' Nazi slogan was written in big capitals: 'Freedom through work!'"
Furthermore, homosexuals were at another important disadvantage. They lacked the group support within the camp to maintain morale. As Lautmann observes:
The prisoners with the pink triangle had certainly shown "precamp" qualities of survival, but they did not get a chance to apply these qualities in the camp. Because their subculture and organizations had been wantonly destroyed, no group solidarity developed inside the camp...Since every contact outside was regarded as suspicious, homosexuals did not even dare speak to one another inside (as numerous survivors have reported in interviews).
Death rates for homosexuals were much higher, perhaps three to four times higher, than for other non-Jewish categories of prisoners. While their overall numbers are small, their fate in the camps more nearly approximates that of Jews than any of the other categories, except, perhaps, Gypsies. And, homosexuals did not survive for very long. Of those who were exterminated, most were exterminated within the first few months of the camp experience.Conclusion
One last issue deserves brief attention. The Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, held in 1945, did not address the plight of homosexuals with the same seriousness accorded other victims of the Holocaust. Burleigh and Wipperman (1991:183) suggest that this may reflect the fact that after the war homosexuality was still a crime under German law and there still existed widespread homophobia. In fact, the Reich laws against homosexuality (i.e., the Nazi interpretations oBf Paragraph 175 of the Reich Criminal Code) were not repealed in Germany `xuntil 1969. As a consequence, homosexual survivors of the camp experience were still reticent to press their case before the courts since they could still be prosecuted under existing laws.
However, the contemporary Gay Rights Movement, both in the United States and in Europe, has led to a re-opening of the plight of homosexuals in Nazi Germany. The unparalleled treatment of homosexuals under the Nazi regime raises the same questions raised by the Holocaust itself: How could it happen? Can it happen again? And, how can its recurrence be prevented?
'I Had Always Been Blessed with Good Fortune'
For decades, the subject of the Nazi persecution of homosexuals during the Third Reich was swept under the rug and reparations were almost never paid. Rudolf Brazda, who may be the last living gay man to have survived the terror, shares his life story in a newly published book.
His body emaciated and his toothless mouth hanging open, Rudolf Brazda is skin and bones. Then comes his scream -- a loud lament that becomes a moan and then tapers off. Brazda is lying in his hospital bed, waiting at death's door. He alternately shouts, whispers or goes silent. Minutes creep by, then a quarter of an hour, then half an hour. Sometimes he'll say something and then go quiet again.
When he does speak, he utters lines like, "I'm too old to live," "I'm waiting for time to pass by," "I just don't want to do this anymore!" or "Everything's shit."
The door to Room 8411 opens. Worried about the condition of her elderly patient, a nurse at the Emile Muller Hospital in the Alsatian city of Mulhouse has come in to check on Brazda. She doesn't speak any German and he barely speaks any French, so they communicate by making faces at each other. The nurse raises a questioning eyebrow at her patient and he shakes his head. Then he winks at her and smiles. It's nothing serious.
"You comédien," she says, playfully cursing at him in French. Ever the comedian and charmer, Brazda, grins back at her. It is exactly these traits that helped him to cheat death when he was a prisoner at the Buchenwald concentration camp.
Ninety-eight-year-old Brazda is believed to be the last gay man alive who can recount what it was like to live as a homosexual man during the Third Reich. He's a man who can also remember the persecution, the legal proceedings against gays, the punishment and murder of his friends. But he also remembers what it was like to have sex in a concentration camp and what it felt like to be liberated.
6,000 Gay Men Murdered Under Hitler
Brazda kept his past to himself for many years. For the last five decades, he worked as a roofer, built his own house and lived together with his life partner in France's Alsace region near the German border. A few years ago, he buried his partner there, too. Thoughts about the Nazis weren't much of an issue for him over the past 50 years. But in 2008, at the age of 95, Brazda was confronted by his past when he saw a news story about the dedication of a new memorial to homosexual survivors from the era of Nazi persecution in Berlin's Tiergarten park.
"We didn't think there were any more (homosexual survivors) left, we thought they were all dead," says Uwe Neumärker, the director of Berlin's Holocaust Memorial. The memorial is comprised of 2,711 concrete slabs commemorating the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust. Neumärker is also responsible for another memorial site located just across the street. Hidden between trees, it features a single slab almost identical to those in the main memorial. It was erected to honor the memory of the homosexual victims of Nazi persecution.
But the memorial has also been the source of some concern for Neumärker. Attacks have been perpetrated against the site, and the memorial is also the subject of an ongoing dispute over what it is actually intended to honor. Is it supposed to be a memorial remembering the estimated 6,000 gay men murdered under Hitler? Or should it also honor the memory of lesbians even though they weren't forced into concentration camps?
When Brazda came on to the scene in Berlin, it was like a ghost of the past appearing, albeit a very pleasant one. "Suddenly this nice old guy appeared from out of nowhere," Neumärker recalls of the visit Brazda made to the Berlin memorial during the summer of 2008. The cheerful nonagenarian reveled in all the attention, the cameras and the bouquets of flowers. He also flirted unabashedly with Berlin's openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit. Photos taken during the visit show Wowereit stroking Brazda's hair in front of the memorial -- a belated gesture of amends for a man who is nearly 100.
Visiting his hospital room now, one would love to ask Brazda more questions about his past and how he feels today. He has woken from a short nap and is eating a piece of apricot cake. It's a beautiful day outside, the sun is shining and a letter from Wowereit has just arrived. Wowereit felt sorry that Brazda had to cancel a recent trip to Berlin. Brazda finishes reading the letter and kisses it, his face filled with a beaming expression.
Refuge in Photos
Brazda is almost completely deaf, and he has a tough time understanding questions. But he still has good eyesight, and the best way for anyone interviewing him to get the man talking is to show him pictures from the past. Snapshots from his home state of Thuringia, from the town of Meuselwitz where he lived before being arrested by the Nazis, and of the Phönix public swimming pool located next to a coal factory. It was here in the summer of 1933 that Brazda, who was 20 years old at the time, met his first love. Looking at the old photograph seems to cheer him up -- he perks up and smiles.
Ever the comedian, Brazda says, "I pushed him into the water in order to make his acquaintance."
In another picture, Brazda can be seen posing with five friends, all dapper in suits and ties, looking happy and relaxed. At that time, life in the German countryside was apparently still more open for gay men than in the big cities, where the Nazis had already started their campaign of persecution against homosexuals.
"It was a wonderful time, we had so much fun," Brazda reminisces. He even staged a mock wedding to marry his boyfriend, with his mother and siblings joining in the celebration. Nobody seemed to mind that the young men had even gotten a fake priest to bless their union.
The Nazi Witchhunt Against Homosexuals
Their faux wedding took place in the summer of 1934, around the same time Adolf Hitler ordered the shooting of Ernst Röhm, the head of the SA -- the Sturmabteilung or Stormtroopers -- and the execution of his cronies in the elite paramilitary unit. Although the Stormtroopers had played a key role in Hitler's rise to power, they now stood in his way. Hitler used the false pretense of purging homosexuals from Nazi ranks as a way of ridding himself of Röhm and his followers (or even opponents he deemed a threat to his power).
Shortly thereafter, the Nazi witchhunt against homosexuals began in earnest. On July 2, the Meuselwitzer Tageblatt, the local newspaper in Brazda's town, even joined in the homophobic fray by railing against what it called the "lust boys" in the SA. "Our Führer has given the order for the merciless extermination of these festering sores," the paper wrote.
Rudolf Brazda, who died on August 3 aged 98 was the last known survivor of the thousands of men who were sent to Nazi concentration camps for being homosexual.
Some six million Jews perished in the Holocaust. The Nazis also killed Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses and political opponents. And they persecuted gay men. Heinrich Himmler was obsessed with the idea that homosexuality was an infectious disease, endangering the “National Sexual Budget”. Gay men were seen as obstacles to Hitler’s programme to increase the master race.
Estimates suggest that between 10 and 15 thousand gay men from all over Europe were sent to the concentration camps where, like other inmates, they had to wear coloured badges to denote the nature of their “crimes”. The red triangle was for political prisoners, green for common criminals, blue for would-be emigrants from Germany, purple for Jehovah’s Witnesses, black for Gypsies and other “antisocials”, and pink for homosexuals. Jews wore a yellow triangle with a triangle of another colour superimposed to make a Star of David.
Although homosexuals constituted one of the smallest categories in the camps, they were often treated with a special ferocity — subjected to beatings, “extermination through labour” in the quarries, castration and medical experiments to make them “normal”; they also often suffered the homophobia of their fellow inmates.
Brazda was living an openly gay life in Leipzig when Hitler came to power. Though homosexuality was technically illegal, the Weimar Republic was largely tolerant: “We had our own meetings. There was a dance club in Leipzig where we would often meet,” Brazda recalled. “There was great freedom for us. I couldn’t imagine anything else. Then we started hearing about Hitler and his bandits.”
The Nazis expanded anti-gay laws to make homosexual acts a felony and, in 1934, began raiding gay bars in big cities. In 1937 Brazda was denounced and arrested for “unnatural lewdness”. After a month in custody, presented with love letters and poems he had written to his then partner, he “confessed” to the relationship and was imprisoned for six months for “debauchery”.
After his release Brazda, who had Czechoslovak citizenship though he did not speak the language, was deported to Czechoslovakia. He moved to the spa town of Karlsbad in the German-speaking Sudetenland. There he joined a theatre troupe, developing a popular tribute act to Josephine Baker, and stayed on even after the Nazis occupied the Sudetenland in 1938.
Arrested for a second time in 1941, Brazda spent another six months behind bars, then, in August 1942, was sent to Buchenwald where he was given the number 7952, and made to sew the pink triangle on to his camp uniform: “I didn’t understand what was happening but what could I do? Under Hitler you were powerless,” he recalled.
Two guards at the camp saved Brazda’s life. The first, apparently himself gay, removed Brazda from the “punishment battalion” at the local quarry and secured him a posting to lighter duties in the quarry’s infirmary. Several months later, Brazda joined the roofers unit, part of the “Bauhof” kommando in charge of maintaining the concentration camp buildings. As part of the kommando he was given extra food rations.
Then, just before liberation, when the camp’s prisoners were rounded up for a “death march” to another camp at Flossenburg, a second guard hid Brazda in the camp’s animal pen. “He put me in a shed with the pigs, made me a bed and I lay there for 14 days until the Americans came. After that, I was a free man,” he recalled.
Rudolf Brazda was born on June 26 1913 in Brossen, in the central German state of Thuringia. His parents were originally from Bohemia and Rudolf was the youngest of their eight children. His father worked at the local brown coal mines, but died in a work accident in 1922 when his youngest son was nine years old.
After leaving school, Brazda trained as a roofer, having failed in his ambition to become a sales assistant with a gentlemen’s outfitter. Aged 20 he met his first boyfriend, Werner, at a dance in Leipzig and they moved in together. Indeed such was the tolerant atmosphere of the time that the pair went through a ceremony of “marriage”, with Brazda’s mother and siblings serving as witnesses.
Brazda had his first encounter with Nazi brutality at Café New York, a well-known haunt of Leipzig’s gay community: “The Nazi stormtroopers dragged us out by our hair,” he recalled. After the closure of gay pubs and meeting places, a more systematic persecution began.“We gays were like hunted animals. Wherever I went with my companion the Nazis were always already there.”
In 1936 Werner was enlisted to do his military service and Brazda took up a position as a bell boy at Leipzig hotel, where he was arrested the following year. Werner, meanwhile, is believed to have been killed on active service in 1940. During his time in the Sudetenland, Brazda settled in with a new companion called Anton, and one of his most enduring and painful memories of Buchenwald was when an SS man ripped a gold chain that Anton had given him from his neck.
Yet he was acutely aware of his good fortune in surviving the camp and retained vivid memories of some of the 650 “Pink Triangles” deported to Buchenwald who were not so lucky. One young man had gouged his own eyes out on arrival at the camp so that he would be sent to the infirmary rather than the quarry. “The only thing that was waiting for him in the infirmary was a lethal injection. I never saw him again.”
Within the roofers’ kommando, Brazda made friends with a French communist from Alsace. After the camp’s liberation he followed him back to Mulhouse and decided to make his home there.
At a costume ball in the 1950s, Brazda met Edouard, an ethnic German who had been expelled from Yugoslavia and who became his companion. In the early 1960s they moved into a house they had built in the suburbs of Mulhouse, where Brazda cared for Edouard after he was crippled by a work accident in the 1970s. He continued to live there after Edouard’s death in 2003.
For decades Brazda did not speak about what had happened to him. Homosexuality was not decriminalised in France until 1982. It was only in May 2008, when Berlin’s openly gay mayor Klaus Wowereit unveiled a memorial to homosexuals persecuted in the Third Reich, that Brazda decided to speak out. He had been watching the ceremony on television and picked up the phone to correct a claim by the organisers that the last witness had died three years earlier. Three weeks later Klaus Wowereit went through the ceremony again. Standing at his side, clutching a red rose, was a white-haired, still wildly flirtatious nonagenarian.
Brazda’s reappearance led to invitations to attend a number of gay events, including Europride Zurich in 2009. Last year he took part in Mulhouse in the unveiling of a plaque in memory of homosexual victims of the Nazis and was a guest of honour at a remembrance ceremony at Buchenwald.
This year the German journalist Alexander Zinn published his biography and in April Brazda was appointed a Knight of the Legion of Honour.
Part 2: The Nazi Persecution Begins
Brazda went on with his day-to-day life as if nothing had happened -- at least he tried to. By that point, he had moved in together with his boyfriend, and they would hold hands in public and go to village festivals and the annual summer market with their other gay friends. If locals shot them disapproving looks, Brazda and his friends would pretend to be an especially boisterous soccer team.
But Brazda only seems to remember parts of the story when he looks at those pictures from the summer of 1934-- the good parts. He has gaps in his memory. One of the few friends that Brazda still recognizes, Alexander Zinn, is sitting next to Brazda's hospital bed and helping with the interview by blaring the reporter's questions into Brazda's ear while showing him the old photos. Zinn, an author and sociologist, first met Brazda three years ago. He was old at the time, but still sprightly. The author had been researching Brazda's story when he came across the criminal file from the concentration camp survivor's trial. The two men then traveled together to Meuselwitz and the former concentration camp in Buchenwald.
"I had always been blessed with good fortune," Brazda told his new friend. Zinn would go on to use it as the title of his new book about Brazda's life.
Blessed with good fortune? For Christmas 1936, their last together, Brazda gave his boyfriend a large chocolate heart. While the two were celebrating the holiday, police and prosecutors were busy tightening the noose. Now that the Nazis had rid the big cities of the "festering sores," they had turned their attention to stamping out homosexuality in the countryside. Their strategy was to arrest Meuselwitz's gays, interrogate them and get them to make incriminating statements against one another.
On April 8, 1937, Brazda finally got caught in their noose. At first, he insisted that he was not "attracted to men whatsoever." The official investigating Brazda's case, however, noted that the accused displayed the "typical appearance of a man with homosexual tendencies." Officials also presented further pieces of "evidence" like letters and love poems.
Buchenwald's 'Punishment Battalion'
Following a month in custody, Brazda finally collapsed in tears and confessed his "crimes." A short time later, he was sentenced to six months in prison because, according to the verdict, "he felt love for his friend" instead of "conquering his unnatural urges."
Four years later, the Nazis arrested Brazda a second time, and in August 1942, he was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp. Zinn's book, recently published in German, is full of the crazy tales Brazda told him about concentration camp life a few years earlier, when he was still lucid enough to do so. Almost all homosexual prisoners landed in the so-called "punishment battalion," where they were subjected to excessive forced labor. Separated from the rest of the camp by barbed wire, they started work at the quarry in the early hours of the morning. "Extermination through labor," was the SS's strategy for homosexual prisoners.
But Brazda was spared. He had caught the eye of a political prisoner who worked as a so-called "Kapo," camp inmates appointed by the SS to oversee the quarry work gangs. The man who was feared for his brutality by other prisoners told Brazda to "set his shovel down." After that, Brazda was allowed to work in the medical barracks and dress injuries and wounds.
"One day I was alone in the clinic when the Kapo guy came in," says Brazda. "He took me in his arms and kissed me -- he had his hands all over me." Brazda let the Kapo have his way with him in order to escape the quarry and a slow death by exhaustion.
Ostracism for Gays after War
After working as a medical orderly for a while, he was given a job as a roofer, and then Brazda was moved to the camp's administrative office. Even as American troops advanced closer and closer to the camp and SS troops sent 28,000 camp prisoners out on a death march at the beginning of the spring, Brazda's good fortune never abandoned him.
"I had a friend, a Kapo, who hid me in the pig stalls," Brazda says. On April 11, the American army liberated the camp. Afterwards, Brazda moved to Mulhouse, France, where he still lives today.
Neumärker of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial says Brazda has been on his mind a lot since he came forward in 2008. Suddenly there was a fate, a face that could be attached to his gay memorial.
"The especially tragic thing about this group of victims is the fact that, after they were persecuted by the Nazis, they were then subjected to another form of ostracism after the war," says Neumärker. Neither Brazda nor the bulk of his fellow homosexual survivors of Nazi persecution ever received reparations after 1945.
For the past year, a commission in Berlin has been busy with the task of trying to determine the future of the memorial. The lone concrete slab features a small window through which visitors can view a looping video in which two young men from modern-day Germany can be seen kissing.
An Update for the Memorial
Now the commission wants a different video for the memorial, one that is more inclusive than two men kissing. The commission held a competition and received 13 proposals before selecting five finalists for the final round of decision-making. After months of controversial wrangling and consulting, the commission finally made a decision. They agreed the new video should also show lesbian couples kissing.
"The memorial has to remain contemporary," Neumärker says.
Others have been critical of plans to include lesbians. Brazda biographer Zinn told the news agency AFP in 2010 the plan to depict lesbians is an inaccurate depiction of history. "Historical truth must remain the focus," he said, as no lesbians were targeted during the Holocaust.
Brazda himself isn't sure what he should think about the memorial debate. "People need to know that we homosexuals were persecuted," he says, pausing for effect, "by people who themselves were also gay."
Brazda has grown tired. He glances over at Zinn, rallies a bit of energy and then starts flirting again. "I wish we could have had something together," he says to the man who is almost 60 years his junior. He then smiles and adds, "Whenever I am in the mood for love, I will think of you."
When Zinn first came to visit Brazda in France's Alsace region three years ago, Brazda was so excited and so lonely -- most of his friends had already passed away -- that he gave his house a fresh coat of paint for the occasion. All the attention, the memorial and now the book have been something of a second coming out for Brazda.
"Are you afraid of death?" Zinn shouts into his ear. Brazda is lost in his thoughts and doesn't reply immediately.
"Everyone has lives his own life, and I have lived mine," he answers. "The main thing is to be happy." He says he is appreciative of the freedom that today's young people enjoy. "Everyone is free to do what he wants."
It's time to end the visit and say goodbye.
"Whatever happens, happens," he says. "I'm not scared." He then closes his eyes again and dozes off.
Born in Thale, Germany, at eighteen, Becker fell in love with an older man, with whom he lived for nearly ten years. In 1935, he was arrested on suspicion of violating Paragraph 175 and sentenced to three years in prison at Nürnberg. On his release he joined the German army and served on the Russian front until 1944. He died in Hamburg, Germany.
L. D. Classen von Neudegg
L. D. Classen von Neudegg was a Holocaust survivor who was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp because of his homosexuality. He wrote about his experiences in 1954 in the German magazine Humanitas. His account is one of the most significant records of the experience of homosexuals during the holocaust.
Heinz Dörmer (1912–2001) was a German man who was imprisoned by the Nazis for homosexuality under Paragraph 175. He was repeatedly released and rearrested, spending more than ten years in a variety of concentration camps and prisons.
Dörmer was born in Berlin, Germany. Deeply involved with church youth groups as a child, by age fifteen, he was frequenting Berlin's gay bars. Dörmer was 10 years old when he joined the German Youth Movement in 1922. In 1929, he founded his own youth group, called the "Wolfsring" (lit. "ring of wolves"), which combined sexual affairs, amateur theater performances, and travel. In 1932, he was promoted to youth leader and worked in the scout movement at a national level. He and his group tried to stay independent, but in October 1933 they were forced to join the Hitler Youth.Imprisonments
In April 1935, Dörmer was accused of homosexual activities with members of his troop, and from 1941 to 1944 he was imprisoned for corrupting the youth at Neuengamme concentration camp, a "holding tank for homosexuals, politicals, and non-German aliens."Post-war life
After the war, Dörmer spent another eight years in prison on various charges. After his final release in 1963, he returned to Berlin to live with his father, who died in 1970. His 1982 application for reparations from the German government was rejected. He made an appearance in the 2000 documentary film Paragraph 175, which portrays survivors of persecution then-authorized under the German anti-male homosexuality law of the same name.
Friedrich-Paul von Groszheim
Friedrich-Paul von Groszheim (April 27, 1906 – c. 2003) was a German man who was imprisoned by the Nazis for the crime ofhomosexuality under Germany's now-repealed Paragraph 175. He was born in Lübeck, Germany
Von Groszheim was one of 230 men arrested in Lübeck on suspicion of being gay by the SS in January 1937. He was imprisoned for ten months, during which he had to wear a badge emblazoned with a capital A, for Arschficker ("arse-fucker"):
They beat us to a pulp. I couldn't lie down...my whole back (was) bloody. You were beaten until you finally named names
Because of the castration, von Groszheim was rejected as physically unfit for military service in 1940. In 1943 he was arrested a third time, this time as a supporter of the former Kaiser Wilhelm II, and imprisoned as a political prisoner at Neuengamme concentration camp.
Von Groszheim settled in Hamburg, Germany. In 1995, he was one of eight signers to a declaration given to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. that called for the "memorializing and documenting of Nazi atrocities against homosexuals and others."
Karl Lange (born October 28, 1915, date of death unknown) was imprisoned by the Nazis for the then crime of homosexuality under the criminal code's Paragraph 175, which defined homosexuality as an unnatural act.
In 1935, when Lange was twenty years old, an informer told the police that he had been having secret meetings with a fifteen-year-old youth, and he was arrested. He was released after fifteen months but re-arrested in 1937 and imprisoned at Fuhlsbüttel prison, and then was part of a group that was transferred to Waldheim prison inSaxony.
Transferred to Waldheim in 1943, Karl had a nervous breakdown and was in the prison hospital when Soviet troops liberated the camp on May 3, 1945.
"Today I know that I was lucky," he recalled. He found a job in a Hamburg bank in 1945, but after 18 months his employer ordered him to get a "certificate in good standing" from the local police. Because of his conviction under Paragraph 175, he could not and was fired. Not until the 1960s was he able to find employers willing to overlook the conviction by the Nazis.
- October 28, 1915
Kurt von Ruffin
Von Ruffin began his career as a singer. Starting in 1927 he sang with the operas of Magdeburg, Mainz, and Nuremberg. He made his film debut in 1931 in Die Faschingsfee and Walzerparadies, also starring in Harry Piel's Bobby geht los in the same year. For the latter film von Ruffin took boxing lessons from heavyweight champion Hans Breitensträter.
After completing filming on Schwarzwaldmädel in 1933, von Ruffin was denounced as a homosexual by another gay man who named him under torture, and imprisoned at Lichtenburg, where many gay men were imprisoned, for two years. Von Ruffin says that SS guards touched prisoners and then beat those who got sexually aroused. He also recalls being forced to watch as some prisoners were beaten to death.
Von Ruffin went on to star in five more movies: Königswalzer (1935), Die Geige lockt (1935), Schwarze Rosen (1935), Die Stunde der Versuchung (1936), and Du bist so schön, Berlinerin (1936) before he was finally prohibited from appearing in any more films. From 1941 until the end of the war, he appeared only on stage.
After the war, von Ruffin appeared in several more films, including Ich mach' Dich glücklich (1949), Der blaue Strohhut (1949), Neues vom Hexer (1965), Die Herren mit der weissen Weste (1970), and his last, Der Unbesiegbare (1985).
- 1901~17 November 1996
Julius Röhm and Emilie Röhm
Ernst Julius Röhm, (November 28, 1887 – July 2, 1934) was a German officer in the Bavarian Army and later an early Nazi leader. He was a co-founder of the Sturmabteilung ("Storm Battalion"; SA), the Nazi Party militia and later was the SA commander. In 1934, as part of theNight of the Long Knives, he was executed on Hitler's orders as a potential rival.
Ernst Röhm was born in Munich, the youngest of three children (older sister and brother). His father, a railway official, was described as "a harsh man". Although the family had no military tradition, Röhm entered the Royal Bavarian 10th Infantry Regiment Prinz Ludwig at Ingolstadt as a cadet on 23 July 1906. He obtained his commission on 12 March 1908. At the outbreak of war in August 1914, he was adjutant of the 1st Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment König. The following month, he was seriously wounded in the face at Chanot Wood in Lorraine, and carried the scars for the rest of his life. He was promoted to senior lieutenant (Oberleutnant) in April 1915. During an attack on the fortification at Thiaumont, Verdun, on 23 June 1916, he sustained a serious chest wound. As a result, he spent the remainder of the war in both France and Rumania as a staff officer. He was awarded the Iron Cross First Class on 20 June 1916, just before he was wounded at Verdun, and was promoted to captain (Hauptmann) in April 1917. In October 1918, while serving on the Staff of the Gardekorps, he contracted the deadly Spanish influenza and was not expected to live; however, he survived and recovered after a long period of convalescence.
Following the armistice on 11 November 1918 that ended the war, Röhm continued his military career as an adjutant in the Reichswehr. He was one of the senior members in Colonel von Epp's Bayerisches Freikorps für den Grenzschutz Ost, formed at Ohrdruf in April 1919, which finally overturned the Red Republic in Munich by force of arms on 3 May 1919. In 1919, he joined the German Workers' Party, which soon became the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). Röhm met Adolf Hitler and they became political allies and close friends.
Röhm's resignation from the Reichswehr was accepted in November 1923 during his time as a prisoner at Stadelheim prison. Following the failed Beer Hall Putsch on 9 November 1923, Röhm, Hitler, General Erich Ludendorff, Lt-Colonel Kriebel and six others were tried in February 1924 on charges of treason. Röhm was found guilty and received one year and three months in prison. However, the sentence was suspended and he was granted a conditional discharge. Hitler was also found guilty and was sentenced to five years imprisonment, although he would only serve nine months.
In April 1924, Röhm became a Reichstag Deputy for the völkisch National Socialist Freedom Party. He made only one speech, urging the release from Landsberg of Lt-Colonel Kriebel. At the 1925 elections the seats won by his party were much reduced, and his name was too far down the list for him to be returned to the Reichstag. While Hitler was in prison, Röhm helped to create the Frontbann as a legal alternative to the then-outlawed SA. At Landsberg prison in April 1924, Röhm had also been given full powers by Hitler to rebuild the SA in any way he saw fit. When in April 1925 Hitler and Ludendorff disapproved of the proposals under which Röhm was prepared to integrate the 30,000-strong Frontbann into the SA, on 1 May 1925 Röhm resigned from all political movements and military brigades and sought seclusion from public life. In 1928 he accepted a post in Bolivia as adviser to the Bolivian Army where he was given the rank of Lt-Colonel and took up his duties after six months' acclimatisation and language tutoring. Following the 1930 revolt in Bolivia Röhm was forced to seek sanctuary in the German Embassy. After the election results in Germany that September, Röhm received a telephone call from Hitler in which the latter said, "I need you", thus provoking Röhm's return to Germany.
In September 1930, as a consequence of the Stennes Revolt in Berlin, Hitler assumed supreme command of the SA as its new Oberster SA-Führer. He sent a personal request to Röhm, asking that he return to serve as the SA's chief of staff. Röhm accepted this offer and commenced his new assignment in early January 1931. Röhm brought radical new ideas to the SA and appointed several of his close friends to its senior leadership.
The SA now numbered over a million. Its traditional function of party leader escort had been given to the SS, but it continued its street battles with "Reds" and attacks on Jews. The SA also attacked or intimidated anyone deemed hostile to the Nazi programme: editors, professors, politicians, uncooperative local officials or businessmen.
Under Röhm, the SA also often took the side of workers in strikes and other labour disputes, attacking strikebreakers and supporting picketlines. SA intimidation contributed to the rise of the Nazis, breaking down the electoral activity of the left-wing parties. However, the SA's reputation for street violence and heavy drinking was a hindrance.
Another hindrance was the more or less open homosexuality of Röhm and other SA leaders such as his deputy Edmund Heines (both of whom would later be sentenced to death on Hitler's orders). In 1931, the Münchener Post, a Social Democratic newspaper, obtained and published Röhm's letters to a friend in which Röhm discussed his sexual affairs with men.
Röhm with Hitler, August 1933
By this time, Röhm and Hitler were so close that they addressed each other as du (the German familiar form of "you"). Röhm was the only top Nazi that Hitler addressed as such. In turn, Röhm was the only Nazi who dared address Hitler as "Adolf," rather than "mein Führer."
As Hitler secured national power in 1933, SA men became auxiliary police, and marched into local government offices to force officials to hand over authority to Nazis.
Röhm and the SA regarded themselves as the vanguard of the "National Socialist revolution." After Hitler's takeover, they expected radical changes in Germany, with power and rewards for them. However, Hitler's use of the SA as storm troopers was a political weapon he no longer needed.
Along with Joseph Goebbels, Gottfried Feder and Walther Darré, Röhm was a prominent member of the party's "socialist" faction. This group took the words "Sozialistische" and "Arbeiter" ("worker") in the party's name literally. They largely rejected capitalism (which they associated with Jews) and pushed fornationalisation of major industrial firms, expanded worker control, confiscation and redistribution of the estates of the old aristocracy and social equality. Röhm spoke of a "second revolution" against "reactionaries" (the National Socialist label for old-line conservatives), as the National Socialists had previously dealt with the Communists and Socialists.
All this was threatening to the business community, which had supported Hitler's rise to power. So Hitler swiftly reassured businessmen that there would be no "second revolution." Many "storm troopers" were of working-class origins and had expected a socialist programme. In fact, it was often said at the time that members of the SA were like a beefsteak — "brown on the outside and red on the inside". They were now disappointed by the new regime's lack of socialist direction and also failure to provide the lavish patronage expected. Röhm even publicly criticized Hitler for his failure to carry through the National Socialist revolution.
Furthermore, Röhm and his SA colleagues thought of their force (now over three million strong) as the future army of Germany, replacing theReichswehr and its professional officers. Although Röhm had been a member of the officer corps, he viewed them as "old fogies" who lacked "revolutionary spirit." In February 1934, Röhm demanded that the Reichswehr (which under the Treaty of Versailles was limited to 100,000 men) be absorbed into the SA under his leadership as Minister of Defence.
This horrified the army, with its traditions going back to Frederick the Great. The army officer corps viewed the SA as a brawling mob of undisciplined street fighters and were also concerned by the pervasiveness of homosexuality and "corrupt morals" within the ranks of the SA. Further, reports of a huge cache of weapons in the hands of SA members gave the army commanders even more concern. The entire officer corps opposed Röhm's proposal, insisting that honour and discipline would vanish if the SA gained control. However, it appeared that Röhm and the SA would settle for nothing less.
Hitler privately shared much of Röhm's animus toward the traditionalists in the army. Nevertheless, he had gained power with the army's support, and he wanted the army's support to succeed the ailing 86-year-old Paul von Hindenburg as President.
Meanwhile, Hitler had already begun preparing for the struggle. In February he told British diplomatAnthony Eden that he planned to reduce the SA by two thirds. Also in February, he announced that the SA would be left only a few minor military functions.
Röhm responded with further complaints about Hitler and began expanding the armed elements of the SA. To many it appeared as if the SA was planning or threatening a rebellion. In March, Röhm offered a compromise in which a few thousand SA leaders would be taken into the army, but the army promptly rejected it.
On 11 April 1934, Hitler met with German military leaders on the ship Deutschland. By this time, Hitler had learned that the ailing Hindenburg would die before the year's end. Hitler informed them of Hindenburg's declining health and proposed the Reichswehr support him as Hindenburg's successor. In exchange, Hitler offered to reduce the SA, suppress Röhm's ambitions, and guarantee the Reichswehr would be Germany's only military force. William L. Shirer asserts that Hitler also promised to expand the army and navy.
However, both the Reichswehr and business conservatives continued their anti-SA complaints to Hindenburg. In early June 1934, defence minister Werner von Blomberg, on Hindenburg's behalf, issued an ultimatum to Hitler: unless political tension ended in Germany, Hindenburg would likely declare martial law and turn over control of the country to the army. Knowing such a step could forever deprive him of power, Hitler decided to carry out his pact with the Reichswehr to suppress the SA. This meant a showdown with Röhm. In Hitler's view, the army and the SA constituted the only real remaining power centres in Germany that were independent in his National Socialist state.
The army was willing to submit. Blomberg had the swastika added to the army's insignia in February and ended the army's practice of preference for "old army" descent in new officers, replacing it with a requirement of "consonance with the new government."
Although determined to curb the power of the SA, Hitler put off doing away with his long-time comrade to the very end. A political struggle within the party grew, with those closest to Hitler, including Prussian premier Hermann Göring, Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels andSS Chief Heinrich Himmler positioning themselves against Röhm. As a means of isolating Röhm, on 20 April 1934, Göring transferred control of the Prussian political police (Gestapo) to Himmler, who, Göring believed, could be counted on to move against Röhm. Himmler, Heydrichand Göring used Röhm's published anti-Hitler rhetoric to support a claim that the SA was plotting to overthrow Hitler. Himmler and his deputy Heydrich, chief of the SS Security Service (the SD), assembled a dossier of manufactured evidence to suggest that Röhm had been paid twelve million marks by France to overthrow Hitler. Leading officers were shown falsified evidence on June 24 that Röhm planned to use the SA to launch a plot against the government (Röhm-Putsch).
By this time, these stories were officially recognised. Reports of the SA threat were passed to Hitler and he knew it was time finally to act. Meanwhile Göring, Himmler, Heydrich and Victor Lutze (at Hitler's direction) drew up lists of people in and outside the SA to be killed. Himmler and Heydrich issued marching orders to the SS, while Sepp Dietrich went around showing army officers a purported SA execution list.
Meanwhile, Röhm and several of his companions went away on holiday at a resort in Bad Wiessee. On June 28, Hitler phoned Röhm and asked him to gather all the SA leaders at Bad Wiessee on June 30 for a conference. Röhm agreed, apparently unsuspicious.
The date of June 30 marked the beginning of the Night of the Long Knives. At dawn on 30 June, Hitler flew to Munich and then drove to Bad Wiessee, where he personally arrested Röhm and the other SA leaders. All were imprisoned at Stadelheim Prison in Munich. From 30 June to 2 July 1934, the entire leadership of the SA was purged, along with many other political adversaries of the Nazis.
Hitler was uneasy authorizing Röhm's execution and gave Röhm an opportunity to commit suicide. On July 2, Röhm was visited by SS-Brigadeführer Theodor Eicke (then Kommandant of the Dachau concentration camp) and SS-Obersturmbannführer Michael Lippert, who laid a pistol on the table, told Röhm he had ten minutes to use it and left. Röhm refused and stated "If I am to be killed, let Adolf do it himself." Having heard nothing in the allotted time, Eicke and Lippert returned to Röhm's cell to find him standing. Röhm had his bare chest puffed out in a gesture of defiance as Lippert shot him in the chest at point blank range. He was buried in the Westfriedhof (Western Cemetery) in Munich.
The purge of the SA was legalized the next day with a one-paragraph decree: the Law Regarding Measures of State Self-Defence. At this time no public reference was made to the alleged SA rebellion; instead there were generalised references to misconduct, perversion, and some sort of plot. John Toland noted that Hitler had long been privately aware that Röhm and his SA associates were homosexuals; although he disapproved of their behaviour, he stated that 'the SA are a band of warriors and not a moral institution.' National Socialist propaganda now made use of their sexual orientation as justification of the executions.
A few days later, the claim of an incipient SA rebellion was publicised and became the official reason for the entire wave of arrests and executions. Indeed, the affair was labeled the "Röhm-putsch" by German historians, though after World War II it has usually been modified as the "alleged Röhm-putsch" or known as the "Night of the Long Knives." In a speech on July 13, Hitler alluded to Röhm's homosexuality and explained the purge as chiefly defence against treason
- November 28, 1887~ July 2, 1934
Pierre Seel (August 16, 1923, Haguenau, Bas-Rhin – November 25, 2005) was a gay Holocaust survivor and the only French person to have testified openly about his experience of deportation during World War II due to his homosexuality.
Pierre was the fifth and last son of an affluent Catholic Alsatian family, and he was born at the family castle of Fillate in Haguenau. At the age of eleven, he discovered that his younger sister, Josephine (Fifine to him), was in fact his cousin, adopted by his father when her mother died. His father ran a successful patisserie-confiserie shop on Mulhouse's main street (at 46 rue du Sauvage). His mother, Emma Jeanne, once director of a department store, joined the family business when she married. By his late teens, Pierre Seel was part of the Mulhouse (Alsace) gay and Zazou subcultures. He suspected that his homosexuality was due to the repressive Catholic morals of his family which forbade him to show interest in girls his age during his early teens. He found it difficult to come to terms with and accept his homosexuality, and described himself as short tempered.
In 1939, he was in a public garden (le Square Steinbach) notorious as a "cruising" ground for men. While he was there, his watch was stolen, a gift that his godmother had given to him at his recent communion. Reporting the theft to the police meant that, unknown to him, his name was added to a list of homosexuals held by the police (homosexuality had not been illegal in France since 1792; the Vichy Regime did not, contrary to legend, recriminalize homosexuality, but in August 1942 it did outlaw sexual relations between an adult and a minor under twenty-one). The German invasion curtailed Seel's hopes of studying textiles in Lille. He completed vocational training in accounting, decoration andsales and found a sales assistant job at a neighbouring shop.
On 3 May 1941, Seel was arrested. He was tortured and raped with a piece of wood. He was then sent to the city jail before being transferred on 13 May 1941 to the Schirmeck-Vorbrück camp, about 30 km west of Strasbourg. His prison uniform was marked with a blue bar (marking Catholic and "a-social" prisoners) rather than the infamous pink triangle which was not in use at Schirmeck. He later noted: "There was no solidarity for the homosexual prisoners; they belonged to the lowest caste. Other prisoners, even when between themselves, used to target them."
On 6 November 1941, after months of starvation, ill treatment and forced labour, Seel was set free with no explanation and made a German citizen. He was sworn to secrecy about his experience by Karl Buck, the commander of the camp. He was made to report daily to the Gestapo offices.
The rest of the war
Between 21 March and 26 September 1942, Seel was forced to join the RAD (Reichsarbeitsdienst) to receive some military training. First, he was sent to Vienna as an aide-de-camp to a German officer. Then, it was a military airport in Gütersloh near the Dutch-German border.
On 15 October 1942, he was incorporated to the Wehrmacht and become one of the "malgré-nous" (despite ourselves), young men born in Alsace or Lorraine enrolled against their will into the German army who had to fight with their enemies against the people they supported. During the next three years, he criss-crossed Europe without much recollections of events, places and dates. This time he was sent to Yugoslavia. While fighting the local resistance, he and his fellow soldiers burned isolated villages inhabited by women and children only. One day he found himself in front of a partisan who broke Seel's jaw, as a result of which he soon lost all his teeth. The man did not recover from the ensuing fight. Wounded, Seel was sent to Berlin in an administrative position.
In spring 1943, to his bemusement, Seel was sent to Pomerania to a Lebensborn, one of a dozen places in the Reich dreamed up by Heinrich Himmler and dedicated to breeding a new race according to the Nazis' standards of Aryan "purity"; Young, healthy couples were encouraged to procreate and give their children to the Reich. He only stayed there a few days.
In summer 1943, he volunteered to join the Reichsbank and became a teller on trains for soldiers on leave between Belgrade and Salonica. This ended with the attempt on Hitler's life on 20 July 1944, which demanded a strengthening of authority. Seel found himself helping the civilian population in the Berlin underground during a 40 days and nights attack by the Allies.
While things started to unravel for the Reich, Seel was sent to Smolensk on the Russian front. After having allowed the horse of the officer he was serving to run away, Seel was sent to a dangerous and exposed position alone with another Alsatian. The enemy kept on firing at them and soon Seel's companion was killed. He spent three days there, close to madness, believing himself forgotten.
As the German debacle was becoming imminent, his commanding officer invited him to desert with him. Soon after, the officer got killed and Seel found himself alone and decided to surrender to the Soviet troops and started to follow them west. Somewhere in Poland, however, he found himself arrested and threatened to be shot as a part of reprisal execution after the murder of an officer. He saved his life by stepping forward in front of the firing squad and starting to sing the Internationale.
In Poland, Seel parted ways with the Russian army and joined a group of concentration camp survivors soon to be brought back to France. The Red Cross soon took over and organised a train convoy. This however did not go west but south, through Odessa and the Black Sea, in terrible sanitary conditions. Seel was still in Poland on 8 May 1945 when the Armistice was declared. In Odessa, as he was put in charge of order in the refugee camp he was in, he contracted malaria. At this time he was also advised to change his name to Celle and hide the fact that he was Alsatian by saying he was from Belfort.
After a long wait in Odessa for a boat to take him back to France, "Pierre Celle" finally arrived in Paris on 7 August 1945 after a train journey through Europe, via Romania, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. Again, Seel found himself requisitioned for an administrative task, in this case, the ticking of the long lists of other refugees being sent home.
On reaching Mulhouse, Seel realized that he would have to lie about his true story and, like all the others, lie about the reasons for his deportation. "I was already starting to censor my memories, and I became aware that, in spite of my expectations, in spite of all I had imagined, of the long-awaited joy of returning, the true Liberation, was for other people."
After the war
After the end of the war, the Charles de Gaulle government cleaned up the French Penal Code, principally getting rid of the anti-Semitic laws. The article against homosexual relations between adults and minors, however, remained in force until 1982. The homophobic atmosphere of the 1940s-1960s meant that for the returning victims, the possibility of telling their story was thwarted by the fear of further stigmatisation. In his book, Seel also notes an increase of homophobic attacks in Mulhouse, after the war. In his family itself, Seel found a negative reaction to his homosexuality. His closest relatives decided to avoid broaching the subject while other members of the extended family made humiliating jokes. His godfather disinherited him.
After starting to work as a stock manager at a fabric warehouse, Seel set up an association to help the local destitute families by giving out food and clothes. He also cared for his ageing and ailing mother, with whom he grew close and the only person to whom he related his experience for over thirty years. For four years, the beginning of what he called the years of shame, Seel led a life of "painful sadness", during which he slowly came to decide that he must renounce his homosexuality. Following in his parents' footsteps, he contacted a dating agency and on 21 August 1950, he civilly married the daughter of a Spanish dissident (the religious marriage took place on 30 September 1950 atSaint-Ouen). He decided not to tell his wife about his homosexuality.
Their first child was still-born, but they eventually had two sons (1952 and 1954) and a daughter (1957). In 1952, for the birth of their second child, they moved near Paris, in the Vallée de Chevreuse, where Seel opened a fabric store which was not successful. He soon had to find work in a larger Parisian textile company. The family got involved with the local Catholic community. Seel found it difficult to relate to his children; He felt remote from his last born, while he did not know how to express his love for his two boys without it being misinterpreted.
The 1960s offered little stability to the family with moves to Blois, Orléans, Compiègne, Rouen and back to Compiègne, following Seel's career. This instability put further strains on his marriage. In 1968, Seel found himself trapped for four days in the besieged Sorbonne when he was sent as observer by his local Parents Association. He then went down to Toulouse where he was to check the family's new flat attached to his wife's new job in the administration. There, he was arrested under suspicion of stirring the young demonstrators. The family finally settled in Toulouse.
During the next ten years, Seel grew further from his wife, tormented by feelings of inadequacy, shame, and confusion about his sexuality. By the time he and his wife separated in 1978, he was already under tranquillisers. He started to drink and considered becoming homeless, even sleeping rough three times to test himself. After one of his sons threatened to never see him again if he didn't stop drinking, he joined a counselling group. In 1979, as he was working for an insurance company, still trying for reconciliation with his estranged wife, he attended a debate in a local bookshop for the launch of the French edition of Heinz Heger's testimony (The Men with the Pink Triangle which inspiredMartin Sherman to write the play Bent). After the event, Seel met with the speakers and a meeting was organised for the next day.
He joined his local branch of David et Jonathan, a gay and lesbian Christian association. On 9 April 1989, he returned to the sites of the Schirmeck and Struthof camps for the first time. He spent the last 12 years or so with his long-term partner, Eric Féliu, with whom he bred dogs in Toulouse, which helped him to overcome the fear of dogs he had developed after Jo's death. Seel died of cancer in Toulouse in November 2005. He is buried in Bram, in the Aude département.
In 1981, the testimony collected by Jean-Pierre Joecker (director and founder of the gay magazine Masques) was published anonymously in a special edition of the French translation of the play Bent by Martin Sherman. In April 1982, in response to anti-gay declarations and actions by Léon Elchinger, the Bishop of Strasbourg, Seel spoke publicly and wrote an open letter to the Bishop on 18 November. He simultaneously circulated the text to his family. The letter was published in Gai Pied Hebdo No 47 on 11 December. At the same time, he started the official process of getting compensation from the state.
From the time he came forward publicly until the end of his life, Seel was active as an advocate for the recognition of homosexual victims of the Nazis—and notably of the forgotten homosexual victims from the French territories of Alsace and Moselle, which had been annexed by Nazi Germany. Seel came to be known as the most outspoken activist among the men who had survived internment as homosexuals during the Third Reich. He was an active supporter of the Mémorial de la Déportation Homosexuelle, a French national association founded in 1989 to honor the memory of homosexuals persecuted by the Nazi regime and to advocate formal recognition of these victims in the ceremonies held annually to commemorate citizens and residents of France deported to the concentration camps.
In 1994, Seel published the book Moi, Pierre Seel, déporté homosexuel (I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual), written with the assistance of journalist and activist Jean Le Bitoux, founder of the long-running French gay periodical Gai Pied; the book subsequently appeared in translation in English, German and Spanish. Seel appeared on national television and in the national press in France. His story also was featured in a 2000 documentary film on the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, Paragraph 175, directed by San Francisco filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. Returning to Germany for the first time since the war, Seel received a five-minute standing ovation at the documentary's premiere at the Berlin film festival.
Seel also found himself under attack in the 1980s and 1990s, even receiving death threats. After he appeared on French television, he was attacked and beaten by young men shouting homophobic epithets. Catherine Trautmann, then the Mayor of Strasbourg and later a Socialist Party culture minister, once refused to shake his hand during a commemorative ceremony.
In 2003, Seel received official recognition as a victim of the Holocaust by the International Organization for Migration's program for aiding Nazi victims. In April 2005, President Jacques Chirac, during the "Journée nationale du souvenir des victimes et des héros de la déportation" (the French equivalent to the Holocaust Memorial Day), said: "In Germany, but also on French territory, men and women whose personal lives were set aside, I am thinking of homosexuals, were hunted, arrested and deported." On 23 February 2008, the municipality of Toulouserenamed a street in the city in honour of Seel. The name plaque reads "Rue Pierre Seel - Déporté français pour homosexualité - 1923-2005".
From I, Pierre Seel: Deported Homosexual by Pierre Seel, translated from French by Joachim Neugroschel, published by Basic Books, a division of Harpers Collins, 1995
"One day the loudspeakers ordered us to report immediately to the roll-call site. Shouts and yells urged us to be there without delay. Surrounded by SS men, we had to form a square and stand at attention, as we did for morning roll call. The commandant appeared with his entire general staff. I assumed he was going to bludgeon us once again with his blind faith in the Reich, together with a list of orders, insults and threats -- emulating the infamous outpourings of his master, Adolph Hitler. But the actual ordeal was far worse: an execution. Two SS men brought a young man to the center of the square. Horrified, I recognized Jo, my loving friend, who was only 18 years old. I hadn't previously spotted him in the camp. Had he arrived before or after me? We hadn't seen each other during the days before I was summoned by the Gestapo.
"Now I froze in terror. I prayed that he would escape their lists, their roundups, their humiliations. And here he was, before my powerless eyes, which filled with tears. Unlike me, he had not carried dangerous letters, torn down posters, or signed any statements. What had happened? What had the monsters accused him of? Because of my anguish I have completely forgotten the wording of the death sentence.
"The loudspeakers broadcast some noisy classical music while the SS stripped him naked and shoved a tin pale over his head. Next, they sicced their ferocious German shephards on him: the guard dogs first bit into his groin and thighs, then devoured him right in front of us. His shrieks of pain were distorted and amplified by the pain in which his head was trapped. My rigid body reeled, my eyes gaped at so much horror, tears poured down my cheeks, I fervently prayed that he would black out quickly.
"Since then I sometimes wake up howling in the middle of the night. For fifty years now that scene has kept ceaselessly passing and repassing through my mind. I will never forget the barbaric murder of my love -- before my eyes, before our eyes, for their were hundreds of witnesses..."
From Paragraph 175 a documentary by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, 2000.
When Alsace-Lorraine was annexed by the Germans in 1940, the Nazis systematically began to weed out "anti-social" elements. They directed the French police to establish the notorious "Pink Lists" to keep track of homosexuals. One of their targets was 17-year-old Pierre Seel. Pierre was arrested after reporting a theft that occurred in a homosexual club. He was interrogated both about his sexuality and about his suspected involvement in resistance activities before being sent to the internment camp at Schirmeck. While there he was forced to build crematoria, at Struthof, a neighboring concentration camp, and was violated with broken rulers and used as a human dart board by camp orderlies with syringes. At the end of 1941, Pierre and thousands of other Alsatians were forced to join the German army. This was the ultimate humiliation: to be forced to fight on the side of the enemy. Having survived several allied bombings, he was eventually taken prisoner by the Russians, who gave him his freedom. After the war he was allowed back into his family under the condition that he never reveal the true circumstances of his arrest. He went into a downward spiral, entering a marriage of convenience and eventually becoming suicidal -- until deciding to take a stand and make his story public.
- August 16, 1923~November 25, 2005
Mug shot of homosexual Auschwitz prisoner: August Pfeiffer, servant, born Aug. 8, 1895, in Weferlingen, arrived to Auschwitz Nov. 1, 1941, and died there Dec. 28, 1941.State Museum of Auschwitz, Oswiecim, Poland
Friedrich Althoff (b. May 16, 1899), a waiter from Duesseldorf.Nordrhein-Westfälische Hauptstaatsarchiv Düsseldorf
RW 58-61940 One man recounts how the Nazis' assumption of power in 1933 limited homosexuals' freedom and created an atmosphere of fear.more... In 1935 the Nazi regime revised Paragraph 175 of the German criminal code to make illegal a very broad range of behavior between men. This is the text of the revised law.more... Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, a Jew and homosexual, founded the Institute for Sexual Sciences. Berlin, Germany, 1928.— Suddeutscher Verlag Bilderdienst, Munich Germanymore... The closing of the Eldorado, a club where homosexuals socialized. Berlin, Germany, March 5, 1933.— Landesarchiv Berlinmore... The Institute for Sexual Sciences during a Nazi raid. Berlin, Germany, May 6, 1933.— Landesarchiv Berlinmore... In a speech that Himmler gave before a conference of SS officers on February 17, 1937, he included remarks on the question of homosexuality.more... Friedrich-Paul von Groszheim, one of the 'forgotten victims' of the Holocaust, recently broke his silence to give testimony.— USHMMmore...
Lesbians in the Holocaust
"The non-criminalization of female homosexuality meant that lesbians were not intensively prosecuted in the same way or to the same degree as homosexual men. But they did suffer, for example, the same destruction of clubs and other organizations of the homosexual subculture, the banning of its papers and magazines, the closure or surveillance of the bars at which they met. This led to a dispersal of lesbian women and their withdrawal into private circles of friends. Many broke off all contacts for fear of discovery and even changed their place of residence. A collective lesbian life-style and identity, which had begun to take shape since the turn of the century and especially in the years of the Weimar Republic, was destroyed when the Nazi's came to power, and the effects would last well beyond the end of the 'Third Reich'.
"The exemption of female homosexuality from penal sanctions was one major reason why the registration and prosecution bodies set up within the Gestapo and the Criminal Police in the wake of Roem's murder in June 1934 mainly concentrated on the male homosexual 'enemy of the state'. The paucity of sources makes it impossible to gauge the extent to which lesbian women were also being compulsory registered -- for example, as a result of denunciation to authorities. Scattered evidence indicates that reports were collected about lesbians by the police, and also by other organizations such as the Race Policy Bureau of the NSDAP. But the scale of this is not known -- nor, above all, the consequences which followed from it.
"In only a few cases can it be demonstrated that women were tried on the pretext of other offenses but in reality because of their homosexuality. In one documented instance female homosexuality was cited by the administration of the Ravensbruck concentration camp as the grounds of detention. Thus, on 30 November 140 the transportation list for this women's camp names the day's eleventh 'admission' as the non-Jewish Elli S., exactly 26 years of age. The term 'lesbian' actually appears in the entry as the reason for detention. Elli S. was apparently put among the political prisoners, but nothing further is known of her fate.
"Other cases are known in which lesbians were punished as 'subversive of the military potential.' And, where a so-called relation of dependence existed between a superior and a subordinate or between a teacher and a school girl, the provision of paragraph 176 of the penal code would apply." [Hidden Holocaust? pg 12-13].
According to the documentary 2000 Paragraph 175, there are only five known cases of women being imprisoned solely because of their lesbianism, although other researchers have documented more cases. The experiences of Annette Eick were reported by in that film:
Born in 1909 to an educated, Jewish family in Berlin, Annette discovered her lesbian identity when she was ten: "We had to write a composition about how we imagined our later life would be, and I wrote: I want to live in the country with an elderly girlfriend and have a lot of animals. I don't want to get married and I don't want to have children, but I'll write." In the 1920s, Annette was active in lesbian cultural life in Berlin, spending time in women's clubs and occasionally writing poetry and short stories for a lesbian journal. As the Nazis gained power, Annette managed to emigrate to England, with the help of an older woman she had met at a bar and whom she had a crush on. She later learned that her parents had been killed at Auschwitz. She eventually settled in the English countryside with her lover of many years, and wrote poetry.
Henny Schermann and Mary Punjer were arrested in the raid of a lesbian bar in 1940 and taken to Ravensbruck. Both women were Jewish, and while their internment documents listed their Judiasm, it also noted the Schermann was a "compulsive lesbian" and Punjer as a "very active (sassy) lesbian". They were gassed to death in early 1942 in the Bernburg Nursing Home near Dessau, which had been adapted as a death factory.
Austrian writer and lesbian Grete von Urbanitzky propagated Nazi ideology in her writings as early as 1920, but did not escape their persecution. In 1936, she was forced to emigrate to France and then to Switzerland. In 1941, all her books were banned in Germany.
Other collaborators with the Nazi's experienced similar fates. For example, only a few months before the end of the war, a local leader of a Nazi women's organization in a small German city was arrested in January 1945 for lesbianism. She was interned in Ravensbruck and her ultimate fate is unknown.
PHOTO Annette Eick and friend from Paragraph 175 Official website of the documentary.
PHOTO Henny Schermann, internment photograph from Ravensbruck. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
PERSECUTION OF HOMOSEXUALS IN THE THIRD REICH — PHOTOGRAPH
Identification pictures of a homosexual prisoner who arrived in Auschwitz on November 27, 1941, and was transferred to Mauthausen on January 25, 1942. Auschwitz, Poland
Identification pictures of a prisoner, accused of homosexuality, recently arrived at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Auschwitz, Poland, between 1940 and 1945.
Identification pictures of a prisoner, accused of homosexuality, who arrived at the Auschwitz concentration camp on June 6, 1941. He died there a year later. Auschwitz, Poland.
An official order incarcerating the accused in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp for committing homosexual acts.
Interior designer from Duesseldorf who was charged with homosexuality and imprisoned for 18 months. Duesseldorf, Germany, date uncertain.
A writer from Duesseldorf who was arrested for homosexuality. Duesseldorf, Germany, 1938.
An author and actor who was imprisoned in 1937 for 27 months for homosexuality. In 1942, he was deported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp where he was a prisoner for three years. Berlin, Germany, before 1937.
Identification pictures of a bartender from Duisburg who was arrested for homosexuality. Duisburg, Germany, August 27, 1936.
A couple dances at the "Eldorado," a nightclub frequented by members of Berlin's homosexual community. The nightclub, along with other similar establishments, was closed by the Nazi government in the spring of 1933. Berlin, Germany, 1929.
Homosexuals and the Third Reich
By James Steakley
“After roll call on the evening of June 20, 1942, an order was suddenly given: 'All prisoners with the pink triangle will remain standing at attention!' We stood on the desolate, broad square, and from somewhere a warm summer breeze carried the sweet fragrance of resin and wood from the regions of freedom; but we couldn't taste it, because our throats were hot and dry from fear. Then the guardhouse door of the command tower opened, and an SS officer and some of his lackeys strode toward us. Our detail commander barked: 'Three hundred criminal deviants, present as ordered!” We were registered, and then it was revealed to us that in accordance with an order from the Reichsfuhrung SS, our category was to be isolated in an intensified-penalty company, and we would be transferred as a unit to the Klinker Brickworks the next morning. The Klinker factory! We shuddered, for the human death mill was more than feared.”
Appallingly little information is available on the situation of homosexuals in Nazi Germany. Many historians have hinted darkly at the “unspeakable practices” of a Nazi elite supposedly overrun with “sexual perverts,” but this charge is both unsubstantiated and insidious. Upon closer examination, it turns out to be no more than the standard use of antigay prejudice to defame any given individual or group a practice, incidentally, of which the Nazis were the supreme masters. The Nazis were guilty of very real offences, but their unspeakable practices were crimes against mankind.
That homosexuals were major victims of these crimes is mentioned in only a few of the standard histories of the period. And those historians who do mention the facts seem reluctant to dwell on the subject and turn quickly to the fate of other minorities in Nazi Germany. Yet tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of homosexuals were interned in Nazi concentration camps. They were consigned to the lowest position in the camp hierarchy, and subjected to abuse by both guards and fellow prisoners; most of them perished.
Obviously, gay people are going to have to write their own history. And there is enough authentic documentation on the Nazi period to undertake a first step in this direction. The words at the beginning of this article were written by one concentration camp survivor, LD Classen von Neudegg, who published some of his recollections in a German homophile magazine in the Fifties. Here are a few more excerpts from his account of the treatment of homosexuals in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen:
“We had been here for almost two months, but it seemed like endless years to us. When we were 'transferred' here, we had numbered around three hundred men. Whips were used more frequently each morning, when we were forced down into the clay pits under the wailing of the camp sirens. 'Only fifty are sill alive,' whispered the man next to me. 'Stay in the middle -then you won't get hit so much.'
“...(The escapees) had been brought back. 'Homo' was scrawled scornfully across their clothing for their last walk through the camp. To increase their thirst, they were forced to eat oversalted food, and then they were placed on the block and whipped. Afterwards, drums were hung around their necks, which they had to beat while shouting, 'Hurrah, we're back!' The three men were hanged.
“...Summer, 1944. One morning there was an eruption of restlessness among the patients of the hospital barracks where I worked. Fear and uncertainty had arisen from rumours about new measures on the part of the SS hospital administration. At the administrator's order, the courier of the political division had requisitioned certain medical records, and now he arrived at the camp for delivery. Fever charts shot up; the sick were seized with a gnawing fear. After a few days, the awful mystery of the records was solved. Experiments had been ordered involving living subjects and phosphorus: methods of treating phosphorus burns were to be developed and tested. I must be silent about the effects of this series of experiments, which proceeded with unspeakable pain, fear, blood and tears: for it is impossible to put the misery into words.”
Dr. Neudegg's recollections are confirmed in many details by the memoirs of Rudolf Hoss, adjunct and commander of the concentration camps at Sachsenhausen and, later, Auschwitz. Neudegg's account is something of a rarity: the few homosexuals who managed to survive internment have tended to hide the fact, largely because homosexuality continued to be a crime in postwar West Germany. This is also the reason why homosexuals have been denied any compensation by the otherwise munificent West German government.
The number of homosexuals who died in Nazi concentration camps is unknown and likely to remain so. Although statistics are available on the number of men brought to trial on charges of “lewd and unnatural behaviour,” many more were sent to camps without the benefit of a trial. Moreover, many homosexuals were summarily executed by firing squads; this was particularly the case with gays in the military which encompassed nearly every able-bodied man during the final years of the war. Finally, many concentration camps systematically destroyed all their records when it became apparent that German defeat was imminent.
* * *
The beginning of the Nazi terror against homosexuals was marked by the murder of Ernst Rohm on June 30, 1934: "the Night of the Long Knives. "Rohm was the man who, in 1919, first made Hitler aware of his own political potential, and the two were close friends for fifteen years. During that time, Rohm rose to SA Chief of Staff, transforming the Brownshirt militia from a handful of hardened goons and embittered ex-soldiers into an effective fighting force five hundred thousand strong the instrument of Nazi terror. Hitler needed Rohm's military skill and could rely on his personal loyalty, but he was ultimately a pragmatist. As part of a compromise with the Reichwehr(regular army) leadership, whose support he needed to become Fuhrer, Hitler allowed Goering and Himmler to murder Rohm along with dozens of Rohm's loyal officers.
For public relations purposes, and especially to quell the outrage felt throughout the ranks of the SA, Hitler justified his blatant power play by pointing to Rohm's homosexuality. Hitler, of course, had known of Rohm's homosexuality since 1919, and it became public knowledge in 1925, when Rohm appeared in court to charge a hustler with theft. All this while the Nazi Party had a virulently antigay policy, and many Nazis protested that Rohm was discrediting the entire Party and should be purged. Hitler, however, was quite willing to cover up for him for years until he stood in the way of larger plans.
* * *
The Nazi Party came to power in 1933, and a year later Rohm was dead. While Rohm and his men were being rounded up for the massacre (offered a gun and the opportunity to shoot himself, Rohm retorted angrily: “Let Hitler do his own dirty work”), the new Chief of Staff received his first order from the Fuhrer: “I expect all SA leaders to help preserve and strengthen the SA in its capacity as a pure and cleanly institution. In particular, I should like every mother to be able to allow her son to join the SA, Party, and Hitler Youth without fear that he may become morally corrupted in their ranks. I therefore request all SA commanders to take the utmost pains to ensure that offences under Paragraph 175 are met by immediate expulsion of the culprit from the SA and the Party.”
Hitler had good reason to be concerned about the reputation of Nazi organizations, most of which were based on strict segregation of the sexes. Hitler Youth, for example, was disparagingly referred to as Homo Youth throughout the Third Reich, a characterization which the Nazi leadership vainly struggled to eliminate. Indeed, most of the handful of publications on homosexuality which appeared during the Fascist regime were devoted to new and rather bizarre methods of “detection” and “prevention.”
Rudolf Diels, the founder of the Gestapo, recorded some of Hitler’s personal thoughts on the subject: “He lectured me on the role of homosexuality in history and politics. It had destroyed ancient Greece, he said. Once rife, it extended its contagious effects like an ineluctable law of nature to the best and most manly of characters, eliminating from the reproductive process precisely those men on whose offspring a nation depended. The immediate result of the vice was, however, that unnatural passion swiftly became dominant in public affairs if it were allowed to spread unchecked.”
* * *
The tone had been set by the Rohm putsch, and on its first anniversary-June 28, 1935, the campaign against homosexuality was escalated by the introduction of the “Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour.” Until 1935, the only punishable offence had been anal intercourse; under the new Paragraph 175a, ten possible “acts” were punishable, including a kiss, an embrace, even homosexual fantasies! One man, for instance, was successfully prosecuted on the grounds that he had observed a couple making love in a park and watched only the man.
Under the Nazi system, criminal acts were less important in determining guilt than criminal intent. The “phenomenological” theory of justice claimed to evaluate a person's character rather than his deeds. The “healthy sensibility of the people” (gesundes Volksempfinden) was elevated to the highest normative legal concept, and the Nazis were in a position to prosecute an individual solely on the grounds of his sexual orientation. (After World War II, incidentally, this law was immediately struck from the books in East Germany as a product of Fascist thinking, while it remained on the books in West Germany.)
Once Paragraph 175a was in effect, the annual number of convictions on charges of homosexuality leaped to about ten times the number in the pre-Nazi period. The law was so loosely formulated that it could be and was applied against heterosexuals whom the Nazis wanted to eliminate. The most notorious example of an individual convicted on trumped-up charges was General Werner von Fritsch, Army Chief of Staff; and the law was also used repeatedly against members of the Catholic clergy. But the law was undoubtedly used primarily against gay people, and the court system was aided in the witch-hunt by the entire German populace, which was encouraged to scrutinize the behaviour of neighbours and to denounce suspects to the Gestapo. The number of men convicted of homosexuality during the Nazi period totaled around fifty thousand:
1933 — 853
1934 — 948
1935 — 2,106
1936 — 5,320
1937 — 8,271
1938 — 8,562
1939 — 7,614
1940 — 3,773
1941 — 3,735
1942 — 3,963
1943 (first quarter) — 966
1944-45 — ?
The Gestapo was the agent of the next escalation of the campaign against homosexuality. Ex-chicken farmer Heinrich Himmler, Reichsfuhrer SS and head of the Gestapo, richly deserves a reputation as the most fanatically homophobic member of the Nazi leadership. In 1936, he gave a speech on the subject of homosexuality and described the murder of Ernst Rohm (which he had engineered) in these terms: “Two years ago...when it became necessary, we did not scruple to strike this plague with death, even within our own ranks.”Himmler closed with these words: “Just as we today have gone back to the ancient Germanic view on the question of marriage mixing different races, so too in our judgment of homosexuality a symptom of degeneracy which could destroy our race we must return to the guiding Nordic principle: extermination of degenerates.”
* * *
A few months earlier, Himmler had prepared for action by reorganizing the entire state police into three divisions. The political executive, Division II, was directly responsible for the control of “illegal parties and organizations, leagues and economic groups, reactionaries and the Church, freemasonry, and homosexuality.”
Himmler personally favoured the immediate “extermination of degenerates,” but he was empowered to order the summary execution only of homosexuals discovered within his own bureaucratic domain. Civilian offenders were merely required to serve out their prison sentences (although second offenders were subject to castration).
In 1936, Himmler found a way around this obstacle. Following release from prison, all “enemies of the state”-including homosexuals-were to be taken into protective custody and detained indefinitely. “Protective custody” (Schutzhaft) was an euphemism for concentration camp internment. Himmler gave special orders that homosexuals be placed in Level Three camps-the human death mills described by Neudegg. These camps were reserved for Jews and homosexuals.
The official SS newspaper, Das Schwarze Korps, announced in 1937 that there were two million German homosexuals and called for their death. The extent to which Himmler succeeded in this undertaking is unknown, but the number of homosexuals sent to camps was far in excess of the fifty thousand who served jail sentences. The Gestapo dispatched thousands to camps without a trial. Moreover, “protective custody” was enforced retroactively, so that any gay who had ever come to the attention of the police prior to the Third Reich was subject to immediate arrest. (The Berlin police alone had an index of more than twenty thousand homosexuals prior to the Nazi takeover.) And starting in 1939, gays from Nazi-occupied countries were also interned in German camps.
The chances for survival in a Level Three camp were low indeed. Homosexuals were distinguished from other prisoners by a pink triangle, worn on the left side of the jacket and on the right pant leg. There was no possibility of “passing” for straight, and the presence of “marked men” in the all-male camp population evoked the same reaction as in contemporary prisons: gays were brutally assaulted and sexually abused.
* * *
“During the first weeks of my imprisonment,” wrote one survivor, “I often thought I was the only available target on whom everyone was free to vent his aggressions. Things improved when I was assigned to a labour detail that worked outside the camp at Metz, because everything took place in public view. I was made clerk of the labour detail, which meant that I worked all day and then looked after the records at the guardhouse between midnight and 2 am. Because of this 'overtime' I was allowed seconds at lunch if any food was left over. This is the fact to which I probably owe my survival...I saw quite a number of pink triangles. I don't know how they were eventually killed...One day they were simply gone.”
Concentration camp internment served a twofold purpose: the labour power of prisoners boosted the national economy significantly, and undesirables could be effectively liquidated by the simple expedient of reducing their food rations to a level slightly below subsistence. One survivor tells of witnessing “Project Pink” in his camp: “The homosexuals were grouped into liquidation commandos and placed under triple camp discipline. That meant less food, more work, stricter supervision. If a prisoner with a pink triangle became sick, it spelled his doom. Admission to the clinic was forbidden.”
This was the practice in the concentration camps at Sachsenhausen, Natzweler, Fuhlsbuttel, Neusustrum, Sonnenburg, Dachau, Lichtenberg, Mauthausen, Ravensbruck, Neuengamme, Grossrosen, Buchenwald, Vught, Flossenburg, Stutthof, Auschwitz, and Struthof; as well, lesbians wore pink triangles in the concentration camps at Butzow and Ravensbruck. In the final months of the war, the men with pink triangles received brief military training. They were to be sent out as cannon fodder in the last-ditch defense of the fatherland.
But the death of other pink triangles came much more swiftly. A survivor gives this account: “He was a young and healthy man. The first evening roll call after he was added to our penal company was his last. When he arrived, he was seized and ridiculed, then beaten and kicked, and finally spat upon. He suffered alone and in silence. Then they put him under a cold shower. It was a frosty winter evening, and he stood outside the barracks all through that long, bitterly cold night. When morning came, his breathing had become an audible rattle. Bronchial pneumonia was later given as the cause of his death. But before things had come to that, he was again beaten and kicked. Then he was tied to a post and placed under an arc lamp until he began to sweat, again put under a cold shower, and so on. He died toward evening.”
Another survivor: “One should not forget that these men were honourable citizens, very often highly intelligent, and some had once held high positions in civil and social life. During his sevenyear imprisonment, this writer became acquainted with a Prussian prince, famous athletes, professors, teachers, engineers, artisans, trade workers and, of course, hustlers. Not all of them were what one might term “respectable” people, to be sure, but the majority of them were helpless and completely lost in the world of the concentration camps. They lived in total isolation in whatever little bit of freedom they could find. I witnessed the tragedy of a highly cultured attache of a foreign embassy, who simply couldn't grasp the reality of the tragedies taking place all around him. Finally, in a state of deep desperation and hopelessness, he simply fell over dead for no apparent reason. I saw a rather effeminate young man who was repeatedly forced to dance in front of SS men, who would then put him on the rack-chained hand and foot to a crossbeam in the guardhouse barracks and beat him in the most awful way. Even today I find it impossible to think back on all my comrades, all the barbarities, all the tortures, without falling into the deepest depression. I hope you will understand.”
The ruthlessness of the Nazis culminated in actions so perversely vindictive as to be almost incomprehensible. Six youths arrested for stealing coal at a railroad station were taken into protective custody and duly placed in a concentration camp. Shocked that such innocent boys were forced to sleep in a barracks also occupied by pink triangles, the SS guards chose what to them must have seemed the lesser of two evils: they took the youths aside and gave them fatal injections of morphine. Morality was saved.
The self-righteousness that prompted this type of action cuts through the entire ideology glorifying racial purity and extermination of degenerates to reveal stark fear of homosexuality. Something of this fear is echoed in the statement by Hitler cited above, which is quite different in tone from the propagandistic cant of Himmler’sexhortations. Himmler saw homosexuals as congenital cowards and weaklings. Probably as a result of his friendship with Rohm, Hitler could at least imagine “the best and most manly of characters” being homosexual.
Hitler ordered all the gay bars in Berlin closed as soon as he came to power. But when the Olympics were held in that city in 1936, he temporarily rescinded the order and allowed several bars to reopen: foreign guests were not to receive the impression that Berlin was a “sad city.”
Despite, and perhaps because of, their relentless emphasis upon strength, purity, cleanliness and masculinity, the all-male Nazi groups surely contained a strong element of deeply repressed homoeroticism. The degree of repression was evidenced by the Nazi reaction to those who were openly gay. In the Bible, the scapegoat was the sacrificial animal on whose head the inchoate guilt of the entire community was placed. Homosexuals served precisely this function in the Third Reich.
The ideological rationale for the mass murder of homosexuals during the Third Reich was quite another matter. According to the doctrine of Social Darwinism, only the fittest are meant to survive, and the law of the jungle is the final arbiter of human history. If the Germans were destined to become the master race by virtue of their inherent biological superiority, the breeding stock could only be improved by the removal of degenerates. Retarded, deformed and homosexual individuals could be eliminated with the dispassionate conscientiousness of a gardener pulling weeds. (Indeed, it is the very vehemence and passion with which homosexuals were persecuted that compels us to look beyond the pseudoscientific rationale for a deeper, psychological dynamic.)
* * *
The institutionalized homophobia of the Third Reich must also be seen in terms of the sexual revolution that had taken place in Germany during the preceding decades. The German gay movement had existed for thirtysix years before it (and all other progressive forces) was smashed. The Nazis carried out a “conservative revolution” which restored law and order together with nineteenth-century sexism. A system of ranking women according to the number of their offspring was devised by Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick, who demanded that homosexuals “be hunted down mercilessly, for their vice can only lead to the demise of the German people.”
Ironically, the biologistic arguments against gay people could be supported by the theories advanced by the early gay movement itself. Magnus Hirschfeld and the members of the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee had made “the Third Sex” a household term in Germany; but the rigidly heterosexual society of the Third Reich had no patience with “intersexual variants” and turned a deaf ear to pleas for tolerance. The prominent Nazi jurist Dr. Rudolf Klare wrote: “Since the Masonic notion of humanitarianism arose from the ecclesiastical/Christian feeling of charity, it is sharply opposed to our National Socialist worldview and is eliminated a priori as a justification for not penalizing homosexuality.”Sources: The Body Politic, Issue 11, January/February 1974. People with a History: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans History.
Hess, Homosexuality and the Third Reich
In "British Files Hide Truth About Hess Plot" (letter, June 21), Wolf Rudiger Hess, the son of Rudolf Hess, alleges that ascribing homosexuality to his father was one of the K.G.B.'s "last-ditch efforts to humiliate the Third Reich."
This is really too much. The Third Reich humiliated itself with unprovoked aggression, unparalleled barbarity, war crimes of every sort, genocide and, last of all, the extermination of at least 10,000 homosexuals, 90 percent of whom were citizens of the Reich. How then could it be further humiliated by the proof that one of its leaders was himself involved in homosexual affairs? Is homosexuality a greater disgrace than the perpetration of the Holocaust?
As it happens, many sources mention Rudolf Hess as an habitue of the gay subculture of Berlin in the Weimar era. The one author whom Wolf Hess names, Kurt G. W. Ludecke, in his 1938 book, "I Knew Hitler," says (page 586) that "I couldn't quite see the epithet of 'Fraulein,' for he was virility itself." Robert G. L. Waite, in "The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler," 1977, declares (page 235) that "Hitler was closely associated with Ernst Rohm and Rudolf Hess, two practicing homosexuals who were among the very few people with whom he used the familiar du ."
And the Italian gay activist Massimo Consoli, in his 1984 "Homocaust" (page 39) cites authors who allude to the homosexuality not just of Rudolf Hess, but also of many of the early Nazi Party leaders, disclosed by "Ernst Testis" in "Das Dritte Reich Stellt Sich Vor" of 1933 (pages 100-12). All these authors wrote wholly independent of the K.G.B. and its eventual efforts at "disinformation."
The sexual orientation of Rudolf Hess should not affect the judgment of historians on him; but to interpret the disclosure as "humiliation" is preposterous. WARREN JOHANSSON WILLIAM A. PERCY Boston, June 22, 1991 The writers are co-authors of "Homosexuals and the Holocaust," an article in the Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual (volume 7).
Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals
While male homosexuality remained illegal in Weimar Germany under Paragraph 175 of the Criminal Code, German homosexual-rights activists became worldwide leaders in efforts to reform societal attitudes that condemned homosexuality. After the First World War, a rich gay sub-culture developed in Berlin - strong enough to attract homosexuals from abroad. Until 1933 there existed simultaneously over one hundred gay and lesbian pubs, and a variety of gay, lesbian and transsexual magazines were published.
But many in Germany regarded the Weimar Republic's toleration of homosexuals as a sign of Germany's decadence. The Nazis posed as moral crusaders who wanted to stamp out the "vice" of homosexuality from Germany in order to help win the racial struggle. Once they took power in 1933, the Nazis intensified persecution of German male homosexuals. Persecution ranged from the dissolution of homosexual organizations to internment in concentration camps. From now on homosexual men were persecuted as "state enemies" and labelled as a "infection risk".
The Nazis believed that male homosexuals were weak, effeminate men who could not fight for the German nation. They saw homosexuals as unlikely to produce children and increase the German birthrate. The Nazis held that inferior races produced more children than "Aryans," so anything that diminished Germany's reproductive potential was considered a racial danger. In order to promote the heterosexual ideal, the Nazi government under Göring provided quick promotion for civil servants who married early, and "Matrimonial Credits" were issued to women as an economic incentive to procreation.
During the Nazi regime, the police had the power to jail indefinitely --without trial-- anyone they chose, including those deemed dangerous to Germany's moral fiber.
At first, in the Third Reich, homosexuals were not persecuted in a systematic way or just because of their sexual orientation. Fines of DM175 were handed out for sexual "deviancy", which included kisses, flirts and ambiguous touches among men. As long as gays were ready to give up their love lives or agree to a fictitious marriage they were relatively safe. Lesbian women - with the exception of Austria - were not prosecuted during the Nazi era. In the concentration camps they were - contrary to gays - not registered as a special group of prisoners and thus can only be identified from the records with difficulty.
Among the personal responses to the growing police attention to individual homosexual's lives was the "protective marriage" to give the appearance of conformity. Paul Otto (left) married the woman behind him with her full knowledge that his long-time partner was Harry (right). Berlin, 1937.
Private Collection, Berlin
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum #073
SS chief Heinrich Himmler directed the increasing persecution of homosexuals in the Third Reich. Lesbians were not regarded as a threat to Nazi racial policies and were generally not targeted for persecution. Similarly, the Nazis generally did not target non-German homosexuals unless they were active with German partners. In most cases, the Nazis were prepared to accept former homosexuals into the "racial community" provided that they became "racially conscious" and gave up their lifestyle.
From 1919 to 1933
During the Weimar Republic the civil rights for gays and lesbians movement, which had been founded during the period of the German Empire, grew in strength. In 1929 the Law Committee of the Reichstag (Parliament) recommended the abolition of the law relating to punishment for homosexual acts between adults. However, the increase in votes for the Nazis and the crisis of the Weimar Republic prevented the carrying out of the Committee's decision.
Within a month after Hitler took the power at the end of January 30, 1933, the new Nazi minister of interior issued an order to close all gay bars, and also forbade "obscene literature", condemning homosexuals as "socially aberrant." As part of the Nazis' attempt to purify German society and propagate an "Aryan master race," Brownshirted storm troopers raided the institutions and gathering places of homosexuals. The first gay and transgender men were sent in the autumn of this same year to the newly built concentration camps.
- January 30: The National Socialist (Nazi) Party, led by Adolf Hitler, takes power.
- February 22: Prostitution was banned.
- February 23: The Prussian Minister of the Interior orders the closing of the restaurants and pubs "in which, by serving as meeting places, the practice of unnatural sex-acts is encouraged". Gay and lesbian pubs were closed down. Police closed bars and clubs such as the "Eldorado" and banned publications such as Die Freundschaft(Friendship). In this early stage the Nazis drove homosexuals underground, destroying their networks of support.
- March 3: Nudism was banned.
- March 7: Pornography was banned.
- March 17: The West German Morality League began its Campaign against Homosexuals, Jews, Negroes and Mongols. The first male homosexuals are sent to concentration camps.
- On May 6 the students of the Gymnastic Academy, led by Storm Troopers (Sturmabteilung; SA), looted Magnus Hirschfeld's "Institute for Sexual Sciences". They poured bottles of ink over the manuscripts, terrified the staff, and threw the journals out of the windows The next day SA troops arrived to cart away two lorry-loads of books, and the building was requisitioned for the use of the Nazi Association of German Jurists and Lawyers. Hirschfeld's citizenship was revoked, and mobs carried his effigy in anti-gay/anti-Semite demonstrations.
Four days later, as part of large public burnings of books viewed as "un-German," most of this collection of over 12,000 books and 35,000 irreplaceable pictures was thrown into a huge bonfire along with thousands of other "degenerate" works of literature, such as the works of writers like Berthold Brecht, Thomas and Heinrich Mann and Franz Kafka in the book burning in Berlin's city center, on the square between the former Royal Library and Berlin's Opera House (now known as Bebelplatz.)
Magnus Hirschfeld, the founder of the Institute and a pioneer in the scientific study of human sexuality, was lecturing in France at the time and chose not to return to Germany.
- In July the gay rights activist Kurt Hiller was arrested and sent to Orienburg concentration camp, where for nine months he was on the verge of death due to brutal mistreatment, until he was released and sent into exile. In a speech in 1921 he had addressed gay men: "In the final analysis, justice for you will only be the fruit of your own efforts. The liberation of homosexuals can only be the work of homosexuals themselves."
- November 13: the Hamburg City Administration asked the Head of Police to "pay special attention to transvestites and to deliver them to the concentration camps if necessary."
The legal provisions to arrest "sex criminals" were broadened. Without any attempt to produce legal proof, many SA leaders were murdered in the summer of 1934 (June 30, "The Night of the Long Knives"), among them their chief of staff, Hitler's buddy Ernst Röhm. As official reason was given that the regime wanted to clean society of such dens of sexual debauchery. The same year, a special Gestapo (Secret State Police) section for "homosexual crimes" was set up.
Rudolf Diels, the founder of the Gestapo (secret state police), in 1934 lectured his colleagues on how homosexuals had caused the downfall of ancient Greece. He, recorded some of Hitler's personal thoughts on the subject:
"He lectured me on the role of homosexuality in history and politics. It had destroyed ancient Greece, he said. Once rife, it extended its contagious effects like an ineluctable law of nature to the best and most manly of characters, eliminating from the reproductive process precisely those men on whose offspring a nation depended. The immediate result of the vice was, however, that unnatural passion swiftly became dominant in public affairs if it were allowed to spread unchecked."
According to Nazi propaganda, both homosexuals and Jews destroyed the so-called masculinity and purity of the German nation; both homosexuals and Jews are characterized by perverse and degenerate sexualities. In 1934, the Reich Ministry of Justice emphasized that "it is precisely Jewish and Marxist circles which have always worked with special vehemence for the abolition of §175." In effect, Jews and homosexuals were portrayed as collaborators in the corruption of the German nation.
24th October - Heinrich Himmler orders all police stations and police authorities, to draw up a list of all persons who have, in any way, been homosexually active. The lists are to be sent to the Secret Police Headquarters in Berlin. A special department for homosexuality is set up there at the end of October. Police in many parts of Germany had been compiling these lists of suspected homosexual men since 1900. The Nazis used these "pink lists" to hunt down individual homosexuals during police actions.
In 1934, 766 gay men were convicted and imprisoned.
26th June - Changes in the "Law for the prevention of Children with inherited Diseases", also makes possible the castration of "political-criminal homosexual males". In order to avoid prison or concentration camp many homosexuals who had been sentenced to a jail term are forced to agree to "voluntary" castration. (From 1942 onwards, in concentration camps castration without the consent of the victim is legalised.)
The tone had been set by the Röhm putsch, and on its first anniversary - June 28, 1935, the Ministry of Justice decidet that § 175 had to be revised. The revisions provided a legal basis for extending Nazi persecution of homosexuals. Ministry officials expanded the category of "criminally indecent activities between men" to include any act that could be construed as homosexual. The courts later decided that even intent or thought sufficed.
On September 1, 1935, a harsher, amended, and broadened version of § 175 of the Criminal Code, originally framed in 1871, to close what were seen as loopholes in the current law, went into effect, punishing a broad range of "lewd and lascivious" behavior between men.
A law was passed requiring the sterilization of all homosexuals, schizophrenics, epileptics, drug addicts, hysterics, and those born blind or malformed. By 1935, 56,000 people were thus "treated." In actual practice, the homosexuals were literally castrated rather than sterilized. In 1935 all local police departments were required to submit to the Gestapo lists of suspected homosexuals; shortly there were 20,000 names on the index.
The campaign against homosexuality was escalated by the introduction of the "Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour." Until 1935, the only punishable offence had been anal intercourse; under the new § 175a, ten possible "acts" were punishable, including a kiss, an embrace, even homosexual fantasies! One man, for instance, was successfully prosecuted on the grounds that he had observed a couple making love in a park and watched only the man.
After the expansion of penalties under §175 in 1935, Himmler spoke triumphantly about the purity of the German nation:
"Just as we today have gone back to the ancient Germanic view on the question of marriage mixing different races, so too in our judgment of homosexuality - a symptom of degeneracy which could destroy our race - we must return to the guiding Nordic principle: extermination of degenerates. Germany stands and falls with the purity of the race."A 1935 propaganda campaign and two show trials in 1936 and 1937 alleging rampant homosexuality in the priest-hood, attempted to undercut the power of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, an institution which many Nazi officials considered their most powerful potential enemy.
On October 26, 1936, Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler formed within the Security Police a "Reich Central Office to Combat Homosexuality and Abortion": Special Office (II S), a subdepartment of Executive Department II of the Gestapo. Its task is to gather information and lead an effective fight against both forms of the "population-plague". The linking of homosexuality and abortion reflected the Nazi regime's population policies to promote a higher birthrate of its "Aryan" population.
Josef Meisinger, executed in 1947 for his brutality in occupied Poland, led the new office. The police had powers to hold in protective custody or preventive arrest those deemed dangerous to Germany's moral fiber, jailing indefinitely --without trial-- anyone they chose. In addition, homosexual prisoners just released from jail were immediately re-arrested and sent to concentration camps if the police thought it likely that they would continue to engage in homosexual acts.
Also in 1936, as part of the clean-up campaign preparatory for the Olympics, homosexual meeting places were raided in Hamburg and on one night alone 80 homosexuals were brought to Concentration Camp Fuhlsbuuml;ttel.
But when the Olympics were held in Berlin, Hitler 1936, he temporarily rescinded the order and allowed several bars to reopen: foreign guests were not to receive the impression that Berlin was a "sad city."
In 1936, 4,000 gay men were convicted and imprisoned.
On February 18, 1937, SS leader Heinrich Himmler gave his infamous lecture in Bad Tölz, before a group of highranking SS officers. He spoke on the homosexual danger implying that it could menace through infection the homosocial institutions of the Nazi regime.
Himmler's Division II was responsible for the control of "illegal parties and organizations, leagues and economic groups, reactionaries and the Church, freemasonry, and homosexuality." Even after serving their prison sentences, such "enemies of the state" were taken into "protective custody" (Schutzhaft) - a euphemism for internment in concentration camps.
Under the revised Paragraph 175 and the creation of Special Office II S, a subdepartment of Executive Department II of the Gestapo, the number of prosecutions increased sharply. From 1937 to 1939, the peak years of the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, the police increasingly raided homosexual meeting places, seized address books, and created networks of informers and undercover agents to identify and arrest suspected homosexuals. Half of all convictions for homosexual activity under the Nazi regime occurred during 1937 - 1939.
The official SS newspaper, Das Schwarze Korps, announced in 1937 that there were two million German homosexuals and called for their death. The extent to which Himmler succeeded in this undertaking is unknown, but the number of homosexuals sent to camps was far in excess of the fifty thousand who served jail sentences. The Gestapo dispatched thousands to camps without a trial. Moreover, "protective custody" was enforced retroactively, so that any gay who had ever come to the attention of the police prior to the Third Reich was subject to immediate arrest. (The Berlin police alone had an index of more than twenty thousand homosexuals prior to the Nazi takeover.)
From 1937 onwards many of the gay men previously arrested, were sent to concentration camps after they had served their "regular" prison sentence.
Reich Legal Director Hans Frank in 1938 issued orders for more rigorous surveillance:
"Particular attention should be addressed to homosexuality, which is clearly expressive of a disposition opposed to the normal national community. Homosexual activity means the negation of the community as it must be constituted if the race is not to perish. That is why homosexual behaviour, in particular, merits no mercy."The police stepped up raids on homosexual meeting places, seized address books of arrested men to find additional suspects, and created networks of informers to compile lists of names and make arrests
On April 4, the Gestapo issued a directive indicating that men convicted of homosexuality could be incarcerated in concentration camps.
Major gay scandals involving the army (false accusations against the highest officer in charge, general von Fritsch, in 1938).
It should be noted that Nazi authorities sometimes used the charge of homosexuality to discredit and undermine their political opponents. Nazi leader Hermann Göring used trumped-up accusations of homosexual improprieties to unseat army supreme commander Von Fritsch, an opponent of Hitler's military policy, in early 1938.
In 1938, 8,000 gay men were convicted and imprisoned.
Also in 1938, because of his alliance with Hitler, Mussolini began to persecute homosexuals. Several thousand were exiled to prisons, some in the Lipari islands; others were deprived of their posts and remanded to small provincial towns. There is no evidence, however, that the Fascist regime ever killed any homosexuals. Ironically, in 1930 Mussolini had intervened in a parliamentary debate to prevent the inclusion of an article in the penal code criminalizing homosexual conduct on the grounds that it was "rare among Italians and practiced only by decadent foreigners" who should not be driven out of the country because they contributed to Italy's supply of foreign exchange.
After the beginning of the war in 1939, it was decided that no prisoner would be released from concentration camps. Persons who were considered to endanger the social body could be exterminated.
Gay men in most occupied countries suffered little from the Nazis because they did not endanger the German race (except when they seduced German soldiers). In this case they were interned in German Level Three camps. The chances for survival in a Level Three camp were low indeed.
Homosexuals were distinguished from other prisoners by a pink triangle, worn on the left side of the jacket and on the right pant leg. There was no possibility of "passing" for straight, and the presence of "marked men" in the all-male camp population evoked the same reaction as in contemporary prisons: gays were brutally assaulted and sexually abused.
12th July - Himmler orders that all homosexuals sentenced under § 175, "who have seduced more than one partner", should be taken into "preventive detention" after they are released from prison". In reality that means they are sent to a concentration camp. Those incarcerated there for § 175 offences are forced to wear a pink triangle in order to make them identifiable.
15th November - In a Decree of the Führer for the Cleansing of the SS (Secret State Police) and the police force, Hitler orders the death penalty for homosexual activity by members of the SS and Police.
19th May - The head of the General Staff of the German Army (Wehrmacht), General Keitel, issues a decree laying down "regulations for the punishment of unnatural sexual acts." In "special difficult cases" the death penalty should be ordered.
The Danish SS-Doctor Carl Vaernet carried out medical experiments on homosexuals in Buchenwald concentration camp. He wanted to "cure" homosexuals by implanting artificial hormone glands in the region of the upper leg.
8th May - The war comes to an end. The concentration camps are liberated. In distinction to other Nazi laws, the Allies do not withdraw the Nazi version of § 175. Some homosexuals who had been liberated are required to serve the remainder of their sentence in a "normal" prison. § 175 remains in force in the Federal Republic of Germany (West!) until 1969. The German Democratic Republic (East!) adopts the "milder" pre-Nazi version.
As police raids on homosexuals began and became widespread, more and more gays were identified and charged. A man suspected of violating § 175 would be questioned, phographed and often softened up with the use force. Under extreme pressure and violent interrogation those arrested would then be forced to give the names and addresses of other homosexuals known to them.
a night of love'
Gay survivor, Gad Beck
Survivor Gad Beck, speaking about his arrest (taken from the documentary 'Paragraph 175')
Often the Gestapo would have raided the house of a homosexual on arrest and found an address book that would have lead them to other violators of § 175.
Statements and confessions were signed under intense, often physical pressure and once a signature was obtained the arrestee would be charged. As most 'confessed' to their crime, few were given a fair hearing or the chance to fight their case in a court of law.
At the point of arrest suspects were given no chance to return home or the opportunity to communicate with their family about their whereabouts. Many did not see their families again until after their liberation from concentration camps or after completion of prison terms.
Homosexuals charged under § 175 were held in so called schutzhaft or 'protective custody' at a variety of prisons and detention centres including Waldheim prison and Fuhlsbutter prison.
Gay survivor Heinz F.
speaking about his arrest (taken from the documentary 'Paragraph 175')
The first special center to house criminals and homosexuals was erected in 1933 at Dachau, southern Germany, which was largely seen as the prototype for further camps. The Sachsenhausen camp opened in 1936 to eventually house more than 200,000 prisoners, including many homosexuals.
When the huge network of concentration camps were in place throughout Germany and occupied Europe, many arrested homosexuals found themselves deported straight from the police custody, without any chance of trial. Violators of §175 were then held mainly at Auschwitz- Birchenau, Treblinka, Flossenburg, Neuengamme and Schirmeck, although the Dachau and Sachsenhausen camps still continued to take homosexuals.
From 1935 men convicted under § 175 could 'volunteer' to undergo castration in order to "free themselves" from their "degenerate sex drive." This was the idea of SS doctor Himmler. Many homosexuals agreed to the operation believing that they would then be set free. After the operation many were then simply re-arrested as they were still thought to be a degenerate risk to the purity of the Reich.
While gay men made up the majority of homosexual victims, lesbians were by no means saved from persecution. Although § 175 made no reference to lesbianism, the Third Reich had no place for women who could not reproduce and further the Aryan race. Homosexual men were regarded as largely degenerate and dangerous impurities to the Reich, where as all women were regarded as 'passive' and in need of men. Generally lesbianism was regarded as a non-permanent state resulting from confused friendships rather than a systematic threat.
The Nazis outlawed and closed all lesbian bars, groups and publications. Police were encouraged to raid known lesbian meeting places creating a climate of fear. This forced many women to break off friendships and to meet in secret. Some escaped possible persecution by entering into marriages with homosexual friends as a form of cover, others moved to different towns where they could pass unrecognised. Survivor Annette Eick, b 1909, escaped to the UK on a false papers that she had secured from a woman she had met at a lesbian bar. As a Jewish Lesbian, she would have almost certainly been persecuted had she stayed in Berlin.
In some cases police arrested and charged lesbians as 'prostitutes' or 'asocials', which would certainly have lead to prosecution and possible deportation, but there is no evidence to show that women were ever made to wear the pink triangle.
There are documented cases of lesbians being held at the German camp Ravesnbruck.
One woman, Henny Schermann, b 1912, was arrested in 1940 in Frankfurt and was labelled 'licentious Lesbian' on her police mug shot. Also identified as a 'stateless Jew', she was deported to Ravensbruck concentration camp, where two years later she was selected for extermination and gassed at the Bernburg psychiatric hospital.
Breaking the Silence
Breaking the silence
After the 'liberation' some survivors including Karl Gorath, bravely struggled for recognition through the courts in post-war society. However, with Paragraph 175 still in place, many survivors tried to put their experiences behind them fearing further persecution.
I've spoken about it before. I don't want to anymore. That's in the past for me'.
Gay survivor, Karl Gorath
Unwilling to go quietly into the night, one survivorbegan writing down his painful memories onto paper. The result was the powerful 'Männer mit dem rosa Winkel ' ('Man with the Pink Triangle'). First published in 1971, the German book opened the lid on a part of history that had remained hidden for so long. The Austrian survivor chose to remain anonymous fearing possible repercussions, instead relating his experiences to the German writer Heinz Heger. The book was later translated into English and republished in 1980 as'The Men With the Pink Triangle', when it received wider recognition.
Other survivor books soon followed, including 'The Pink Triangle' by Robert Plant; 'An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin' by Gad Beck; 'Liberation was for Others, Memoires of a Gay Survivor of the Nazi Holocaust' by Pierre Seel (Originally published in French as 'Moi Pierre Seel, déporté Homosexuel'); and 'Damned Strong Love: The True Story of Willi G. and Stephan K'by Lutz Van Dijk. (A full list of these titles can be found in the resources section of this site).
Martin Sherman's 1979 award-winning play 'Bent' brought the suffering of gay men in Nazi Europe to the stage, and furthered awareness to the subject. A film version followed in 1997. The play was followed by the release of two documentaries featuring survivor testimonies: 'Desire' (directed by Stuart Marshall, 1989), & then 'We Were Marked With A Big 'A'' (directed by Elke Jeanrod & Josef Weishaupt, 1990).
Historians began to research the Nazi persecution of homosexuals extensively, among them German-born Dr. Klaus Mueller, who has produced many articles on the subject. In 1995 he helped & encouraged eight survivors to issue a collective declaration demanding judicial & moral recognition of their persecution. The declaration read:
'Declaration of gay survivors 50 years after their liberation'
"50 years ago, Allied troops did liberate us from Nazi concentration camps & prisons. But the world we had hoped for did not happen to come true. We were forced to hide again & faced on-going persecution under the same Nazi-law that was on the books since 1935 & stayed on the books until 1969. Raids were frequent. Some of us - just tasting their new freedom - were even sentenced to long-term prison again.
Although some of us tried courageously to gain recognition by challenging the courts up to the West German Supreme Court, we were never acknowledged as being persecuted by the Nazi regime. We were excluded from financial compensations for the victims of the Nazi regime. We lacked the moral support & sympathy of the public. No SS-man ever had to face a trial for the murder of a gay man in or outside the camps. But whereas they now enjoy a pension for their 'work' in the camps, our years in the camps are subtracted from our pension.
Today we are too old & tired to struggle for the recognition of the Nazi injustice we suffered. Many of us never dared to testify. Many of us died alone with their hunting memories. We waited long, but in vain for a clear political & financial gesture of the German government & courts. We know that still very little is taught in schools & universities about our fate. Even Holocaust museums & memorials many times don't mention the Nazi persecution of homosexuals.
Today, 50 years later, we turn to the young generation & to all of you who are not guided by hate & homophobia. Please support us in our struggle to memorize & document the Nazi atrocities against homosexual men & lesbian women. Let us never forget the Nazi atrocities against Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah's witnesses, Freemasons, the disabled, Polish & Russian prisoners of war & homosexuals.
let us learn from the past & let us support the young generation of lesbian women & gay men, girls & boys to lead unlike us a life in dignity & respect, with their loved ones, their friends & their families."
In 1999 the groundbreaking documentary 'Paragraph 175', directed by Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman brought together the testimonies of eight survivors. Although not the first documentary on the subject, itwas largely regarded as the most comprehensive. Winning several awards, including the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for 'Best Documentary Direction', the film became instrumental in raising awareness & was cited in the eventual apology & recognition for gay victims by the German government.
Recognition did eventually come but late for many of gay victims & survivors, who lived the rest of their lives as criminals in the eyes of the law. While memorials remember the many other victims of the Holocaust, it was 54 years before one included the gay victims. In January 1999 Germany finally held its first official memorial service for the homosexual victims at the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp."We all know that our decisions today are more than 50 years late, they are necessary nonetheless.
We owe it to the victims of wrongful Nazi justice."
German justice minister Hertha Daeubler-Gmelin, May 17th 2002
Appology at last
However, it wasn't until December 2000 that an actual apology came. The German government issued an apology for the prosecution of homosexuals in Germany after 1949 & agreed to recognise gays as victims of the Third Reich. Survivors were finally encouraged to come forwards & claim compensation for their treatment during the Holocaust (although claims had to be registered before the end of 2001).
The Geneva-based aid agency, International Organisation for Migration (IOM) was responsible for the introducing & handling the claims.
On May 17th 2002, the process was completed as thousands of homosexuals, who suffered under the Reich, were officially pardoned by the German government. About 50,000 gay men were included. German justice minister Hertha Daeubler-Gmelin told parliament, "We all know that our decisions today are more than 50 years late, they are necessary nonetheless. We owe it to the victims of wrongful Nazi justice."
After the many years of ongoing persecution and Nazi terror, the freedom dreams of many concentration camp prisoners finally came true when, in 1944, the liberation began. The German army were being defeated throughout the Third Reich and as the Allies approached many camps were evacuated. Those left behind were left bewildered and confused.
On July 24th, 1944, the Soviet Red Army arrived at the Maidanek camp and liberated those inside. Other camps soon followed with the arrival of various Allied troops, although the largest of the death camps - Auschwitz - was not liberated until January 27th 1945. World War II ended on May 7th, 1945, when Nazi Germany finally surrendered to the Allied forces.
After the camps were liberated and the plight of the Jewish victims acknowledged worldwide, the persecution of homosexuals continued throughout post-war Germany. While many survivors were rebuilding their lives and families initially in displaced persons camps, homosexuals faced further persecution and social exclusion. In fact many pink triangle survivors were re-imprisoned under § 175, with time spent in concentration camps deducted from their pensions. Time spent in the camps contributed to their continued sentences that were then completed in prisons.
While other victims of the Holocaust received compensation for loss of family and loss of education, homosexuals remained deviants in the eyes of post-war society. In fact in Germany many more men were prosecuted under § 175 in the years immediate to the Nazi regime.
The gay survivors who were liberated (i.e. not subject to further prison terms) often found themselves ostracized from society. Some were not welcomed back to their homes in the aftermath of war for the 'shame' they had brought on their family's reputation. Those that did return often kept their experience to themselves fearing that the sensitive nature of the horrors would bring further distress to family members. Some never spoke out about their suffering.
Gay survivor Heinz Heger (pseudonym)
In the post-war years many homosexuals tried to restart their battered lives; some entered into marriage; others struggled to find anonymity in their communities; some even entered into the armed forces. The stigma of the pink triangle was clearly a heavy burden and, without the support and contact of gay friends who were either in hiding or dead themselves, many survivors lived with the silent 'shame' of their experience in secret.
The fight for Justice
With § 175 still in place, many survivors tried hard to put their experiences behind them fearing further persecution. However, after the 'liberation' some survivors did bravely struggle for recognition through the courts. Survivors such as Karl Gorath, Heinz Dörmer, and Pierre Seel, fought many years for retribution for their imprisonment. Goraths' attempts at legal reparations were rejected both in 1953 and 1960. Pierre Seel refused to give up and continued fighting throughout the 1980's and 1990's.
In the 1945Nuremberg war crime trials that followed the liberation no mention was ever made of crimes against homosexuals. No SS official was ever tried for specific atrocities against pink triangle prisoners. Many of the known SS Doctors, who had performed operations on homosexuals, were never brought to account for their actions. One of the most notorious SS doctors was Carl Peter Vaernet who performed numerous experiments on pink triangle inmates at the Buchenwald and Neuengamme camps. He was never tried for his crimes and escaped to South America where he died a free man in 1965.
Many of the pink triangle survivors were never recognised as victims of the Holocaust during their lives and never lived to be repatriated. For those who continued to fight, it would be many years before their efforts paid off.
Artist Richard Grune, who trained at the Bauhaus school in Weimar under teachers including Paul Klee andWassily Kandinsky, moved to Berlin in February 1933.
Richard Grune, ca. 1922.
Walter Gropius, Bauhaus Dessau, 1925–26. View from the Northwest. Photo Lucia Moholy, 1926. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin. © 2002 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Between 1933 and 1945, Germany's Nazi government under Adolf Hitler attempted to rid German territory of people who did not fit its vision of a "master Aryan race."Grune and other homosexuals in Germany felt the impact of the new regime within weeks of Adolf Hitler's appointment as chancellor in January 1933.
In February, police and Storm Troopers began enforcing orders to shut same–sex bars and clubs. During acrackdown over the next several months, most gathering places for homosexual men and women were closed down, fundamentally disrupting their public lives. Grune was arrested in December 1934, one of 70 men caught in a wave of related denunciations.
Under interrogation, Grune admitted to being homosexual. He was held in "protective custody" for five months, then returned to his childhood home on the German–Danish border to stand trial for violatingParagraph 175. In September 1936, Grune was convicted and sentenced to prison for one year and three months, minus time already served in protective custody. It is estimated that some 50,000 men served prison terms as convicted homosexuals.
At his release, the Gestapo returned Grune to protective custody, asserting that the sentence had been too lenient. In early October 1937, Grune was sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he remained until being transferred to the Flossenbürg camp in early April 1940.
World War II helped to conceal the Nazis' radicalized persecution at home. Thousands of homosexuals were sent to forced labor camps. There, in an explicit campaign of "extermination through work," homosexuals and other so-called security suspects were assigned to grueling work in ceaselessly dangerous conditions.
Grune himself remained in the Flossenbürg camp until 1945. As American forces approached, he escaped the evacuation of Flossenbürg and joined his sister in Kiel. He spent much of the rest of his life in Spain, but later returned to Kiel, where he died in 1983.
Richard Grune's desire to bring attention to the terror of the concentration camps led to the 1947 publication of a limited–edition portfolio of his lithographs. His work generally reflects what he experienced at the Sachsenhausen and Flossenbürg concentration camps; some images are based on information from other survivors. The portfolio is among the most important visual recordings of the daily nightmare of the Nazi concentration camps to appear in the immediate postwar years.
Excerpts from Vera Laska
[The following is exerpted from Vera Laska (ed.), Women in the Resistance and in the Holocaust: The Voices of Eyewitnesses, Greenwood Press, Westport & London, 1983. and was posted by Kenneth McVay to: Newsgroups: alt.revisionism,soc.history Subject: LEST WE FORGET: The Fate of the Homosexuals Followup-To: alt.revisionism Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac, Vancouver Island, CANADA Keywords: Auschwitz,Dirlwanger,Flossenburg,homosexual,Ravensbruck]
"A few remarks are in order about the various sex relationships in concentration camps. I start out with the homosexuals since they were accorded a special category among the inmates and `merited' a separate, pink triangle. ...
Very little has been written about the tens of thousands of homosexuals who were the damnedest of the damned, the outcasts among the outcasts in the concentration camps. There are really only estimates of figures. During the twelve years of Nazi rule, nearly 50,000 were convicted of the crime of homosexuality. The majority ended up in concentration camps, and virtually all of them perished. According to a recent study, `at least 500,000 gays died in the Holocaust.' As Stefan Lorant observed in 1935, the homosexuals `lived in a dream', hoping that the heyday of gays in Germany of the 1920s would last forever. Their awakening was terrible. Yet,the few survivors among them did not qualify for postwar restitution as the Jews or the politicals, because as homosexuals they were outside the law. By German law, homosexuality was a crime. After the prison sentences most homosexuals were automatically shipped to concentration camps. In 1935, a new law legalized the `compulsory sterilization (often in fact castration) of homosexuals.' A special section of the Gestapo dealt with them.Along with epileptics, schizophrenics and other `degenerates', they were being eliminated. Yet homosexuality was still so widespread that in 1942 the death penalty was imposed for it in the army and the SS.
In concentration camps, some pink triangles became concubines of male kaposor other men in supervisory positions among the inmates. They were known as doll boys; this brought them certain protection while the love affair lasted. The pink triangles were constantly abused by the SS, camp officials and fellow prisoners. They were seldom called other names than arse-holes,shitty queers or bum-fuckers. They were allowed to talk only to each other,they had to sleep with the lights on and with hands above their blankets. These people were not child molesters; those were considered professional criminals, green triangles.
While men with pink triangles were given the hardest jobs and were being constantly abused for their admitted sexual prference, considerable numbers of `normal' men engaged in homosexual acts with impunity -- that was an emergency outlet. This double standard was an additional psychological burden for the pink triangles.
The SS considered it great sport to taunt and torture the homosexuals. The camp commander at Flossenburg often ordered them flogged; as the victims were screaming, he `was panting with excitement, and masturbated wildly in his trousers until he came,' unperturbed by the hundreds of onlookers.
A sixty-year-old gay priest was beaten over his sexual organs by the SS and told: `You randy old rat-bag, you can piss with your arse-hole in the future.' He could not, for he died the next day. Eyewitnesses tell of homosexuals being tortured to death by tickling, by having their testicles immersed alternately into hot and icy water, by having a broomstick pushed into their anus.
Himmler, who wanted to eradicate homosexuals `root and branch', had theidea to `cure' them by mandatory visits to the camp brothel at Flossenburg. Ten Ravensbruck women provided the services with little success. The women here also were told that they would go free after six months, but instead they were shipped to Auschwitz.
The pink triangles worked in the clay pits of Sachsenhausen, the quarries of Buchenwald, Flossenburg and Mauthausen; they shoveled snow with their bare hands in Auschwitz and elsewhere; they were used as living targets at the firing range; they had the dirtiest jobs in all camps. Towards the end of the war, they were told that they would be released if they let themselves be castrated. The ones who agreed were shipped to the infamous Dirlwanger penal division on the Russian front.
Josef Kohout is the Name; Prisoner No. 1896
By David W. Dunlap
(from the New York Times, June 26, 1995)
WASHINGTON--Transformed by homosexuals from a mark of Nazi persecution into an emblem of gay liberation, the pink triangle gained great currency but lost its link to personal experience.
Today, after half a century, the symbol can be associated once again with one man's name, with his voice, his story.
Josef Kohout is the name; prisoner No. 1896, Block 6, at the Flossenburg concentration camp in Bavaria, near the Czech border. At the age of 24, he was arrested in Vienna as a homosexual outlaw after the Gestapo obtained a photograph he had inscribed to another young man pledging "eternal love." Liberated six years later by American troops, Mr. Kohout returned to Vienna, where he died in 1994.
Among his personal effects was a fragile strip of cloth, two inches 1ong and less than an inch wide, with the numbers 1 8 9 6 on the right and a pink triangle on the left. It is the only one known to have been worn by a prisoner who can be identified; said Dr. Klaus Muller of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum here.
Together with Mr. Kohout's journal and the letters his parents wrote to the camp commander in a fruitless effort to visit him, the badge has been given to the museum by Mr. Kohout's companion.
"I find it very important that the pink triangle is connected with the people who were forced to wear it," said Dr. Muller, the museum's project director for Western Europe.
In its mission, the museum embraces not only the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, but other groups who were persecuted, like the Gypsies, the disabled, Jehovah's Witnesses and Russian prisoners of war.
It has begun a $1.5 million campaign to locate homosexual survivors and document their experiences, fllowing a suggestion from David B. Mixner, a corporate consultant in Los Angeles who is active in gay causes. The campaign coordinator, Debra S. Eliason, said $350,000 has been pledged so far.
Patrons of the museum are given identification cards of victims to personalize the others vast historical narrative, and of the victims identified in the cards, a handful were homosexuals. On his first visit, Representative Gerry E. Studds of Massachusetts, one of three openly gay members of Congress, coincidentally received the card of Willem Arondeus, a homosexual Dutch resistance fighter who was killed in 1943. "For me to get that card was just stunning," Mr. Studds said.
"Of the many places we never existed, certainly the Holocaust was one, in most people's minds," Mr. Studds said. "The supreme triumph in the last generation, in terms of the struggle of gay and lesbian people, is recognition of the simple fact that we exist."
Mr. Kohout is not the only homosexual victim of Nazism whose presence is being felt. Gradually, at the twilight of their lives, a handful of survivors are stepping forward to press gingerly their own claims for recognition, having all but given up hope for restitution.
"The world we hoped for did not transpire," said a declaration signed earlier this year by eight survivors now living in Germany, France, Poland and the Netherlands. They called for the memorializing and documenting of Nazi atrocities against homosexuals and others.
They pleaded for "the moral support of the public."
The signers included Kurt von Ruffin, now 93, a popular actor and opera singer in Berlin during the 1930's who was sent to the Lichten- burg camp in Prettin, and Friedrich- Paul von Groszheim, 89, who was arrested, released, rearrested, tortured, castrated, released, rearrested and imprisoned in the Neuengamme camp at Lubeck.
Between 10,000 and 15,000 homosexuals may have been incarcerated in the camps, Dr. Mulller said, out of approximately 100,000 men who were arrested under Paragraph 175 of the German criminal code, which called for the imprisonment of any "male who commits lewd and lascivious acts with another male." (The law was silent on lesbianism, although individual instances of persecutions of lesbians have been recorded.)
Perhaps 60 percent of those in the camps died, Dr. Muller said, meaning that even in 1945, there may have been only 4,000 survivors. Today, Dr. Mliller knows of fewer than 15.
Their travails did not end at liberation. They were still officially regarded as criminals, rather than as political prisoners, since Paragraph 175 remained in force in West Germany until 1969. They were denied reparations and the years they spent in the camps were deducted from their pensions. Some survivors were even jailed again.
Old enough to be grandfathers and great-grandfathers, the survivors scarcely courted attention as homosexuals, having learned all too well the perils of notoriety. "It is not easy to tell a story you were forced to hide for 50 years," Dr. Mullers said.
One of the first men to break his silence was the anonymous "Prisoner X. Y.," who furnished a vividly detailed account of life as a homosexual inmate in the 1972 book, "The Men With the Pink Triangle," by Heinz Heger, which was reissued last year by Alyson Publications.
By a coincidence that still astonishes him, Dr. Muller said, Prisoner X. Y.--"the best documented homosexual inmate of a camp"--turned out to be Mr. Kohout.
After his arrest in 1939, Mr. Kohout was taken to the Sachsenhausen camp and served at the Klinker brickworks, which he called "the 'Auschwitz' for homosexuals." Prisoners who were not beaten to death could easily be killed by heavy carts barreling down the steep incline of the clay pits.
In 1940, he was transferred to Flossenbug. On Christmas Eve 1941 inmates were made to sing carols in front at a 30-foot-high Christmas tree on the parade ground. Flanking it were gallows from which eight Russian prisoners had been hanging since morning. "Whenever I hear a carol sung--no matter how beautifully-- I remember the Christmas tree at Flossenburg with its grisly 'decorations,' " he wrote.
Mr. Kohout died in March 1994, at the age of 79. A month later, in an apartment in Vienna, his surviving companion submitted to an interview by Dr. Muller, who had tracked him down through a gay group in Austria and pressed him for more and more information.
As Dr. Muller recalled it, the companion finally said: "If you're so interested in all these details, I have some material in two boxes and, honestly, I didn't have the strength to go through it because I'm still struggling with his death. But if you want to, we could look at these."
The first thing the companion unpacked was Mr. Kohout's pink triangle badge. The Hrst thing Dr. Muller thought was, "This is impossible."
"We had searched for a pink triangle for years," he said, "one that would not only document the Nazi marking system but also could be reconstructed as a part of one individual story."
The triangle itself is still in storage, but part of Mr. Kohout's journal is now on display at the museum. It is the page on which he wrote simply of his liberators' arrival on April 24, 1945: "Amerikaner gekommen."
-- The Nazis arose out of a macho homosexual subculture long-incubating in Germany that idealized warriorship and homosexual pederasty. (Male sex with younger males.) The evidence of this is overwhelming, and has been suppressed in service to the promotion of homosexuality.
A Hitler self-portrait from the Vienna years.
-- Germany A great many of Hitler's friends, both in early years and later, were homosexual. Do straight males normally have homosexuals as friends? Do they surround themselves with homosexuals in career or business? Are straight males normally comfortable around gay males?
Pre-Nazi Germany was rife with homosexuality, including "masculine" homosexual movements
-- Germany was the birthplace of "gay" rights movements, well prior to the rise of the Nazis. It had, in fact, a number of homosexual activists and movements, most notably "Hellenic revival" movements that regarded super-masculinity combined with pederasty to be an ideal.
-- Hitler was a dandy in his teens and had a dandified best friend. Hitler wrote a petulant, jealous letter to him talking about how much it upset Hitler to see the friend talking to others. He said "I demand exclusivity."
Hitler's best friend, August Kubizek, toward whom Hitler expressed intense jealousy if Kubizek even talked to others. Kuzibek wrote several changing versions of his relationship with Hitler. In the first he spoke of Hitler kissing him on the cheek at one greeting. He changed that in a later version.
-- They were bedmates
"Machtan suggests that each of Hitler’s longer-term relationships in his youth -- with Reinhold Hanisch, August Kubizek, Rudolf Hausler and Ernst Hanfstaengl -- were homosexual 'love affairs.' "
-- When on his own, Hitler stayed for a long time first in a men's hostel that was a known center of male prostitution and a magnet for homosexual men. Hitler stayed in such an environment for three years.
"In Germany’s National Vice, Samuel Igra wrote that as a young man Hitler “had been a male prostitute in Vienna and Munich” (Igra:67). Lending credence to this is the fact that for quite a long time Hitler “chose to live in a Vienna flophouse known to be inhabited by many homosexuals” (Langer:192).
That “flophouse” was theMeldemannstrasse Hostel. Hitler’s long-time “gay” friend Ernst Hanfstaengl identified this residence as “a place where elderly men went in search of young men for homosexual pleasures” (Machtan:56).
“It was an open secret at the beginning of the 20th century,” adds Machtan, “that municipal hostels for homeless males were hubs of homosexual activity... [where many young men] kept themselves afloat by engaging in prostitution. Hitler spent over three years in this environment” (Machtan:51).
"This would help to explain Hitler’s close relationships to his purportedly homosexual patrons Dietrich Eckart and Karl Haushofer. Rector writes that, as a young man, Hitler was often called “Der Schoen Adolf”(“the handsome Adolf”) and that later his looks “were also to some extent helpful in gaining big-money support from Ernst Roehm’s circle of wealthy gay friends” (Rector:52).
-- In WWII, witnesses from the eastern front who were around Hitler claimed he had a steady homosexual relationship with another soldier. (The two can be seen in photos.)
"Additional allegations addressed homosexual conduct by Hitler during the first World War. The so-called “Mend Protocol,” a document prepared by German military intelligence under Admiral Canaris, contains the testimony of Hans Mend. Considered highly credible, Mend had this to say about Hitler:
"Meanwhile, we had gotten to know Hitler better. We noticed that he never looked at a woman. We suspected him of homosexuality right away, because he was known to be abnormal in any case. He was extremely eccentric and displayed womanish characteristics which tended in that direction....In 1915 we were billeted in the Le Febre brewery at Fournes. We slept in the hay. Hitler was bedded down at night with “Schmidl,” his male whore. We heard a rustling in the hay. Then someone switched on his electric flashlight and growled, “Take a look at those two nancy boys.” I myself took no further interest in the matter."
"Hitler and “Schmidl” (Ernst Schmidt) were, in Schmidt’s words, “always together” during their war years. They remained very close friends and were occasional housemates for over thirty years (ibid.:89ff).
"A year or so after the incident described by Mend, Hitler supposedly “posed nude for a homosexual officer named Lammers -- a Berlin artist in civilian life -- and subsequently went to bed with him” (ibid.:100).
"This may be the incident to which Rauschning referred when he later told U.S. Investigators “that Lance Corporal Hitler and an officer had been charged with engaging in sexual relations” (ibid.).
-- This was the reason Hitler was not promoted despite good service, according to the military file.
"The homosexual connection certainly helps to explain how Hitler became involved with the nationalists generally, and Ernst Roehm specifically, after the war. It is likely that Roehm’s homosexual inclinations were the reason that Colonel Ritter von Epp, the Freikorps commander, chose Roehm as his adjutant. “There are many indications that the relationship between Roehm and Epp was homoerotic,” writes Machtan,“and Hitler once let slip in later years that Roehm’s homosexuality first became known around 1920” (ibid.:106f). Roehm, in turn, brought Hitler into the homoerotic Freikorps brotherhood.
-- Hitler was seen sleeping with his homosexual lover one night while at the Eastern front in WWII, and a witness described him as being in bed with his little "slut."
-- Adolf Hitler had a record with the the Vienna police in connection to homosexual arrests.
"Desmond Seward, in Napoleon and Hitler...reports that “the files of the Viennese police list him [Hitler] as a homosexual” (Seward:299).
-- Two male prostitutes reported that they had been hired by Adolf Hitler
"He reports, for example on the testimony of Hermann Rauschning, a trusted Hitler confidante...Rauschning reports that he has met two boys who claimed that they were Hitler’s homosexual partners..."
"Eugen Dollman, former member of Himmler’s staff and one-time Hitler interpreter, cited testimonies from the files of the Munich vice squad in which a series of young men identified Hitler as the man who had “picked them up” on the streets for homosexual relations (Machtan:135ff). Dollman himself was also homosexual (ibid.).
-- Witnesses who met Hitler described him as effeminate and womanly. As Hitler developed and went for power, he ratcheted up a hyper-masculine presentation and persona. But this was actually a homosexual and warrior-pederast ideal.
-- Hitler was never known to have a significant relationship with a woman that was definitely sexual. He may have been bisexual, homosexual, or had some other kind of sexual deviancy. However, the evidence points more to sexual relationships with men than with women. In any case, women did not factor into his life in any significant way until his 30s as he came to power, and this was Eva Braun, with whom he had an ambiguous relationship and which was very likely an image show for the German people.
"[A] small number of contemporaries... were pretty explicit on the subject of Hitler's sex life. These include August Kubizek, Kurt Ludecke, Ernst Hanfstaengl, Rudolf Diels, Erich Ebermayer, Eugen Dollman, Christa Schroder and Hans Severus Ziegler. They are all unanimous in stating, quite positively, that Hitler did not have sex with women. Some of them expressly say that Hitler was homosexual; others convey the same thing obliquely" (Machtan:23)
From "The Hidden Hitler"
-- Though women never figured much into Hitler's life till later life with Evan Braun, Hitler spent his life constantly around male company, most of them homosexuals
-- Homosexuals tend to be most comfortable only with other homosexuals, not with straights. They prefer each other, trust each other more, keep each others' secrets, network, and create little mafias for power -- perhaps more than other groups. Because of the secrecy inherent to the lifestyle, Gay brotherhoods" can be very powerful. It is the very nature of tightly knit brotherhoods to be able to get power and dominate situations. Coordinated gay brotherhoods, with their necessity of secrecy, are obviously a very powerful form of brotherhood, helping to account for the astounding rise of the Nazis.
- Hitler had known homosexuals around him and in the highest positions. This included Ernst Rohm, head of the notorious and very dangerous SA that protected the Nazis and raised Hitler to power.
"Hitler was closely associated with Ernst Roehm and Rudolf Hess, two homosexuals who were among the very few people with whom he used the familiar du [“thou”]."
-- In private Hitler never expressed displeasure or moral disapproval privately over the homosexuality of lieutenants and high level Nazis that he knew were homosexuals. This even though he came from a Christian culture and was ostensibly Christian.
-- Hitler's companionship with Eva Braun was a mystery to the German people. It was almost certainly a farce for show, to fool the German people and cover up his homosexuality which would have ruined him with the public. Hitler apparently never made any advances toward Braun.
Ernst Rohm, the brutal, violent open homosexual who most helped Hitler rise to power, leader of the violent SA. He regularly procured boys for sex and had homosexual orgies. He was one of only two persons on such intimate and equal terms with "the Fuhrer" that he could speak to Hitler in the intimate form of "Thou." When Rohm became dangerous to Hitler, Hitler killed him personally along with other dangerous knowers or power threat. He used the killing as PR in which Nazis were' fighting degeneracy,' but it was really a ruse and distraction technique to throw an ink cloud over Hitler and the Nazis' own degeneracy, while getting rid of some very dangerous Nazis who went way back and had the power to blackmail Hitler and create damage as Nazi power and resources grew.
-- Hitler's closest aide, Rudolf Hess, was was known in homosexual .Hitler and Hess lived together in close quarters at Spandau prison for about 9 months. Hitler expressed great fondness for Hess, and dismay, when he was released but Hess kept back.
"When Hitler left the prison he fretted about his friend who languished there, and spoke of him tenderly, using Austrian diminutives: “Ach mein Rudy, mein Hesserl, isn’t it appalling to think that he’s still there.” One of Hitler’s valets, Schneider, made no explicit statement about the relationship, but he did find it strange that whenever Hitler got a present he liked or drew an architectural sketch that particularly pleased him, he would run to Hess — who was known in homosexual circles as “Fraulein Anna” — as a little boy would run to his mother to show his prize to her...Finally there is the nonconclusive but interesting fact that one of Hitler’s prized possessions was a handwritten love letter which King Ludwig II had written to a manservant.
"Hess was known by other names in the German “gay” subculture. In recent years, long sealed Soviet archives have been opened to the West. In Deadly Illusions, authors John Costello and Oleg Tsarev report of seeing the “so-called ‘Black Bertha’ file, named from Hess’s reported nickname in Berlin and Munich”
-- As Hitler rose to power he wrote a letter to his cousin saying that his past must never be known. He manifested an extreme desire to obliterate his past, even having his boyhood village destroyed. The Nazis used Hitler's home village for artillery target practice, making it uninhabitable, driving away old-timers who knew Hitler, and presumably covering up or exposing any possible hidden records. Nazis were always near the site and would beat and drive away anybody who came there. (Why would a lover of German heritage and country do that to his own village?)
-- Hitler was influenced by writers and philosophers advocating the Hellenic (Grecian) ideal of warriorship combined with pederasty as a superior form of sexuality. There were a number of homosexual writers coming up in Hitler's youth who combined intense nationalism with the Grecian warrior-pederasty ideal. In this ideal, sexual relations between boys and older men were considered the highest, purest kind of sex and not a perversion.
The man called "The father of National Socialism" was a homosexual pederast.
After expulsion from the priesthood for gay sex, Lanz Von Liebenfels became a main influence on Hitler. Hitler was a fan of Lanz' pro-Aryan nationalist publication that contained homo-erotic philosophy. Liebenfels designed the Nazi flag and was the first to fly it.
"It was through Lanz that Hitler would learn that many of his heroes of history were also 'practicing homosexuals' " (Waite, 1977:94f).
Hitler was exposed to these writers, including the Theosophist pervert Guido von List, Liebenfels, and others. He had a signed book from the first, and personally knew the second after seeking him out.
-- There were two types of homosexuals in Germany, as today, and there was a conflict between them: The "butch" homosexuals had a hyper masculine ideal. The other was the feminine homosexuals or "femmes," who the butch homosexuals despised. Butch homosexuals in Germany did not consider themselves homosexuals since they were masculine. They considered male-on-male sexual relations to be an aspect of a higher manliness, as in the ancient Hellenic concept. They believed this was the superior form of sex and maleness.
-- The butch gays (the Nazi founders) considered heterosexuals to be lower than them, only valuable as "breeders." The butch gays considered any feminine homosexuals to be lower still than heterosexuals, even subhuman.
-- Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels has been called "The Man Who Gave Hitler His Ideas.", Many of the views and plans expressed by the homosexual Liebenfels were matched to a 'T' in the later Nazi program.
-- Lanz taught that homosexual sex involved Odin energy. Hitler was a fan of Liebenfels' homoerotic nationalist magazine in Vienna.
-- The homosexual Liebenfels designed the Nazi flag and was the first person to ever fly it, over his castle where he housed his male order.
"After being expelled from the monastery, Lanz formed his own occultic order called the Ordo Novi Templi or the Order of the New Temple (ONT).
The ONT was related to the Ordo Templi Orientis or Order of the Temple of the East, which, like List’s organization, practiced tantric sexual rituals" (Howard:91).
-- Hitler was put into contact with Liebenfels through an occult bookstore when he was trying to obtain back issues of Liebenfels' journal, Ostara.
-- As Hitler was rising the former mentor Liebenfels got in trouble with Hitler for writing this:
“Hitler is one of our pupils...you will one day experience that he, and through him we, will one day be victorious and develop a movement that makes the world tremble”
Lanz Von Liebenfels
-- To cover up his association with Liebenfels and throw the public off, Hitler then had the writings of his former teacher banned in Germany.
-- The premier promoter of gay rights (and normalization of homosexuality) in Germany was a Jew named Magnus Hirschfeld. He was a "femme" (a feminine gay), as contrasted to the hyper-masculine homosexuality that Nazi founders admired.
The sexual deviant Magnus Hirschfeld was a pioneer promoter of "gay rights" and the liberalization of attitudes toward homosexuality in Germany. Many "butch" type gay Nazis were obligated to go there in the years leading up for sex (homosexual) offenses, so he had files on them. The masculine butch gays who dominated the Nazi movement did not like the theory of homosexuality as a "third sex" or "a woman trapped in a man's body" and it offended them. They considered themselves to be a higher kind of man, supermen, and believed that a macho-oriented pederasty did not constitute homosexuality. When the Nazis had sufficient power, the records of Hirschfeld's sex institute were burned in a great ceremony. The Nazis pointed to his institute as a symbol of degeneracy. But the real reason was destroy the embarrassing information about the degeneracy of a great many Nazis. This was the famous "Nazi book burning" we see in film. After the event an employee of the institute wrote: "Not 20 percent of the Nazis are sexually normal."
-- The "butch" gays of Nazism did not consider themselves to be really homosexuals, but a superior kind of true men or uber-man. Another writer who firmed up the Nazi mindset considerably was the homosexual Friedrich Nietzsche. He was a rather disgusting creep with an over-long mustache who hated Christianity and spoke of the "superman."
-- The Nazis left gays alone until the high-profile gay antics of Ernst Rohm began to attract attention. Then they decided to send some gays to camps, but only feminine gays. Even so, the Nazis imprisoned only a small fraction of the population of feminine gays. This was done as PR and disinformation to throw the German people off to the truth about the Nazis. And the Nazis were happy to get rid of feminine gays anyway, because they loathed them.
-- Frequently if Nazis arrested people on the basis of "homosexuality," this was just a ruse. Rather, they arrested political enemies using homosexuality as a pretext.
-- German gays made a cult of Richard Wagner's operas. They flocked to them and made the operas pickup sites. Hitler was often in the audience, and was known to adore Wagner's operas. He said "Wagner is my religion."
"...Wagner’s Bayreuth [theatre and home] was “a notorious international rendezvous for prominent homosexuals” whose absorption with Wagner achieved “a cultlike quality” (ibid.:39). One factor in this attraction may have been that Wagner’s sons Richard and Siegfried were homosexuals.
"Richard later committed suicide (ibid.:254). Siegfried, pressured to have an heir, married a woman much younger than himself and had several children but surreptitiously continued his homosexual affairs (Wagner:p.197).
"Hitler was very close to the Wagner family and spent a great deal of time in Bayreuth. He made numerous private visits there between 1925 and 1933, often with male homosexual companions (ibid.:253ff).
"...Machtan cites one incident, however, in which he and Schreck failed to keep an appointment to vacation with their Bayreuth hosts. Instead, Schreck and Hitler turned aside at the Bad Berneckhealth resort, some 20 miles away, where they spent Christmas alone -- the only guests at the inn (ibid.:174).
"Hitler may have had yet darker motives for visiting the Wagner home. Only recently revealed is the accusation by Wagner family members “that Hitler sexually abused the young Wieland [Wagner’s grandson, now past 75] during the ‘20s.” These allegations came to light in a Time magazine interview with American author and former diplomat to Germany, Frederic Spotts, whose research for the book Bayreuth (about the Wagnerian opera festival of the same name) included interviews with the Wagner family (Time, August 15, 1994:56).
“Spotts says that his original source was one of Wieland’s own children... Now a respected academic, Spotts says it was while he was researching “Bayreuth” that he interviewed his source -- who, he insists, is totally reliable and has no reason to lie.
Spotts writes: "This family member told me Hitler sexually abused Wieland in the 1920s when the boy was a preadolescent’...Hitler, who idolized Richard Wagner's supernationalistic operas (as well as his anti-Semitism), had become a close friend of Wieland's mother's. Winifred Wagner gave him the run of the child’s nursery. Far from being revolted by what allegedly happened to him, Wieland avidly collaborated with his right-wing family during World War II (Penthouse, undated:32).
"Weiland later became Hitler’s protégé (Wagner:228) and was exempted from military service by Hitler’s personal intervention (ibid.:105). The weight of the evidence indicates that Hitler was deeply involved in a series of short and long-term homosexual relationships. Even more certain is that he knowingly and deliberately surrounded himself with practicing homosexuals from the time he was a teenager. His later public pronouncements against homosexuality were designed to hide the life-long intimacy -- sexual and/or homoerotic -- which he maintained with the various men he knew and accepted as homosexuals.
-- Two of the Wagner sons turned out gay.
-- Hitler got his inspiration for Nazi political culture from the many Wagnerian operas he watched. He lived out, as it were, a Wagnerian opera pageant in real life with the entire German people as players.
-- Frederic the Great was known to be a homosexual and promulgated homosexuality in his army. Frederic the Great was Hitler's biggest hero.
-- The double-S logo of the SS was designed by a homosexualist.
-- The Nazi "death's head" ring was designed by a homosexualist.
--- Hitler personally designed many aspects of Nazi uniforms and regalia.
-- As the Nazis expanded their invasions many Nazi authorities in occupied countries were homosexuals. (Such as in France.)
"Desmond Seward, in Napoleon and Hitler, quotes Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, who referred to Hitler as “that horrible sexual degenerate” (Seward:148).
-- There was always a great mystery what Hitler and Eva Braun did during their time in private quarters. Servants who watched their sheets reported that they never saw signs of sexual intercourse.
"Writer Charlotte Wolff, M.D. quotes Magnus Hirschfeld about Hitler in her book Magnus Hirschfeld. (Hirschfeld, you will remember, was Director of the Sex Research Institute of Berlin which was destroyed by Hitler in 1934."
"About three years before the Nazis came to power we had a patient at the Institute who had a liaison with Roehm. We were on good terms with him, and he told us a good deal of what happened in his circle...He also referred to Adolf Hitler in the oddest possible manner. ‘Afi is the most perverted of us all. He is very much like a soft woman, but now he makes great propaganda in the heroic morale’” (Wolff:438).
-- Four women alleged to have had some kind of sexual interaction with Hitler. It has been alleged that Hitler was a coprophile, and demanded that women perform degrading acts. One woman alleged to have had sexual involvement was Hitler's niece, Gely.
"Hitler contemporary Otto Strasser writes of an encounter he had with Hitler’s niece Gely: Next day Gely came to see me. She was red eyed, her round little face was wan, and she had the terrified look of a hunted beast.
“He locked me up,” she sobbed. “He locks me up every time I say no!” She did not need much questioning. With anger, horror and disgust she told me of the strange propositions with which her uncle pestered her.
"I knew all about Hitler’s abnormality. Like all the others in the know, I had heard all about the eccentric practices to which Fraulein Hoffmann was alleged to have lent herself, but I had genuinely believed that the photographer’s daughter was a little hysteric who told lies for the sheer fun of it.
"But Gely, who was completely ignorant of this other affair of her uncle’s, confirmed point by point a story scarcely credible to a healthy-minded man." (Strasser, 1940:72)
All four of the women alleged to have had sexual encounters with Adolf Hitler attempted suicide.
-- Homosexuals are disproportionately represented among those who do heinous violent crimes. Nine of the top 10 serial killers were homosexuals.
-- Homosexuals are attracted to Nazism and neo-Nazism even to this day. The neo-Nazi movement in Germany contains homosexuals.
The Nazi Movement was Riddled with Homosexuals
Many founding and high-ranking Nazis were homosexuals. The evidence indicates that Adolf Hitler himself was a homosexual. Persecution of homosexuals by the Nazis was for show to deflect from themselves and keep the German public fooled. And only feminine type homosexuals were then persecuted. The "Butch" homosexuals who founded Nazism viewed femmes as lower than heterosexuals, not even men. The persecution of a small percentage of Germany's femme gays was a public relations move to obfuscate the Nazis' own perversity and placate the German masses.
-- The Nazi movement was riddled with homosexuals at the highest level. The most obvious was Ernst Rohm, the most powerful Nazi in Germany after Hitler. Homosexuals prefer other homosexuals for company.
-- After coming to power the Nazis did not persecute homosexuals at all. They did so only when their own homosexuality began to surface to the public, especially because of the antics of the obtusely flagrant homosexualist Ernst Rohm. Hitler was in fact Rohm's early protege. The gay Rohm was Hitler's longtime right hand man, head of the violent SA, the most powerful man in Germany beside Hitler, and the man most instrumental in creating the Nazi Party and setting Hitler up.He was also a homosexualist, an open advocate homosexuality, really one of the first militant gay activists. Rohm refused to hide his homosexuality. He was even a member of an organization that pushed for the public acceptance of homosexuality. The other Nazi gays (including Hitler), were of the usual discreet and covert class.
-- When Rohm's antics and stories about homosexuality in the party became a political threat, Hitler made a show of denouncing gays. Still it was only a small percentage of the hated "femme" gays who were sent to camps. The Nazis also used the new "anti-gay" posture as a ruse to trump up charges and put away all manner of political enemy.
-- Nazism was founded by macho-style "butch" homosexuals who pursued a Greek/Hellenic ideal of warrior pederasty. With the abundant evidence of this, there can be only one reason that media powers have hidden this from the White public while otherwise demonizing Hitler and the Nazis 24-7:
The gay agenda (moral degeneracy and the destruction of the natural family) -- is far more important to these powers than is any further demonization of Hitler. This knowledge about the Nazis would harm the gay agenda. The gay agenda is central to their world-enslaving strategy. It is vital that all Whites understand this.
"Ultimately Hitler used and transformed the movement — much as the Romans had abused the paiderastia of the ancient Greeks — expanding and building upon its romanticism as a basis for the Nazi Party (Rossman:103)."
The early Nazi movement contained a great many men who grew up in the Wandervoegel. Songs of the Wandervoegel morphed later Nazi march songs. The famous Nazi salute (extended arm) was created by the Wandervoegel...
Hans Blueher & the Wandervoegel
From "The Pink Swastika"
“In Germany,” writes Mosse, “ideas of homosexuality as the basis of a better society can be found at the turn of the century within the German Youth Movement” (Mosse:87). Indeed, at the same time that Brand and Friedlander were beginning to articulate their dream of a neo-Hellenic Germany to the masses, a youthful subculture of boys and young men was already beginning to act out its basic themes under the leadership of men like Karl Fischer, Wilhelm Jansen and youth leader Hans Blueher. In Sexual Experience Between Men and Boys, homosexualist historian Parker Rossman writes,
"In Central Europe...there was another effort to revive the Greek ideal of pedagogic pederasty, in the movement of Wandering Youth [Wandervoegel]. Modern gay-homosexuality also can trace some of its roots to that movement of men and boys who wandered around the countryside, hiking and singing hand-in-hand, enjoying nature, life together, and their sexuality. Ultimately Hitler used and transformed the movement — much as the Romans had abused the paiderastia of the ancient Greeks — expanding and building upon its romanticism as a basis for the Nazi Party" (Rossman:103).
Another homosexualist, Richard Mills, explains inGay Roots: Twenty Years of Gay Sunshine how the Wandervoegel movement traces its roots to an informal hiking and camping society of young men started in 1890 by a fifteen-year-old student named Hermann Hoffman. For several years the open-air lifestyle of these boys grew increasingly popular. They developed their own form of greeting, the “Heil” salute, and “much of the vocabulary...[which] was later appropriated by the Nazis” (Mills:168). Early in its development, the movement attracted the attention of homosexual men, including the pederasts who belonged to the Community of the Elite. In 1901 a teacher by the name of Karl Fischer (who, as we have mentioned, called himself der Fuehrer) formalized the movement under the name Wandervoegel (Koch:25, Mills:153).
Hans Blueher, then just seventeen years old, organized the most ambitious Wandervoegel excursion to that date in 1905. It was on this trip that Blueher met Wilhelm Jansen, one of the original founders of the Community of the Elite. At this time the Wandervoegel numbered fewer than one hundred young men, but eventually the number of youths involved in Wandervoegel-type groups in Europe reached 60,000.
Wilhelm Jansen became an influential leader in the Wandervoegel, but rumors of his homosexuality disturbed German society. In 1911, Jansen addressed the issue in a circular to Wandervoegel parents. Jansen told them, “As long as they conduct themselves properly with your sons, you will have to accustom yourselves to the presence of so-called homosexuals in your ranks” (Mills:167). Hans Blueher further substantiated the fact that the movement had become a vehicle for homosexual recruitment of boys with his publication of The German Wandervoegel Movement as an Erotic Phenomenon in 1914 (Rector:39f). Mills writes,
"[T]he Wandervoegel offered youth the chance to escape bourgeois German society by retreating back to nature...But how was this accomplished? What made it possible for the lifestyle created within the Wandervoegel to differ significantly from its bourgeois parent? The answer is simple: the Wandervoegel was founded upon homosexual, as opposed to heterosexual sentiments ...In order to understand the success of the movement, one must acknowledge the homosexual component of its leaders...Just as the leaders were attracted to the boys, so were the boys attracted to their leaders. In both cases the attraction was sexually based" (Mills 152-53).
Like many of the “Butch” homosexuals Blueher had married but only for the purpose of procreation. “Woe to the man who has placed his fate in the hands of a woman,” he wrote. “Woe to the civilization that is subjected to womens’ influence” (Blueher in Igra:95).
Foreshadowing the Nazi regime, Blueher “saw male bonding as crucial to the formation of male elites,” writes homosexualist historian Warren Johansson. “The discipline, the comradeship, the willingness of the individual to sacrifice himself for the nation -- all these are determined by the homoerotic infrastructure of the male society” (Johansson:816). Mills adds that Blueher “believed that male homosexuality was the foundation upon which all forms of nation-states are built” (Mills:152). Blueher called his hypothetical political figures “heroic males,” meaning self-accepting masculine homosexuals. It is precisely this concept of the “heroic male” that prompts Steakley to compare Adolf Hitler’s views to those of Blueher and Friedlander.
But this is not the only instance in which the views of Blueher and Friedlander coincide. Like Friedlander, Blueher believed that homosexuals were the best teachers of children. “There are five sexual types of men, ranging from the exclusively heterosexual to the exclusively homosexual,” writes Blueher. “The exclusive heterosexual is the one least suited to teach young people...[but exclusive homosexuals] are the focal point of all youth organizations” (ibid.:154).
Blueher was also anti-Semitic. In writing about his visit with Magnus Hirschfeld and the SHC, Blueher denigrated Hirschfeld’s egalitarian views, complaining that “concepts like rank, race, physiognomy... things of importance to me -- were simply not applicable in this circle.” Igra adds that “[a]according to Blueher, Germany was defeated [in W.W.I] because the homosexualist way of life (die maennerbuendische Weltanschauung) had been considerably neglected and warlike virtues had degenerated under the advance of democratic ideas, the increasing prestige of family life...the growing influence of women “and, above all, the Jews” (emphasis ours -- Igra:97).
Importantly, Blueher’s hostility towards the Jews was not primarily based on a racial theory but on their rejection of homosexuality. Igra writes,
Soon after the defeat [of Germany in W.W.I] Blueher delivered a lecture to a group of Wandervoegel, which he himself had founded. The lecture was entitled “The German Reich, Jewry and Socialism.” He said: ‘There is no people whose destiny...so closely resembles ours as that of the Jews.’ The Jews were conquered by the Romans, lost their State and became only a race whose existence is maintained through the family. The primary cause of this collapse, he says, was that the Jews had failed to base their State on the homoerotic male community and had staked all on the family life, with its necessary concomitant of women’s encouragement of the civic and social and spiritual virtues in their menfolk rather than the warlike qualities (ibid.:97).
Though largely neglected by historians, Blueher was enormously important to Nazi culture. Igra writes that in the Third Reich “Blueher...[was] adopted by the Nazis as an apostle of social reform. And one of his disciples, Professor Alfred Bauemler...[became] Director of the Political Institute at the University of Berlin” (ibid.:75). Writing before the collapse of the Third Reich, he adds that “[Blueher’s teaching] has been systematically inculcated by the Nazi Press, especially Himmler's official organ, Das Schwarze Korps, and has been adopted in practice as the basis of German social organization. The Nazi élite are being brought up in segregated male communities called Ordensburgen. These are to replace the family as the groundwork on which the state is to rest” (Igra:87). The all-male societies of these Ordensburgen (Order Castles) were fashioned after the Wandervoegel.
Through his influence in the Wandervoegel and later as a fascist theoretician, Hans Blueher must be recognized as a major force in the reshaping of Germany. This (and the homosexuality of other Wandervoegel leaders) is acknowledged by homosexualist author Frank Rector:
Blueher's case further explains why many Nazi Gays were attracted to Hitler and his shrill anti-Semitism, for many gentile homosexuals were rabidly anti-Semitic...Gays in the youth movement who espoused anti-Semitism, chauvinism, and the Fuehrer Prinzip (Leader Principle) were not-so-incipient Fascists. They helped create a fertile ground for Hitler’s movement and, later, became one of its main sources of adherents....A substantial number of those Wandervoegel leaders were known homosexuals, and many others were allegedly gay (or bisexual) (Rector:40).
From Boy Scouts to Brownshirts
In the introduction to his book The Pink Triangle, homosexual author Richard Plant writes of his own experience in a Wandervoegel-type group called “Rovers.” “In such brotherhoods,” writes Plant, “a few adolescents had little affairs, misty and romantic sessions around a blazing fire...Other boys...talked openly about ‘going with friends’ and enjoying it. The leaders of these groups tended to disregard the relationships blossoming around them -- unless they participated” (Plant:3).
Blueher himself described the homosexual quality of the group as follows:
"The Wandervoegel movement inspired the youth all around during the first six years of its existence, without awaking the slightest suspicion...towards its own members...Only very seldom might one might notice one of the leaders raising questions of why he and his comrades didn’t want any girls....[later] the name Wandervoegel was mentioned in the same breath as the words “pederasty club” (Blueher:23f).
Richard Plant’s reminiscences also substantiate that the Wandervoegel groups served as a training ground for Nazis. He recalls his friend in the Rovers, “Ferdi, who explained and demonstrated the mysteries of sex to me and my friends.” Plant was later shocked, he says, upon returning to Germany from abroad “to see Ferdi wearing a brown shirt with a red, white and black swastika armband” (ibid.:4).
E.Y. Hartshorne, in German Youth and the Nazi Dream of Victory records the recollections of a former Wandervoegel member who confirms that the organization was the source of important elements of Nazi culture. Our knowledge of the influence of the Community of the Elite on the Wandervoegel may provide us insight into the cryptic comment at the end of the testimony:
"We little suspected then what power we had in our hands. We played with the fire that had set a world in flames, and it made our hearts hot. Mysticism and everything mystical had dominion over us. It was in our ranks that the word Fuehrer originated, with its meaning of blind obedience and devotion. The word Bund arose with us too, with its mysterious undertone of conspiracy. And I shall never forget how in those early days we pronounced the word Gemeinschaft [”community”] with a trembling throaty note of excitement, as though it hid a deep secret" (Hartshorne:12).
Indeed, not only did the grown-up former members of the Wandervoegel become one of Hitler’s main sources of supporters in his rise to power, but the movement itself became the core of a Nazi institution: the Hitler-Jugend (Hitler Youth). So rampant had homosexuality become in the movement by this time that The Rheinische Zeitung, a prominent German newspaper, warned, “Parents, protect your sons from ‘physical preparations’ in the Hitler Youth,” a sarcastic reference to problems of homosexuality in the organization (Burleigh and Wipperman:188). Sadly, the boys themselves had by this time been completely indoctrinated by their homosexual masters. Waite writes,
With the exception of Ehrhardt, Gerhard Rossbach, sadist, murderer, and homosexual was the most admired hero of nationalistic German youth. “In Ehrhardt, but also in Rossbach,” says a popular book on the youth movement, “we see the Fuehrer of our youth. These men have become the Ideal Man, idolized...and honored as can only happen when the personality of an individual counts for more than anything else"...the most important single contributor of the pre-Hitler youth movement [was] Gerhard Rossbach (Waite, 1969:210f).
Hans Peter Bleuel, in Sex and Society in Nazi Germany, points out that most of the adult supervisors of the Hitler Youth were also SA officers (who were almost exclusively homosexual). Rector states that Baldur von Schirach, leader of the Hitler Youth organization, was reportedly bisexual (Rector:56). In Germany’s National Vice, Jewish historian Samuel Igra confirms this, saying Schirach was arrested by the police for perverse sexual practices and liberated on the intervention of Hitler, who soon afterward made him leader of the Hitler Youth (Igra:72). Igra further states that Schirach was known as “the baby” among the inner pederast clique around Hitler (ibid.:74). Rempel reports that Schirach always surrounded himself with a guard of handsome young men (Rempel:88). Psychiatrist Walter Langer in his 1943 secret wartime report, The Mind of Adolf Hitler, also writes of Schirach’s reputed homosexuality (Langer:99).
In 1934, the Gestapo reported forty cases of pederasty in just one troop of the Hitler Youth. Bleuel writes of the case of one supervisor, a 20-year-old man who was dismissed from the Hitler Youth in 1938. Yet he was transferred to the National Socialist Flying Corps (Civil Air Patrol) “and was assigned to supervise work by members of the Hitler Youth Gliding Association and eventually detained to help with physical check-ups — a grievous temptation. The man was once again caught sodomizing young men, but was not dismissed from the NSFK” (the National Socialist Flying Corps) - Bleuel:119).
Conditions were essentially the same in 1941. Bleuel reports of another homosexual flying instructor involved in “at least ten cases of homosexuality with student pilots of the Hitler Youth” and “a student teacher and student ...[who] had committed twenty-eight proven acts of indecency with twenty boys at Hitler Youth and Young Folk camps” (ibid.:119). He adds that “[t]hese cases were only the tip of the iceberg, for few misdemeanors within the Party became public in later years and even fewer came to trial” (ibid.:119).
The prevalence of homosexuality in the Hitler Youth is also confirmed by historian Gerhard Rempel in his book Hitler’s Children: Hitler Youth and the SS:
"Homosexuality, meanwhile, continued on into the war years when Hitler Jugend boys frequently became victims of molestations at the hands of their SS tutors; Himmler consistently took a hard line against it publicly but was quite willing to mitigate his penalties privately and keep every incident as secret as possible" (Rempel:51f).
This last quote from Rempel raises two important points which will be addressed at greater length later in the book, but deserve at least some mention here. The first point is that Heinrich Himmler, who is often cited as being representative of the Nazi regime’s alleged hatred of homosexuals, was obviously not overly concerned about homosexual occurrences in the ranks of his own organization. The second point is that this homosexual activity continued long after Hitler had supposedly purged homosexuals from the Nazi regime (in 1934) and promoted strict policies against homosexuality (from 1935 on). As we shall see later, these policies were primarily for public relations and were largely unenforced.
An interesting sideline to the story of the Hitler Youth illustrates both the control of the youth movement by pederasts and the fundamental relationship between homosexuality and Nazism. In Great Britain, the pro-Nazis formed the Anglo-German Fellowship (AGF). The AGF was headed by British homosexuals Guy Francis de Moncy Burgess and Captain John Robert Macnamara. British Historian John Rempel relates how Burgess, Macnamara and J.H. Sharp, the Church of England’s Arch-deacon for Southern Europe, took a trip to Germany to attend a Hitler Youth camp. Costello writes,
"In the spring of 1936, the trio set off for the Rhineland, accompanied by Macnamara’s friend Tom Wylie, a young official in the War Office. Ostensibly they were escorting a group of pro-fascist schoolboys to a Hitler Youth camp. But from Burgess’ uproariously bawdy account of how his companions discovered that the Hitler Jugend satisfied their sexual and political passions, the trip would have shocked their sponsors -- the Foreign Relations Council of the Church of England" (Costello: 300).
In pre-World War II France, the pro-Nazi faction was represented by the Radical-Socialist Party (RSP) and the Popular Party (PP). The Secretary-General of the RSP was Edouard Pfeiffer. Costello writes of Guy Burgess' visit to Pfeiffer in Paris shortly before the war:
"As a connoisseur of homosexual decadence, Pfeiffer had few equals, even in Paris. As an officer of the French Boy-Scout movement, his private life was devoted to the seduction of youth. Burgess discovered all this when he visited Pfeiffer's apartment in Paris and found...[him] with a naked young man...he explained to Burgess that the young man was a professional cyclist, who just happened to be a member of Jacques Doriot’s Popular Party" (ibid.:315).
Once again we see flagrant sexual perversion in the heart of the Nazi movement -- long after the Roehm Purge. It appears also that the correlation between Nazism and homosexuality disregarded national boundaries. As we have seen, both Hans Blueher and Benedict Friedlander observed that youth organizations are often (in their view, appropriately) led by pederasts. Events in Europe during the first part of the twentieth century, particularly those involving the National Socialists, strongly support this theory.
The revival of Hellenic culture in the German homosexual movement, then, was an integral factor in the rise of Nazism. Right under the nose of traditional German society, the pederasts laid the groundwork for the ultra masculine military society of the Third Reich. The Wandervoegel was certainly not a “homosexual organization” per se, but its homosexual leaders molded the youth movement into an expression of their own Hellenic ideology and, in the process, recruited countless young men into the homosexual lifestyle. The first members of the Wandervoegel grew to manhood just in time to provide the Nazi movement with its support base in the German culture. As Steakley put it, “[the] Free German Youth jubilantly marched off to war, singing the old Wandervoegel songs to which new, chauvinistic verses were added” (Steakley:58).
Gerhard Rossbach and the Freikorps Movement
The Freikorps movement began during the years immediately following the close of World War I. After the war and the subsequent socialist revolution in Germany in 1918, tens of thousands of former soldiers of the German army volunteered for quasi-military service in a number of independent reserve units called Freikorps (Free Corps), under the command of former junior officers of the German army. These units were highly nationalistic and became increasingly violent as the social chaos of the Weimar Republic worsened. Rossbach’s organization, originally called the Rossbachbund (“Rossbach Brotherhood”) exemplified the German Freikorps. As Waite records in Vanguard of Nazism, “the lieutenants and the captains — Roehm...Ehrhardt, Rossbach, Schultz and the rest — formed the backbone of the Free Corps movement. And...it was they who were the link between the Volunteers [anti-communists] and National Socialism” (Waite, 1969:45). Once again we see the essential relationship between homosexuality and Nazism, since many of these “lieutenants and captains” were known or probable homosexuals, some of whom eventually served in the SA. German historian and Hitler contemporary Konrad Heiden writes that “[m]any sections of this secret army of mercenaries and murderers were breeding places of perversion” (Heiden:30). Historian G. S. Graber agrees:
"Many...[Freikorps] leaders were homosexual; indeed homosexuality appears to have been widespread in several volunteer units. Gerhard Rossbach...was an open homosexual. On his staff was Lieutenant Edmund Heines who was later to become the lover of Ernst Roehm" (Graber:33).
Waite’s analysis shows that the Freikorps movement was one intervening phase between the Wandervoegel movement and the Nazi Stuermabteilung — the SA. “The generation to which the Freikorpskaempfer [‘Free Corps warriors’] belonged,” writes Waite, “the generation born in the 1890s — participated in two experiences which were to have tremendous effect on his subsequent career as a Volunteer [in the Freikorps]. The first of these was the pre-war Youth Movement; the second, World War I” (Waite, 1969:17). The young men who had been molded by the Hellenic philosophies of the youth movement had come of age just in time to fight in the first World War. There, they were further shaped and seasoned by the hardships and horrors of trench warfare.
It was in the trenches of World War I that the concept of Stuermabteilung (Storm Troops) was developed — elite, hard-hitting units whose task it was to “storm” the enemy lines. The tactics of the Storm Troopers proved to be so effective that they were quickly adopted throughout the German army. The Storm Troop system created a tremendous increase in the number of young commanders of a certain breed. Waite writes,
"Only a very special type of officer could be used. He must be unmarried, under twenty-five years of age, in excellent physical health...and above all he must possess in abundance that quality which German military writers call ruthlessness. The result was that at the time of the Armistice Germany was flooded with hundreds of capable, arrogant young commanders who found an excellent outlet for their talents in the Free Corps movement" (ibid.:27).
It is not difficult to recognize that the description of the preferred Storm Trooper is a model of the Wandervoegel hero: ultra masculine, militaristic, physically conditioned, largely unrestrained by Judeo-Christian morality, and guided by the “Fuehrer Principle” (ibid.:28). It is no wonder, then, that many of these men became youth leaders in their turn (ibid.:210). In the preceding chapter, we learned that homosexual sadist and murderer Gerhard Rossbach was “the most important single contributor to the pre-Hitler youth movement” and a “hero to nationalistic German youth.” In the days before Baldur von Schirach developed the Hitler Youth, Rossbach organized Germany’s largest youth organization, named the Schilljugend (“Schill Youth”) in honor of a famous Prussian soldier executed by Napoleon (ibid:210n).
But Rossbach’s contribution to the Nazis was far greater than the mere shaping of young men into Nazi loyalists. It was Rossbach who formed the original terrorist organization which eventually became the Nazi Storm Troopers, also known as “Brown Shirts.” Both the Rossbach Storm Troopers and the Schilljugend were notorious for wearing brown shirts which had been prepared for German colonial troops, acquired from the old Imperial army stores (Koehl:19). It is reasonable to suppose that without Rossbach’s Storm Troopers, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis would never have gained power in Germany. Heiden describes them:
"Rossbach’s troop, roaring, brawling, carousing, smashing windows, shedding blood...was especially proud to be different from the others. Heines had belonged to it before joining Hitler; then Rossbach and Heines had formed a center with Roehm; it led the SA while Hitler was under arrest [for leading the Beer Hall Putsch]" (Heiden, 1944:295).
Rossbach’s Freikorps was formed almost exclusively of homosexuals. As fascist novelist, Edwin Dwinger, would later declare through one of his characters, Captain Werner, “Freikorps men aren’t almost all bachelors for nothing. Believe me, if there weren’t so many of their kind, our ranks would be pretty damn thin” (Theweleit, Vol 1:33). Rossbach’s adjutant, Edmund Heines, was another pederast and a convicted murderer who later became Ernst Roehm’s adjutant in the SA (he was also the sexual partner of Rossbach, Roehm and possibly Hitler as well). During the incident known as “The Night of the Long Knives” in which Hitler killed Roehm and a number of other SA leaders, Heines was surprised in bed with a young SA recruit (Gallo:236). Historian Frank Rector describes Heines:
"Distinguished by a girlish face on the body of a truck driver, Heines was an elegant, suave, and impeccably groomed killer. He liked to shoot his victims in the face with his 7.65 Walther automatic or beat them to death with a club...In addition to Heines’ value as a first rate adjutant, gifted administrative executive, and aggressive and adroit SA leader, Heines had a marked talent as a procurer [of boys]...garnering the fairest lads in the Fatherland for...sexual amusement" (Rector:89).
Perhaps because of Edmund Heines’ special talent, Rossbach assigned him to develop the Schilljugend. Igra tells how he profited thereby:
"Edmund Heines, the group-leader of the storm troops at Breslau, was a repulsive brute who turned the Nazi headquarters of the city into a homosexual brothel. Having 300,000 storm troopers under his command he was in a position to terrorize the neighborhood...One of his favorite ruses was to have members of the youth organization indulge in unnatural practices with one another and then threaten their parents that he would denounce these youths to the police...unless he received...hush money. Thus Heines not only indulged in homosexual orgies himself — he was often Roehm’s consort in this — but he promoted the vice as a lucrative business" (Igra:73).
Ernst Roehm and the Development of the SA
Next to Adolf Hitler, Ernst Roehm was the man in Germany most responsible for the rise of Nazism, indeed of Hitler himself. Rector writes that “Hitler was, to a substantial extent, Roehm’s protégé” (Rector:80). A driving force behind the National Socialist movement, Roehm was one of the early founders of the Nazi Party. Both Roehm and Hitler had been members of the socialist terrorist group called the Iron Fist (Heiden, 1944:89).
It was at a meeting of the Iron Fist that Roehm reportedly met him and “saw in Hitler the demagogue he required to mobilize mass support for his secret army” (Hohne:20). With Roehm’s backing, Hitler became the first president of the Nazi Party in 1921 (ibid.:21). Shortly thereafter, Rossbach’s Freikorps, integrated into the Party first under Herman Goering’s and then Roehm’s authority, was transformed into the dreaded Nazi SA.
In his classic Nazi history, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, author William Shirer describes Ernst Roehm as “a stocky, bull-necked, piggish-eyed, scar-faced professional soldier...[and] like so many of the early Nazis, a homosexual” (Shirer:64). Roehm was recruited into homosexuality by Gerhard Rossbach (Flood:196). Rector elaborates,
"Was not the most outstanding, most notorious, of all homosexuals the celebrated Nazi leader Ernst Roehm, the virile and manly chief of the SA, the du buddy of Adolf Hitler from the beginning of his political career? [Hitler allowed Roehm the rare privilege of addressing him with the familiar form “thou,” indicating intimate friendship]. Hitler’s rise had in fact depended upon Roehm and everyone knew it. Roehm’s gay fun and games were certainly no secret; his amorous forays to gay bars and gay Turkish baths were riotous. Whatever anti-homosexual sentiments may have been expressed by straight Nazis were more than offset by the reality of highly visible, spectacular, gay-loving Roehm. If there were occasional ominous rumblings and grumblings about “all those queers” in the SA and Movement, and some anti-gay flare-ups, homosexual Nazis felt more-or-less secure in the lap of the Party. After all, the National Socialist Party member who wielded the greatest power aside from Hitler was Roehm" (Rector:50f).
Consistent with the elitist philosophies of Benedict Friedlander, Adolf Brand, and Hans Blueher, Roehm viewed homosexuality as the basis for a new society. Louis Snyder, prominent historian of the Nazi era, writes,
"[Roehm] projected a social order in which homosexuality would be regarded as a human behavior pattern of high repute...he flaunted his homosexuality in public and insisted that his cronies do the same. What was needed, Roehm believed, was a proud and arrogant lot who could brawl, carouse, smash windows, kill and slaughter for the hell of it. Straights, in his eyes, were not as adept in such behavior as practicing homosexuals" (Snyder:55).
Under Roehm, the SA became the instrument of Nazi terrorism in German society. It was officially founded on August 3, 1921, ostensibly as a “Special section for gymnastics and sport,” but in his first directive to the group, Hitler defined the SA’s purpose as “a means of defense for the movement, but above all a training school for the coming struggle for liberty” (Heiden, 1935:82f).
Historian Thomas Fuchs reports that “The principle function of this army-like organization was beating up anyone who opposed the Nazis, and Hitler believed this was a job best undertaken by homosexuals” (Fuchs:48f). At first serving simply to protect the Nazis’ own meetings from disruptions by rivals and troublemakers, the SA soon expanded its strong-arm tactics to advance Nazi policies and philosophies. In a 1921 speech in Munich, Hitler set the stage for this activity: “[the] National Socialist movement will in future ruthlessly prevent if necessary by force all meetings or lectures that are likely to distract the minds of our fellow citizens...”In Mein Kampf, Hitler describes an incident (when his men were attacked by Communists adversaries) which he considered the baptismal act of the SA:
"When I entered the lobby of the Hofbrauhaus at quarter to eight, I no longer had any doubts as to the question of sabotage...The hall was very crowded...The small assault section was waiting for me in the lobby...I had the doors to the hall shut, and ordered my men — some forty-five or -six — to stand at attention...my men from the Assault Section — from that day known as the SA — launched their attack. Like wolves in packs of eight or ten, they threw themselves on their adversaries again and again, overwhelming them with blows...In five minutes everyone was covered with blood. These were real men, whom I learned to appreciate on that occasion. They were led by my courageous Maurice. Hess, my private secretary, and many others who were badly hurt pressed the attack as long as they were able to stay on their feet" (Hitler:504f).
In all actions the SA bore Roehm’s trademark of unabashed sadism. Max Gallo describes the organization:
"Whatever the SA engage in — whether they are torturing a prisoner, cutting the throat of an adversary or pillaging an apartment — they behave as if they are within their rights, as artisans of the Nazi victory...They are the SA, beyond criticism. As Roehm himself said many times: “The battalions of Brown Shirts were the training school of National Socialism" (Gallo:38).
The favorite meeting place of the SA was a “gay” bar in Munich called the Bratwurstgloeckl where Roehm kept a reserved table (Hohne:82). This was the same tavern where some of the early meetings of the Nazi Party had been held (Rector:69). At the Bratwurstgloeckl, Roehm and associates — Edmund Heines, Karl Ernst, Ernst’s partner Captain [Paul] Rohrbein, Captain Petersdorf, Count Ernst Helldorf — would meet to plan and strategize. These were the men who orchestrated the Nazi campaign of intimidation and terror. All of them were homosexual (Heiden, 1944:371).
Indeed, homosexuality was all that qualified many of these men for their positions in the SA. Heinrich Himmler would later complain of this: “Does it not constitute a danger to the Nazi movement if it can be said that Nazi leaders are chosen for sexual reasons?” (Gallo:68). Himmler was not so much opposed to homosexuality itself as to the fact that non-qualified people were given high rank based on their homosexual relations with Roehm and others. For example, SA Obergruppenfuehrer (Lieutenant General) Karl Ernst, a militant homosexual, had been a hotel doorman and a waiter before joining the SA. “Karl Ernst is not yet thirty-five, writes Gallo, he commands 250,000 men...he is simply a sadist, a common thug, transformed into a responsible official” (ibid.:50f). Later, Ernst became a member of the German Parliament (Machtan:185). Gallo writes,
"Roehm, as the head of 2,500,000 Storm Troops had surrounded himself with a staff of perverts. His chiefs, men of rank of Gruppenfuehrer or Obergruppenfuehrer, commanding units of several hundred thousand Storm Troopers, were almost without exception homosexuals. Indeed, unless a Storm Troop officer were homosexual he had no chance of advancement” (Knickerbocker:55).
Otto Friedrich’s analysis in Before the Deluge is similar:
"Under Rohm, the SA leadership acquired a rather special quality, however, for the crude and blustering Oberster SA Fuehrer was also a fervent homosexual, and he liked to surround himself, in all the positions of command, with men of similar persuasions" (Friedrich:327).
In the SA, the Hellenic ideal of masculine homosexual supremacy and militarism had finally been realized. “Theirs was a very masculine brand of homosexuality,” writes homosexualist historian Alfred Rowse, “they lived in a male world, without women, a world of camps and marching, rallies and sports. They had their own relaxations, and the Munich SA became notorious on account of them” (Rowse:214). The similarity of the SA to Friedlander’s and Brand’s dream of Hellenic revival is not coincidental. In addition to being a founder of the Nazi Party, Ernst Roehm was a leading member of the Society for Human Rights, an offshoot of the Community of the Elite (J. Katz:632).
The relaxations to which Rowse refers in the above quote were, of course, the homosexual activities (many of them pederastic) for which the SA and the CE were both famous. Hohne writes,
"[Roehm] used the SA for ends other than the purely political. SA contact men kept their Chief of Staff supplied with suitable partners, and at the first sign of infidelity on the part of a Roehm favorite, he would be bludgeoned down by one of the SA mobile squads. The head pimp was a shop assistant named Peter Granninger, who had been one of Roehm’s partners...and was now given cover in the SA Intelligence Section. For a monthly salary of 200 marks he kept Roehm supplied with new friends, his main hunting ground being Geisela High School Munich; from this school he recruited no fewer than eleven boys, whom he first tried out and then took to Roehm" (Hohne:82).
Although the original SA chapter in Munich was the most notorious, other SA chapters were also centers of homosexual activity. In Political Violence and the Rise of Nazism, Richard Bessel notes that the Silesian division of the SA was a hotbed of perversion from 1931 onward (Bessel:61).
Roehm and his closest SA associates were among the minority of Nazi homosexuals who did not take wives. Whether for convention, for procreation, or simply for covering up their sexual proclivities, most of the Nazi homosexuals had married. Some, like Reinhard Heydrich and Baldur von Schirach, married only after being involved in homosexual scandals, but often these men, who so hated femininity, maintained a facade of heterosexual respectability throughout their lives. As Machtan notes, “That Hitler...encouraged many of them to marry should not be surprising: every conspiracy requires camouflage” (Machtan:24). These were empty marriages, however, epitomized by one wife’s comment: “The only part of my husband I’m familiar with is his back” (Theweleit:3).
As we have seen, then, the SA was in many respects a creation of Germany’s homosexual movement, just as the Nazi Party was in many ways a creation of the SA. Before we take a closer look at the formation and early years of the Nazi Party, we must examine two other very important movements which contributed to Nazism. These are the occult Theosophical-Ariosophical movement, and the intellectual movement which created the National Socialist philosophy. Both of these movements, which are integral to our understanding of the Nazi Party and its actions, were also heavily influenced by homosexuals.
The Daily Show Uncovers The Nazis’ Secret Gay Past
by Frances Martel | 7:08 pm, July 29th, 2010
More than half a century later, the journalists of The Daily Show have uncovered the real reason for the inhuman cruelty of the Third Reich: every last one of those Nazis was gay. Or at least that’s what Scott Lively, the president of the organization Defend the Family, contends. In search of the truth, Jason Jones went deep into the heart of New York’s gay community to find evidence for Lively’s argument.
Lively argues, with full certainty, that all the soldiers in the Nazi army, and especially Adolf Hitler and the people in his inner circle, were gay. The reason for the high concentration of homosexuality in the Naxi party, according to Lively? “Adolf Hitler,” he explained, “used homosexual soldiers because they were more savage than natural men… They didn’t have the restraint that a normal man has, and so it was easier for them to do some of the terrible things the Nazis did.” And not only were the Nazis gay, “they met in a gay bar.” As for that whole “persecution of the Nazis” thing, Lively contends that the Nazis persecuted gays to”distract public attention away from their own homosexuality.”
To experience the savagery of gay soldiers first-hand, Jones put on a riot-proof suit and trekked on to the New York Gay Community Center, where he sat down with a number of real-life gays, including LGBT rights activist Lt. Dan Choi, and discussed their secret Nazi past. Needless to say, it was scarier than anything Jones could have imagined.
The Gay Man Who Defeated Nazi Germany
By Charles McCain
[Editor’s note from GayPolitics.com: In light of the ongoing debate over whether
openly gay people should be able to serve in the U.S. armed forces, it’s worth
remembering that gay people already serve with distinction, and that some of those
discharged for being gay may have taken with them extraordinary skills or talents
necessary for success in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Author Charles McCain,
a World War II expert guest posting here, contributes the following commentary
about one such hero, whose incalculable contribution to the Allied effort to defeat
Hitler’s Germany is not widely known.]
In 1952, the man who discovered the Ultra Secret was convicted of “charges of committing acts of gross indecency with another man.” The defendant was a rumpled Cambridge mathematics professor who had done something important in the war. Still did a bit of secret work for the government. He looked a regular sort of chap but he wasn’t – he was a poof, a Nancy boy, a queer.The judge gave him two choices: prison or chemical castration through the injection of female hormones. This to one of the handful of men responsible for Allied victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two – a man whose ideas changed our world. He chose the humiliation of being injected with estrogen – the doses so high he developed breasts.
Upon conviction, his security clearance was revoked by the British Government and he was dismissed. Men, straight men
– the ones who ran the intelligence establishment – were happy to see him go, no doubt. Don’t need that sort around. Did something very hush-hush during the war. Not sure what exactly. Good riddance to bad trash. But they couldn’t let this man just wander off. He knew too much – about what, no one actually knew. What this man had done in the war was so beyond ‘top secret’ the British government had created a fourth level of secrecy. Prime Minister Winston Churchill is thought to have said, “this is so secret it must ever be the Ultra Secret.” And Ultra it became, the very highest level of security in Great Britain. Only a very few men in the world knew the entire scope of this mind boggling secret. Alan Turing was one of those men.
Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of all Allied Forces in Europe, considered the Ultra Secret, “decisive” to our victory over Nazi Germany. Yet only a few of his subordinates ever saw intelligence from Ultra and while they knew it was absolutely reliable they had no idea where it came from. It was so secret, so critical to victory, we still don’t know the lengths to which the Allies went to protect it.
Did we assassinate men and women in German occupied Europe who may have known one small detail of the Ultra Secret? Most certainly. Mount hundreds of military operations to protect the secret by deceiving the Germans as to the origin of our intelligence? Yes. Lie, violate the ‘rules of war’, deceive our own commanders, break into diplomatic mail, kill anyone who might tell the Germans we knew the secret? Yes. Do we know the details? No, they have never been released to this day. The only thing we know for certain is this: the Allies would have done anything, gone to any length, to protect the Ultra Secret uncovered by Alan Turing.
After Turing had his security clearance revoked, MI5, the British Internal Security agency, as ignorant as they were small minded, watched him constantly because he knew the Ultra Secret – although they didn’t use that term since the designation of Ultra was itself Ultra Secret. They trailed him, harassed him, treated him with the worst kind of contempt – because he was a fruit, a homo, a faggot. Treated him so badly, in fact, that in March of 2009, just over one year ago, then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official apology on behalf of the British Government for the way Alan Turing had been treated simply because he was gay.
Unfortunately, Her Majesty’s Government was fifty-five years too late. On 7 June 1954, police reported that a Cambridge mathematics professor named Alan Turing had committed suicide by biting into an apple laced with cyanide. Was he so depressed he committed suicide? His mother and his brother said no nor did they ever accept the explanation given by the police. So the speculation continues: did he kill himself or was he killed? If so, who killed himIn 1974 the British government authorized the publication of a book simply titled The Ultra Secret. What the book revealed was so shocking, so incredible, so unimaginable it changed everything we knew about the Second World War. And what it revealed was this: during World War Two the British, and later the Americans, read almost 90% of all top secret German radio traffic – and the Germans used radio as their primary method of communicationBecause of gay activists in London we also learned something else: the key player in the Ultra Secret was a gay man named Alan TuringAnd this is how it helped us: “During the great campaigns on land or in desperate phases of the war at sea, exact and utterly reliable information could thus be conveyed, regularly and often instantly, mint-fresh, to the Allied commanders.” wrote historian Ronald Lewin in Ultra Goes To War.
Often we decrypted Ultra messages as fast as the Germans did. And what did we learn? Almost everything: battle plans, dates of attack, the position of every ship, plane, U-Boat, soldier – we knew almost all. And we knew it all because of a homosexual named Alan Turing.
To prevent anyone from understanding the secret information they were broadcasting, the German armed forces used a coding machine so complex the British called it the Enigma. It was unbreakable. Completely and totally secure. Only it wasn’t. Why? Because in one of his many flashes of genius, mathematician Alan Turing, who was working for the British military, figured out how to crack messages coded by the Enigma. There was a small hitch. In order to perform the actions required to crack the Enigma, Turing had to invent a machine of some sort – a machine which had never existed before.
The Oxford Companion to World War Two gives this bland explanation: “Turing, Alan (1912-1954). British mathematician whose theories and work … resulted in the modern computer.” Today, the ‘Nobel Prize’ of the computing world is the Turing Award—so named to honor Alan Turing as the father of the computer age. He changed the world. Yet few gay men or gay women know of him.
Turing worked for the British military and naturally had clearance for Ultra since he created it. Yet even with Turing on our side, even knowing all we did, it still required the combined might of the three strongest nations in the world – Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union – to defeat Nazi Germany. What if we hadn’t known as much as we did? What if Alan Turing hadn’t cracked the Enigma, invented the computer, and given us the Ultra Secret? What if the British military had not hired Turing because of his homosexuality? The alternative is unthinkable. Somehow gay people are left out when the ‘Greatest Generation’ is honored. Let us therefore insist, beginning from this very moment, that whenever the ‘Greatest Generation’ is remembered, we remember Alan Turing, the greatest of them all.
"EXTERMINATION THROUGH WORK"
The major concentration camps within the German Reich became significant economic enterprises during the war as their purposes shifted from correction of behavior to exploitation of labor. After establishing the German Earth and Stone Works in 1938, the SS erected several new concentration camps near quarries, while brickworks and other factories were attached to existing German camps. Technologically primitive, these operations relied heavily on the manual labor of large numbers of camp inmates working in inhuman conditions.
Homosexuals in these camps were almost always assigned to the worst and often most dangerous work. Usually attached to "punishment companies," they generally worked longer hours with fewer breaks, and often on reduced rations. The quarries and brickyards claimed many lives, not only from exertion but also at the hands of SS guards who deliberately caused "accidents."
After 1942, the SS, in agreement with the Ministry of Justice, embarked on an explicit program of "extermination through work" to destroy Germany's imprisoned "habitual criminals." Some 15,000 prisoners, including homosexuals, were sent from prisons to camps, where nearly all perished within months.
Dr. Carl Peter Værnet
Matt & Andrej Koymasky, 1997 - 2004 The Gay Holocaust - Nazi Criminals
6.2.2 - Dr. Carl Peter Værnet (1893 - 1965)
As was true with other prisoner categories, some homosexuals were also victims of cruel medical experiments, including castration. At Buchenwald concentration camp, SS physician Dr. Carl Værnet performed operations designed to convert men to heterosexuals: the surgical insertion of a capsule which released the male hormone testosterone. Such procedures reflected the desire by Himmler and others to find a medical solution to homosexuality.
Carl Værnet was born in the village of Astrup (by Aarhus) on the 28th of April 1893 and grew up in a fairly well-off farmer family in Jutland, Denmark. He was educated as a physician at the University of Copenhagen where he obtained his degree of medicine in 1923.
Værnet established himself as a general practitioner near Copenhagen in 1927 and quickly built up a successful practice. He was especially engaged in developing hormone therapies for various diseases, and he also researched shortwave and microshortwave therapy.
According to Værnet's own post-war accounts, he took various postgraduate courses with prominent professors in Germany, Holland and France, and achieved a reputation as a society doctor and became prosperous.
In those years hormone therapy was regarded as a possible cure for a much wider range of diseases than today, and great hopes were also directed towards shortwave therapy. Carl Værnet claimed that he could cure cancer with his methods, and around 1940 he claimed that he had developed a hormone therapy which could convert the sexual orientation of homosexual persons.
The method was to insert an artificial gland containing the male hormone testosterone into the groin of the patient. The functional novelty of the "gland" was that it could release constant doses of hormone into the patient thereby enabling a therapy over a long period.
Værnet was a member of the Danish National Socialist (Nazi) Party from the late 1930's. In April 1940 Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany, and during the following years fewer and fewer patients visited his clinic because his positive attitude towards the Germans was well known. As a result of declining patients and the general business downturn during the war, by 1943 Carl Værnet realised that he could not get enough money in Denmark to carry on his hormone research.
In December 1943 Værnet was named SS-turmbannführer (Major), and he was placed under an SS medical company in Prague, Deutsche Heilmittel GmbH. On the 26th of February 1944 Værnet and his family moved on to Prague where they were installed in a big flat originally belonging to a deported Jewish family.
Værnet visited Buchenwald at least six times between June and December 1944 from his base in Prague. His closest partners were the SS garrison doctor in Buchenwald Gerhard Schiedlausky, who after the war was hanged for participation in medical experiments (the Ravensbrück Process in Hamburg 1946-47), and Erwin Ding, who was in charge of typhoid experiments in Buchenwald which cost at least 150 inmates their lives.
In a letter from Vaernet in Prague to his SS-employers at Deutsche Heilmittel, the 31st of August 1944 he reports that his operations are resceduled to 2-3 weeks later due to an airraid. The first run of operations took place the 13th of Semptember 1944, the second on the 8th of December 1944. Studenternes efterretningstjeneste claimed that a total of 30-40 kz-inmates were operated on.
Carl Værnet operated on a total of 17 male KZ-inmates who were forced to undergo an operation with the artificial gland. Værnet used various types of persons for his experiments - homosexuals, non-homosexuals, criminals, non-criminals.
He performed gruesome medical experiments on gay concentration camp prisoners in Buchenwald and Neuengamme, in a bid to "cure" their homosexuality. Værnet's research was on the authority of Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler, who had called for the "extermination of abnormal existence". There is a document showing that Carl Værnet castrated KZ homosexual inmates.
A SS-letter to Carl Værnet, the 3rd of January 1945 mentions 13 operated inmates and the names of the 7 operated (out of a group of 10) on the 8th of December 1944: Reinhold, Schmith, Ledetzky, Boeck, Henze (who died), Köster and Parth. Before that, the 13.9.1944 3 patients out of 5 were operated on. 2 were catrated, 1 was sterilized at the Buchenwald camp. 2 of the patients died immediately , (1 of these as a direct result of the operation, a big phlegmose/tissue-inflamation, the other (Henze) from infectious bowels catarr and severe emaciation the 21st of December 1944.) leaving 11 to die shortly thereafter.
Once, Værnet's experiment was disrupted by an air-raid alarm, but the 30th of October 1944 Carl Værnet informed SS Reichs Doctor, Obergruppenfüehrer Grawitz*:
"The operations in Weimar-Buchenwald were performed the 13th September 1944 on five homosexual camp inmates. Of them 2 were castrated, 1 sterilized and 2 not operated. All 5 had the "artificial male sexual gland" implanted in different sizes..."
A week before Carl Vaernet wrote of the trialperson no. 1, inmate no. 21.686 Bernhard Steinhoff, a 55 year old gay man, after the castration:
"The operation wound has healed, and there is no rejection of the implantated sexual gland. The person feels better and had dreams of ladies..."
Carl Værnet addressed a final report to Heinrich Himmler on the 10th of February 1945 where he described his hormone projects and his alleged results without even mentioning his experiments in Buchenwald. This omission suggests that his research in Prague and Buchenwald was probably deemed - even by him - a failure; or at least not sufficiently credible to merit a mention.
We do not precisely know how many underwent an operation; 13, 15 or more has been mentioned, but the letters makes certain that an Endlösung of the homosexual problem had as high a priotity as the Jew question only did the program start in the last months of the third reich where everything disintegrated. As time went by the reports of successes dried up and Værnet was not accesible of his employers.
In February and March 1945 Carl Værnet returned to Denmark. When Denmark was liberated on the 5th of May 1945, Carl Værnet was arrested and detained at Alsgade Skole camp in Copenhagen. Various Danish police officers who had been inmates in Buchenwald could confirm that Værnet had visited the camp wearing an SS uniform, so there was no way for him to deny that.
The leader of the British Military Mission at Alsgades Skole in September 1945, Major Hemingway, stated that Værnet "undoubtedly will be sentenced as a war criminal". But dring his detention Carl Værnet succeeded in awakening the interest of the British and Danish authorities in his hormone treatment ideas. He was allowed to keep contact with the outside world from his cell for the purpose of promoting his hormone therapies. Værnet seems to have gained promising contacts with the British-American pharmaceutical company "Parke, Davis & Comp. Ltd., London & Detroit" and maybe also with the American chemical giant Du Pont.
In November 1945 Værnet was hospitalised in Copenhagen, and the authorities at Alsgades Skole agreed to release him. But the charges against Carl Værnet were not dropped. He allegedly suffered from a critical heart condition, and in February 1946 he was discharged from hospital and allowed to go to his brother's farm in the countryside as a convalescent. The consultant doctor of the hospital, Tage Bjering, had declared that Carl Værnet suffered from a critical, chronic heart condition for which there was no cure at the time. Bjering estimated that Værnet could probably only live one or two more years "and maybe not even that long".
From research material, however, it is clear that Carl Værnet's electro-cardiogramme was normal, and that he received no treatment during his three months in hospital; he merely stayed there. During his stay he typed long letters to his business partners about his hormone therapies, and promoted his ideas to various corporations abroad.
Danish and British authorities were implicated in aiding Værnet's escape to Argentina avoiding justice after the end of World War Two; successive Danish governments covered up his crimes against humanity for over 50 years. Værnet settled in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires. From around 1950 Carl Værnet had his own clinic as a general practitioner in Buenos Aires.
After a few years in the health ministry in Buenos Aires he opened a private pratice at Calle Uriarte 2251, but his clinic was not as successful as in Copenhagen. He never really learned the language or to know the people. He changed name again to the spanish Carlos Peter Varnet and lived in constant terror of being found out.
In 1959 and again in 1965 Carl Værnet tried to sound out through his son Kjeld Værnet whether the Danish authorities would refrain from pressing charges against him if he went back to Denmark. On both occasions the answer was that the authorities could give no such guarantee. Therefore Værnet stayed in Argentina till he died in November 1965, living openly there with the full knowledge of the Danish and Allied authorities.
A letter by Peter Tatchell of "OutRage!" to the Danish government on the 16th of March 1998 triggered the reopening of the Værnet case in the Danish media. This case had previously been only sporadically mentioned in Danish newspapers - in the late 1940's and the 1980's.
Refusing to launch an inquiry into Tatchell's allegation that Værnet had committed crimes against humanity and that his escape from justice had been aided by prominent Danish citizens, the government of Denmark advised Tatchell to do the criminal investigation himself. It referred him to the Danish National Archives. When Tatchell approached the National Archives, he was told that the files on Værnet were not open to the public and that they could not be examined for 80 years from 1945.
The Danish government did not answer OutRage! for over a year - until June 1999. The Danish Prime Minister passed the buck to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Justice passed the buck to Tatchell and the National Archives of Denmark.
Unofficially, however, the government's reaction was to eventually give Danish journalists and historians access to the hitherto closed files. The most important details of Værnet's story were subsequently finally revealed in Danish newspaper stories in the summer and autumn of 1999.
Carl Værnet was a prisoner in the Alsgades Skole (school) POW detention centre in Copenhagen from June to November 1945. Here Danish war criminals and other people who were suspected of cooperation with the Germans were detained.
The detention centre was run jointly by the British Military Mission in Denmark and by the Danish intelligence service under the jurisdiction of the Danish police. The leading officer at Alsgade Skole was a British Major, Ronald F. Hemingway, who gave his permission for the transfer of Carl Værnet to a hospital in Copenhagen in November 1945. Værnet claimed he was suffering from a serious heart condition.
During his detention, Carl Værnet - unlike the other prisoners - was allowed to communicate with the outside world, including with business people who were working to market his hormone therapies world wide. These included therapies to "cure" homosexuality (!). The evidence clearly indicates that Værnet succeeded in convincing the British military authorities, as well as Danish police officers, that his hormone therapies were morally justifiable and could be an international success. He therefore received special, privileged treatment in the POW camp.
SS Doctor Carl Peter Vaernet's Medical Experiments on Male Homosexuals at Buchenwald (1944)
Excerpt from the "Main Report" by Eugen Kogon, an Austrian who had been interned in Buchenwald as an anti-fascist political prisoner and who had worked as first medical secretary in the Block 50 medical ward at the camp.
The report was written in 1944 under the auspices of the Psychological Warfare Division of the U.S. Army, immediately after the liberation of Buchenwald. It remained unpublished until 1995.
"In fall 1944, the Danish SS major Dr. Vaernet, who had his headquarters in Prague, arrived in Buchenwald. He started a series of experiments to cure homosexuality, with the approval of Himmler and Reich medical chief of the SS Brigadier General Dr. [Ernst-Robert] Grawitz, and SS Brigadier General [Helmut] Poppendick, Berlin (via Experimental Department V, Leipzig, of the Reichsführer SS).
Implanting a synthetically produced hormone in the right side of the groin was supposed to effect a change in the sex drive. The SS doctors made terrible jokes about it; the prisoners spoke of "flintstones" that were supposed to help those implanted with them along the proper path. Vaernet also experimented with castration. It was tried on a total of about fifteen men, of whom two died. Doubtless that was a result of the operation, since one of them developed a major infection and the other died a few weeks later as a result of general weakness.
Otherwise the human guinea pigs of this special series of experiments were not treated badly. But no positive findings were ever obtained."
David A. Hackett (ed.). The Buchenwald Report, Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1995, page 79.
Dr. Værnet's role in the medical abuse of gay prisoners is documented in the archives at the International Tracing Service at Arolsen (example: ITS Arolsen, book 36, folder 405). It is also cited in the books The Pink Triangle by Richard Plant (Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh 1987) andHidden Holocaust? by Dr. Gunter Grau (Cassell, London 1995). Historical records show that Værnet castrated and implanted hormones in homosexuals in attempts to alter their sexual orientation at the Buchenwald and Neuengamme camps.
"At Buchenwald there was a doctor who tried to change them by instituting a particular gland. The operations were crude. Many died as a result of botched surgery. Others were beaten to death, drowned headfirst in water, hung by their arms till they were dead. Some were castrated ...really, the worst you can imagine."
Excerpt from: Tim Teeman, Forgotten victims of the Holocaust,
Værnet's attempted cures for homosexuality paralleled similar research and therapies officially authorised in Britain. The British mathematical genius, Alan Turing, who broke the Nazi Enigma-code during the Second World War and initiated the modern computer revolution, suffered tragically as a result of similar British attempts to "cure" homosexuality. Turing's gayness became an issue in 1952. Declared a security risk by the British authorities, he was forced to undergo a humiliating hormone treatment that was supposed to eradicate his homosexuality. Two years later, he committed suicide.
The death of Alan Turing was a result of a treatment not dissimilar to the one developed by Carl Værnet: both were premised on the idea that homosexuality was the result of a hormonal imbalance and could be "cured" by hormone therapy. This view was widespread in the medical profession until the 1950's and persisted in some medical circles until the 1970s.
From: Niels Birger Danielsen & al., Værnet, den danske SS-læge i Buchenwald, JP Bøger, Denmark, 2002.
Now the fate of one of the most notorious KZ doctor experimenting on gays is known, the question remains about who helped him flee to Argentine in 1947 and what has been undertaken by the government in the last 50 years to get the Danish Mengele home for a war-criminal trial?
Two e-mails of Cristian Værnet to Tatchell about his grandfather Original -Spanish Translation - English Con gran sorpresa lei lo del doctor Carl Værnet. Realmente no he conocido a quien, podria ser, por los datos mi abuelo (padre de mi padre). Ambos hoy estan fallecidos.
Me siento muy angustiado y tremendamente dolorido ante la posibilidad de que Carl Værnet al que se refieren en vuestras paginas haya sido mi abuelo. Creo que el nombre completo de el era Carl Peter Værnet o Peter Carl Værnet. Leo el ingles pero me cuesta escribirlo, por eso perdonen que les escriba en español. Averiguaré fecha de nacimiento y fallecimiento y en que cementerio fue sepultado y todo lo que pueda a efectos de aclarar a Uds. y aclararme a mi al respecto y les volvere a escribir.
Saludo a Uds. muy atentamente y con la esperanza de que esta persona no haya sido mi abuelo"
With great surprise read of doctor Carl Værnet. I have not really known the data my grandfather (the father of my father).
Both of these are today deceased . I feel very distressed and tremendously sorrowed of the possibility that Carl Værnet you talk about in your page was my grandfather. I believe that the complete name of the is Carl Peter Værnet or Peter Carl Værnet. I can read English but it is hard for me to write it, for that reason pardon that the writing is in Spanish. I will find out the date of birth and death and in which cemetery he was buried and everything what can clarify You and clarify me on the matter and I'll write back.
Very kind Greeting to You, and with the wish that this person was not my grandfather.
Gracias por tus e-mail y actos que ya me demuestran que eres una buena persona, por lo que me alegra haberme comunicado contigo. Respecto a que lo mismo pueden encontrar la relación con Værnet, lo se pero es algo con lo que tendre que vivir y tomar estos errores del pasado como para que nuestra generacion ni otra futura lo produzca. Gracias por tus buenas intenciones.
Con la unica persona que pude averiguar respecto a Carl, es con mi madre ya que con los hermanos de Papa, que viven en Dinamarca no mantenemos correspondencia desde que mi padre fallecio. Me hubiera gustado que papá viviera para que me aclarara todas estas dudas que hoy me surgen. De lo que mi madre recuerda o tiene anotado es:
Carl nacio en Dinamarca el 28/4/1893 se caso con Edith Frida Hamershoj y tuvo 3 hijos. El menor de ellos era mi padre. Cuando Papá tenia 3 años, Carl dejo a la familia en Dinamarca y se fue a Alemania. Contrajo nuevo matrimonio y tuvo otros tres o cuatro hijos.
Despues de la guerra vino a Argentina, viviendo y trabajando en Buenos Aires como Endrocrinologo en el Ministerio de Salud. Fallecio en Buenos Aires el 25-11-1965 y esta sepultado en el cementerio Britanico. A efectos de que puedan corroborar esto, el telefono del Cementerio es 0054 1 553-3403 Mi padre vino tambien a Argentina, pero se radico en la Provincia del Chaco ( a un poco mas de 1000 km de Buenos Aires). La informacion que teniamos respecto a Carl, es que habia trabajado en la guerra pero como medico y no en la investigaciones que comentan en las Paginas de Internet. Cuando Carl fallecio yo tenia 8 años, por lo que trataremos de comunicarnos con algunos de los hermanos de papá a efectos de tener mas informacion al respecto.
Se que lo que pueda realizar no va a borrar los sufrimientos, pero al menos espero sirva para mitigar un poco el dolor de los familiares o damnificados y que nunca mas se realicen las atrocidades que se produjeron bajo la excusa de la guerra.
Espero tambien, todos los errores cometidos, sirva a nuestra generacion y a las futuras para que no se realicen actos de lesa humanidad, discrimine o persiga a las personas ya sea por su religión, color de piel o sexualidad cualquier fuere su elección.
Thanks for your email and acts that already demonstrate to me that you are a good person, the reason why I'm happy to have communicated with you. With respect to the relation with Værnet, but he is something with which we have to live and to learn from these errors from the past so that our generation nor another future one make them. Thanks for your good intentions.
With the only person which I could learn about Carl is with my mother since with the brothers of my father, who live in Denmark we do not maintain correspondence since my father died. I would have liked that papa lived so that he could clarify all these questions to me that today arise to me. Here is what my mother remembers or has written down:
Carl was born in Denmark the 28/4/1893 married with Edith Frida Hamershoj and had 3 children. The minor of them was my father. When Papa reached 3 years, Carl left the family in Denmark and he went to Germany. He engaged in a new marriage and he had other three or four children. He after the war came to Argentina, living and working in Buenos Aires as Endrocrinolog in the Ministry of Health. Died in Buenos Aires 25-11-1965 and was buried in the Britanico cemetery. In order for you can be able to corroborate this, the telephonenumber of the Cemetery is 0054 1 553-3403. My father also came to Argentina, but I settled in the Province of the Chaco (about of 1000 km from Buenos Aires). The information we had with respect to Carl was that he had worked in the war but as a medic and nothing about the investigations of your Internetpages tell. When Carl died I was 8 years, the reason why we tried to communicate with some of the brothers of my father with the purpose of having information on the matter.
This is not going to erase the sufferings, but I hope at least it serves to mitigate a little the pain of the damaged relatives and that never again the atrocities that took place under the excuse of the war will happen.
I also hope, all the committed errors of the past is a lesson to our generation and against the future ones so that acts of inhumanity are not made, whether discrimination or persecution of people or by their religion, skin color or sexuality nobody will discriminate.
- 1893 - 1965
GRAVE FOUND OF NAZI DOCTOR WHO EXPERIMENTED ON GAYS
The grave of a Nazi doctor who performed experiments on gay men in concentration camps has been located in Argentina's Britanico Cemetery.
Historical records show that Carl Peter Vaernet, a Dane, castrated and implanted hormones in homosexuals in attempts to alter their sexual orientation at the Buchenwald and Neuengamme camps.
After World War II, he escaped to South America without being tried for his crimes; he died in 1965.
Vaernet was tracked down by a Danish gay activist who used the Internet to locate Vaernet's grandson in Argentina.
The international hunt for Danish Nazi doctor Carl Peter Vaernet is over.
The well-known gay activist and news-stuntman Peter Tatchell of OutRage! in England has written letters to the Danish PM Nyrup Rasmussen and Argentinian PM Carlos Menem about the fate of Vaernet. The credit for reopening the Vaernet-case has to go to Peter Thatchell of OutRage!
IHWO then, after a very short internetsearch* on the Alta Vista search engine, found a relative in Argentina, the grandson of Carl Vaernet, who has told that both his father and grandfather are dead, and that although the gruesome past of Vaernet has been a complete shock for him, he has graciously investigated details and the cemetery of Vaernet.( Britanico row 11.A.120 ).
*Before that a wholly futile search was undertaken in 1993 when 2 TV documentaries mentioned a Danish doctor Vaernet experimenting on gays in WW2 and post WW2. It turned out that the Nazi KZ- camp doctor mentioned in the NDR 1991 production "Wir trugen ein grosses "A" am Bein" was not identical to the post-war brainsurgeon Kjeld Vaernet mentioned in the DR TV documentary from 1990. The Vaernet in the German film was his father Carl Vaernet, which disappeared to Argentina in 1947, according to Preben Hertoft who kindly gave the few details then known about Carl Vaernet. Thereafter the search fizzled with an unanswered letter to Simon Wiesenthal in Wienna asking for further details.
Now the fate of the most notorious KZ doctor experimenting on gays is known, the question remains about who helped him flee to Argentine in 1947 and what has been undertaken by the government in the last 50 years to get the Danish Mengele home for a war-criminal trial?
Carl Peter Vaernet timeline based on available sources:
Carl Peter Vaernet was born in the village of Astrup (by Aarhus) the 28th of April 1893 as the son of a wealthy horsetrader.
In august 1920 he married with Edith Frida Hamershoj and
had 3 children, of which Kjeld Vaernet was born in november 1920. The minor of them was the father of Christian Vaernet. When the father of Christian Vaernet reached 3 years of age, Carl left the family in Denmark and he went to Germany. He engaged in a new marriage with Gurli Marie (1902-1955) and he had other three children.
In December 1921 he changed name from the common name of Jensen to the unique name of Værnet.
1923 he became candidate-doctor together with later Danish Nazi-leader Fritz Clausen.
In 1929 a castrationlaw on the behest of eugenic doctor Knud Sand was adopted just before homosexuality was legalized in 1930. Carl Vaernet started his endocrinologue experiments in 1932. He used mice for his experiments while his rival Knud Sand used chickens. Sand wanted to transplant "healthy testicles" into gays, while Vaernet wanted a hormonal medical solution.
In the years 1932-1934, after practise in 2 hospitals in Copenhagen, he went to Germany (Berlin, Giessen, Vienna, Göttingen) and Paris for further studies, specializing in ultra-sound treatments.
In 1939 he in earnest started his testosterone research and in 1941 a newspaper told how the crows of hens with implantations could be heard outside his clinic.
Fritz Clausen and Carl Vaernet
In the years before the WW2 Vaernet was one of the leading society doctors in Copenhagen , but lost patients as his close contact with Danish Quisling doctor Fritz Clausen became known. Vaernet was also a friend of Reichsbevollmaechtige of Denmark Dr. Werner Best, who highly recommended him. A brother, Aage Vaernet was also a member of the Danish Nazi-party , D.N.S.A.P.
In 1942 he implanted testosterone in a gay schoolteacher with "good result" as the teacher married. He patended his "Pressling" hormone metal-tube deposit first in Copenhagen in 1943, then in Germany. The open ended tube then over 1 or 2 or more years depending on the model released its contents. This should cure the theorethical deficit of testosterone in homosexuals. He sold his clinic on Platanvej, Copenhagen to the German occupation forces and it was subsequently bombed/sabotaged by the Danish resistance Movement (Holger Danske) in 1944.
SS-Leader HEINRICH HIMMLER & Gestapo-Chief Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Through Heinrich Himmler, the doctor got an employment contract with the "Deutsche Heilmittel GmbH", a front sorting directly under SS. The contract from 15th November 1943 was signed by Gestapo-chief Ernst Kaltenbrunnerand SS Reichsdoctor /Reich medical chief of the SS Brigadier General Dr. [General Arzt] [Ernst-Robert] Grawitz. The salary was 1.500 Reichsmark a month. The patents in connection with Vaernet´s research were to be registered in Vaernets name, but with a licence of 15 years to Deutsche Heilmittel. The careful contract stating the terms of the future use of the Vaernet Cure indicates that the SS had an "Endlösung" comprising all homosexuals of the 3rd Reich in mind.
In a letter from Vaernet in Prague to his SS-employers at Deutsche Heilmittel; Possiebrader Landstrasse, the 31st of August 1944 he reports that his operations are resceduled to 2-3 weeks later due to an airraid. The first run of operations took place 13.9.1944, the second on the 8th of December 1944. "Studenternes efterretningstjeneste" claimed that a total of 30-40 kz-inmates were operated on.
The Buchenwald camp
A SS-letter to Carl Vaernet, Petersgasse 10, Prague, the 3rd of January 1945 mentions 13 operated inmates and the names of the 7 operated (out of a group of 10) on the 8th of December 1944: Reinhold, Schmith, Ledetzky, Boeck, Henze (who died), Köster and Parth. Before that, the
13.9.1944 3 patients out of 5 were operated on. 2 were catrated, 1 was sterilized at the Buchenwald camp. 2 of the patients died immediately ,(1 of these as a direct result of the operation, a big phlegmose/tissue-inflamation, the other (Henze) from infectious bowels catarr and severe emaciation the 21st of December 1944.) leaving 11 to die shortly thereafter.
The Danish SS doctor was stationed in Prague, in Petersgasse 10 owned by interned jews, had the rank of Sturmbannfuerer (Major) and reported through his superior SS-Oberfuehrer/ SS Brigadier General [Helmut] Poppendick, Berlin (via Experimental Department V, Leipzig, of the Reichsführer SS(Himmler)).
(From Josef Kohout -"Heinz Heger"/(Fredrik Silverstolpe) Fangerna med Rosa Triangel, Forfatterforlaget 1972/1984. Original source "Tagesbuchblaetter" from magazine "Humanitas" by Neudegg.) (Vaernet claimed to have developed a synthetic testosterone hormonal implant which would cure homosexuality. The SS gave him a research position, necessary funds, laboratory
facilities and the concentration camp population as experimental subjects.) The other SS-doctors joked about the matter and the prisoners talked about the "firestones" that through castration should cure the patients.
Carl Vaernet was "out of practice" from May 1945 to September 1945. He was interned by the English occupation forces in this period. From the end of May the government knew, that he had been a Sturmbannführer at the Buchenwald KZ-camp. Major R.F. Hemingway of the allied forces confirmed in a letter to the Danish Medical Association after the 29th of May 1945 that Carl Værnet was a prisoner of war and "undoubtedly would be punished as a war criminal".
The 2nd January 1946 he was at the Kommunehospitalet in a bid to secure passage to Sweden to get a special heart-treatment. Here the sickly looking Carl met his eldest son Kjeld and together they tried to sell the patended KZ-concentrationcamp-hormone to an US medical firm "DuPont" according to archivepapers. Also Carl tried to preempt an exclusion of the doctors society by resigning.
On 29th May 1945, the chairman of the Danish Medical Association
sent the Ministry of Justice an affidavit signed by a Danish police
officer who had been incarcerated in Buchenwald. This affidavit identified Vaernet as having been a serving SS officer. The report from the chairman of the Danish Medical Association
was, apparently, ignored by the Justice Ministry in Copenhagen.
In the autumn of 1945, the British handed over Dr. Vaernet to the
On 2nd January 1946, the Danish Medical Association received a
letter from Dr. Vaernet's lawyer, informing them that he had resigned
It is known that Dr. Vaernet was eventually transferred to
hospital, on the grounds that he was allegedly suffering from a heart
complaint, (which may well have
been fictional in order to facilitate his release from detention). When
did this transfer take place? Who authorised it? What independent
medical report, if any, confirmed his heart condition?
In 1946 Carl Vaernet fully legally with the permission from both the police and the rigsadvocature travelled to Stockholm and the "Serafimerlazarettet". The Danish police even gave him some Swedish currency for his trip. Later, too late, the police served an order for his arrest.
In Sweden, he made contact with the Nazi escape network, which
spirited him away to Argentina, probably in late 1946 or early 1947. In April 1947 Brigadier General Telford Tyler (1908-1998), American Chief of "Allied War Crime Commission" and chief prosecutor in Nürnberg wrote "Lægeforeningen" that he knew about Vaernet´s experiments. Through Sundhedstyrelsen Laegeforeningen sent this message to the Rigsadvokature, that laconically told that as far as they knew Vaernet was in Brazil, otherwise his address was unknown. No one asked the commission about the details of Vaernet. Danish police-officers at the Alsgade School in the later "Spider/Edderkobbesag" were exposed as corrupt, even the british leader of the Alsgade camp/school was also considered corrupt. But not a single prisoner did escape the camp. At a point after WW2 the Danish intelligence incredibly was led by SS-man Toepke, who was later removed from his post along with Argentinian "rat-line"-man Pineyro in 1947 when the operation became too obvious. The flight of Carl Vaernet could have been quite unspectacular: by air the route was the normal sceduled Stockholm/Geneva/Buenos Aires.
On 19th November 1947, the Copenhagen newspaper, Berlingske
Tidende, carried a letter from a Danish exile living in Argentina which
reported that Dr. Vaernet was working in the Buenos Aires health department.
After a few years in the health ministry in Buenos Aires he opened a private pratice at Calle Uriarte 2251, but his clinic was not as successful as in Copenhagen. He never really learned the language or to know the people. He changed name again to the spanish Carlos Peter Varnet and lived in constant terror of being found out (just like Mengele).
In 1955 he was run down by a taxi and was severely wounded with 15 fractures. He was nursed by his wife Gurli until she in September 1955 was electrocuted before a trolley-train and died. During his 1½ years stay in hospital he ran out of money, and his daughter Lull took over the care. Both Lull and Kjeld Vaernet speak of Carl´s kindness and generosity.
In 1948 the Danish medical association officially wanted Carl Vaernet excluded and in April/May 1959 they had reservations when he applied for amnesty in Denmark. Rigspolitiet the 15th of april 1959 told Laegeforeningen that serious charges remained against Vaernet. In the beginning of the 60és his son Kjeld Vaernet on a trip to a medical conference in Buenos Aires met Carl at a hospital where Carl got treatment for an ulcer. In the last months of Carl`s life in 1965 he again applied for clemency in Denmark. He was again turned down this time in official letters signed by later the president of The Sea- & Trade Court, Frank Poulsen.
And the fate of Vaernet is described by grandson Christian Vaernet: Carl Peter Vaernet died of an unknown fever 25th of November 1965. He is buried in the Británico cemetary row 11.A.120.
The photo above was taken by South American correspondent of Jyllands-Posten Jakob Rubin in October 1999. In November 1999 professor Niels Høiby also took a picture of the grave later shown in Danish TV2.
- Apr 28, 1893~1965
One of the German prisoners who died in Auschwitz concentration camp was Ernst Ellson, born in Duesseldorf on February 18, 1904, of Jewish religious denomination, bachelor, who resided with his parents in Essen. The vice squad, then responsible for supervising places—certain bars and, above all, public toilets—where gays regularly met, had him under observation from 1935. In mid-November 1940, Willy M., a male prostitute, was caught in the act. Under interrogation, he identified Ellson as an occasional client. The police arrested Ellson on November 22. Since he was a Jew, the criminal police, following procedure, notified the Gestapo, which brought charges. On March 14, 1941, the municipal court in Essen sentenced Ellson to four months imprisonment, with time off for the period he had already spent awaiting trial, for “perverted promiscuity” under Article 175 of the penal code. Ellson was scheduled to be released on March 23.
The criminal police regarded the sentence as too lenient. They therefore requested that the Gestapo “take the appropriate measures.” On the day of Ellson’s release from prison, he found a Gestapo agent waiting for him outside the prison gates with a “temporary preventive detention” order. On April 18, the Berlin Gestapo issued an arrest warrant on the following grounds: “Ellson . . . is a threat to the existence and security of the nation by reason of his having committed perverted promiscuity. . . . It is to be feared that, if left at large, he will persist in behavior that is harmful to the national health. . . . “ The warrant was signed by Reinhard Heydrich.
Here is how the further fate of Ernst Ellson and his parents played out: he was sent to Buchenwald Concentration Camp in a collective transport on May 16, 1941. His elderly parents were committed to the Holbeckshof transit camp in Essen-Steele on April 25, 1942, and transferred from there on July 21 to the Theresienstadt camp, where they died. Ernst Ellson was sent to Gross Rosen Concentration Camp on September 15, 1942, and transferred to Auschwitz on October 16, 1942. On November 26, 1942, the Auschwitz Concentration Camp commandant’s office notified the Gestapo in Duesseldorf that Ernst Ellson “ . . . died of pneumonia in the camp hospital on November 23, 1942 at 9:30 a.m. in the morning. . . . The family should be informed that his remains were cremated at the cost of the state and the urn deposited at the urn cemetery at the crematorium here.”
Both the reason for Ernst Ellson’s death and the cemetery where his ashes were cremated were fictitious. It bears remarking that this gay Jew survived a year and a half in the Buchenwald and Gross-Rosen camps. Five weeks in Auschwitz were enough to finish him off. This indicates the conditions and rigors prevailing in Auschwitz, in comparison to other camps.
Homosexuals also reached Auschwitz concentration Camp as “political” principles. Some of them were arrested for political reasons with no reference to their sexuality. Others managed to change their prisoner category on such occasions as transfers between camps. This is what Karl Gorath did. He wore the pink triangle in Neuengamme Concentration Camp, where he was assigned to labor as a fleger. He and four of his fellow flegers were transferred to Auschwitz at the beginning of June 1943. On June 11, he was registered in Auschwitz Concentration Camp as a schutzhäftling, that is, a political prisoner. He was evacuated to Mauthausen in January 9145, and survived. He settled in West Germany after the war.
In his camp memoirs, Gorath recounts that he was made a block supervisor in Auschwitz. He made friends there. Two younger Poles, Tadeusz and Zbigniew, became his lovers. He came back to the site of the Auschwitz camp 50 years later to show his gay friends the small room he lived in on the top floor of one of the blocks.
He told them: “I had my own room as a block supervisor . . . it was right here . . . this is where I spent the happiest days of my life . . . with Zbigniew. . . .” His voice broke off when he spoke with tears in his eyes about how only once in his life he experienced such deep love from another man, and that it was “here, in the camp, among all the misery surrounding us, never before, and never again—never more: I met the love of my life in Auschwitz.”
Later, he learned in the Archives of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum that Tadeusz and Zbigniew had both died in Auschwitz. Before going home to Germany, he and his friends placed a wreath at the foot of the memorial in Birkenau, in memory of all the gay victims of Nazism. Next to the wreath, Karl left a small bouquet of pink roses with a handwritten note that read: “To my comrades Zbigniew and Tadeusz – from Karl.”
533 The first anti-homosexual law is passed in England (25 Henry 8, chapter 6), which "adjudges buggery a felony punishable by hanging until dead. The Buggery Act was piloted through Parliament by Thomas Cromwell in an effort to support Henry VIII's plan for reducing the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts.... It was on the books primarily as a symbolic token of the supremacy of the secular courts over the ecclesiastical courts." 1624 The Buggery Act of Henry VIII is adopted by the original 13 American colonies. In 1624 Richard Cornish, Master of the ship Ambrose, anchored in the James River in Virginia, was hanged "for committing sodomy with the 29-year-old cabin boy William Couse." 1772 In July, Captain Robert Jones is convicted in England for sodomizing a 13-year-old boy. The age of consent at the time is 14. Sentenced to death, he is pardoned by the King on condition that he leave the country.
During August and September the case is widely discussed in all the mainstream papers, and calls are made to reform the law. This is the first time the nature v. nurture issue is publicly debated. Homosexuals are thought to have "an inborn propensity."
In this debate, "not only the entire literate class, but even labourers who had newspapers read to them at taverns -- would have been made fully aware of homosexuality: from explicit detailed descriptions of anal intercourse and masturbation; to legal, religious, and social attitudes to homosexuality; to supposed characteristics of homosexual men; to its prevalence across society. The attitudes to homosexuality reflected in the newspapers ranged from simple stereotypical homophobia... to more complex attitudes which included a defence of homosexuality on the grounds that it was a natural trait."1821 "Mexican independence from Spain in 1821 brought an end to the Inquisition and ... homosexual oppression...
The intellectual influence of the French Revolution and the brief French occupation of Mexico (1862-67) resulted in the adoption of the Napoleonic Code. This meant that sexual conduct in private between adults, whatever their gender, ceased to be a criminal matter."1864 German lawyer Karl Heinrich Ulrichs publishes a pamphlet, Vindex: Social and Legal Studies on Man-Manly Love. He declares 'man-male love' to be inborn. Supposedly it is the natural, healthy expression of a 'female soul in a male body' - a condition he calls 'Uranism'. Those characterized by this condition he calls 'Uranians'. By means of this hypothesis, Ulrichs hopes to demonstrate the injustice of punishing sexual contact between men: Uranians do what they do because of what they are. No legislator, however, should punish people for what they are. Above all, Ulrichs wants to prevent the extension of the unreformed Prussian law against 'unnatural vice' to all German states. This threatens to occur as a result of German unification under Prussian leadership. (In Bavaria, Württemberg and Hannover the old law had already been abolished.) 1869 "German Karl-Maria Kertbeny, an Austrian-born journalist and human rights campaigner, put forward the view that homosexuality was inborn and unchangable, an argument which would later be called the 'medical model' of homosexuality.... In the course of [his] writings Kertbeny coined the word 'homosexual' as part of his system for the classification of sexual types....
Classical scholars have regretted Kertbeny's neologism ever since. The word homosexual combined a Greek prefix, homo, meaning 'same' with a Latin noun, sexus, meaning 'sex' (in the sense of gender). The rules of word-formation generally forbid combining Greek and Latin elements. Pure Greek forms would have been homoerotic and homoeroticist. The word also gives rise to confusion between the Greek homo and the Latin homo, meaning 'man,' as in homo sapiens. Many people have assumed that a homosexual is a person attracted to men, and that the word cannot therefore be applied to lesbians."1871 King Wilhelm establishes the Second Reich in Germany, adopting a harsh penal code from Bavaria, including "Paragraph 175," which outlaws "lewd and unnatural behavior." This forces Karl Ulrichs to stop publishing educational pamphlets on homosexuality. Ulrichs later flees to France and dies in 1895. 1896 German Magnus Hirschfeld, MD publishes the pamphlet Sappho and Socrates, which describes the origin of homosexuality as taking place in a bisexual embryo.
"Hirschfeld accounted for diversity in sexual orientation in terms of the bisexual nature of the developing fetus, but, in keeping with his training as a physician, he spoke of the 'brain' where Ulrichs had spoken of the 'mind.'
Hirschfeld posited the existence, in the embryos of both sexes, of rudimentary neural centers for attraction to both males and females. In most male fetuses, the center for attraction to women developed, while the center for attraction to males regressed, and vice versa for female fetuses. In fetuses destined to become homosexual, on the other hand, the opposite developmental sequence took place."1897 The first gay rights organization is formed in Germany by Magnus Hirschfeld, MD, Adolf Brand and Max Spohr. It is called the Scientific Humanitarian Committee. By 1900 they publish 23 books, as well as collecting thousands of "prominent" signatures on a petition to abolish Paragraph 175.
DATES EVENTS: 1900 - 1947 1903 The first large-scale survey on homosexuality, conducted by Magnus Hirschfeld and distributed to 6,611 German students and workers, finds that 2.2% of male respondents claim to have had sex with other men. Due to complaints, his studies are soon terminated by legal action. 1905 The Swiss psychiatrist Auguste Forel publishes his book The Sexual Question, which raises demands that are revolutionary for its time (abolition of most sex laws, marriage for same-sex couples etc.). Forel deliberately combines medical and socio-political viewpoints.
"In 1905’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, Sigmund Freud put forward sexual theories, including his thoughts on the origins and meanings of homosexuality....he saw homosexuality as the unconflicted expression of an innate instinct.... However, Freud also believed that even adult heterosexuals retain the homosexual component, albeit in sublimated form.
Freud saw adult homosexuality as a developmental arrest of childhood instincts which prevent the development of a more mature heterosexuality."1917 The Soviet Union abolishes all anti-gay legislation.
Eugen Steinach MD or Germany publishes his theories that testicular secretions in homosexual men are abnormal and that they drive brain development in a female rather than a male direction. He publishes the results of his experiment "transplanting a testicle from a heterosexual man into an 'effeminate, passive homosexual man.' According to the report, the man was totally 'cured' -- he was said to have lost all attraction to men and to have developed normal heterosexual feelings. Some further successes were reported, but eventually the procedure was exposed as ineffective." 71919 Hirschfeld establishes the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin, which soon has 20,000 books in its library, and a staff to counsel gays and educate society.
Other gay societies are soon established, along with a community center and committees to coordinate law reform measures.1924 Biologist J.B.S. Haldane, observing some possible same-sex behavior in animals, writes "The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, it is queerer than we can suppose." Since then homosexuality has been observed in over 450 animal species. 1928 On May 14, 1928 the National Socialist Party (Nazi) in Germany issues their official view on homosexuals:
"It is not necessary that you and I live, but it is necessary that the German people live. And it can live if it can fight, for life means fighting. And it can only fight if it maintains its masculinity. It can only maintain its masculinity if it exercises discipline, especially in matters of love. Free love and deviance are undisciplined. Therefore, we reject you, as we reject anything which hurts our people. Anyone who even thinks of homosexual love is our enemy."1928 The Reichstag Committee, by a vote of 15-13, approves the Penal Reform Bill, which abolishes homosexual crimes. The German Communists support this vote. Before the law could be put into effect the stock market crashes, the Bill is tabled, and the Nazis come to power. 1930 Hirschfeld visits the U.S., delivering a series of lectures to medical groups, advocating for the decriminalization of same-sex acts. 1932 Until this year, Hitler tolerates some gay Nazis, especially Ernst Rohm, who is head of the Brownshirt troopers, whom Hitler needed as an ally. By 1932, Rohm's group had grown to 500,000 members, and Hitler felt threatened. An assassination attempt fails, and Rohm flees to Bavaria. 1933 February: All gay bars and hotels are closed in Germany.
March: The West German Morality League begins a campaign against Homosexuals, Jews, Negroes and Mongols.
May 6: "A Nazi goon squad plunders Hirschfeld's Institute for Sexology, which is then promptly closed by the authorities. The library is publicly burned four days later together with the books of other 'Un-German' authors like Freud, Brecht, Feuchtwanger, Werfel and Stefan Zweig. Most sexologists lose their opportunities to work, because they are Jewish. They flee into exile."1934 On June 30, 1934, which is now called "The Night of the Long Knives," Hitler's troops raid a Bavarian resort and arrest Rohm, who is later shot. Simultaneously, 200 Brownshirt leaders suspected of homosexuality and allegiance to Rohm are rounded up and shot. The same day Hitler gives the order to purge all gays from the army. A law is passed requiring sterilization of all homosexuals, schizophrenics, epileptics, drug addicts, hysterics, and those born blind or malformed. 1936 As part of a clean-up campaign to prepare for the Munich Olympics, homosexual meeting places are raided and homosexuals are sent to concentration camps. All activities of the League of Human Rights are banned. 1938 Alfred C. Kinsey, a zoologist at Indiana University, begins his "mostly sociological studies of human sexual behavior." 1940 "What happened around 1940 ... more and more of the mass of the population began to identify as 'heterosexual' and see any homosexual behavior as transgressive; and secondly among self-identified 'queers' a shift in desired sexual partner took place. Previously 'queers' tended to prefer 'male' men but now 'queers' began to prefer other 'queers' as sexual partners." 1942 The Reich Ministry of Justice publicly adopts the death penalty for homosexuals.
Civilian records in Nazi Germany reveal 46,436 homosexuals were convicted and imprisoned under Paragraph 175 between the years of 1933-1943 (no records exist for the remainder of WWII).
DATES EVENTS: 1948 - 1968 1948 Alfred Kinsey, et al. publish Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, which states:
"Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories... The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects..."
The book shocks Americans, especially with its claim that 10% of the population could be homosexual.1950s "In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Republican demagogues charged that homosexuals had infiltrated the federal government under the Roosevelt and Truman administrations and that they posed a threat to national security. They considered communists and homosexuals both to be morally weak and psychologically disturbed. They also argued that homosexuals could be used by the communists—blackmailed by them—into revealing state secrets. This set off a Lavender Scare that affected the lives of thousands of Americans.
Much of the vast apparatus of the Cold War loyalty/security system, initiated under the Truman administration and expanded under the Eisenhower administration, was focused on ferreting out and removing both communists and homosexuals from government positions. Civil servants describe horrendous interrogations by government security officials about their sex lives. Merely associating with 'known homosexuals'” or visiting a gay bar was considered strong enough evidence for dismissal....
Though a congressional committee spent several months in 1950 studying the threat homosexuals allegedly posed to national security, they could not find a single example of a gay or lesbian civil servant who was blackmailed into revealing state secrets-not one. Subsequent studies have confirmed this. But the myth of the homosexual as vulnerable to blackmail and therefore a security risk endured for decades."1950 The Mattachine Society, considered the first modern gay rights organization, is formed in Los Angeles on November 11. "Harry Hay, the founder of the Mattachine Society in California, knew of the homosexual purges going on in Washington as early as 1948. He feared that as the Cold War with the Soviet Union escalated and American society took on a wartime footing, the purges would spread to the private sector and gays and lesbians would find it impossible to find employment. It was this sense of an "encroaching American fascism” that inspired him to found the Mattachine Society in 1950-1951. Working in a defense industry plant in Los Angeles, Hay understood the power of the federal government in setting employment policies." 1952 "In the 1952 presidential election, Republican campaign rhetoric portrayed Eisenhower and Nixon as 'God-fearing men' who were 'for morality.' They promised to clean up the mess in Washington, including the immorality in the State Department. Their Democratic opponent, Adlai Stevenson, was portrayed as an intellectual egghead with a 'fruity' voice. The rumors that Stevenson was a homosexual were so widespread that the tabloid magazine Confidential ran a cover story about 'How that Stevenson rumor started.' Because of the innuendo that permeated the campaign, some gay men at the time considered Stevenson the first gay presidential candidate." 1957 Dr. Evelyn Hooker publishes The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual, "in which she administered psychological tests to groups of homosexual and heterosexual people and asked experts, based on those tests alone, to select the homosexuals. The experiment, which other researchers subsequently repeated, demonstrates that homosexuals are no worse adjusted than the general population, and therefore being in their right minds would not, given an option, have chosen homosexuality over the more socially acceptable heterosexuality.
As a result of her studies and the verifications thereof, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its handbook of disorders in 1973."1955 Four lesbian couples in San Francisco found the Daughters of Bilitis, the first gay organization exclusively for women. "It was conceived as an explicitly lesbian alternative to other homophile groups of that era such as the Mattachine Society.... was influential throughout the 1950s and 1960s but was torn apart by factionalism in the 1970s. Its members split over whether to give more support to the gay rights movement or to feminism. 1960s "Washington, D.C. became the center for a new militancy in the gay movement by the early 1960s. It was there, as gay men and lesbians began to organize and challenge the federal government's discriminatory policies, that they developed much of the rhetoric and tactics of the gay rights movement....
Perhaps the two most important tactics the Mattachine Society of Washington initiated were the use of public demonstrations and court suits. Public demonstrations like the 1965 picket in front of the White House were an effective way of garnering publicity for their cause. And legal challenges ultimately proved the most effective means of dismantling the government's anti-gay policies. Courageous men like Bruce Scott and Clifford Norton challenged their dismissals and won-suggesting that the courts were the best means of protecting the civil liberties of gay men and lesbians."1962 As the U.S. war in Vietnam picks up momentum, some young men pretend to be gay in order to stay out of the armed forces. Rock legend Jimi Hendrix, although considered to have a "legendary appetite for women ... complained that he was in love with one of his squad mates" in order to obtain a discharge. 1968 "The British scholar Mary McIntosh investigates 'The Homosexual Role', coming to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a definite biological or psychological condition of certain individuals, which distinguishes them from everyone else, but rather a label attached to them by others and/or by themselves. It is a socially constructed role which is played voluntarily or involuntarily by some men and women, but not by others whose actual sexual behavior may not be much different. Ideas such as this eventually lead to a dispute between 'essentialists' (mostly natural scientists), who continue to believe in some essential homosexuality, and 'constructionists'" (mostly social scientists), who no longer share this belief."
DATES EVENTS: 1969 - 1989 1969 June 28: "[E]ight police officers, at approximately 1:20 a.m., on now what was very early Saturday morning, June 28, 1969, swooped in and raided the [Stonewall Inn], arresting some employees and 'inappropriately' attired patrons. As those arrested were being carted off to the police wagon, however, the crowd, which in the past had scattered upon the arrival of the police, stayed, observed and then violently reacted. What exactly triggered the ensuing riot is unknown. The different theories include the resistance of an arrested transsexual, the arrest of a lesbian dressed as a male or the beating of gays by the police. The truth is probably a combination of the three, the individual events inflaming different members of the crowd, which, for whatever unknown reason, decided that this evening was the one in which a stand would be taken. Bricks, bottles and all objects capable of being used as weapons were hurtled at the police, forcing them to retreat back into the inn. Lighter fluid was thrown through the broken windows of the bar, followed by matches in an attempt to ignite the flammable liquid.
Shortly before 3 a.m., the Tactical Patrol Force (TPF), New York’s highly trained and armed riot unit, arrived to find the crowd unwilling to bend to its force. As they charged through the crowd, people merely doubled back behind the troopers.
Approximately 30 minutes after the arrival of the TPF, calm prevailed... Thirteen people were arrested. Many others in the crowd, while not arrested, suffered injuries, as did four police officers. The inside of the Stonewall Inn was destroyed.
Word of the resistance quickly spread and the following evening, over a thousand people appeared on the scene, as did the police and the TPF. A second night of rioting ensued, ending at approximately 4 a.m. While Monday and Tuesday were quiet, perhaps due to the inclement weather, the masses returned yet again on Wednesday, the final day of the resistance, which resulted in further clashes with the police.
Though resistance to police harassment and abuse occurred prior to the historic events at Stonewall... it is this series of evenings in 1969, in which people fought back, that crystallized a tangible, organized movement. From those days on, a once splintered group coalesced." 1970 June 28: "In commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, the GLF organizes a march from Greenwich Village to Central Park. Between 5,000 and 10,000 men and women attend the march. Many gay pride celebrations choose the month of June to hold their parades and events to celebrate 'The Hairpin Drop Heard Round the World.'" 1973 December: The Board of Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association declares "by itself, homosexuality does not meet the criteria for being a psychiatric disorder." 1975 July 3: The U.S. Civil Service Commission decides to consider employment applications by lesbians and gay men on a case-by-case basis. 1977 Feb, 7: The U.S. State Department announces that it will begin considering job applications from lesbian and gay men for employment in the foreign service.
Nov, 8: Harvey Milk, "despite a national climate of hostility against gay people, he ran for office several times. He emerged as a figurehead for San Francisco's large gay community, and was called the 'Mayor of Castro Street.' He was elected city supervisor in 1977, the first openly gay elected official of any large city in the US.51978 June 25: Artist Gilbert Baker, now known as the gay Betsy Ross, creates the Rainbow Flag. He designs the flag as a positive alternative to the Pink Triangle -- a symbol first used by the Nazis to identify homosexuals.... The original Rainbow Flag had eight stripes: fuchsia; red; orange; yellow; green; turquoise; blue; and, purple -- which represent sex, life, healing, sunlight, nature, magic serenity and spirit.
Nov, 27: Former San Francisco Supervisor Dan White shoots and kills Mayor George Moscone and openly gay supervisor Harvey Milk. "White had resigned previously following the enactment of a gay rights bill which he had opposed.... Harvey Milk is widely regarded as a martyr for the gay community and the gay rights movement. Many Queer community institutions are named for Milk, including the Harvey Milk Institute and the Harvey Milk Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Democratic Club in San Francisco, as well as a number of Queer-positive alternative schools in the United States, including Harvey Milk School in New York City."1979 May 21: Dan White is convicted of voluntary manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and sentenced to seven years and eight months, a sentence widely denounced as lenient and motivated by homophobia. (White later committed suicide while on parole.) After the sentence, the gay community erupted into the White Night Riots; more than 160 people ended up in the hospital. 1981 June 5: AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is first reported in the United States when the Center for Disease Control reports that in the period October 1980-May 1981, 5 young men, all active homosexuals, were treated for biopsy-confirmed Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia at 3 different hospitals in Los Angeles, California. 1986 June 30: The U.S. Supreme Court, in Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186, upholds "the constitutionality of a Georgia sodomy law that criminalized oral and anal sex in private between consenting adults." 1987 Mar. 14: The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP) is formed in March of 1987 at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New York. Three weeks later they hold their first protest on Wall Street. "ACT-UP uses non-violent direct action and often civil disobedience to bring attention to the AIDS crisis. ACT-UP also sought to stem the spread of HIV by engaging in frank public discussions about AIDS, sexuality and sexual practices.
They are well known for their provocative demonstrations and their famous slogan/logo 'Silence = Death' with an inverted pink triangle, which is reminiscent of the pink triangle assigned to accused homosexual men in Nazi prison and death camps.s formed in New York City by Larry Kramer and about 300 other activists."
DATES EVENTS: 1990 - Present 1991 June: In "A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men" published in Science(vol. 253, pages 1034-7) Simon LeVay et. al. state that the hypothalamus in the brains of gay men were a different size than those of straight men.
December: J.M. Bailey and R.C. Pillard et. al, publish a study of twins, concluding that "of the relatives whose sexual orientation could be rated, 52% of monozygotic cotwins, 22% of dizygotic cotwins, and 11% of adoptive brothers were homosexual." This study leads some to contend that homosexuality (since if it were totally inherited it would be 100% in monozygotic twins) is determined by both pre- and post-birth determinations.1993 July: Dean H. Hamer, PhD et. al, publishes their findings of "a correlation between homosexual orientation and the inheritance of polymorphic markers on the X chromosome," pointing toward at least some inheritance of sexual orientation. 5
December: The Clinton administration institutes its "Don't ask, don't tell" (DoD Directive 1304.26) policy for gays and lesbians in the military. "The policy requires that as long as gay or bisexual men and women in the military hide anything that could disclose sexual orientation, commanders won't try to investigate their sexuality."1996 Sep. 21: President Bill Clinton signs the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars same-sex partners from receiving federal spousal benefits. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA):
- allows each state (or similar political division in the United States) to recognize or deny any marriage-like relationship between persons of the same sex which has been recognized in another state.
- explicitly recognizes for purposes of federal law that marriage is "a legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife" and by stating that spouse "refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife."
Sep. 20: President Bill Clinton signs executive order banning anti-gay discrimination against any federal civilian employee.1999 Dean H. Hamer, PhD of the U.S. Laboratory of Biochemistry, National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health publishes an article in Science which proposes that "sexual orientation is a complex trait that is probably shaped by many different factors, including multiple genes, biological, environmental, and sociocultural influences."
Bruce Bagemihl, PhD published his book Biological Exuberance, Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity, (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999), which chronicles homosexual and/or transgender activity in over 450 species of animals.
Anthony Bogaert, PhD, published an article in Archives of Sexual Behavior (Vol. 28, No. 3, pp. 213-221) which stated: "The relation between sexual orientation and penile dimensions in a large sample of men was studied...On all five measures, homosexual men reported larger penises than did heterosexual men...Alterations of typical levels of prenatal hormones in homosexual men may account for these findings."
2002 Sep. 16: Toshihiro Kitamoto et. al. publish their findings that they have found a way to "switch" homosexual behavior on and off in male fruit flies. The researchers were able to do this by temporarily disrupting synaptic transmissions in the flies. 2003 June 30: "U.S. Supreme Court [in a 6-3 decision, Lawrence v. Texas, 539 US 558] strikes down Texas sodomy state law banning private consensual sex between adults of the same sex. The court found that law and others like it violated the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. But legal analysts said the ruling enshrines for the first time a broad constitutional right to sexual privacy."
June 30: Dr. Rina Agrawal et. al. presents her findings at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology that "Lesbians are more than twice as likely to suffer from a hormone-related condition [Polycystic ovary syndrome], fueling theories that hormones play a role in developing their sexuality."
October: Robert L. Spitzer, MD, et. al. publishes an article in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior (Vol. 32, Issue 5, pp. 403-417) which concludes that "there is evidence that change in sexual orientation following some form of reparative therapy does occur in some gay men and lesbians."
October: Qazi Rahman, PhD, et. al. publishes a study which examined the eye blink startle responses to acoustic stimuli of 59 healthy heterosexual and homosexual men and women. It concluded that "homosexual women showed significantly masculinized PPI [eye blink] compared with heterosexual women, whereas no difference was observed in PPI between homosexual and heterosexual men." Dr. Rahman stated in an interview that "because the startle response is known to be involuntary rather than learned, this strongly indicates that sexual orientation is largely determined before birth."2004 Feb. 12: "In an open challenge to California law, city authorities performed at least 15 same-sex weddings Thursday [2/12/04] and issued about a dozen more marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. By midafternoon, jubilant gay couples were lining up under City Hall's ornate gold dome and exchanging vows in two-minute ceremonies that followed one after another.
Mar. 15: "A bloc of more than 50 Islamic states, backed by the Vatican, sought today to halt U.N. efforts to extend spousal benefits to partners of some gay employees. The initiative came less than two months after U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan moved to award benefits to partners of gay employees who come from countries where such benefits are provided, such as Belgium and the Netherlands."
May 17: "Gay couples began exchanging vows here Monday [5/17/04], marking the first time a state has granted gays and lesbians the right to marry and making the United States one of four countries where homosexuals can legally wed."gay men respond in the same way as women. 27
June 3: A study published by Ebu Demir and Barry J. Dickson of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences show that a single gene in the fruit fly is sufficient to determine all aspects of the flies' sexual orientation and behavior. 28
June 30: The Spanish Parliament gives final approval to a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.
July 20: Canada signs gay marriage legislation into law, becoming the fourth nation to grant full legal rights to same-sex couples.2006 June: Anthony Bogaert, PhD, in a 2006 article for the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Vol. 103, No. 28, pp. 10771-10774), conducted a study of 905 men and their siblings and found that the only significant factor for homosexuality in males was the number of times a mother had previously given birth to boys. Each older male sibling increased the chances of homosexuality by 33%. 2011 Jan. 1: The repeal of a 60-year-old California law (Welfare and Institutions Code Section 8050) requiring state health officials to seek a "cure" for homosexuality goes into effect.
The Berliner Tageblatt
The Berliner Tageblatt [Berlin Daily] Lists the Gay and Lesbian Bars Closed by Berlin's Chief of Police (March 4, 1933)
The Nazi regime regarded homosexual men as enemies of the people, since their "unnatural sex acts" and "refusal to procreate" supposedly endangered the nation's survival. The allegedly infectious "social epidemic" of homosexuality was to be completely eradicated. As an initial step toward this goal, the Nazis forced the widespread closure of gay and lesbian institutions. This news article from the March 4, 1933, edition of the Berliner Tageblatt[Berlin Daily] lists the names of addresses of various Berlin night clubs closed by decree of the city’s chief of police.
- March 4, 1933
Berlin Transvestite Bar Closed
1933 Election Campaign: Hitler’s Election Posters Cover the Front of "Eldorado," a Berlin Transvestite Bar Closed by the Police (Early March 1933)
In the 1920s, Berlin had become famous for its liberal, bohemian atmosphere and its sexual permissiveness – just two of the many reasons why so many artists had been drawn to the city in those days. But “public morality” changed very quickly under Hitler. In March 1933, Berlin’s legendary transvestite bar “Eldorado” was closed by decree of the city’s chief of police. In the photograph below, the windows of the famous Kalckreuthstraße bar have been covered over by swastikas and NSDAP election posters: “Vote for Hitler – List 1.” Shortly thereafter, many other bars known as meeting places for gay men and lesbians were closed in response to “moral complaints.” In 1935, Article 175 of the Reich Criminal Code (which criminalized homosexuality) was tightened, and homosexual acts became subject to more severe forms of punishment. Many of the 50,000 homosexuals sentenced under Article 175 wound up in prison or concentration camps.
Black and Queer in Nazi Germany
February 2010 Author: Rev. Irene Monroe
Missing from the annals of African American history are the documented stories and struggles of African Americans, both straight and “queer,” in Nazi-era Germany. Valaida Snow, captured in Nazi-occupied Copenhagen and interned in a concentration camp for nearly two years, is one such story that is forgotten every Black History Month in celebrating our heroes and survivors.
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Valaida Snow came from a family of musicians and was famous for playing the trumpet. Named “Little Louis” after Louis Armstrong (who called her the world’s second best jazz trumpet player — besides himself, of course) Snow played concerts throughout the U.S., Europe, and China. On a return trip to Denmark after headlining at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, Snow, the conductor of an all-women’s band, was arrested for allegedly possessing drugs and sent to an Axis internment camp for alien nationals in Wester-Faengle.
While in pre-Hitler Germany all-female orchestras were de rigeur in many avant-garde entertainment clubs, these homosocial all-women’s bands created tremendous outrage during Hitler’s regime. Snow was sent to a concentration camp not only because she was black and in the wrong place at the wrong time, but also because of her “friendships” with German women musicians, implying lesbianism.
Although laws against lesbianism had not been codified, and lesbians were not criminalized for their sexual orientations as gay men were, these women were nonetheless viewed as threat to the Nazi state and were fair game during SS raids on lesbian bars, sentenced by the Gestapo, sent to concentration camps, and branded with a black triangle. As a matter of fact, any German woman, lesbian, prostitute, or heterosexual, not upholding her primary gender role — “to be a mother of as many Aryan babies as possible” — was deemed anti-social and hostile to the German state.
Because Nazis could not discern between the sexual affection and social friendship between straight and lesbian women, over time they dismissed lesbianism as a state and social problem, as long as both straight and lesbian women carried out the state’s mandate to procreate.
Nazi Germany’s extermination plan of gay men is a classic example of how politics informed their science. Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code differentiated between the types of persecution non-German gay men received from German gay men because of a quasi-scientific and racist ideology of racial purity. “The polices of persecution carried out toward non-German homosexuals in the occupied territories differed significantly from those directed against Germans gays,” wrote Richard Plant in The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals. “The Aryan race was to be freed of contagion; the demise of degenerate subjects peoples was to be hastened.”
Hans J. Massaquoi, former Ebony Magazine editor, and the son of an African diplomat and white German mother, in his memoir Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany, depicts a life of privilege until his father returned to his native Liberia. Like all non-Aryans, Massaquoi faced constant dehumanization and the threat of death by Gestapo executioners. “Racists in Nazi Germany did their dirty work openly and brazenly with the full protection, cooperation, and encouragement of the government, which had declared the pollution of Aryan blood with ‘inferior’ non-Aryan blood the nation’s cardinal sin,” he wrote. Consequently, the Gestapo rounded up and forcibly sterilized and subjected many non-Aryans to medical experiments, while other just simply mysteriously disappeared.
There was no systematic program for elimination of people of African descent in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945 because their number were few, but their abuses in German-occupied territories, like the one in which Snow was captured, were great and far-reaching.
After eighteen months of imprisonment, Snow was one of the more fortunate blacks to make it out of Nazi Germany, released as an exchange prisoner. She was, however, both psychologically and physically scarred from the ordeal and never fully recovered. Snow attempted to return to performing but her spark, tragically, was gone.
Gays & Lesbians Risked Their Lives
It's a little known, and not always published, fact there were gays and lesbians who risked their lives during the nazi occupation. Some names are mentioned in the literature, many from artists circles.
Student Han Stijkel was the religion-inspired leader of one of the first underground groups, the ‘Stijkel group’ – he did not call himself gay.
Danser and poet Karel Pekelharing was involved in the attack on the prison at the Amsterdam Weteringschans.
Tailor Sjoerd Bakker, together with painter and writer Willem Arondéus, took part in the attack on the Amsterdam population registry.
Willem Arondéus was candid about his homosexuality and wanted to prove that gays and lesbians could be as brave as anybody else.
All four of those mentioned above were executed.
The lesbian cellist and conductor Frieda Belinfante was a leading figure in the artists resistance. Dressed up as a man she participated in the resistance and escaped the Gestapo.
The couple Ru Paré and Do Versteegh saved over fifty Jewish children.
The famous socialist and homo-erotic writer Jef Last was part of the resistance group 'De Vonk' (The Spark). He was in contact with the editors of the magazine 'Levensrecht' (The Right to Live) (1940), which after the war formed the basis for the COC (Dutch Gay Organisation).
Nico Engelschman and Jaap van Leeuwen were active in several resistance groups. Jaap Diekmann went underground, was caught and worked as a forced labourer in Germany.
Other COC-members included
Gé Winter, who saved his Jewish friend Van Spiegel and his family, and the publisher and interpreter Henri Methorst from The Hague, who kept psychiatrist Coen van Emde Boas and his wife out of nazi hands.
In Groningen tobacco manufacturer Willy Niemeijer, was involved in underground activities and later perished in Neuengamme concentration camp.
In Amsterdam the Castrum Peregrini was active, a safe-house for Jewish refugees around the German intellectual Wolfgang Frommel, follower of the poet Stefan George. Homo-eroticism was a conceiled theme in their circle.
The poets Percy Gothein and Vincent Weyand were arrested on grounds of homosexuality and died in a concentration camp.
The writer Wolfgang Cordan was the leader of an armed resistance group.
The exposition 'Who can I still to trust? - Being Gay in nazi-Germany and occupied Holland' shows pictures of Frans Toethuis and his Jewish friend, who was arrested and killed en whose name is unknown.
Unlike Jews and Gypsies, gays and lesbians were not threatened with eradication. They were not that easy to find. However, the occupiers, following the German model, did strive to completely supress this 'unworthy and anti-reproductive' behaviour.
As early as August 1940 the German anti-gay laws were introduced in Holland. Sexual acts between all men, not only between adults and minors, became an offence. For the latter the punishment was a maximum of ten years in jail, for the former a maximum of four years in jail. Minors could also be punished. The regulation (81/40) ‘forgot’ to include homosexual actions between women. A central registration was started, using 'pink' lists. These had to be provided by local investigation departments. As early as 1920 brigadier Jasper van Opijnen was appointed to the Amsterdam vice squad to check the activities of gays and lesbians. The German approach could be directly linked up to this. When leaving the police service in 1946, Van Opijnen was called 'homoführer' in a song by his colleagues.
NIOD-researcher Anna Tijsseling, at the reopening of the exposition 'Who can I still trust? ‘ (Public Library Amsterdam, May 5, 2010), gave an example of a gay case at the The Hague police department. In June 1943, in the Zuiderpark, a ten year old asked chief inspector Lesage for help. He told him to have been sexually intimidated, with his friends, by an older youth. That boy had ordered them, ‘in behalf of the German Wehrmacht’, to drop their pants. Lesage takes the 16 year old, who is confirming the smaller boy’s story, to the police office. The inspector brings the case to his colleague of Public Morality, Auke Anema. Mr. Anema is convinced that the youth must have learned such behavior from adult homosexuals (the ‘Dracula’-theory). The 16-year old boy agrees, of course, and gives the name of a 27 year old tailor. The man is found and he confesses his influence. After a talk with the parents of the boy the police closes the case. Nobody is punished. In nazi-Germany these boys would have been disciplined, and sometimes been sent to a camp.
Jewish gay men and women
There was not a systematic persecution like in Germany. For Jews however, every offence could be life-threatening. In the register of the Bureau Joodsche Zaken (Office for Jewish Affairs) a woman is mentioned, Mina Sluyter, who is arrested 'because of homosexuality'. From a letter by the Amsterdam vice squad and its reports to the Bureau of Jewish Affaires the names of several Jewish gays and a lesbian woman are known. They were arrested by Van Opijnen and his colleagues during the period 1941-1943 and immidiately handed over to the Sicherheitsdienst. All but one were murdered in Auschwitz or Sobibor. There has not been any research on their position in camp Westerbork. Pink and other triangles did not exist there, but the yellow 'Jew-star' did. Jews arrested for being homosexual were supposed to wear a pink-yellow David-star.
Apart from the names in the Amsterdam vice squad letter, also some Jewish gays are mentioned in a letter by esquire Schorer (see article by Marina van der Klein, www.vertrouwen.nu/reactie_MariavdKl.htm). They are Engers, Hiegentlich, Petermeijer and Sjouwerman. A lot is known about Jakob Hiegentlich, not much (yet) about the others. Hiegentlich was a Catholic-Jewish author who foresaw the coming persecution and took his own life. Another gay Jewish man, Hugo van Win, went into hiding as a forced labourer in Germany under the name Bertus de Witte. He witnessed homo-scene in heavily bombed Berlin, which was never completely eradicated. The lawyer and poet L. Ali Cohen from Haarlem survived the war.
Between 1940 and 1945 ninety non-Jewish men had been sentenced because of homosexual activities, sometimes because of sexual contact with German soldiers or officials. They ended up in regular Dutch prisons. Historian Koenders was able to determine three cases of gays who had been deported to Germany. There they did not wear a pink triangle, but they may have worn the H-emblem ('Holländer').
The Netherlands Indies
An even lesser known chapter is the position of gays in the Netherlands Indies in the thirties and fourties of the 20th century. A black period was the raid on gays in the colonial elite between November 1938 and January 1939. The raid was instigated by the newspaper Javabode, whose chief editor was a sympathizer of the NSB (Dutch National Socialist Movement), and the Christelijke Staatspartij (Christian State Party). The Resident of Batavia and Head of Police, Fievez de Mailines van Ginkel, was among the victims. The most famous of the 223 people arrested was the renowned German artist Walter Spies, who lived on the island of Bali and who died in 1942 as a prisoner of war.
Willem Johan Cornelis Arondéus
Willem Arondéus (Source: www.ushmm.org)
”Willem Arondéus was born in Naarden (22 August 1894). He grew up in Amsterdam where his parents had a costume rental business for actors. At the age of thirteen he was admitted to the Quellinus School, which later became the Rietveld (Art) Academy in Amsterdam, where he devoted himself to decorative painting. After completing his education he lived in various places in and outside of the province of Noord-Holland. During the time he lived in the 'Gooi' area he met other artists and befriended the poet Adriaan Roland Holst.
After a short stay in Paris he moved to the island of Urk 1920 and later to Breukelerveen. He illustrated poems, received commissions for posters and calendars and designed Christmas stamps or charity stamps which were published by the Dutch postal services in 1923. In the same year he received a commission to make a wall painting for the town hall of Rotterdam, his break-through as a visual artist. In general this work is seen as influenced by the visual artist Richard Roland Holst, a man he admired and who inspired him. He made the engraving shown below for the poem 'The Dying' by his other supporter and inspiration Adriaan Roland Holst, Richard's brother.
The Dying. Drawing rhyme print (19x19 cm, pen/gold paint)
with thanks to J.Versteegh, coll. Pygmalion-art.com Tapestry of Arondéus
Picture: M. Eijkhoudt Between 1930 and 1932 he made nine tapestries with decorations around the coats of arms of the cities of Noord-Holland for the county hall. The following year he received a commission for a wall painting for the health clinic of the City Health Departement in Amsterdam. On three walls he portrayed the hunt, fishery, shipping and agriculture.
Life as a visual artist did not come easy, however. He stuck with his specifie style of painting which was already considered outdated in his time and his artistic work barely paid for his living expenses.
Around 1935 he turned away from the visual arts and he devoted himself to writing. His debut in 1938 was the novel The owl house for which he received an award from publisher Kosmos. His next novel In the Flowering Winter Radish was also received well, although critical sounds were heard about his style of writing. In 1939 his first art history book was published, a biography of the painter Matthijs Maris. In general this is considered his best work. In her review of the post-war reprint of the book Annie Romein-Verschoor puts Arondéus in line with great stylists like Abraham Kuyper and Johan Huizinga” (www.inghist.nl).
Arondéus, gay and resistance fighter
“Arondéus was a remarkable and obstinate man from Noord-Holland who, as early as 1914 at the age of twenty, contrary to accepted custom openly talked about his homosexuality. In those days, even in the circles he frequented, this was a bit too much for many people" (nl.wikipedia.org). There was a continuous inner struggle in himself as well.
"In the documentary by Rudi van Dantzig, The Life Of Willem Arondéus 1894-1943(Arbeiderspers 2003, 446 p.) Arondéus is quoted as saying: "It's like I'm living in a blackout - without sorrow and without joy." In his often very depressing diary notes Arondéus makes the reader witness to a highly torn and lonely existence. Despite his ambivalent friendships with, for instance, Adriaan and Richard Roland Holst and resistance people like Willem Sandberg and Gerrit van der Veen, Arondéus remained a shadowy figure, even after he took part in the attack on the Amsterdam registry. Arondéus was gay, and considering the morality of the society around 1920, his frankness about this can be seen as his first act of liberation" (www.intermale.nl).
Arondéus with fishermen from Urk (Source: www.gaynews.nl)
"In 1932 Arondéus and green grocer Gerrit Jan Tijssen became friends. They experienced poverty on a regular basis. In 1941 Arondéus sent Tijssen back to Apeldoorn, most likely because he felt it was too dangerous now, with his increasing activities in the resistance" (nl.wikipedia.org). "His love for Jurie, a fisherman from the island of Urk, and later for Gerrit Jan, the young nurseryman from the Veluwe area, were cause for these sometimes bitter self-dissections. 'Do I have love, true love for someone ... or is it all a sham, nothing but temporary emotion?", he asked himself. In 2001, twenty of his homo-erotic poems: Detached Strophes, inspired by the work of the poet Boutens and written in 1922 on the island of Urk, were published posthumously. In his diaries he wrote extensively about his artistic struggles, but also about his worries about 'money and lust'. Also his social disillusionment became more evident, both in his correspondence and in his literary work: 'Yes, this philistine world is rotten, a garbage bin, a loo' (p. 26, 95)" (www intermale.nl).
“When in 1941 Arondéus’ book about monumental painting in Holland was published, he found himself heavily involved in the resistance. Together with Willem Sandberg and Gerrit van der Veen he falsified identity cards and wrote the Brandaris Letters. In these letters he identified cases of cultural collaboration and called for resistance when the occupier would threaten the arts like they did with the foundation of the Chamber of Culture (Kulturkammer). In 1942 his Brandaris Letter was combined with the artist resistance magazine The Free Artist founded by musician Jan van Gilse." With Gerrit van der Veen he lead the attack on the Amsterdam Population Registry in 1943. He was arrested and together with a some friends from the resistance sentenced to death after a show trial. For a description of the attack on the registry and the role of Arondéus see the story by Martinus Nijhoff and the text on Sjoerd Bakker. The poet Martinus Nijhoff, ex-officer of the engineers, provided instructions were the explosives should be placed and described the attack in 1945.
Grave of Arondéus at the Honourary Cemetery Bloemendaal (Source: www.ogs.nl)
From his death cell in the prison at the Kleine Gartmanplantsoen in Amsterdam Arondéus wrote his last letter to a friend: "There's only wonder because it's so easy to depart in love from life, so happy to commemorate what you leave behind, without bitterness" (www.inghist.nl). At his execution Arondéus is said to have shouted: "Let is be known gays are no cowards" (nl.wikipedia.org).
“Shortly after the war the participants in the attack on the registry were decorated, some posthumously, for their resistance work during the war, some of them with the Military Order of William. It was not until 1984 that Arondéus was granted the Verzetsherdenkingskruis (commemorative resistance cross) for his work in the resistance. Generally his homosexuality is assumed to be the reason why this decoration was so long in coming" (nl.wikipedia.org).
Frieda Belinfante was born on 10 May 1904 in Amsterdam. She was the daughter of pianist Ari Belinfante and 'just a girl', a half-Jewish girl. She was openly lesbian and at the age of sixteen fell in love with the componiser Henriëtte Bosmans. They lived together for seven years, also when Bosmans temporarily had gentleman-friends.
Belinfante herself, a cellist, was married for some years to the flutist Jo Veldkamp, who was also a conductor but did not excel at it. But Frieda was good at conducting. After studying with Herrmann Scherchen she won a conductor's contest with the Orchestre de la Suisse-Romande in Montreux. IN 1937 she performed in the Concertgebouw with the student orchestra J. Pzn. Sweelinck and the women's orchestra Aedon; thaat was when she was discovered by the outside world. During the late thirties she started Het Klein Orkest (The Small Orchestra) in Amsterdam, a chamber orchestra which had two succesfull seasons.
Belinfante refused to become a member of the nazi 'Kulturkammer' and therefore disbanded her orchestra at the beginning of the war. She joined the artist resistance. If necessary she dressed up as a man. With Willem Sandberg, Gerrit van der Veen and Willem Arondéus she planned the attack at the Amsterdam Population Registry (27 March 1943 – see Sjoerd Bakker).
In a film from the exposition 'Who can I still trust' by Klaus Müller, Frieda recalls Sandberg asked her one day for money. Because she knew quite a few wealthy people, she turned to Heineken (owner of the well-known beer brewery). He told her that he could not help, because the monetary flow was completely controlled by the Germans.
Frieda then offered her valuable cello to Heineken; she could not use it anyway at the time. Heineken thought that this was a marvellous plan and so they concluded the sale an circumvented the supervision.
After the attack Frieda had an adventurous escape to Montreux in Switzerland, where she found herself among 160 other Dutch Jews. There, especially, she felt like an outcast and the subject of gossip.
Back in Holland where the reception, as in many cases, was 'quite cool’, she decided to emigrate to the United States in 1947. She worked in Hollywood in one of the big studio-orchestras and with a group of Hollywood musicians she formed a professional symphony orchestra in Orange County.
She was the first woman in the world to become the permanent conductor of a professional orchestra. But the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra did not tolerate any competition. And to make matters worse, she compromised herself because of her personal lifestyle. At a later age she gave music lessons to hundreds of children.
Frieda died on 26 April 1995, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In 1998 and 2004 the Dutch National Broadcast showed the film But I was only a girl by director Toni Boumans. In this film Frieda tells the story of her life. Her elder sister Renee, ex-students and friends supplement her story. The scarce recordings that exist of Frieda as a cellist, and as a conducter of her Orange County Philharmonic Orchestra can be heard in the film.
- 10 May 1904~ 26 April 1995
Is the only gay person who has been officially recognised until now (2010) as being a war victim. He lived in Groningen and was 16 when he was arrested, as a result of the tightened gay regulations of the occupiers (see introduction). Dutch judges sentenced him to a reformatary school.
After his release he never managed to get a permanent job. Only at the end of his life did he understand that this was because his war sentence was included in his post-war criminal record. Tiemon became a marine in the Netherlands-Indies and there also experienced gay adventures. He took part in the Groningse gay subculture in Groningen of the fifties and sixties. Under the name Paul Monty he wrote gay rag novels, and published two editions of the gay magazine De Nichten (The Sissies).
Willem Arondéus Lectures
In December 2004 the County Gouvernment of Noord-Holland decided to organize an annual theme-based lecture followed by discussion in honour of the artist and resistance fighter Willem Johan Cornelis Arondéus. With the lecture and discussion civilians en politicians are offered a stage to freely exchange ideas about current social themes that are relevant to the province.
Rudi van Dantzig was the first to give a lecture on 25 April 2005 in the County hall in Haarlem, on the topic: 'Can you be who you want to be or has this freedom become awkward?'
In 2006 bishop Philippe Bär was the lecturer on the theme 'Freedom'.
The third Arondéus Lecture was held on April 24, 2007 in the stately conference room of the Teylers Museum in Haarlem. It was presented by Gerard Spong, a prominent Surinamese-Dutch gay lawyer.
On 22 April 2008, in the same Teylers Museum, writer Désanne van Brederode had the honour of giving the fourth Willem Arondéus lecture. Her lecture centred on the question what a modern public moral would look like.
Philosopher Ad Verbrugge discussed the question 'What is freedom' in the 5th lecture in 2009. The lecture was held in the shining renovated County Hall.
Picture: Pim Ligtvoet
Picture: Serge Ligtenberg
Marjolijn Februari talks to the audience
Picture: Pim Ligtvoet
On 27 April 2010 philosopher, publicist and lesbian Marjolijn Februari presented the 6th Willem Arondéus lecture. It was remarkable she said, that the last wish of the resistance man who was sentenced to death, was to ask for a cream cake. The Roland Holst family from Laren fulfilled this wish and 12 peaces were distributed among fellow prisoners. ‘Homosexuals are more frivolous than ordinary people’, was the approving comment by mrs. Februari. But she also made a link to another biographic theme.
Arondéus was an artist who, just like many others in this time, propagated a public ideal. Why do we have so litte faith in the goodness of human kind, in the admirable ability to co-operate and to live together? And why is there so much distrust towards citizens by the authorities, by bureaucracy?
The ability of parents, teachers, carers, to think for themselves, to make the right decisions by themselves, yes, and even to call into existence an up-to-date government: mrs. Februari thinks this ability is huge. The citizens founded the state, schools, hospitals; so they can reform them too. If the government is able to radiate this, her citizens will change too. She gave an deterring example of the image of an English tourist, who stranded in Portugal because of the eruption of the Icelandic vulcano, and shouted to the tv-camera: ‘Thank you, Mr. Brown!’ Politicians should reply with: ‘Just save yourself'.
The name of tailor Sjoerd Bakker
(Leeuwarden, 10 June 1915)
Is tenth on the plaque for the twelve men who were executed on the first of July 1943 following the attack on the Population Registry in Amsterdam (see below). After the war all were buried at the Honorary Cemetery in Bloemendaal.
This splendid picture and the following personal details were taken from the website of this cemetery. Sjoerd Bakker was a tailor, cutter and designer. He worked where he lived: at the Vondelstraat 24 in Amsterdam. From 1942, when forced labour, raids and deportations started, he helped Jewish and other people in hiding.
Bakker provides forged or stolen stamps for food and identity cards. This way people in hiding could manage to get food and were more ore less safe to move around. He also helped Jewish people in hiding to illegally house their movables. Initially he worked on his own. Later on he came into contact with the Persoonsbewijzencentrale (Identity Card Registry) and Gerrit-Jan van der Veen, through Willem Arondeus who was a friend of Sjoerd. In February and March 1943 Bakker made the police uniform coats which were necessary for the planned attack on the Amsterdam Population Registry. Two for the officers: 'captain of the State Police Arondeus, 'lieutenant' Van der Veen, and four for the 'constables' Rudolf Bloemgarten, Karl Gröger, Coos Hartogh and Sam van Musschenbroek. He received the necessary materials from interior designer Einar Berkovich - an acyuaintance of Van der Veen - through relations at the Hollandia off-the-pegg factury in Kattenburg.
Willem Arondéus, the first name on the plaque, was in charge of the attack, together with sculptor Gerrit van der Veen. Both were active in the Identity Card Registry. At that time the registry was housed in the former concert hall of Artis (Amsterdam Zoo) at the Plantage Kerklaan. By destroying the files the artists resistance, wanted to make it impossible to keep track of the false identity cards of Jews and other people who went underground.
Two of the executed, medical student Rudolf Bloemgarten (nr. 2), and the store clerk Halberstadt (nr. 7), were Jewish themselves and helped people in hiding. Lesbian conductor Frieda Belinfante was a Jewish member of the group as well. The architect Koen Limperg (nr. 9) made floor plans of the building. Catholic Hispanic historian dr. Johan Brouwer (nr. 8) provided Arondéus, who was impersonating a police captain, with a gun. Policeman Cornelis Roos (nr. 12) may, just like Sjoerd Bakker, have helped to get hold of the necessary police-uniforms. Poet Martinus Nijhoff, ex officer of the engineers, pointed out where the explosives should be placed. He escaped, just like museum conservator Willem Sandberg and Frieda Belinfante. Gerrit van der Veen also escaped but he was arrested a year later and shot.
Plaque at the Plantage Kerklaan (Source: www.jhm.nl)
On March 27, 1943 the six resistance men disguised as policemen and three as civilians, forced their way into the registry and tried to set the offices on fire with explosives. The identity cards may have caught fire, but because of sympathetic firemen water damage was also considerable. Unfortunately it did not benefit the Jews who had already been put on transport. Indescretion by the participants and betrayel led to a number of arrests. Within three weeks the Sicherheitsdienst was able to round up most of the culprits and their helpers. The SS and Police Court passed the death sentences on 18 June 1943 in the Colonial Institute (now Royal Institute for the Tropics), for the 12 men named on the plaque, which were carried out on 1 July 1943 in the dunes near Overveen. The memorial stone in front of the former concert hall, Plantage Kerklaan 36, was designed by Willem Sandberg. On the grave of Sjoerd Bakker there is the following text: "but the greatest of these is love" (New Testament, 1st letter to the Corinthians, 13)
Grave Sjoerd Bakker (Source: www.ogs.nl)
www.ogs.nl (picture grave)
www.jhm.nl/amsterdam (picture plaque)
The gay identity of Sjoerd Bakker has been described by Pieter Koenders - see: Work Plan Investigation drs. Marian van der Klein in Gays in the collective memory of the Second World War: fifty years of conceptualizing of conceptualizing on homosexual war experiences. Dec. 2004 - in Dutch (see www.iisg.nl/research).
Willem August Theodorus Niemeijer
The factury of the Niemeijer family business (Source: www.ovmgeducatief.nl)
(Groningen 8 March 1907),
Was the eldest son of the well-known tobacco manufacturer Theodorus Niemeijer and gay, and was working for the resistance in Groningen. In the same city Tiemon Hofman was arrested and sentenced because of his homosexuality. Willem Niemeijer died on 16 February in concentratition camp Neuengamme near Hamburg. His body was laid to rest at the Dutch Honourary Cemetery in Hamburg (W.A.Th. Niemeyer).
"Between 1941 and 1945 over 5,500 Dutch men and women were transported to the German concentration camp Neuengamme for various reasons. The majority were in the resistance (like the poet Jan Campert), but there were also hostages, people who were arrested in retaliation for actions by the resistance: Jews, Jehova’s Witnesses and black marketers. When the war situation became more precarious for the nazi-regime, circumstances for the prisoners became worse. Hardly any food or water was available and the terror by the camp guards increased. Eventually only about ten percent of the prisoners returned to Holland in 1945."
Grave Niemeijer in Hamburg (Source: www.ogs.nl)
http://www.vriendenkringneuengamme.nl/boek_ned.htm (text between quotation marks about ‘Dutch prisoners in Neuengamme. The experiences of over 5,500 Dutch in a German concentration camp, 1940-1945’. Final editing by dr. Judith Schuyf. Zaltbommel 2005)
www.ogs.nl (picture grave)
www.ovmgeducatief.nl (picture factory)
Henrica Maria Paré and Theodora Versteegh
'Ru' Paré, born in Druten (1896-1972) and 'Do' Versteegh, born in Kerk Avezaath (1889-1970), got to know each other when Ru moved to The Hague in 1919. In The Hague she registered at the Royal Academy for Visual Arts, where she met the painter Jan Toorop. Theodora Versteegh studied singing with Cornélie van Zanten and Tilly Koenen and had already started her career as an alto. Do and Ru had a lesbian relationship.
During the war both refused join the 'Kulturkammer'. With Ru's resistance group the couple saved over fifty Jewish children and also a number of adults. Ru Paré, nicknamed 'Aunt Zus', coordinated the resistance work, wich consisted mainly of finding foster families, contacts and providing falsified identity cards. With her concerts Theodora Versteegh provided the necessary money.
The resistance group of aunt Zus searched for hiding places throughout the country. During dangerous situations priests and vicars often played an important role in finding new addresses. One of them was the Frisian vicar Sipkema. Aunt Zus also took care of changing Jewish identification cards into normal looking documents. The visual artis Chris Lebeau removed the stamped 'J' from the card. He was arrested at the end of the war and died in concentration camp Dachau (2 April 1945).
Ru Paré always kept in contact with the children she saved. A number of them moved to Israel. One of the children was Hanneke Gelderblom-Lankhout, who managed to get a street in The Hague named after Ru Paré.
Do Versteegh (Source: www.dutchdivas.net/frames/alten.html)
Theodora made her debut in 1914 in the oratorio Joshua by Händel. She sang the alto solos in the Matthäus Passion about 250 times. She sang duets with Jo Vincent and together with Jo, Evert Miedema (later Louis van Tulder) and Willem Ravelli in the Jo Vincent Quartet. She also sang in Belgium, France and Germany. During the thirties Do Versteegh began teaching in addition to her solo career. She performed until 1948.
The archives of Theodora and Ru are kept at the Dutch Music Archives. In the town of Pijnacker there is a Theodora Versteegh street and a Ru Paré boulevard. In The Hague is a Ru Paréstreet. The old Marius Bauer School in Amsterdam-Slotervaart (merged with the nursery school De Grutto) is now the Ru Paré School (1988). De school is situated at the Chris Lebeau Boulevard, named after a member of Ru's resistance group. The painter Hugo Kaagman made two mural paintings on the building. De school is active in its disctrict as a 'Brede School' (community-integrated school) and has an informative website.
Mural painting of Hugo Kaagman on the Ru Paré School (Source: www.galeries.nl/mnexpo.asp?exponr=25143)
www.enter-amsterdam.nl/Public_html%20rupare/2005-2006/index4.htm (Picture Ru)
www.dutchdivas.net/frames/alten.html (Picture Do)
Karel August Pekelharing
Karel Pekelharing (Source: www.eerebegraafplaatsbloemendaal.eu)
Dancer and poet Karel Pekelharing (Hoorn, 6 August 1909 - the date of 6 April on his grave is wrong) was a member of the Artists Resistance. The best known person from this group is the sculptor Gerrit van der Veen. Together Willem Arondéus he led the attack on the so called Identity Cards Registry IPBC).
Other members of the artists resistance and also gay, were Frieda Belinfante and Sjoerd Bakker. Karel was dancing with the Nederlandsche Ballet; he was a choreographer as well. Because he was a well known anti-fascist and communist he went into hiding for a while in Kassel, Germany. Late 1942 her returned and lived underground in The Hague and Amsterdam.
In the attack on the prison at the Weteringschans, which was conducted on New Year's Eve 1943-1944, the group worked together with the group of Jan Bonekamp and Ko Brasser (Council of Resistance, RVV). In a report of the failed attack Karel Pekelharing is mentioned twice (see below). Just as in the attack on the Amsterdam Population Registry, police uniforms were used. Before a second attempt could be made Karel was arrested in the Amsterdam American Hotel (6 April).
Hundred metres from there, precisely in the Weteringschans prison, Pekelharing was locked up. On 10 June 1944 he was executed in the dunes of Bloemendaal. His grave is located at the Honorary Cemetery ‘Bloemendaal’ in Overveen.
Grave Karel Pekelharing (Source: www.ogs.nl)
- 6 August 1909~10 June 1944
The Attack on the Weteringschans
"An enormous amount of work went into it, but the attacks on the Weteringschans all failed. We didn't succeed and neither did any of the others. The first time we tried it was on New Year's Eve 1943/1944. With a couple of guys we were in a house, if I remember correctly in the Krayenhoffstraat. Gerrit van der Veen was there, the famous sculptor and resistance leader. That night there were more people present from the artists resistance, including sculptor Johan Limpers and Karel Schippers, the artist who was later shot in Delft. Karel Pekelharing was also there, an actor, and Ferry van den Ham.
There were German uniforms for five men. The had all the equipment and distinctions to make us look like German policemen. The uniforms were provided by Alie van Berkum, who worked at the shipping department of S. Krom textile cleaning in Alkmaar. They were stolen and brought to a safe address. Alie Hollander and someone else brought these uniforms by train to Amsterdam. This in itself was very dangerous. Because if they had been arrested is some kind of check-up, the consequenses would have been disastrous. So everything was well organized.
There was a car which drove for the Wehrmacht. Two guys who drove the car promised to cooperate. The came from somewhere near Amersfoort and were on duty the 31st of December. The plan was that the five of us would pose as German policemen bringing in five prisoners at the Weteringschans. With us was a real German, Albert was the name he used. He was later shot as well. But of course he spoke German and he would do the talking for us. The plan was to drive through the gate to get to the inner courtyard. Of course that gate had to be opened for us by our German-speaking Albert. Then we would unload our so-called prisoners and take aim at the SS who were on duty that night. And then the plan was to free the real prisoners that we came for. I thought about the Zaandam guys, also in the resistance, Ab Huisman, Sjef Zwolfs, who delivered that trotyl from the Hem Bridge, and others.
It just so happened we spent the night in a house whose tenants were celebrating New Year's Eve somewhere else. They left the house to us. Old houses with wooden stairs, I think it was the second floor. During the night, Gerrit van der Veen went to the car. It stood in a little shed which was lent to us; I don't remember by whom, I was not involved in that. But the doors [from the shed] didn't close very well. That car was too big. Early in the morning the two guys from Amersfoort had already found out the battery was empty. A new one had to be provided, otherwise starting the engine would have been impossible. How that came about I don't know. With the help from someone in our group, they managed to get a new battery. So, during the night some work needed to be done in that little shed. Apparently light leaked through the doors and in one way or another drew the attention of the Germans.
Just before the end of curfew whe would attack. Several hours earlier Gerrit van der Veen went to he shed. He took a boy with him (after the war we heard his name was Jansma). The word was: put your uniforms on because we'll drive up in a minute. I was a kind of Feldwebel, some officer; we were ready and waiting. And all of a sudden there was a thumping and thundering on those stairs. That sounded twice as loud in the silence of the night. That Jansma comes running up, out of breath and upset: the SD [Sicherheitsdienst] is at the car! Gerrit van der Veen managed to get on top of the shed and saw the krauts taking those guys. The car stayed there. So, away with the uniforms! Away with everything and get out of there. It was all so well prepared. But it's still a big question how the SD got there...
Well, then then nothing much happened for a while but meanwhile we did some small stuff. It wasn't like us being on a holiday though, but I mean, it took some time before we went back to the Weteringschans. Again it would be under the leadership of Gerrit van der Veen. We met in a place in the Sarphatistraat. But because Sarphati was a Jew, that street was renamed as Muiderschans. A number close to 100. It was a very decent house that was provided to us. Jan Bonekamp was with us again. A few guys from Alkmaar, Johan Asjes and Joop Jongh, Meindert van der Horst. And let me mention this also: not long before we got together, Karel Pekelharing was arrested, Paul Guermonprez was arrested."
Johan Aaldrik Stijkel
Han Stijkel (Source: oranjehotel.nationaalarchief.nl)
“One of the first to start a resistance group was Han Stijkel, born in Rotterdam op 8 October 1911. He studied English at the University of Amsterdam. During his years as a student he was already involved in the fight against fascism; from Portugal he took part in actions of the resistance against Franco during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)." (Oranjehotel). He was an acquaintance of esquire Schorer, founder of the Dutch Scientific Humanitarian Committee (NWHK), which stood up for the emancipation of gays.(Drs. Pieter Koenders, phonecall October 2006).
“Han Stijkel had contacts in leading circles in The Hague. Therefore he managed to involve some influential persons in his group. This group most likely never consisted of more than 80 people, surely far less than the 100 to 150 Stijkel mentioned himself. One of them was general-major S. Hasselman (1880) who took on the military part of the work.
The group also consisted of police officers, students, military officers and merchants” – from Catholic, Jewish, socialist, and other backgrounds. As can be seen from an impressive letter, Han Stijkel was clearly inspired by Christian philosophy.
“There was an active core group in the Zaanstreek”, especially in Koog aan de Zaan. They were people from the socialist youth movement (AJC), including the director of the Honig food company, the couple Ero-Chambon from the dance hall De Waakzaamheid (The Vigilance), the owner of Zwart's Automotives and others. Modelling themselves after the Ordedienst (underground militia) groups they mainly focused on collecting military information.
“Stijkel had been given the order by the government to unite the resistance groups that were spread throughout the country. Therefore he and the members of his group travelled across the country. Stijkel used the alias dr. Eerland de Vries.
During these trips espionage information was collected as well, which was passed on to the Organisation-Westerveld. ... At the start of the war this work was extremely difficult because supporting organisations (such as the Identity Cards Center, which made false identity cards – see Arondéus and Bakker) did not exist yet and hiding places were scarce.
Also real beginners' mistakes were made; ... Certain information about the group, like member lists and weapons lists, were handled very carelessly. As well, the power and the years of experience of German contra-espionage were underestimated. The extremely dangerous spies Van der Waals and Ridderhof (so-called V-Männer) managed to infiltrate in the Stijkel group”.
“Han Stijkel wanted to get new instructions for his activities directly from the gouvernment in London; also he wanted to bring a lot of espionage material to England. Through a police organisation Stijkel came in contact with the brothers Willem (1896) and Arie (1899) van der Plas, fishermen from Katwijk, who in their fishing boat KW 133 would take Stijkel and his right hand men Gude (1916) and Baud (1919), both fellow students, to 'a certain location in the North Sea', where they would be picked up by an English or Dutch submarine. Also a 'rich Jew' would come along, who promised financial support to the organisation in return for the fare to England. The latter however, turned out to be a fish merchant from Scheveningen who worked for the Sicherheitspolizei (Sipo). Furthermore there were also traitors within the police organisation that mediated the chartering of the KW 133.
The fishing boat KW 133, which was later renamed UK 65 (Federation of Fishing Unions)
During departure from the harbour of Scheveningen on the second of April 1941 everything went wrong. The exit from the harbour was blocked. Though Stijkel, Gude and Baud managed to jump overboard, they were arrested instantly. After several days of interrogation they were transported to the 'Oranjehotel' (prison in Scheveningen). Soon the arrest of another 15 men followed and this number rose to 47, among 4 women.” As a result of indescretions by a former member of the group, the majority of the Koog group was rounded up and detained in Scheveningen as well. “In the Oranjehotel Stijkel remained the leader of the group.”
Emprisonment and execution
”After more than a year the complete Stijkel group was transported to Berlin on 26 March 1942. Here, in September 1942 a trial was held before the Reichskriegsgericht, the highest military court in Germany. This was quite an exception for nearly all arrested Dutch resistance fighters were sentenced in Holland. The trial was held in secret. The members of the Stijkel group were treated as so-called 'Nacht und Nebel' prisoners. ... The outcome of the trial and their execution remained a secret for a long time.
Grave Han Stijkel (Source: www.ogs.nl)
On 26 September 1942 39 death sentences were pronounced. Six members of the group received clemency and were sent to a correctional facility, one died in prison. Despite huge efforts by the Dutch gouvernment in Londen, who asked neutral Sweden to mediate, and by the consul in Berlin, the sentences of ... 32 remaining members of the Stijkel group were upheld.
Then the convicted lived for eight months between hope and fear, but on the fourth of June 1943 the sentence was carried out on a firing range in Berlin-Tegel. The 32 members of the Stijkel group were shot at 5 minute intervals, Han Stijkel first. Both in prison and during the execution Stijkel and his group received a lot of support from the prison vicar Harald Poelchau, who was very impressed by the attitude of the Dutch.”
In his farewell letter to his father, ‘Pipa’, Han writes about his transition to another, eternal life: "When you get this letter, I've crossed over from this well known but still so mysterious life to the big unknown life ...
Stripped from this material body, which I always felt to be an impedement, I'm where God wants me to be". "Far above this earthly existance, above 'birth' and above 'death' lies the aware of that 'spark of God' in me." It is from this awareness of eternity that he also rejected feelings of hatred and revenge. "I did what I felt was my duty.
The Germans think that too". He considers the power of the Germans, just like Jesus before the judge's seat of Pilate, as deriving from God. "God always does what is best for us, even if we can't see it yet’.
After the war
“For a long time there was uncertainty about the fate of the Stijkel group. ... it turned out that the 32 executed members of the group were buried in a cemetery in Berlijn-Döberitz, a part of the city which at the end of the war was in the Russian section of Berlin. ...
In June 1947, with help from the French Occupation Authorities the bodies could finally be transported to the French section of Berlin and from there to Holland. Attended by a large crowd (the fate of the Stijkel group hit Holland hard) the 32 members of the group were buried at the cemetery of Westduin (Ockenburg) in The Hague.
Memorial Service for the Stijkel group
The funeral was preceded by a service in the Great Church of The Hague. Numerous officials were present, among them a representative of Queen Wilhelmina, who showed great interest in the Stijkel group. Following the service, al kilometre-long procession through the streets of The Hague to the cemetery. There 32 simple wooden crosses and a monument that was erected later on, remind us of Han Stijkel and his resistance group”.
After the war many citie streets were named after resistance fighters who were killed. In several cities in Holland the memory of Han Stijkel and his resistance group lives on. There is, for example, a Han Stijkelstraat in the Northeast Polder. On Highway A6,” near Urk, “a petrol station also carries the name 'Han Stijkel’.” A secondary school in The Hague was named after him as well. It later became a part of the Dalton School Community. The same city knows a Han Stijkel Square.
More information about the other members of the Stijkelgroup is to be found on the site of the Foundation Honorary Grave Stijkelgroep: www.stijkelgroep.nl.
Han Stijkelstraat in the Northeast Polder
All quoted texts and pictures (exept for one) are by http://oranjehotel.nationaalarchief.nl/gevangenen/onderzoeksvoorbeelden/stijkel.asp
The picture of the grave: www.ogs.nl.
Also see www.joodsmonument.nl and www.stijkelgroep.nl
Pieter Koenders wrote about the gay identity of Han Stijkel, see: Work Plan Investigation drs. Marian van der Klein in Gays in the collective memory of the Second World War: fifty years of conceptualizing of conceptualizing on homosexual war experiences. Dec. 2004 - in Dutch (see www.iisg.nl/research).
The information about the Zaan: J.J. ’t Hoen en J.C. Witte, Zet en Tegenzet (s.y. ca.
- 8 October 1911~June 1943
Frans Toethuis (©Collectie Jan Carel Warffemius)
On this picture of three gay friends on the beach in Zandvoort, Frans Toethuis is the one in the middle, with a rolled up drawing or poster between his knees.
The man to the left of him is Hein Jorissen, the name of the young man on his right, without jacket, is unknown. The picture is from an estate which was kept hidden for a long time and decorates the book by Klaus Müller about the persecution of gays during the Second World War (see below). Frans had a Jewish friend whose name is unknown and who was arrested and killed in the Holocaust. Frans Toethuis lived from 1910-1989. At the time he worked for the fashion-house 'New England'.
www.vrolijk.nu about: Klaus Müller (redactie) - Beaten to Death, Ignored to Death - Persecution of gays by the nazi regime 1933 – 1945’
Klaus Müller and Judith Schuyf (ed.) It starts by saying no: Biographies about resistance and gays 1940-1945, with portraits of Dutch gays and lesbians who were active as members of the resistance.
In the review of the first book, www.schorer.nl refers to a pdf-file with fragments and pictures.
Early gay movement in the Netherlands
Sugar bag from Atlantic (Source: www.suikerzak.nl)
“On January 14, 1940 in the Amsterdam hotel-restaurant Atlanta [Atlantic] at the Frederiksplein a meeting took place to start a monthly magazine for gays. Initially the name Ons leven (Our Life) was suggested, but eventually the more militant nameLevensrecht (Right to live) was chosen.
The three founders were Jaap van Leeuwen, Niek Engelschman and Han Diekmann.” Engelschman was Jewish. Diekmann and he might have chosen this hotel deliberately because Atlantic had a large Jewish clientele and was not too far from Diekmann's house. During the war the hotel's owner, Jacob Sweering, would help many Jews, adults as well as children, go into hiding.
The 'Preface' of the magazine formulates an important principle: "Averse of any religious or political stand, LEVENSRECHT takes on the common humanitarian principle as a guideline." It therefore demands ‘Lebensraum’ for everyone. In the second edition the editors, in response to a reader's letter, phrase a similar principle: "And therefore it is so beautiful, that in principle there is the possibility of love between all humans, irrespective of race or nationality, age or class, religion or gender." The magazine's orientation was against every racial doctrine and every theory of superiority.
Clipping from Levensrecht (Source: www.ihlia.nl)
“The fourth [actually the third] issue of Levensrecht was printed but not yet distributed, when the Germans invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940. The writer Jef Last warned the editors that the Germans might make use of the address file. Therefore they destroyed what had to do with Levensrecht and Van Leeuwen, with his fabulous memory, learned the names and addresses of the 190 subscribers by heart.”
“Immediately after the war the anti-gay regulation 81/40 was lifted. Thanks to the factLevensrecht had disbanded during the war and did not collaborate with the Germans, the required permit could be obtained and on 4 September 1946 the first post-war issue, which closely resembled the first three, was published. The continuity in form and content is remarkable.
“On Saturday 7 December 1946 the first meeting of the readers of Levensrecht was held in De la Paix in the Amsterdam with a lecture by Last about love in Greece. There was a huge audience. On Sunday 8 December, a program with songs, dance and recitation followed in Hotel Krasnapolsky on the Dam square in Amsterdam. The place was rented under the pseudonym of 'Shakespeare Club'. This alias had been chosen for good reason because when Krasnapolsky figured out the nature of this club, the management made it clear they were not welcome there anymore. So there was also a pre-war continuity in being condemned by society. Many members of the new club used pseudonymes, the chairman Engelschman (Bob Angelo) included. The pseudonym 'Shakespeare Club' was to be replaced by the equally vague Culture and Relaxation Centre (COC).
“Ever since its establishment in 1946, the COC, in its persuit of equal rights, put great effort into drawing the public's attention to the persecution of gays, before and after the war. Both the first COC chairman, Niek Engelschman (from 1946 until 1962), and the second, Benno Premsela (from 1962 until 1971), had been in hiding during the war, regularly drew attention to the subject.”
Han Diekmann (1896-1989) is the least known of the three founders of Levensrecht, but he was in fact the publisher. He was the treasure of Levensrecht, the only member of the editorial board to use his own name. Diekmann, in that period the partner of the much younger Engelschman, could do this because of his financial independency.
Account of the guarantee fund, with Diekmann as the only one
with his name, addres and bankaccount mentioned (Source: www.ihlia.nl)
Who was Han Diekmann? On 19 January 2008 historian Hans Warmerdam gave a lecture in Haarlem about Diekmann's life. This happened during the New Year's reception of the COC-Kennemerland and was connected with the campaign to open a Han Diekmann House, a house for Christian gays to get temporary shelter. Warmerdam gave permission to Bevrijding Intercultureel to summarize this lecture on our website.
Johann Heinrich ('Han') Diekmann was born on 29 July 1896 in Amsterdam. His father was German. In 1903, unable to manage on her own, his mother brought him to the Salvation Army orphanage. There he attended primary school, got an education, but chose to become a Salvation Army soldier. When, at the age of 27 in 1923, he fell in love with a sixteen year old boy, he resigned from his work for the Salvation Army. His relationship with the minor continued, but was against the law (art. 248 bis). Diekmann's landlady reported him to the police and he was questioned by the Amsterdam vice squad, without further consequences. But the boy was sent by his parents to a reformatory school. Han Diekmann struggled with his homosexual feelings. He learned to accept them and remained a faithful Christian. A new relationship with an under-age boy had a bad ending however. The friend got him into financial troubles and again he was reported for art. 248 bis. Diekmann was sentenced to three months in prison and placed under government supervision, in the psychopath ward of a psychiatric institution in Leiden (1928). When after some time he declared that he did not want to be gay anymore but to be a 'normal human', his doctors assumed he was cured. In 1930 Han Diekmann was set free. He immediately left the country and went to Belgium, where he became a succesful business man. For the rest of his life he kept silent about his imprisonment and detention in the psychiatric institution.
Han Diekmann (coll. Hans Warmerdam)
In 1938 the threat of war brings Diekmann back to the safety of the Netherlands. He settled in Amsterdam, at the Regulierdwarsstraat. From April 1939 he rented a house in the Noorderstraat 62. Through a young friend Han Diemann meets Nico Engelschman in August 1939. Engelschman (25) was much younger and very socially inspired. The 25-year old Engelschman and the much older Diekmann developed a relationship. It was said to be nothing more than platonic, but Diekmann remained in love with Engelschman for the rest of his life. Their brief relationship was of great importance to the Dutch gay movement. Later on Diekmann would say the COC was born out of it. Indeed, without his money, his house and his stencil machine, the founding and publication of Levensrecht, the brain child of Engelschman and Jaap van Leeuwen, would have been inconceivable. But there was more. The call for the start of the publication also was sent to common acquintences of Nico and Han. In the first edition, on the first of March 1940, only Diekmann was mentioned in the header, with his own name and bank account number. Nico is listed as 'Bob Angelo, editor'. This is was also the case in the next two editions, so Diekmann can be considered the publisher of Levensrecht. Meanwhile the vice squad was keeping an eye on him, as well as on Nico. Their personal data and a copy ofLevensrecht were sent to the attorney general. In the second week of March Engelschman had to appear at the police station. The vice squad asked for advice from the Ministry of Justice. The official replied: "This publication for gays carefully stays within the boudaries of the law. In my opinion intervention is not possible within the existing regulations." Shortly after the publication of the first edition the relationship between Diekmann and Engelschman ended. This led to discord within the circle of contributors and threatened the existance of Levensrecht.
The threat from outside was much greater. The German invasion on the 10th of May actually brought an end to the existance of the publication. It was Han Diekmann who declared on August 5, 1940 to the Amsterdam vice squad, that the publication of the magazine had ended. Almost all traces of the magazine were erased by then. On the day of the German invasion the editorial board put the third edition (which was in the process of being stencilled) and the remaining copies of former editions as well as the subscribers lists, in a laundry tub to a pulp and dumped it into the Reguliersgracht. The money was still administered by Diekmann. Not until after the war would there be contact again between Diekmann and the other contributors.
In October 1941 Han moved to Haarlem, where he lived at the address Ripperdastraat 15-c. From April 1942 on systematic actions were undertaken by the Germans to get not only the unemployed, but also Dutch labourers to do forced labour in Germany. In 1943 students and ex-militairy were forced to go. Many managed to avoid this measure. In August of that year, Generalbevollmächtigter Fritz Sauckel demanded 150,000 Dutch men. At first the maximum age was put at 45, but later on this was extended to 50. Han Diekman now decided to go underground, probably in Amsterdam. There, on 6 June 1944, when the allies landed in Normandy, he was caught in a raid. His red tie and his remark that he did not feel like working in Germany, incriminated him on suspicion of being a communist. After a short imprisonment in camp Amersfoort Han Diekmann was put to work in the Messerschmitt airplane factories in Stuttgart. He worked there as a supervisor and administrator and managed to survive. In June 1945 he was back in Haarlem.
When Nico Engelschman in 1946 started the magazine Levensrecht again (number4), the header mentioned only one name: J.L. van Dijk, with address and bank account number. Han Diekmann felt passed over, but eventually did become an active member of the circle of readers of the magazine Wetenschappelijk, Cultureel- & Ontspanningscentrum de Shakespeare Club.
(Scientific, Cultural & Leasure Centre the Shakespeare Club). When in 1949 this name was changed to Cultuur- en Ontspanningscentrum (COC), Diekmann started a division in Haarlem (January-September 1951). In 1956 he was rewarded honorary membership by the COC. Han Diekmann died in 1989 in Heemstede.
Lecture Hans Warmerdam on 19 January 2008 before the COC Kennemerland
http://www.ihlia.nl/documents/pdflib/Levensrecht/1940/Levensrecht-01.pdf (also both other issues from 1940 can be found here as pdf-file)
http://www.publiek.coc.nl/cocupdatepdf/Update2005-4.pdf (Rob Tielman Jan Carel Warffemius)
http://www.herdenkenenvieren.nl/hev/4.mei/organisaties.van.de.naoorlogse.generatie (about the involvement of the COC on May 4).
Nico Engelschman (©Collection Jan Carel Warffemius)
“Nico Engelschman was born on 12 November 1913 in Amsterdam as the oldest of five boys. His father was a travelling salesman, his mother a housewife. He was not raised with a specific political or religious outlook. His father was Jewish, his mother Lutherian – both non-practicing. Niek searched and found his own way..."
"Soon Engelschman joined the labour force. Poverty due to his fathers unemployment did not allow for a secundary education. Engelschman was offered a job as a junior assistant with an export company in the Netherlands Indies. He worked there until the Japanese occupied the country in 1942. During that period he also became a member of 'Mercury', the General Dutch Union of Trade and Office Workers.
He joined the youth movement of the Union. ... In 1932 Engelschman became a member of the Independant Socialist Party (OSP), a party which had split in 1932 from the SDAP. In 1935 the party merged with the Revolutionairy Socialist Party of Henk Sneevliet to the RSAP. It was a rather small party with only a few thousand members. Young people, espacially, were active within the RSAP. Engelschman became secretary of 'Revolutionary Socialist Youth', of which his brother Hennie also was a member.
During the winter of 1933 Nico had already been active in meeting fleeing German socialists at the Dutch-German border. In 1936 he wrote the one-act play Fascist terror about the bloody suppression by fascism. This pre-war resistance would continue after the occupation."
“Lectures were given on sexuality as well, following the example Wilhelm Reich.
Homosexuality was mentioned briefly and vaguely. In the youth movement I also met Last and Rot. They were asked to give lectures. It was only later that I understood that Last also had gay feelings, though I should have known because of his book Zuiderzee, which mentioned that aspect.'
“At the age of 24 he became completely aware of his gay nature. In 1938, through an advertisement in the Wierings' Weekly, the Amsterdam free local paper, he becaime acquainted in 1938 with an older gay man, an academic named Ellenberger. Through him he met Schorer (Jacob Anton Schorer esq. was a jurist who started in the early 20th century openly challenging homosexuality was punishable by law.
He died in 1957.) and whom he visited twice. During that period he also became involved in studying of all kinds of famous gay people in western history, including the ancient Greeks and Romans. He started to read Couperus. 'It became clear to me a lot of famous gays had been writers, something that so far I hadn't had a clue about. ... With all the admiration I had for Schorer and his contributors, I still felt it wasn't enough. More could and should be done.'"
“Engelschman decided to completely dedicate himself to this cause and stop his political activities. Sal Santen, also a RSAP member, described the way he was told about this by Sneevliet: 'Yesterday your friend Nico was with me. He wants to leave the party and the youth movement. ... It's not a political break.
But he also doesn't want to become a resting soldier. It's a very delicate situation. The young man is gay, he told me, and feels very lonely between all the others of a different nature, especially because he has to keep it a secret. He wants to start something for the rights of gays, whom he calls an oppressed minority, and maybe they are. I gave him my blessing.'” Sneevliet's children, the twin brothers Pim and Pam, were also secretly gay.
“Through Schorer, (Benno) Stokvis was given the name of Engelschman. Stokvis asked him if he wanted to write an autobiography. This resulted in autobiography III in Stokvis' book (The Gays. 35 autobiographies. Lochem, 1939). The fairly favourable reception of book was an incentive for Engelschman to put into practice his idea about what could and should be done. Together with Ellenberger and Diekmann, at that time his personal friend, he undertook action. Late in 1939 a newsletter appeared announcing the start of a magazine for gays.
The newsletter was signed by Bob Angelo, the alias Engelschman would use from now on and under which he became widely known.” On the first of March 1940 the first issue of Levensrecht, Monthly Magazine for Friendship and Freedom, was published. In May there were 190 subscribers, when the magazine was discontinued because of the occupation.
Identity Card (28 January 1943) of Nico Engelschman:
his profession ‘office assistant’ has been changed to ‘actor’
(©Collection Jan Carel Warffemius)
When the Germans occupied The Netherlands in 1940, Engelschman joined the resistance. "During the war I was active in the resistance, but I felt it wasn't that big a deal. One of my brothers and I helped Jewish friends. They're still alive. Jef Last and Tom Rot, who also were in the resistance, came to my house once a week for a meeting. This was from 1943 on, when I started living at the Keizersgracht. I was in hiding, sometimes at my mothers place, sometimes in other houses."
“Engelschman presumably was involved in the resistance group of the RSAP. The RSAP was also connected to the Vonk group where Last and Rot were members.”
”During the thirties Engelschman became a member of an amateur theatre group, with no specific political of religious profile. In 1942 he tried to register for the theatre school. He was not admitted because he had two Jewish grandparents but he was allowed to become a student teacher for half a year. After that he took classes from actors who were well-known at that time. After the war he joined the theatre group 'The fifth of May', which consisted of people who all refused to join the Kulturkammer during the war. From that moment on he became a professional actor."
In 1946 Engelschman started Levensrecht again, the precursor to the COC. One of the awards he would receive posthumously was the bridge named after him (1998) near the Amsterdam Gay Monument. In Leiden (1990), Nijmegen (1991) and Groningen already streets had already been named after him, and in The Hague a park.
The bridge named after Engelschman in Amsterdam (Source: members.chello.nl)
users.cybercity.dk/ ~dko12530/53.htm (drs. J.N. Warmerdam & drs. P. Koenders 1987, conversation with Nico Engelschman)
http://www.offensief.demon.nl/krant/offensief-165.pdf (Ron Blom)
www.publiek.coc.nl/cocupdatepdf/Update2006-1.pdf (Hans Warmerdam, picture 1938)
www.publiek.coc.nl/cocupdatepdf/Update2005-4.pdf (Picture PB 1943)
members.chello.nl/mennevellinga/homomonument.html (Picture bridge)
www.gaypnt.demon.nl/straatnamen/E.html (streetnames Nijmegen)
Homo Encyclopdia of the Netherlands (2005)
- 12 November 1913~1957
Jaap van Leeuwen
Jaap van Leeuwen
“Jaap van Leeuwen (1892-1978), born in Leiderdorp, was actief within the Dutch Scientific Humanitairain Comittee (NWHK), which was founded by esquire Schorer in 1919 and which disbanded when the nazi’s invaded”. This also applied to the magazineLevensrecht, which had just released three issues. Van Leeuwen was one of the editors, using a pseudonym. See below the final paragraph of his review of the publication ‘The Gays’ by Mr. S. (Benno Stokvis) from number 1.
Again an honourary salute for the work of Mr. S., whose person
became sympathetic to us by the establishment of this publication, which
we already predict, will bring him more abuse than success,
indeed already brought it to him because it was published in the first place
(see Preface). Let Mr. S. be assured, however: the
Truth always triumphs! The Samaritan, who shows compassion
is more than the Priest and the Levite, who, pass the victim
with contempt and anathema. And in these matters,
today's church is the successor of Priest and Levite;
not of the Merciful Samaritan.
During the war Van Leeuwen became involved in the Parool group. In the autumn of 1941 his distribution group is betrayed and arrested. Because nothing could be proven against him and he resisted vehemently and remained unbroken, he was released after seven months. Fortunately he had hidden all books and documents that could compromise himself and his group at his parents' house in Zeist. Everything that was in his room in Amsterdam with the Addicks family, was destroyed or taken out. In 1943 he went in hiding again when he found out the Sicherheitsdienst was looking for him. The correspondence that was kept shows that during the occupation he continued networking. It was helpful that even before the war he had already been used to leading a double life. Much of the communication by letter was exchanged through poste restante agreements with newspaper stand holders, for instance on the Spui in Amsterdam. Before, during and after the war he also used the alias Arent van Santhorst.” In the Goffert district in Nijmegen a boulevard is named after him; in the same district Benno Stokvis, Niek Engelschman, Anna Blaman and mayor Dales also had streets named after them.
The boulevard in Nijmegen named after Van Leeuwen (Picture: Rob Essers)
www.publiek.coc.nl/cocupdatepdf/Update2005-4.pdf (Rob Tielman Jan Carel Warffemius)
www.gaypnt.demon.nl/straatnamen/E.html (streetnames Nijmegen)
e-mail Rob Essers (picture Van Leeuwenlaan)
Joop Leker (29 July 1920 - 23 april 2008)
Joop Leker, 2007 (Picture: Mireille Vroege)
Joop grew up in the popular Amsterdam neighbourhood 'Haarlemmerbuurt'. There were five children in the family: three sisters, Joop and a disabled brother. His father had a jewellery store, which he neglected because of drinking problems. At the age of fourteen Joop started working. When he found out he was gay he had a hard time. His mother and his sisters accepted his orientation, his father did not. He continued working, followed evening classes and after the war rose to personnel manager at a machine factory in Delft. Later he became a successful businessman. Joop was present when the COC was founded in 1949. At that time he used the pseudonym: 'Joop van Delft'. During the years 1954-1956 and 1961-1963 Joop Leker was a member of the board of directors. He played a role in the discussions about the new course the COC would take from the sixties on, during the chairmanship of Benno Premsela. In 1991 Joop's friend Peter Overbeek died of aids. They had been living together for thirty years. Year after year, on Aids Memorial Day, Joop would read out the names of the aids victims.
During the war Joop didn't join the resistance, but he did commit acts of bravery. At the beginning of the war Joop Leker stood up for his Jewish aunt Stella, head purchaser at the Bijenkorf department store in Amsterdam. In the spring of 1941 the company, mainly Jewish, got German 'Verwalter’ (manager). He was supposed to lay off Jewish employees. But the man was a 'good’ German. Joop went to talk to him and it was agreed that his aunts' salary and that of other laid-off Jewish staff would be continued. When she went into hiding, he brought the money to her hiding place every month. Reportedly he did this also for his aunts' colleagues.
During a raid in the spring of 1943 his Jewish relatives were taken from their house. When Joop heard about this 'he ran to the house, ignored the snarling policemen, saw the youngest son standing beside his mother and grabbed him. Together they walked away; a bold and extremely dangerous action.’ Joop brought the boy (3) to the house of a friend. When their new neighbours in Zwanenburg turned out to be NSB-members (Dutch nazi party), they brought him to another hiding place in Katwijk. The little boy was saved. His older brother was gassed on 16 April in Sobibor, his parents at the end of August in Auschwitz. His sister (19) died at the time of the liberation of Auschwitz, in January 1944. Later on Joop would always ask himself why he had not married this sister earlier.
During the summer of 1943 a friend he knew from the sea scouts, Freek, was captured and sent to Camp Amersfoort. Freek worked at the airplane factory Fokker, a ‘kriegswichtig’ (important for the war) company. As with his aunt, Joop went to the manager again and got him to write a letter saying Freek was indispensable for the company. Joop had the German authorities in The Hague stamp the document and took it to the camp commander. A few days later Freek was a free man. They stayed friends for life.
Peter Brusse, ‘Uit het leven’, Volkskrant 24 May 2008 http://www.coc.nl/dopage.pl?thema=any&pagina=viewartikel&artikel_id=2315 www.joodsmonument.nl http://geschiedenis.vpro.nl/programmas/3299530/afleveringen/1132219/items/9070561
Henri Methorst (1909-2007), publisher and interpreter from The Hague, provided a safe house for the psychiatrist Coen van Emde Boas and his wife. He was given the Yad Vashem decoration. After the war he became a prominent member of the COC, through his work for the International Committee for Sexual Equality (ICSE). Henri was one of the first Dutch interpreters when the various bodies of the European Community were starting up.
Homo-Encyclopedia of The Netherlands (2005)
Henri Methorst (1909-2007), publisher and interpreter from The Hague, provided a safe house for the psychiatrist Coen van Emde Boas and his wife. He was given the Yad Vashem decoration. After the war he became a prominent member of the COC, through his work for the International Committee for Sexual Equality (ICSE). Henri was one of the first Dutch interpreters when the various bodies of the European Community were starting up.
Homo-Encyclopedia of The Netherlands (2005)
Gé Winter (1909-1992),
Amsterdam amateur actor from Amsterdam, and Mau van Spiegel (1904-1981), a dance teacher from Deventer, began a relationship in 1940. Mau was Jewish and went into hiding at his friend's house. Gé Winter saved the lives of Van Spiegel and many of his relatives as well as others. For this he received a Yad Vashem decoration from the Israeli gouvernment. After the war the two friends performed at COC parties as the comic duo 'The Ladies Van Pothoven to Ruigenhoek', impersonating two aristocratic women.
Wolfgang Frommel (Source: www.gaynews.nl/article04.php?sid=669)
Frommel, inspired by the German poet Stefan George and a conservative elitist in his opinions, was not uncritical towards national socialism in his publications. After Hitler came to power he accepted a position in Frankfurt as a radio broadcaster (1933-1934). The name of his program was 'Vom Schicksal des Deutschen Geistes' (The Fate of the German Spirit). Frommel wrote newspaper articles as well. Expert Michael Phillip remarks about this period that Frommel's attitude towards the Nazis was one of conformity. He cherished contacts with the Frankfurt Hitler Youth (HJ) and with high ranking officials of the party in Berlin. A local leader of the HJ, Sven Schacht, was his lover. After the Röhm Putsch in 1934 (a political purge by Hitler against his opponents), Sven became victim of the anti-gay measures and died in the Mauthausen concentration camp.
Frommel too came under the suspicion of the local Gestapo who understood that he was gay. He also had contacts with Jewish friends. Frommel went to teach in Greifswald University in 1934 and worked for the National Radio in Berlin. Later he went to Switzerland (Basel), Italy (Florence) and France (Paris). He came back to Germany and left again in 1937 for France. In 1936 the Nazis had put his best known publication, Der dritte Humanismus (The third Humanism) on the blacklist.
Frommel fled to Holland in 1939. He decided to stay. He was a member of the artists' colony of Bergen. He lived at 'De Zonnebloem' (The Sunflower), the house of the painter Etha Fles. She took him in at the recommendation of the then nationally celebrated poet Adriaan ('Janie') Roland Holst who knew Frommel from a visit in 1925.
F.W. Buri (exp. Castrum-NIOD)
In Bergen Frommel began to assemble a circle of young friends around him (Marita Keilson-Lauritz, 2006). From Bergen they were the young couple Vincent Weyand (Bergen, 31 October 1921), son of a painter, and Chris Dekker (1922-1996). There were two of his old friends from de Quaker School in Ommen for refugees, mainly from Germany: William (Billy) Hildesheimer and Adolf Wongtschowski ('Buri'). Frommel had helped them to flee to Holland. Since 1937, the painter Buri worked as a teacher of textile arts in Ommen, and Billy was a music teacher. He organized musical-like productions, as he also later did in the German camp for interned. There he survived the war thanks to his earlier achieved American nationality (with thanks to Rien Buter, July 2010).
In 1941 Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht (The Hague, 11 September 1912), who lived in Bergen with her parents since 1940, made a portrait of Roland Holst. Roland Holst asked them to meet a German friend, Wolfgang Frommel, a Protestant poet from Heidelberg. Gisèle did so and offered him her help, if needed. From 1940 on she had a pied-à-terre on the third floor at the Herengracht 401 in Amsterdam. Only a couple of rooms and no kitchen.
From January 1942 on the coastal regions were cleared of Jews and the Jewish citizens of Bergen had to leave their homes on April 22. Frommel also felt insecure and moved in with Gisèle in the apartment on the Herengracht. This also applied to another gay German writer, Wolfgang Cordan (see below) with whom Frommel was in contact since 1940 based on their kindred spirit. Marita Keilson-Lauritz assumes that Cordan was the first to find refuge with Gisèle and that he left when Frommel came. Buri (Frankfurt 1919) soon followed. He had left Ommen in September 1940 and found shelter with artist Charles Eyck in Limburg. When the 'Jewish Star' was introduced on 1 May 1942 it became unsafe there. Frommel visited him and invited him to come to Amsterdam.
This was far from easy. Vincent Weijand agreed to travel by taxi past a pre-arranged place near Sittard on his way to the station, and on impulse take Buri along as a hitch-hiker. At the station, Wolfgang Frommel awaited the two young men and took them to Amsterdam. He used a yellow band which he still kept from his military service in Hitler-Germany. Meanwhile Charles Eyck had discovered a letter of Buri saying that he planned to commit suicide. Gisèle welcomed the heroes with red roses. It happened on 8 July 1942.
Thanks to the research of his American daughter, Francesca Rheannon, we know that Joseph Antonius Hubertus Maria (Guido) Teunissen (Weert, 1917-1979) and his wife Miep (Wilhelmina) Benz (1920- ), lived on the fourth floor of the house at the Herengracht since 1939. When Buri joined Gisèle and Wolfgang, the neighbouring couple was informed about the political background of the two Germans. Guido was a skilled carpenter, although he was working as a bicycle messenger, and Frommel asked him to help them build inventive hiding places. For example Guido built a hiding place in the pianola, by taking out the little motor. This place would save Buri's life during a raid. Miep worked in the Jewish-owned department store 'De Bijenkorf' (The Bee-Hive). The couple proved to be reliable and became important for the beginning Castrum project. Their floor became part of the hiding activities of the Frommel circle. As Marita Keilson writes, Joseph was called 'George' and later (by Percy Gothein) 'Guido', the name of an intimate friend of Dante. The name Castrum Peregrini, by the way, comes from the magazine which started in 1950. The first two floors of the house were occupied by people who had no connection to the group of Wolfgang Frommel.
Castle Eerde and De Esch
Kasteel Eerde en De Esch (inset)
Drawing by Haro op het Veld from 1952 (source: www.haroophetveld.nl)
Frommel and Cordan were in contact with a boarding school in fairytale 'Castle Eerde' on the Van Palland estate in Ommen. They were invited to give lectures, but never got an appointment as teachers. On 12 October 2007 a discussion was held at the NIOD (Dutch Institute on War Documentation) about the origin of the school. During the early thirties the Quaker communities in the United States, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands wanted to start an international school in Germany, with a democratic foundation and English as the official language. The diploma was the internationally acknowledged Oxford School Certificate. The nazis, of course, refused. So the school started in Holland. The Quaker teachers from nazi Germany were appointed there. Children of Jews and other opponents of Hitler who had fled became students; a few Dutch and English children came to Eerde as well, drawn by its high academic standards. On April 4, 1934 the school was opened by Quaker leader Pieter M. Ariëns Kappers: 'Du kennst keine Völker, Du kennst keine Rasse' ('God, You don't know nations, You don't know race').
During its heyday there were 120 pupils, taught and educated by 20 to 30 staff members. The school operated in the tradition of the progressive German 'Landeserziehungsheim' (National Educational Home). Because of the German occupation the Quaker school in Eerde was in danger, especially after the German racial laws were introduced. The Quakers did not want to close the school, however. The occupation did not seem too bad and where would go with the staff and teachers? Ariëns Kappers personally contacted the German occupier in the best Quaker tradition of silent diplomacy and good trust. A friend and fellow student, member of the SS, was Kulturbeauftragte (cultural representative) with Seyss-Inquart (the Reichskommissar during the occupation of the Netherlands). In September 1941 Jewish children were forbidden to continue lessons in non-Jewish schools. Eerde followed the ban. Many Jewish children had already been returned to their parents before May 1940, but 9 of them still remained in Eerde, as well as 3 teachers. They were separated from the rest of the students in the children's home 'De Esch', elsewhere on the estate, thus becoming the Ommen Jewish School. Teachers and students promised not to escape or go into hiding. Tragically the nine pupils who kept their promise became victims of the Holocaust. The three teachers and most other pupils survived. Four of the survivors belonged to the circle of friends around Frommel and Cordan.
One of them was Claus Victor Bock, born in Hamburg (1926) who arrived in The Netherlands via Brussels. His father was Czech, his mother German. On 21 September 1938 the Jewish family fled Germany, just in time. The last day of that month the Treaty of Munich would be signed and from 22 September on Belgium would not allow Czech passport holders to enter the country. Father Bock was a merchant in chemicals and had business contacts in Brussels. By order of a Belgian firm he was able to go with his wife to the British Indies for one year, as was thought at the time. They thougt it would be better to leave young Victor in Europe. But where? The Quaker Boarding School in Eerde, established especially for German refugee children, seemed a likely choice. The house-mother of the school, Josi Warburg, had been a class mate of mother Bock. In the spring of 1941 Frommel gave a lecture at Castle Eerde and had, as Marita Keilson puts it, a turbulent-erotic encounter with Claus. In his memoir Untergetaucht unter Freunden (In hiding among friends) (1985) he describes this encounter as a 'spark that ignited'. Frommel adopted him as a disciple and in August 1942 found an address for him in Bergen, with the family Dekker-Maathuis on the Guurtjeslaan. Rheannon writes that Frommel asked Guido to build a hiding place there as well, under the floor boards of son Chris' bedroom. It was also Guido who brought Claus to the Dekkers. In February 1943 Claus Bock joined the group on the Herengracht and stayed with Guido and Miep on the fourth floor.
In March 1941 Wolfgang Cordan also gave a lecture in Ommen. Now, as Keilson writes, another pupil makes a big impression: the 17-year old Johannes Piron (fathers name: Kohn). From this encounter a life-long relationship arises. A second 'unexpected following' (Cordan) occurred because in the form of his friendship with Thomas Maretzki, a Jewish pupil of the school, who just graduated but had not found another place to live yet. After the introduction of the Yellow Star (May 1942), Cordan persuaded him to leave Castle Eerde and join him in Bergen. At first they found shelter with an old friend of Wolfgang, Theo van der Wal (see below), and later with the mother of Chris Dekker, who belonged to the circle of friends around Frommel.
Polderhof in Bergen
Polderhof in Bergen
Chris Dekker by Haro op het Veld
Source: www.haroophetveld.nl - Van Gruting Publ.
Next Chris rented a house on the outskirts of Bergen, where Wolfgang Cordan could live with his protégés. Johannes Piron ('Angelo') came, as well as the German-Jewish student from Ommen Liselotte Brinitzer. Eva Kohn, a sister of Johannes, brought her to Frommel in Bergen. Cordan called the house the 'Polderhof'. Between his stay with the mother of Chris Dekker and his move to the Herengracht, Claus Bock also lived at the 'Polderhof' for a short while. Because of the impending evacuation of Bergen, the house was closed in 1943.
The Frommel circle
Manuel and Peter Goldschmidt, 'half-Jews' according to Nazi laws, were also student from Eerde. They belonged to the Frommel circle. Their non-Jewish mother arranged safe papers. Their non-Jewish appearance made it possible for them to leave Ommen without going into hiding. Manuel lived in a boarding house on the Amsterdam Singel and was a regular visitor to Herengracht 401. So was his brother Peter. Other friends and frequent visitors included Reinout van Rossum du Chattel and, from Bergen, Chris Dekker and Vincent Weyand. When the author Percy Gothein visited them in November 1943, a special picture of the men from the Frommel circle was taken in the kitchen of Miep and Guido Theunissen (Keilson-Lauritz 2006; picture below).
Back row (left to right): Vincent Weyand, Peter Goldschmidt
Middle row: Reinout van Rossum du Chattel, Manuel Goldschmidt, Chris Dekker
Front row: Friedrich W. Buri, Wolfgang Frommel, Percy Gothein, Guido Teunissen
(Source: www.castrumperegrini.nl and Peter Elzinga)
De Esch student Clemens Brühl finally, arranged his own hiding places, and became active in the Dutch Resistance. He kept his contacts with Wolfgang Frommel and his circle. Another Jewish student, who also went in hiding on his own, thought that the contacts of Frommel and Cordan in Ommen were characterized too much by a gay atmosphere for him to want to be part of it.
On 10 April 1943 De Esch was cleared. The remaining residents, as agreed with Ariëns Kappers, went 'voluntarily' by public transport to camp Vught. From there the group ended up in camp Westerbork. There they read together Latin writers like Tacitus and Sallustius and books by Fichte, Goethe and Tolstoy. Three of them were murdered in Auschwitz later that year on 24 September. The last of them, Hermann Isaac, died during the liberation of that camp, on 21 January 1945 (see: www.joodsmonument.nl at Eerde).
Rheannon describes how Claus and Manuel with Buri, as Germans, belonged to the inner circle around the charismatic leader Frommel. In the second circle the young Dutchman Vincent Weyand (or Weijand) was the primus inter pares - Frommel's favourite. But he did not live at the Herengracht. He lived in Bergen and later in a room on the Singel. He was a son of the painter Jaap Weyand and his Jewish wife, and therefore half-Jew according to the Nazis. Gisèle was the 'mother' of the circle, and she was important because of the help and resources she provided. Fellow artists who did not join the Kulturkammer, like Mari Andriessen and Adriaan Roland Holst - Roland Holst later on did join under pressure - supported her with food coupons; as did Adriaans' brother Eep. But neither Gisèle, nor Miep Benz, as women, were allowed in the all-important nightly poetry readings. These readings were the main social activity. Guido, although not an intellectual, was part of them, since he was a man.
Frommel taught the group of Jewish and non-Jewish, German and Dutch young men about the works of Goethe, Hölderlin, and George. Or as Gisèle said in the radio broadcast, "As a friend, father and professor he teaches them about Greek culture". In the same broadcast Manuel Goldschmidt compared it to a 'Hebrew school', and described his experience as follows: "When we were reading poetry we were invisible". Outside there were raids and also the house is searched. But inventive hiding places have been made, such as the hollow pianola and the hidden elevator shaft which led up to the attic and beyond.
According to Claus Bock, the search on 15 October 1944 followed a nervous reaction by the 'Grüne Polizei' (German Order Police in green uniforms) who thought they heard the sound of a radio transmitter. It was the typewriter Buri was working on. Francesca Rheannon talked about this to Miep Benz who was able to tell her the real facts. Miep showed her a note which was given to her after the war by former mayor Voute which said: "There are people in hiding at Herengracht 401". The note came from the files of the Sicherheitsdienst at the Euterpestraat and was written by a distant relative of Miep. She stayed in the Schiller Hotel on the Rembrandt Square, which was owned by a common relative. Miep and Guido were invited to come once a week for a good meal and met the woman there. She fell in love with Guido and was dissappointed when he refused to sleep with her. She was informed about the fact the two helped people in hiding and sent the note to the SD (e-mail Francesca Rheannon, 10 January 2008).
On 12 October 2007 at the NIOD Claus described the action: "The German officers went upstairs. On the fourth floor Miep Benz opened the door, in a pink nightgown and obviously pregnant. They left that floor at and went to the third floor. Gisèle opened and was held at gunpoint by six policemen. Her mother was Austrian, so she was fine. Meanwhile Buri managed to hide in the pianola. In the house, a portrait of Hitler was glued on the backside of a portrait of Stefan George. It was quickly turned around. One of the officers said: 'Nichts los also' ('Nothing's the matter') which made Buri crawl out of the pianola. Just in time he saw who the visitors were and he crawled back. In the kitchen was Wolfgang Frommel, a German citizen. He declared - truthfully - they were just having a Nietzsche circle in the house, for three days later it would be the philosophers birthday. Manuel Godschmidt (apart from being half-Jewish) was also a German citizen. Reinout van Rossum had a well-forged exemption from the Arbeitseinsatz (forced labour). Now it was the turn of Claus Bock. He was asked for his papers. It was an expired Czech passport. Frommel told them Bock was a Sudeten German (German minority in the north of Czechoslowakia) on the run. 'With papers?' 'No'. The German policeman went silent but was obviously impressed by the situation and advised Frommel to get a 'Fallschirm' for Claus; a 'parachute', i.e. forged papers. Then he asked who lived below. 'Alsema? On to them!'"
The website of the current Castrum Peregrini describes what the members saw as the core of the underground commune: life with poetry and the visual arts and the in-depth study of the work of Stefan George (1868-1933). After the war this continued and the house became the institution it is today.
Contacts with Max and Quappi Beckmann
Contacts with Max and Quappi Beckmann
Max Beckmann, Max Beckmann, Les Artistes Max Beckmann, Gisèle, (1946)
Triptiek Schauspieler (Source: Kemper Artmuseum, St. Louis) (Source: Castrum)
During the war, Wolfgang Frommel and Gisèle van Waterschoot van de Gracht regularly visited the German refugee painter Max Beckmann and his wife ‘Quappi’ Kaulbach. The couple lived at the Rokin 85. It is possible that in 1941 Beckmann visited the exposition of Gisèle's paintings at Art Dealer Van Lier, the same gallery where he had a solo exposition in 1938.
Frommel appears on two of Beckmann’s paintings. First on the left panel of the triptychSchauspieler (Actors) (1941-1942), and secondly in the painting Les Artistes mit Gemüse (The Artistes with Vegetables) (1943). In both cases Frommel takes up an almost priest-like position towards the others depicted. On the Schauspieler he raises his finger against a warrior in medieval dress, who seems to be arresting him. A woman stands in between, praying.
In the other painting he sits at a table, with Max and two other exiled painters: Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart and Herbert Fiedler. Each is holding an object. Wolfgang Frommel holds a loaf of bread which he seems to be breaking, like Jesus for his disciples. Beckmann wrote about Frommel in his diary on the 16th of February 1943: ‘Fr. was here, someone who has a true relation with my paintings’. In 1945 Beckmann made a drawing of Gisèle as well as of Wolfgang.
Wolfgang Cordan Charles Eijck, drawing for Wolfgang Cordan (ca. 1960)
(during war) Cordan's Muschelhorn (1944) (Source: www.gaynews.nl/
(exp. Castrum-NIOD) (exp. Castrum-NIOD) article04.php?sid=669)
Hekma also writes about two other literary personalities. Wolfgang Cordan (alias for Wolfgang Heinrich Horn, 1908-1966) was a German journalist, poet and writer who fled to France in 1933 and from there to Holland in 1934. As Marita Keilson-Lauritz relates, the writer Jef Last and, through him, the young journalist and author Theo van der Wal, were Cordans hosts. In France he wrote a booklet against the Nazis, 'L'Allemagne sans masque' (Germany unmasked) (1933) with a preface by André Gide, and in Holland he wrote an essay on surrealism (1935). This book instantly made him an avant-gardist in Holland. He also was editor of the leftist literary magazine The Fundament, published by Contact (1934-1937). Dutch writers as well as German exiles like Klaus Mann and Willy Brandt and the French surrealist Louis Aragon contributed. Between 1937 and 1939 Horn was in Berlin. Back in Holland he set up the surrealistic-political magazine Centaur. The title refers to the mythological half man - half horse figure, one of which (Chiron) was the teacher of young heroes. The first two issues were published by the renowned publisher Stols in Maastricht. Cordan also published in his magazine Halycon (1940-1944), wrote Spiegels (Mirrors) on modern Dutch and Flemish poetry, and a lot more.
In 1940, through Adriaan Roland Holst in Bergen, he met Wolfgang Frommel. Both refugees were of like mind in literary and erotic matters. Frommel experienced the flash of lightening that Cordan mentioned in a letter to Roland Holst. Cordan meant by this the 'deepest contact between two men of about the same age and of equal spiritual development, a flash of lightning which breaks down all barriers and fuses two natures' (July 4, 1940). Despite disagreements, Frommel contributed to some of the Centaurissues during the war. It is possible that in 1940, Cordan was not yet a practicing gay, but he showed a certain preference as in the poem Die Insel Urk.”.
Urk is also the place where the left-wing writer Jef Last and the painter Willem Arondéus found the love of men, a kind of Dutch Island of Capri:
"Es gehn mit schwerem blick die bleichen
Jungfrauen durch die alten Gassen,
Die Burschen hinter Ställe schleichen
Und müssen sich verliebt umfassen.
Es spricht der Pfarrer streng von Sünde,
doch haben nur die Frauen glauben -"
(from: 'Das Jahr der Schatten', 1940)
(The pale girls walk with eyes downcast
through the old alleys,
the boys sneak behind sheds
and have to lovingly embrace each other.
The vicar harshly speaks of sin
but only the women have believe -)”
For a short while (ca. June 1942 - February 1943) Wolfgang Cordan formed a circle of friends (on the Polderhof) similar to the one Frommel would maintain for a long time at the Herengracht.
In a lecture at the NIOD (12 October 2007) the differences between Cordan and Frommel were pointed out as follows: Wolfgang Cordan thought that Frommel, with his contacts in high-ranking nazi circles, was unsuitable for the front-line resistance work in which he himself was engaged. On the other hand Frommel thought that Cordan had left 'the mountain of the poets' and therefore was not suitable for activities in the pilgrims' castle at the Herengracht. Marita Keilson-Lauritz in her publication (2006) poses a question that applies to both men: didn't they only save their darlings, the good looking boys? As one of the survivors said: was Clemens Brühl not beautiful enough to get help in hiding? Another question is whether we can approve of the homo-eroticism with minors, inspired by Stefan George (like Frommel's relationship with Claus Bock). Maybe not. Fact is that most of the protégés of Wolfgang Frommel and Wolfgang Cordan survived the war and the persecution of Jews. And their testimonies on the friendship and inspiration they experienced during this period are very positive. This also applies to Claus Bock, who was then still a minor.
Cordan went his own way. Being a known progressive artist he had into hiding. After a period in Antwerp, where he worked with the publishers couple Kollár-Veen, he moved in with Johannes Piron in Amsterdam, in the Euterpestraat. He owned this place to the Kouwenaar family, acquaintances of Roland Holst. Both become more and more involved in the resistance, especially in the National Armed Resistance Groups. This was also the case with Thomas Maretzki and a new protégé, the young helmsman Jan Monnier. With his little 'ark' of friends and with the gay poet Jac. van Hattum Cordan also published a resistance magazine Resistance and Construction (February - May 1945). After the war Wolfgang Cordan was one of the actors in a documentary by Max de Haas about the Christian an communist resistance.
Percy Gothein and Vincent Weyand
Percy Gothein and Vincent Weyand
Hekma describes Frommel as being the favourit of poet Percy Gothein, who in his turn for some time belonged to the circle of Stefan George. George was the poet who, adored by a small circle, shortly before his death (1933) was asked by Hitler to become the National Poet. Stefan George may have felt honoured but, because of various reasons, refused.
Percy Paul Heinrich Gothein (1896-1944) was the son of Eberhard and Marie Louise Gothein, Heidelberg intellectuals. Eberhard Gothein was a noted sociologist and had Jewish roots; Marie Louise Gothein wrote the definitive study of English gardens. Stefan George often visited the family and 'discovered' the child Percy as a rare poetic soul. Percy became an author. As Rheannon writes, he was unable to get work in nazi Germany because he was 'non-Aryan'. Gothein went to Italy, where he lived until 1943. He had to flee when the American and British troops arrived. Gothein went to Stuttgart and briefly got a job at the Württemburg provincial library. Then Wolfgang Frommel wrote to him from Amsterdam with a proposal to have some of his work published in Holland. Percy, who had visited Frommel once in 1943, went to The Netherlands in the spring of 1944 and lived in the house on the Herengracht, in the front room of Miep and Guido. The men became close friends. Gothein was the first to use the name 'Guido'. Initially Miep, as a woman, had to move elsewhere. Gothein also met other people in the Frommel circle there. In 1944 he followed two of them to Ommen and was arrested there. Wolfgang Cordan writes in his diary:
Back row: Wolfgang Frommel, Martijn Engelmann, Guido Teunissen
Front row: Haro op het Veld, Percy Gothein (1944)
(Source: coll. F. Rheannon)
“Ommen, 30 July 1944 (more likely July 25, ed.). Sad symbol: during the night Percy Gothein has been caught in the act / shaven and locked up in the local concentration camp / with him two guys, one of whom was truly the corpus delicti ... this is a crime - not in a juridical but in a philosophical sense ...". Rheannon explains that Gothein left Amsterdam because of discord with Frommel. The attack on Hitler (20 June 1944) could have been the cause for the arrest. Gothein had connections with the Kreisauer Kreis who prepared the attack. Through him in 1944 a letter for the Britisch Government went to the poet Geerten Gossaert (see www.dbnl.org). After 20 June Gothein fled to Castle Eerde in Ommen, where Vincent Weyand and Simon van Keulen were also staying in order to evade forced labour. Gothein knew Simon from a street encounter. They lived in villa De Esch. The 9 remaining Jewish students of the Quakers school in April 1943 had been transported to camp Vught in April 1943. Maybe Vincent and Gothein thought that De Esch would be safe after the raid.
Francesca Rheannon suspects that Gothein was reported by someone in Ommen. 'The police came to the house where he was with Simon to ask him to come into police headquarters the following day. They found him in bed with Simon, and somehow the news got to the Gestapo'. Simon later claimed that 'he and Percy were in bed together only because there was no other bed around'. But Gothein had been arrested in Germany 2 or 3 times under the infamous anti-gay paragraph 175, and he made no secret of his sexual orientation - possibly one reason why the poet Stefan George rejected him in the 1920's'. George was very secretive about his own gay feelings.
From Castle Eerde Gothein and Van Keulen were transported to the cruel Erika camp, a penal camp in Ommen, manned by mostly Dutch personnel. Four days later, on July 27, Weyand was arrested as well and brought to Erika in the car of camp commander Werner Schwier. Rheannon was told by a Vincent's brother Olaf Weyand that the Dutch guards accused the young men of being gay and beat them up. Gays were often beaten up in the camps, by the guards, their fellow prisoners, or both. Gothein had been separated from Simon immediately upon entering Erika. Simon reported seeing him a few days later from a window and that he had looked very 'bad'.
Vincent Weyand (1944) Cover book about Weyand
(Source: Castrum-NIOD) (Publ.: Van Gruting - ISBN-13: 978-90-75879-43-8)
When the news of the arrest of Percy, Simon and Vincent and their transport to the infamous camp in Ommen reached the Herengracht, precautions were taken. Maybe, under torture, information about the circle around Frommel and Gisèle would come out. Buri and Bock went in hiding elsewhere. The fear turned out to be unfounded and the two returned in September.
During that time they found out, Simon van Keulen was in camp Amersfoort. Gisèle, after waiting a morning at the Sicherheitsdienst, managed to get a permission to visit him. The permit was signed by the chief, Willy Lages. On 12 September she went to the camp by tandem bicycle with Guido Teunissen. She introduced herself as a the friend of Lages, bribed the guards with cognac and cigarettes, made use of the fact that the brute Kotälla was drunk, and had a 5-minute conversation with Simon. She could tell the badly beaten young man that the hiding at the Herengracht still was functioning and that nobody had talked. On 19 October Simon jumped from the train which would have transported him to Germany, and appeared at the Herengracht 'like a ghost' Herengracht.
Monument for gay victims Neuengamme (picture: fcit.usf.edu)
Percy Gothein was transported to Sachsenhausen and from there to the Neuengamme camp where he died on December 22, 1944. During that time Willem Niemeijer stayed there as well. On August 18 Vincent Weyand was brought to the Amersfoort camp and from there, ten days later, to the Dutch deportation camp for Jews, Westerbork. On September 4 the last train to Auschwitz departed. But Vincent was on the train that left the camp on September 13 to the, relatively mild, Bergen-Belsen camp. The train also transported 77 children from the Westerbork orphanage, a group of diamond workers, and a group of 44 Turkish Jews (see chapter on Turkey). Vincent Weyand, who had been arrested as a political prisoner, was deported again. He died on February 21, 1945 in Buchenwald.
After the war After the war, Wolfgang Frommel became the leader of what would become known as Castrum Peregrini and its magazine of the same name, published in German (1951). Shortly after the liberation Frommel was thought to be a German soldier and almost thrown into the canal. Cordan was involved in re-establishing the literary magazine Centaur. After his years in Holland Cordan wrote several books on the Mediterranean countries and two novels, one of them the homo-erotic Julian der Erleuchtete (Julian the Enlightened) (1950).
Guido Teunissen left Miep and went to the US. Miep Benz married Chris Dekker. In 1973 Wolfgang Frommel received a Yad Vashem decoration from the State of Israel for hiding and helping Jews during the period of the Holocaust.
Afer the War
Claus Victor Bock (Picture: www.castrumperegrini.nl)
After the war Victor Bock (Hamburg, 7 May 1926) went to his parents in India, who worked there since the late thirties. After a year he returned to Amsterdam to study literature.
He continued his study in Manchester and Basel, where he obtained his doctorate in Germanic studies (1955). In Engeland he worked mainly in London. For eight years he was the director of the Institute of Germanic Studies. In 1980 he became Dean of the Faculty of Arts. In 1984 he went into early retirement to return to Amsterdam, to Castrum Peregrini.
He published his account of the time he was in hiding - Untergetaucht unter Freunden (1984) - and carried out several activities for the Foundation and the publishing house. His book was translated into Dutch in September 2007: As long as we write poems, nothing will happen to us, Amsterdam 1942-1945. Claus Victor Bock died unexpected and peacefully on 5 January 2008, in the house where he had been in hiding during the war.
In 2007 the NIOD (Dutch Institution for War Documentation) together with Castrum Peregrini organised an exposition about the work and friends of Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht. Some pictures and information in the text are from this exposition and some information is derived from an afternoon seminar at the NIOD on 12 October 2007.
Gisèle d'Ailly-van Waterschoot van der Gracht (Source: www.onsamsterdam.nl)
www.gaynews.nl/article04.php?sid=669 (article Ger Hekma, picture Cordan)
E-mails of Francesca Rheannon (November-December 2006 - Guido Teunissen, Vincent Weyand, Castrum)
Marita Keilson-Lauritz, Centaurenliefde, in: Het begint met nee zeggen, Schorer Boeken (p. 191-214)
http://geschiedenis.vpro.nl/programmas/3299530/afleveringen/5950244/items/7183843 (VPRO radio broadcast, May 26, 2002: 'Spoor terug, Castrum Peregrini')
www.hko97.nl/Archief/artikelen/eerde%20en%20pallandt.htm (Harry Woertink about Ommen)
Exposition and catalogue Max Beckmann in Amsterdam 1937-1947 (Van Gogh Museum, April 2007)
Exposition about Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht, NIOD (April-October 2007) and a seminar on 12 October 2007
www.fraenger.net (Frommel, Gothein)
The Encyclopedia of Righteous among the Nations, Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust. The Netherlands. Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 2004 (Frommel)
www.filmtotaal.nl (an armed resistance group)
www.ogs.nl (Weijand, Castle Eerde)
www.onsamsterdam.nl (picture Van Waterschoot van der Gracht, 2003)
Castrum Peregrini is not mentioned in the Dutch Homo Encyclopaedia.
- 7 May 1926~ 5 January 2008
Jewish Gays and Lesbians
L. Ali Cohen (1895-1970). Levi Ali Cohen was a lawyer who played an important role in the cultural life of the city of Haarlem. He regularly published in magazines and wrote several books. Martinus Nijhoff reviewed the collection of poems Reflexes (1925) and the short story Eros in Reykjavik (1931). He summarized the latter and gave his opinion. Homo-eroticism played an important role.
Cover 'Eros in Reykjavik' (Source: www.antiqbook.nl/boox/fok/18036.shtml)
Three ships are in the harbour of Reykjavik, a Norwegian vessel, a Danish warship and the ‘Eros’, a slender, white ship that came from Scotland under a far-away, unknown flag, with people who sailed all over the world. Aboard the latter (the Eros turns out to be a tourist ship) a night-long party is organized, to which girls from the shore and the crew of the other ships are invited. During one night of exceptional awareness under pressure of an heightened state of mind, several of the party-goers arrive at a more accurate evaluation of their own personality. Of course the next morning depression sets in. Some of the tourists go to a trip inland by car with the Icelandic girls to visit a spring that produces water only once a day. But a Danish naval cadet however, who during the night experienced a revelation about his own nature, tries to wash off what to him seems to lie in between a personal secret and a stain; dives into the icecold seawater in the harbour, gets cramps, and drowns’... In part because of Ali Cohen's florid style, his book does not touch us any deeper than with a sweet bitterness. Just like the galosh-wearer in the fairy tale by Andersen, we are forced to enter all the hearts too deliberately, one by one; with too much emphasis we are made aware of all these profound motives and tender feelings."
Ali Cohen survived the war and the Holocaust. After the war, the COC-magazineVriendschap published a short fragment from the book cited above (August 1951).
M. Nijhoff, Kroniek der Nederlandse Letteren III (p. 711-712, 714)
M. Nijhoff, Reflexen (Collected Work Vriendschap, magazin of the COC (August 1951) p. 7 (www.ihlia.nl/documents/pdflib/Vriendschap/1951/1951-08.pdf)
Jacobus Cohen (Heinenoord, 13 June 1877). Jacobus was a baker and lived in the Blasiusstraat 47. He was married to Joahnna Goudsmit (Wijk bij Duurstede, 5 September 1873) and they had four adult children: Mozes Nathan (1909), Israel (1910), Nathan (1913) and Sophia (1915). The children were born in Rotterdam, where the family had lived for some time. Cohen, who had a typical Jewish name and a 'J' in his identity papers, was arrested in September 1941 by the Amsterdam vice squad. At that time he was 64. The police handed him over to the German authorities who detained him. Jacobus was sent to Westerbork and was gassed on 1 October 1942 in Auschwitz. His son Mozes died in the same camp on 30 April 1943. His wife and his son Nathan were gassed on 21 May 1943 in Sobibor. His daughter Sophia was murdered the same year on 30 November in Majdanek. Israel Cohen succombed before 31 March in a labour camp in Central Europe.
Jacob Hiegentlich (1907-1940).
The Jewish Monument writes about him: ‘Jacob Hiegentlich was born April 30, 1907 in Roermond. His parents - the garment whole-saler Sallie Hiegentlich and his mother Rosalie Egger who died in 1927 - had five children. Four of them, like the father, would not survive the war.’
’Jacob Hiegentlich grew up in Catholic Roermond, in, in what he described himself as "confusing mix of Roman Catholic and Jewish events". He attended the Bishops College of Roermond but, because of problems with mathematics, did not finish his education at this high school.’ In 1923 his debut album of poems in German Die rote Nacht (The red night) was published. ‘At the age of 17, under the pseudonym of David Jozua de Castro, he wrote 'Het zotte vleesch' (The foolish flesh), a novel about the people of Limburg. In it the general practitioner Laurent Stijn, a friend of Hiegentlichs father, was depicted in a very unflattering way. Father Hiegentlich then bought up the entire edition.’
Jacob Hiegentlich, oil painting by Jules Rummens, ca. 1925
(44 x 33,5 cm, collection Ser J.L. Prop, Banholt) (Source: www.dbnl.org)
‘At the urging of his father he went to Amsterdam for the diploma Dutch language teacher, which he obtained on the 17th of November 1930. In Amsterdam he was an active member of the Dutch Zionist Students Organisation (NZSO). He lived among circles of artists and Bohemians and he belonged to the ‘Reynders circle’, named after the famous café at the Leidseplein.’
’In 1932 he became a teacher at the Theosofic high school ‘Drafna’ in Naarden. The classroom-based educational system was contrary to his own strong feelings of individualism. From 1935 on he devoted himself solely to his literary work.’ He published poetry in the literary magazin the Nieuwe Gids. In 1937 his novel Onbewoonbare wereld(Uninhabitable world) was published and in 1938 Schipbreuk te Luik (Shipwreck at Liege). The novel Met de stroom mee (With the Flow) was published posthumously in 1946. Jacob was gay and his stories and novels show a Freudian involvement with subjects like sexuality and death.
‘Jacob Hiegentlich was a fervent supporter of zionism. Within zionism he chose the extreme and militant school of Revisionism under the leadership of Jabotinsky. He wrote numerous articles in common Jewish and zionist magazines, like Baderech, Hatikwah (the offical magazine of the NZSO) and Ha’Ischa. Especially for the Joodsche Wachter (the Jewish Sentinel, official magazine of the Dutch Zionist Union) he wrote political articles against the growing national socialist movement. He gave lectures on literature and Judaism and wrote several reviews.’ Not surprisingly he was a great admirer of Jacob Israël de Haan who was also gay and a zionist, as well as of his sister Carry van Bruggen.
’On the evening of 14 May 1940, Jacob Hiegentlich took poison. He was admitted unconscious to the Wilhelminagasthuis in Amsterdam, where he died on Saturday the 18th of May 1940, 33 years old. On the front of his parental home at the Markt 27 in Roermond a commemoration plaque was placed to Jacob Hiegentlich, ‘Roermond's writer’.’
Siegfried E. van Praag wrote about him: ‘Whenever I'm in Amsterdam, I miss him. He can't be found any longer in the Reijnder’s-café on the Leidsche Plein, not longer in his room in an old canal house. He no longer pours Bols [Dutch gin - ed.] in his landlady's glass, while he plays a typical, little known, record on his gramophone. And he no longer curls the lips in his eternal boyish face around strong cigars ... Yes, Hiegentlich was dressed flamboyantly, because he was inclined towards dandyism, the need for the chic appearance of an old-style boulevardier. Despite his inner feminine nature and probably to compensate for it, he loved bravado. His bravado and his conscious zionism did not allow him any camouflage of his personality and Jewishness.’
Digitaal Monument Joodse Gemeenschap (www.joodsmonument.nl)
Marina van der Klein, De Homo Commemorans en de bezetting: kanttekeningen bij een dominant discours (www.vertrouwen.nu/reactie_MarianvdKl.htm)
G.J. van Bork, Jacob Hiegentlich (www.dbnl.org/auteurs/auteur.php?id=Hieg001)
Samuel Hoepelman (Amsterdam, 28 juni 1896). Samuel was an office clerk and unmarried. He lived together with his elderly parents, Jacob Hoepelman (Amsterdam 1863) and Alida Hoepelman-Suis (same) at the Valckenierstraat 35-I. On 26 August 1942 he was arrested by the vice squad, on the same day as Isaäc Walvisch (see below).
Report on Samuel Hoepelman (Source: NIOD)
Van Opijnen reported to the Bureau of Jewish Affaires that Hoepelman 'on several occasions committed a sexual offence with Arian boys, and still frequents public conveniences to seduce them to sexual offences'. On this the Bureau (a certain P.K.) determined this Jew was a dangerous homosexual and a 'Volksschädling', a harmful element. He was to be permanently removed from society. On the day of his arrest Samuel Hoepelman was handed over to the Sicherheitsdienst. In December 1942 he was sent to camp Westerbork and from there deported to Sobibor on 20 April 1943. There Samual Hoepelman was gassed on 23 April, 46 years old. A few weeks earlier his parents were murdered in the same camp on 26 March 1943. A brother or sister of Samuel survived the Holocaust.
- NIOD, dossier Bureau Joodsche Zaken Amsterdam (5225/7313), with thanks to Erik Schaap, June 2010
Salomon Lam (Amsterdam, 24 September 1886). Salomon was a travelling salesman and unmarried. In 1941, according to www.joodsmonument.nl, he lived together with the young couple Springer and the family Sluijzer at the fourth flour of the Sarphatistraat 195.
His parents were Levie Lam and Sara Vleeschdrager. According to the Amsterdamse police report of 1942 his adress was Nieuwe Achtergracht 107 ground floor, the house of the aged couple Emanuel en Mirjam Mossel-Mulder (www.joodsmonument.nl).
On 26 August 1942 he was arrested by the vice squad, on the same day as Samuel Hoepelman and Isaäc Walvisch (see elsewhere). It was 'Kriminalbeamte' and head of the vice squad Jasper van Opijnen who arrested him.
Van Opijnen repported to the Bureau of Jewish Affairs, in similar words as he did with Hoepelman, that Lam seduced 'Arian' boys to sexual offences. The Bureau determined that this Jew was a dangerous homosexual and hadded to be permanently banned from society. Colleague Kaper from the Bureau also knew Salomon was a communist.
This word is underlined. Salomon Lam, Jew and gay and communist, was handed over to the Sicherheitsdienst the same day and deported via camp Westerbork to Auschwitz. There he died on 13 November 1942, 56 years old.
- NIOD, dossier Bureau Joodsche Zaken Amsterdam (5225/7317), with thanks to Erik Schaap, June 2010
- 24 September 1886~ 13 November 1942
Isaäc Metzelaar (Amsterdam 22 maart 1874). In 1941 Metzelaar lived at the Amstellaan 82-II, called Stalinlaan after the ward and since 1956 Vrijheidslaan. He was married to Hendel Limkowksi (Chrzanow, Poland, 27 December 1876); her addres was in 1941 Tweede Boerhaavestraat 77-I, where two more women her age lived. The couple were probably separated. Isaäc was arrested in July 1942 by the head of the vice squad, Jasper van Opijnen, on grounds of prohibited homosexual behaviour. From July (the 15th) the first trains left Amsterdam for Westerbork. Metzelaar was part of one of these transports – just like Jacobus Cohen. In Westerbork he belonged to the group of prisoners who were deported to Auschwitz on 24 July. Isaäc Metzelaar died there on 19 August 1942, at the age of 68. His wife died in the same camp on 14 January 1943.
Mina Sluyter (Amsterdam, 31 May 1916). Her name is known because of a annotation of the Bureau of Jewish Affairs on 24 July 1942: 'taken into custody because of homosexuality 24-7-1942, also Jewish, moved to the Sicherheitsdienst'. During the months of July and August 1942, according to the letter by Van Opijnen, more Jewish homosexuals were arrested. Mina Sluyter had visited an 'Arian woman' with whom she supposedly had a lesbian relationship. Mina was a seemstress and lived in 1942 at the Kerkstraat 378-II. She died two months after her arrest, on 30 September, in Auschwitz.
- NIOD, dossier Bureau Joodsche Zaken Amsterdam, with thanks to Erik Schaap, June 2010;
- Sytze van der Zee, Vogelvrij, De jacht op de Joodse onderduiker (Amsterdam 2010), p. 123
- www.joodsmonument.nl (with the name Sluijter)
Isaäc Walvisch (Amsterdam, 21 September 1888). In 1941, Walvisch, a merchant, lived at the Amstellaan 27-II, together with two other families. In 1942 his addres was Kromme Mijdrechtstraat 6-II. On 26 August 1942 Walvisch was arrested by the vice squad, the same day as Samuel Hoepelman (see above). He was detained only briefly and was sent to Westerbork on 10 September and the next day to Auschwitz. On 14 September 1942 Isaäc Walvisch was gassed.
David Waterman was also one of Jewish men who were arrested and handed over to the Sicherheitsdienst. He might have been the same David Waterman who was born in 1893 in Amsterdam in a family of 12 children; this David was married and had two daughters who married non-Jews and survived the Shoa. On 25 May 1943 Waterman ended up in Westerbork, possibly together with some family members. Fifteen people with the surname Waterman were gassed in Sobibor three days later, on 28 May 1943 but David was allowed to stay in the camp, in barac 65, and managed to avoid deportation. He lived to see the liberation of camp Westerbork on 12 April 1945. Waterman did not wait for permission to leave the camp and disappeared after a couple of days.
He had to be careful because the vice squad of Van Opijnen was still active until 1946 and the German regulation 81/40 remained until 1947. Finally in the sixties the social climate changed. However, it was not until 1986 that gays could apply for compensation for suffering during the war.
Hugo van Win (1920-2004). Hugo was the second child of the Amsterdam Jewish couple Salomon van Win and Elisabeth de Metz. During the thirties the family lived in the Den Textraat. At that time he attended the Regulierschool, together Benno Premsela, who later became an inerior disigner and a co-founder of the COC. During those years Salomon van Win started making cans which he filled with menthol liquorice, which became a flourishing business. Hugo also worked there for a short while after finishing high school, and his first job at a ladies'fashion store, which was about to send him to the Netherlands Indies. Meanwhile, war had already started.
Hugo’s parents were non-practicing Jews, but well aware of the dangers of their origin. In 1940 and 1941 his father, under an assumed name, had already rented living accomodations in case they had to go into hiding. It required a lot of money. In December 1942 Salomon van Win bought forged identity cards for the family, at 200 guilders each.
Before the war Hugo had already discovered, in the street, that he was gay. Everywhere in Amsterdam were ‘krullen’ (curls), public urinals. There he experienced the tension of erotic contact with men. Also ‘cruising’ was done in parcs or fields. After that he came into contact with men of his own age who always believed they were ‘the only gay in the world’. The boys sometimes dressed up as girls, used make-up and once went to the De Bijenkorf (Amsterdam's most famous department store) to stage a demonstration. Hugo also visited the gay-bar 'The Marathon' at the back of the Tuschinsky Cinema in the Reguliersbreestraat.
Homosexual contact by an adult (over 21) with a minor had been an offence since 1911. Therefore the police checked the 'curls' and regularly raided the gay bars. Boys under the age of 21 were taken to the police station where their parents could pick them up. The German laws, in force as of August 1940, made all homosexual contact punishable and raised the penalty from a maximum of four to ten years.
In November 1943 the SS-magazine Storm wrote that gays needed to be rooted out 'to the last man, as weed in the Dutch garden' (http://home.wanadoo.nl/gckool/a06.html). The magazine also published some articles on the gay bars which still continued their businesses. Under a picture from a little pub with the name 'Blonde Saar' they inserted the text: ‘Something that damages a healthy nation should be cut out’. The text in the small frame explaines that these places ruined the nation's health (see http://www.annefrankguide.com/nl-NL/bronnenbank.asp?aid=9086).
SS-magazine Storm, late 1943 (annefrankguide.com)
On many occasions Hugo had a lucky escape. In October 1941 he became an adult. He relates that in the room near the Concertgebouw, which his father rented for him from two ladies from the Netherlands Indies, he had his first experience of trying to make love. The boys kissed each other and that was it.
In June 1942 Hugo left Amsterdam to avoid forced labour and deportation, and with help of his mother's relatives, began work in a Jewish mental hospital, The Apeldoornsche Bos (The Apeldoorn Forest). Later in that year the trainee nurse received, through his father's secretary, a forged identity card and the of key to a hiding place in Apeldoorn, just in case. On the 20th and 21st of January 1943 the mental hospital, where Jews from Apeldoorn had also been rounded up, was prepared for evacuation and deportation. On the night of the 20th Hugo managed to escape to the hiding place and the next morning he managed to get on the train to Amsterdam. On the 22nd of January about 800 residents and 50 staff members were transported to Westerbork. Most of them were killed in the camps (see Abigael Santcroos*, Netherlands Antilles).
Luckily Hugo could return to his room at the Alexander Boersstraat, where his mother and sister soon joined him. Three other persons in hiding followed, and finally also Hugo's brother with a friend. Ten people in a house which officially could accomodate only two people. Hugo decided to leave. After a failed attempt he received a tip to contact a member of the Employment Centre in Hengelo, mister Maurits Staudt. He was able to provide a forged passport (in the name of Bertus de Witte) and other documents, which enabled Jews and others who wanted to go into hiding to join the employed workers in Germany. Hugo decided to go for this seemingly crazy proposal. His father and the others in hiding in Amsterdam were furious, but after all kinds of delays, on the 17th of August 1943 Hugo left for the lion's den.
On the papers Staudt had entered the German city of Balingen, far from the violence of war, near Switzerland. Van Win actually managed to get a job there, with a department of the Siemens company. He forged Dutch certificates and proof of ‘Arian Descent’ to make him look like the person in his passport. Hugo van Win worked in the financial department, gained trust, met some reliable Germans and made a career. He listened to Radio Oranje and secretely resisted by manipulating the accounting records. Escaping to Switzerland seemed impossible. Instead, on the 1st of Juli 1944, his boss sent him to heavily bombarded Berlin. Hugo could not refuse the ‘promotion’, but insisted on permission to look for a place to live on his own, just like in Balingen.
His boss in Berljn thought a labour camp was good enough for the novice. Hugo then went to the Gestapo and with some luck was given permission to rent a private room. He found one in the Sesenheimerstrasse, Charlottenburg. Van Win lived through over 300 bombardments. On October 6, 1944, he survived a direct hit on the air-raid shelter. During this insane period only one thing counted: staying alive. But also, just like so many young people in Berlin, he wanted to experience everything that life still had to offer. Every night Hugo visited a gay bar which, despite the severe nazi punishments, was still in business. One of the bars was 'Barth' in the Fasanestrasse. He also visited the ‘curls’ in Berlin, public urinals near underground and railway stations. Because Hugo had an appartment of his own, he could take men home with him unhindered.
Hugo took part in wild gay parties while the bombings went on. One of his most exceptional encounters was with a boy who was known as ‘Klosetta’. He was always flamboyantly dressed and often appeared as a woman. When the Russians were already in Berlin they had a conversation. Klosetta turned out to be Israel Cohen. He had chosen his striking disguise to save himself and his mother. In Berlin Hugo became involved in the resistance. On Wednesday nights he met a certain Klaus in café Bristol at the Kurfürstendamm, who needed secret lists and drawings of Siemens. This probably had something to do with the production of V-weapons.
On th 5th of May 1945, Hugo heard about the liberation of the Netherlands on a radio rigged up by Delft students. With five students he decided to get back to Holland by bicycle as soon as possible. That was very optimistic. They ended up in a Russian camp and were handed over to the Americans. The Americans then transported them to Wolfsburg. From there the arrived by freight train in Eindhoven on May 29. In Amsterdam Hugo’s parents, his brother and his sister, also turned out to have survived the war. But their house at the Den Texstraat was occupied by a NSB couple. The husband had fled to Germany but the woman still lived there. After a lot of pressure she eventually left, taking all the furnishings with her.
Hugo van Win (about 1960) (www.coc.nl/dopage.pl?thema=any&pagina=viewartikel&artikel_id=149)
On saturday the 7th of December 1946 the Amsterdam Shakespeare Club organised its first meeting in café De La Paix (Leidsestraat). Jef Last gave a lecture on ‘Liefde in Griekenland’ (Love in Greece). Hugo van Win became a member of the club, which was formed from the readers contacts of the pre-war gay magazine Levensrecht (see Niek Engelschman). In 1948 the name of the Club became ‘Cultuur en Ontspannings Centrum (COC)’ (Culture and Relaxation Club). Between 1952 and 1956 Hugo van Win was the treasurer of the COC. The COC made him an honorary menber.
Hugo van Win became a successful businessman, first in textiles, later as a successor to his father in the Liquorice Factory and in the Import Factory 'The Atlas'. He died on the 22nd of May 2004.
Exposition ‘Who can I still trust?’ and the exposition newspaper
Hugo van Win, Een Jew in nazi-Berlin. Utrecht 1997
Poster from the exposition (Source: www.westerbork.nl)
Exposition 'Who can I still trust?'
The exposition 'Who can I still trust? Gay in nazi Germany and the occupied Netherlands' took place from 22 September 2006 in the Resistance Museum in Amsterdam until 14 January 2007. For more information about the exposition and its tour seewww.vertrouwen.nu
Inspiration for The English Patient had gay Nazi lover
The Second World War spy who inspired the womanising hero in the Oscar-winning film The English Patient was actually homosexual and in love with a young soldier, according to letters discovered in Germany.
By Allan Hall in Berlin
10:18PM BST 05 Apr 2010
Intimate correspondence penned by Hungarian-born adventurer Count Laszlo de Almásy shows he had a relationship with a soldier called Hans Entholt.
The Heinrich Barth Institute for African Studies in Cologne has made the claim after discovering love letters but has yet to publish the details.
A member of the institute's staff told Germany's Der Spiegel magazine the letters show he had several homosexual relationships: "Egyptian princes were among Almásy's lovers."
Entholt, an officer in the Wehrmacht, died during Rommel's retreat from Africa after stepping on one of his own side's landmines.
The letters also reveal Almásy did not die of a morphine overdose after suffering terrible burns, the fate the befell the fictional hero played by Ralph Fiennes in the film. Instead Almásy succumbed to amoebic dysentery in 1951.
Born the son of a Hungarian nobleman, Almásy is portrayed in the film as the handsome young lover of an Englishwoman in pre-war Cairo.
During the war he smuggled Nazi agents through the Sahara desert as part of his missions for the Brandenburg Division, a unit of German foreign military intelligence that carried out acts of sabotage behind enemy lines.
Almásy was one of a number of minor pre-war explorers recruited by German intelligence in a bid to diminish British influence across Africa.
Gay Artist Raised in Nazi Germany Arrives Here
August 26, 2005|By Richard Knight Jr., Special to the Tribune
It's a long way from the threat of Nazi Germany's notorious persecution of homosexuals to a solo show celebrating homoerotic imagery in Chicago's Boystown. But such has been the long day's journey into art and personal acceptance of German artist Hans-Ulrich Buchwald. Not only did a Buchwald exhibit of his linoleum prints and woodblocks open at the North Side Leigh Gallery on Aug. 19, but a concurrent show, a retrospective of his entire career, opened at Pilsen's Colby Gallery the following night.
The timing of the two shows was purely coincidental but hardly surprising, say both gallery owners, Jean Leigh and Colby Luckenbill. "I think the more people that see his art the better," Luckenbill said. "What's really important here is this man who's a pioneer of promoting our common humanity through the arts." Leigh said. "I just think his work is very inviting."
he 79-year-old Buchwald, who traveled from his home in Hanover, Germany to attend both openings, was accompanied by his translator and artistic contemporary, Rolf Peter Post, and his daughter, Mariana Buchwald, who lives in Chicago and was responsible in a roundabout way for the multiple exhibitions. She'd befriended both Luckenbill and Leigh and wanted to raise the visibility of her father's work here, though she didn't expect to see two shows dedicated to his work.
"I'm so thrilled for him," Mariana said before the openings. "His work has inspired many people and he does, too, because he's very joyful. He doesn't speak English so it was a bit scary for him coming to America but it's an exciting experience. He said, `Let's go for it.'"
"I am very excited and pleased to have my work shown in Chicago," said Buchwald, who spoke from his studio in Hanover through Post, said. Though Buchwald has shown extensively in his native Germany and Italy, and was part of a 1974 group show in New York, this is his Chicago debut, his first solo exhibition and his first retrospective in America.
Buchwald's professional recognition has been mirrored by the acceptance of his homosexuality from his daughter Mariana. "After my mother passed away in 2000 I encouraged him to come out," she said. "The great exhibition of his work at the Gay Museum in Berlin last year helped him to be confident about his identity."
But this has been a hard won confidence for Buchwald who learned at a young age to remain circumspect about his sexuality. Born in 1925, Buchwald was raised in a family of artists who encouraged all manner of expression. But the suicide of an uncle who was blackmailed with the threat of exposure by a male lover haunted Buchwald.
At age 15 Buchwald enrolled at the Breslau School of Handicrafts to study commercial art, but two years later, in 1942, he was drafted into the German Army. Captured by the Americans in 1945, he had his first homosexual encounter with another prisoner. But though one of his American captors provided him with paints, seeing his artistic talent, Buchwald rejected the officer's advances.
After the war, Buchwald found work as a painter of scenery and mask-maker for a theatrical company and returned to his artistic studies at the Hanover School of Fine Arts. There he met and fell in love with another artist, Hella Feyerabend who was 10 years his senior. They married in 1956 and had two daughters, Mariana and Luise in addition to taking in Feyerabend's daughter from a previous marriage, Gundel.
The two shared an artistic bond that released Buchwald's talent--and rose above his repressed desires for men. "It was continuously there," Mariana Buchwald said. "But the artistic relationship between my parents kept everything going. They were so driven that their muse kept them above everything personal." By the early '60s the couple established a pattern of summer painting trips in Europe and North Africa and joint exhibitions that persisted until Feyerabend's death.
Lesbian Love Story from Nazi Germany
Lesbian Love Story from Nazi Germany / True tale inspires book, documentaries, and feature film There are very few stories about lesbians in Nazi Germany. June 22, 1999| Jeanne Carstensen, SF Gate
We know that lesbians weren't specifically targeted by the Third Reich as were male homosexuals, but Nazi policies made any lifestyle other than heterosexuality extremely difficult.
Erica Fischer's book "Aimée and Jaguar: A Love Story, Berlin 1943" is probably the most well-documented account of lesbian life during this period in existence; it's certainly the most well-known.
Since its publication in Germany in 1994, "Aimée and Jaguar" has been translated into many languages (a Croatian version is in the works) and has been the subject of no fewer than three radio and two television documentaries. It has inspired art exhibits, songs, and a play, and in part, a recent San Francisco symposium on "Lesbians and the Holocaust."
And now the book is a major motion picture. "Aimée and Jaguar," by German director Max Färberbök and starring Germany's Maria Schrader, opened this year's Berlin International Film Festival, the first time a lesbian-themed film has had that honor.
Juliane Kohler as the red-haired Lilly Wust, and Maria Schrader as the dapper Felice Schragenheim, in "Aimée and Jaguar."
In a recent e-mail exchange, Erica Fisher, a Jewish-Austrian journalist living in Berlin, spoke about her initial surprise over the book's tremendous success. "I'm a feminist," she wrote, "so I didn't expect to reach a large audience."
"But I think the combination of love and the holocaust, i.e., love and danger or love and death, is certainly fascinating to people," she continued, "and the fact that it's a true story."
Felice Schragenheim, aka Jaguar, is a vivacious 20-year-old Jewish lesbian trying to survive in wartime Berlin by living under a false identity. A budding journalist, at one point she audaciously takes a job at a Nazi newspaper to gather information for the underground. Despite the constant fear of deportation, she moves about Berlin with unsquelchable chutzpah and lesbian panache.
Lilly Wust, aka Aimée, is a gentile, mother, and the 28-year-old wife of a Nazi officer stationed outside of Berlin. She lives comfortably in an ample apartment, complete with a bronze relief of the Führer, and is supplied with extra rations for herself and her four sons by the regime.
Felice meets Lilly through her lover Inge, who as an unmarried woman is fulfilling her compulsory domestic service as a maid in Lilly's household. Inge is part of a dynamic circle of Berlin lesbians, and Lilly soon finds herself playing hostess to the charming women in her apartment.
Still oblivious to the fact that Felice and most of her friends are Jews, she succumbs to Felice's flirtations and falls madly in love. In letters and poems, they now refer to each other sweetly as Aimée and Jaguar.
Some months into their relationship, after Felice has moved into the Wust household, Lilly finally insists that Felice explain her mysterious comings and goings. As Goebbels is intensifying his program to eliminate all Jews from Berlin, Felice risks all and reveals her identity: She is Felice Schragenheim, not Schrader as Lilly had believed.
Shocked, she pulls herself together and takes Felice into her arms. Although Inge and others had overheard her make anti-Semitic statements in the past, Lilly suddenly understands the danger Felice is in and swears to keep her out of harm's way. Felice's chances to emigrate slowly evaporate. Most of her friends and relatives are either deported, or manage to escape, but Felice stays behind in the dubious safety of Lilly's apartment.
On August 21, 1944, exhausted from months of bombings, the lovers escape Berlin on their bicycles for a day in the countryside. They frolic and kiss and take self-timer photographs with Felice's beloved Leica camera. Upon return to Lilly's apartment, the inevitable climax finally occurs: The Gestapo is waiting, and takes Felice away.
Lilly Wust is now 85 and still living in Berlin. Fischer began interviewing her in 1991 after she won a German award for helping Jews during the Nazi period. For several years, Fischer poured through the letters, poems, journals and photographs that Lilly had carefully saved in two old suitcases; she also interviewed Inge and many others who knew Felice and Lilly at that time, and gained access to some of their documents from the period.
Fischer used this material to create complex, intimate portraits of her main characters. As the love story unfolds, for example, we learn through letters and interviews what Inge and some of her friends thought of Lilly. Their impression that she behaved at times like a convinced Nazi, contrasts sharply with Lilly's portrayal of herself as ignorant of politics.
Fischer also employed this rich source material to capture the humorous side of daily life in Nazi Berlin, as in this conversation from the book between Felice and Inge, who at that time was employed as Lilly's (Elisabeth) maid. Felice, it appears, was an extremely creative flirt:
At the end of October Inge returned home from work furious.
"Damn, she's one of them after all! Do you know what she said to me today? 'Jews? I can smell them!' I can't take it any longer."
"Oh yeah? She said she can smell Jews, did she? I'd like to test that out!"
Felice, her interest already piqued by Inge's colorful descriptions of her work as a housemaid, and craving a change in her monotonous and static life, could not let go of the thought of having Elisabeth Wust take a whiff of her.
"I tried to write my book lightly," Fisher said. "I wanted to convey the permanent danger in which Felice was living, but also the comical sides of her life and the relationship of the two women."
"I suppose this ... was easier for me because I am Jewish and hence without a guilt complex," Fisher continued in her e-mail, "at least not the same one the Germans have!"
Fischer's relationship with Lilly was complex, tense at times. Lilly would talk openly about her lesbian sexuality and life after 1943, when she met Felice, but was not forthcoming about her decade of marriage to her Nazi husband. "Lilly certainly wasn't an ardent anti-semite. She was just one of millions of fellow-travellers and opportunists who went along with the regime because they could not think of anything else," Fischer explained.
There's no doubt that after Lilly learned Felice was Jewish, she changed completely. She helped save three Jewish women in Berlin after Felice was captured, and in her loss came to identify so closely with Jews that she sent her children to synagogue.
But Fischer is adamant about the need for Germans like Lilly to break out of a "disruptive culture of silence." "Instead of coming to terms with their own family histories, many Germans would love to belong to the victim group. This I cannot accept."
Now that the story of "Aimée and Jaguar" has reached an international audience, 85-year-old Lilly Wust has become a bit of a celebrity, especially among German lesbians. At a recent symposium on "Lesbians and the Holocaust" organized by the Holocaust Center of Northern California, the mostly lesbian audience was charmed when Fischer told the story of young lesbians competing for Lilly's attentions. "Some of them are 50 years her junior!" Fisher said with a laugh.
But Fischer sees contradictions in this adulation from the mostly non-Jewish German lesbian community. "They tend to forget the dark side of Lilly's history and only see her love for Felice," Fischer writes. "They see her as Lilly would like to have seen herself. Many prefer to see the two women as equal victims of Nazi Germany."
"But I insist on stressing that Felice died as a Jew and not a lesbian."
The power of Erica Fischer's book and the issues it raises has contributed to the initiation of a specifically lesbian reading of the holocaust, the complexities of which were discussed at the "Lesbians and Holocaust" symposium.
While in San Francisco for the event, Fischer had an extremely moving and unexpected encounter. A holocaust survivor living in the city saw the publicity for the symposium and realized that she had known Felice Schragenheim in the concentration camps. She contacted the Holocaust Center, and a meeting with the journalist was arranged.
"The woman, 82 years old and very beautiful (I won't mention her name because I do not know whether she would want me to), came to fill in a few gaps in my knowledge about Felice's last months," Fischer began. "But mainly, I think, she wanted Lilly to know."
"We knew that Felice was in Gross Rosen, but Gross Rosen consisted of approximately 100 side camps, and we didn't know in which of them Felice was. Now I know: it was a place called Kurzbach."
"Now I also know what Felice was forced to do: She had to carry logs of trees and dig tank traps, but all the women could do was scrape the ground because it was deep winter and very cold."
"I know that Felice was brought to Bergen-Belsen in an open freight train in February 1945. It took them a week to get there -- in an open freight train. And I know that Felice died in Bergen-Belsen, probably shortly before the camp was liberated."
The woman also confirmed some of Fisher's hunches about Felice's nature.
"In Theresienstadt Felice was always the heart and the soul of the party telling funny stories whenever she could, and that she loved surrounding herself with pretty girls, at times sitting on her knees -- which confirms my suspicion that after the war Felice would not have stayed for a long time with clinging Lilly."
Fischer expressed this suspicion in the epilogue to the book: "It made quite a few of my readers furious!"
"The illusion of never-ending love is still very much alive."