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Harry Pauly


As a young boy growing up in Berlin, Harry developed a love for the theater. At 15 he began acting in minor roles at a theater at the Nollendorfplatz. He was also apprenticed to a hairdresser but disliked the work. He spent most of his time with other actors, both at the theater and in nightclubs where homosexuals gathered.

1933-39: When the Nazis came to power, they closed the gay bars. Some homosexuals, especially those who were Jewish, were killed by Nazi hooligans; my friend "Susi," a drag queen, was stabbed to death. In 1936 I was arrested under the Nazi-revised paragraph 175 of the criminal code, which outlawed homosexuality. I was imprisoned in a camp at Neusustrum, where I worked in the marshes 12 hours a day. After 15 months I was released.

1940-44: In 1943 I was turned in by two boys pressured by the Gestapo to denounce homosexuals. Again I was sentenced under paragraph 175. Again I was released, this time after only eight months because friends in the theater intervened on my behalf. I was then drafted into the army but wherever I went, people knew of my 175 conviction and called me a "dirty faggot." I couldn't stand it and deserted twice. Finally, as punishment, I was sent to a special combat unit in which almost everyone was killed. Somehow I managed to survive.

After the war, Harry started his own small theater.

Related Links
Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals (USHMM online exhibition) The Persecution of Homosexuals under the Nazi Regime (CAHS Symposium) Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals (USHMM Special Focus) Homosexuals: Victims of the Nazi Era (USHMM brochure series) USHMM Library bibliography

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