Scrapbookpages Blog

April 18, 2011

the persecution of gays in Nazi Germany

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 2:48 pm

California will soon pass a new law which will require schools to offer a course in gay history.  Schools in Los Angeles and San Francisco already teach gay history, but soon it will be mandatory in all California schools.  When I heard this on the news today, I decided to do some research on the subject of gays in Nazi Germany.  So I first consulted Wikipedia, and learned the following:

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.   

I clicked on “Extermination Through Work” in order to learn more about this Nazi policy and learned that this policy was included in the minutes of the Wannsee Conference, which was held on January 20, 1942.

This quote is from Wikipedia:

The transcript of this gathering on January 20, 1942 gives historians insight into the thought-process of the Nazi Leadership, as they devised the salient details of their future destruction, including using extermination through labor as one component of their so-called “Final Solution”:

“Under proper leadership, the Jews shall now in the course of the Final Solution be suitably brought to their work assignments in the East. Able-bodied Jews are to be led to these areas to build roads in large work columns separated by sex, during which a large part will undoubtedly drop out through a process of natural reduction. As it will undoubtedly represent the most robust portion, the possible final remainder will have to be handled appropriately, as it would constitute a group of naturally-selected individuals, and would form the seed of a new Jewish resistance.”

The Wannsee Conference was held for the purpose of planning the genocide of the Jews, so the above quote from the minutes of the meeting seems to contradict the stated purpose by mentioning “work assignments in the East,” implying that the Jews were going to be sent to the East instead of being killed.  But I digress.  The important point here is that the Nazis talked about how some of the Jews would be eliminated “through a process of natural reduction” which of course, really meant “extermination through work.” Nothing was said at the Conference about gays being exterminated through work, so you have to use your imagination.

One thing, that I did not see on any of the Wikipedia entries about homosexuals, is the information that, beginning in 1937, homosexuals who had been arrested twice and had served two prison terms, were sent to concentration camps for rehabilitation.

In 1937, there were only 7,500 prisoners in the four main Nazi concentration camps: Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald and Lichtenberg which was a camp exclusively for women prisoners. According to Peter Padfield, who wrote a book entitled “Himmler,” Reichsfürher-SS Himmler wanted to increase the number of inmates in the concentration camps because he wanted a large labor force for the factories that were owned by the SS.

According to Padfield, in 1937, Himmler broadened the list of persons who could be sent to concentration camps to include “tramps and vagabonds, beggars – even those with a fixed address – gypsies and people who traveled from place to place like gypsies if they showed no will to work regularly, pimps who had been involved in legal proceedings even if not convicted and who still associated with procurers and prostitutes, or people under strong suspicion of procuring and finally people who had demonstrated by numerous previous convictions for resistance, causing bodily injury, brawling, trespass and similar that they do not want to adapt themselves to the orderly Volk community.”

Himmler had the authority to expand the camps because Adolf Hitler had signed a decree on June 17, 1936, which made Himmler the new Chief of the German Police within the Reich Ministry of Interior.

According to Peter Padfield, Himmler’s first large-scale action as Police Chief was the “nationwide round-up of professional criminals.” On March 9, 1937, Himmler gave the order to arrest around 2,000 “professional criminals” who had committed two or more crimes, but were now free after having served their sentences. They were arrested without charges and sent to a concentration camp for an indeterminate time.  Included were homosexuals who had been arrested twice and had served two terms in prison.

Homosexuals were arrested in Nazi Germany under Paragraph 175 of the German criminal code, which had been in effect since 1871.  Paragraph 175 made it a crime for men to engage in gay sex or for male prostitutes to solicit men for sex. During the Weimar Republic, this law had not been enforced.  Himmler began enforcing Paragraph 175 and as a result, a total of about 10,000 homosexuals were eventually sent to concentration camps such as Dachau, Sachsenhausen and Mauthausen for at least 6 months of “rehabilitation.”

According to Christian Bernadac, who wrote a book about Mauthausen, gay prisoners “received regular visits from the medical commissions” who attempted to change their sexual orientation because the Nazis believed that these prisoners were gay by choice.  Male prostitutes were released when the medical commissions determined that they were not gay.

According to Bernadac’s book, the first homosexual prisoner who was registered at Mauthausen was Georg Bautler, Prisoner No. 130. The first Jew that was sent to Mauthausen was imprisoned, not because he was Jewish, but because he had broken the German law under Paragraph 175.

Homosexuals had to wear a pink triangle on their prison uniforms.  The pink triangle is now used as a symbol of gay pride.

Pink Triangle honors gays who were persecuted by the Nazis

Pink triangle in front of Amsterdam church

I took the two photos above in front of the Westerkerk church. The photos show two of the three triangles which form the Homomonument, designed by Karin Daan. This memorial in Amsterdam honors approximately 10,000 homosexuals who were sent to the Nazi concentration camps; the memorial consists of three triangles which define a larger triangle. One triangle is raised up from the ground, as shown in the first photo above.

Pink Triangle in Dachau Museum

I took the photo above in the Dachau Museum in 2001. The inscription on the triangle refers to the fact that homosexuals in all the Nazi concentration camps received very harsh treatment from their fellow prisoners, and after the war, the homosexuals were not included in the commemoration of the victims. The pink triangle in the Dachau Museum was first placed there on June 18, 1995.

In the early days of the Dachau camp, the “Kapos,” who supervised the other prisoners, were German criminals who typically treated the homosexuals very badly. Later the internal administration of the Dachau camp was taken over by the Communist inmates.

After the war, it was the Communists who designed and supervised the Dachau Memorial Site and they did not honor the homosexuals. The Dachau museum was updated in 2003; the new museum mentions both the homosexuals who were arrested under Paragraph 175 and the German criminals who were arrested under other German laws, as victims of the Nazis.


  1. I seem to remember that for many years there was no memorial at Dachau for the gays who were murdered there. Can anyone confirm this?

    Comment by Silas — June 20, 2012 @ 6:10 am

    • I mean that the Catholic Church protested this and it was removed.

      Comment by Silas — June 20, 2012 @ 6:12 am

    • That is correct. For years, there was no memorial for the gays who were sent to Dachau. Some of them died from disease or other natural causes, but all deaths in all the Nazi camps are characterized as “murder” by the Holocaustians. The last photo on my blog post shows the pink triangle in honor of the gays that was added to the Dachau Memorial site around 2003.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 20, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

  2. PS. Sorry I should have written under :
    Holy Toledo!Students learn about Holocaust horrors

    Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — April 27, 2011 @ 3:10 am

  3. Dear Gasan,Furtherglory
    I don’t want to go too deeply into the debate of the suitability of the cremation ovens in Dachau, but they were in my opinion professionally made when I first looked inside them in 1946 and again the last time in 1956.
    The inner bricks are of a special make and are called in German Schamotten-Steine=feuerfester Baustoff, durch Brennen von plastischen Ton und stark gebrannten zerkleinerten, feuerfesten Ton wird bis 1450 Grad Celsius erhalten.(Fire-resistant building bricks, by burning from sculptural? clay and strongly burnt chopped up fire-resistant clay with 1450 degrees centigrade resistance.)
    The inside was very clean and you could still see the initials of the brick-maker on the inner wall on some of the bricks.

    From memory the ovens had standard double brick on the outside and would, as you say not withstand the heat exposed during cremation and was only the final finish.

    Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — April 27, 2011 @ 2:58 am

  4. Bravo, Herb!
    You are my hero!

    Comment by Gasan — April 19, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

  5. Dear furtherglory
    One thing you forgot to mention the fact that homosexuals sent to Dachau KZ for example were all catamites which is the passive partner in sodomy. It would have been nice to find your old “Sweetie” in the camp, “wont you like to share the bunk with me tonight?”Kurt Lange who stood as a model for the stylized statue at the memorial site was a male prostitute and we all knew him well!
    Even Himmler had thought of the homosexuality of “straight” males within concentration camps and had brothels established in most of them. Dachau had two facilities, but were the first thing the “Liberators” (to what I was told), were torn down. Do the tour guides ever mention this? I couldn’t find any trace of them and was searching for almost 10 years up to the end of 1956.
    Law 175 in Germany was changed as late as 2000 for the Military and in my short time in 1945 in the Army you were shown two cards the size of a playing card depicting certain black printed pattern on them and you were asked what you saw in them. The answer you would give apparently gave the physiologist (or the specialist) the impression if you had homosexual tendencies or not.
    I still like the softness of a women and I am 82 years old!

    Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — April 19, 2011 @ 4:12 am

  6. This is all about love.

    In 1778 Thomas Jefferson wrote a law in Virginia which contained a punishment of castration for men who engage in sodomy,[1] however, what was intended by Jefferson as a liberalization of the sodomy laws in Virginia at that time was rejected by the Virginia Legislature, which continued to prescribe death as the maximum penalty for the crime of sodomy in that state.[2]

    Prior to 1962, sodomy was a felony in every state, punished by a lengthy term of imprisonment and/or hard labor. In that year, the Model Penal Code (MPC)–developed by the American Law Institute to promote uniformity among the states as they modernized their statutes–struck a compromise that removed consensual sodomy from its criminal code while making it a crime to solicit for sodomy. In 1962 Illinois adopted the recommendations of the Model Penal Code and thus became the first state to remove criminal penalties for consensual sodomy from its criminal code,[3] almost a decade before another state. Over the years, many of the states that did not repeal their sodomy laws had enacted legislation reducing the penalty. At the time of the Lawrence decision in 2003, the penalty for violating a sodomy law varied very widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction among those states retaining their sodomy laws. The harshest penalties were in Idaho, where a person convicted of sodomy could earn a life sentence. Michigan followed, with a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment while repeat offenders got life This was later invalidated in the case of Michigan Organization for Human Rights v. Kelly (1987).

    Remind me again, please: What Hitler and Himmler did to homosexuals? Send them to the KZ Mauthausen for six months? In USA they would face much harsher sentence even in 1962. Read it again:

    “Prior to 1962, sodomy was a felony in every state, punished by a lengthy term of imprisonment and/or hard labor.”

    Comment by Gasan — April 18, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: