Scrapbookpages Blog

August 9, 2013

the misaprehension that homosexual men were murdered by the Nazis for being gay

It has come to my attention, from reading comments made on my blog, that there is a belief that homosexual men were arrested, in Nazi Germany, simply because of their sexual orientation, and that hundreds of thousands of them were murdered in concentrations camps, sometimes in the gas chamber.

How many homosexual men were actually “murdered” by the Nazis?  None.  A total of around 10,000 homosexual men were sent to Dachau and other camps, but no one knows how many died of disease or other causes while they were in a camp.

When I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in the year 2000, there was a small section of exhibits entitled “Enemies of the State.” This section was devoted to the non-Jewish people who were persecuted by the Nazis; there were separate displays about the homosexuals and the Gypsies.  I vaguely recall that there were pictures of homosexual men, who had been sent to concentration camps, but I didn’t photograph this display.

“Communists, Social Democrats, trade unionists, liberals, pacifists, dissenting clergy, and Jehovah’s Witnesses” were listed in the reading material, in the exhibit, as “Enemies of the State,” but no details were given and there were no pictures of them.

There was a significant number of Communists incarcerated as political prisoners in the major German concentration camps at Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen, but you would never know it from seeing the USHMM exhibits.

Not mentioned in the USHMM exhibits were the asocials, the work-shy or the criminals (including homosexual men) who had been sent to a concentration camp after they finished their prison time for their second offense. In the year 2000 when I was there, the USHMM did not mention that homosexuals were sent to a concentration camp, ONLY if and when they had served two terms in prison from breaking the law known as Paragraph 175.

This quote is from a recent comment on my blog:  “There are several ‘homo ‘ monuments in Holland to the Gay men murdered by the Nazis . However when the event was actually academically investigated it was found to be the reverse.”

The photos below show one of the “homo” monuments in Amsterdam.

A pink triangle monument in front of a church in Amsterdam

A pink triangle monument in front of a church in Amsterdam

A pink triangle at ground level in front of the same church in Amsterdam

A pink triangle at ground level in front of the same church in Amsterdam

I didn’t take a photo of the third triangle which completes this huge sculpture in front of a church, which is within shouting distance of the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam.  Not to worry, churches are not used any more for religious services in Amsterdam, so it’s O.K. to have a monument in front of a church.

A link to this website was provided by the reader who made the comment:

This quote is from the website cited above:

On December 2, 1979, the Broadway Play Bent opened at the New Apollo Theater in New York City. The starring role was played by Richard Gere.

Bent is the tale of a German homosexual named Max who is arrested and sent to Dachau. To avoid the stigma of wearing the pink triangle, Max denies his homosexuality and opts instead to claim he is Jewish. (According to the logic of Bent, the status of homosexuals in the concentration camps was even worse than that of Jews.) Max falls in love with another homosexual inmate and the play depicts their trials and tribulations. At the end, Max reclaims his inverted status as a homosexual and commits suicide by falling on an electrified fence.

“…a German homosexual…is arrested and sent to Dachau”?

That could not have happened.  Homosexuals were not sent to Dachau, nor anywhere else, solely because they were homosexual.  Germany had a law, called Paragraph 175, which made it a crime to have homosexual sex in public or for male prostitutes to solicit men for gay sex.  Men who had been arrested twice, for breaking a law that had been on the books in Germany since 1871, and had been sent to prison twice, were then sent to Dachau for a minimum of 6 months for rehabilitation, after they were released from prison.

In the 1930s and 40s, every country in the world had a law against homosexual acts.  Germany was not enforcing its law (Paragraph 175) and, as a result, Berlin became a mecca for homosexual men.  At that time, the word “gay” did not mean homosexual.

This quote is also from the website, cited above:

In 1981, the myth was given another major boost in Frank Rector’s widely distributed book The Nazi Extermination of Homosexuals (3). Rector wrote:

“It seems reasonable to conclude that at least 500,000 gays died in the Holocaust because of anti-homosexual prejudice…” Actually 500,000 may be too conservative a figure.”
It is significant that Rector included homosexuals as official victims in that amorphous event known as the “Holocaust”. He even claimed that homosexuals were sent to the gas chambers. Among the illustrations in The Nazi Extermination of Homosexuals is a frequently reproduced photo of a US soldier in front of a ten cubic meter disinfestations chamber at Dachau (claimed to be a homicidal gas chamber). Rector’s caption reads:

“The final solution to the homosexual problem lay behind that door for homosexuals not exterminated in many other ways. This chamber at Dachau. The screaming, the weeping, the futile gasping for breath, the agony that room held in a air-tight horror, was, in its hideous way, a blessing for many gays. It reduced their suffering to about fifteen minutes.”

Also in 1981, an article entitled “Some Jews and the Gays” by the homosexual novelist Gore Vidal appeared in The Nation (4). Vidal was responding to an essay in Commentary by the “neo-conservative “ Jewish author Midge Decter (5). Decter had been ruthlessly critical of the homosexual lifestyle, so Vidal told her that “like it or not, Jews and homosexuals are in the same fragile boat”. He then proceeded to lecture her that in some future “holocaust”, neo-conservative Jews were “going to be in the same gas chambers as the blacks and the faggots”.

Vidal backed up his account of homosexual victimization with a claim that fellow homosexual writer Christopher Isherwood once told him “Hitler killed 600,000 homosexuals”.

Disinfection chamber at Dachau which was believed to be a homicidal gas chamber

Disinfection chamber at Dachau which was believed to be a homicidal gas chamber

The photo above shows the famous “gas chamber” at Dachau, which was believed, as late as 1981, to have been the gas chamber where homosexual men were murdered.

As the closest concentration camp to Berlin, the Sachsenhausen concentration camp had more homosexual prisoners than any of the other camps. According to a pamphlet, which I purchased at the Sachsenhausen Memorial Site in 2001, “a total of approximately 10,000 homosexuals were sent to all the Nazi concentration camps combined during the 12 years of the Third Reich.”

In an era when homosexuals were still in the closet in all the countries of the world, Berlin was a mecca for gays. The movie Cabaret depicts the gay scene in Berlin in 1931, just before the Nazis came to power. The movie was based on a book entitled Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood, who lived an openly gay lifestyle in Berlin, the capital city of Germany.

Only male homosexuals who broke the German law (Paragraph 175) by flaunting their lifestyle in public were arrested. After their second arrest and prison term, these men were sent to one of the concentration camps in Germany. No lesbians were ever sent to a concentration camp, solely for being lesbians.

According to the pamphlet that I obtained at Sachsenhausen, some of the young men, who were sent to Sachsenhausen after they had been imprisoned twice for public homosexual activity, were actually Strichjunge, or male prostitutes, from Berlin.

According to the memoirs of Rudolf Höss:

The strict camp life and the hard work quickly reeducated this type. Most of them worked very hard and took great care not to get into trouble so that they could be released as soon as possible. They also avoided associating with those afflicted with this depravity and wanted to make it known that they had nothing to do with homosexuals. In this way countless rehabilitated young men could be released without having a relapse.

I saw the movie entitled Bent, soon after I started studying the Holocaust, and specifically the Dachau concentration camp.  I had a hard time understanding the movie.  It was Greek to me.

Here is the plot of Bent, from an entry in Wikipedia:

Max (Clive Owen) is a promiscuous gay man living in 1930s Berlin. He is at odds with his wealthy family because of his homosexuality. One evening, much to the resentment of his boyfriend, Rudy (Brian Webber II), Max brings home a handsome SA man (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Unfortunately, he does so on the Night of the Long Knives, when Hitler ordered the assassination of upper echelon SA corps. The Sturmabteilung man is discovered and killed by SS men in Max and Rudy’s apartment, and the two have to flee Berlin.

Max’s Uncle Freddie (Ian McKellen) has organised new papers for Max, but Max refuses to leave his boyfriend behind. As a result, Max and Rudy are found and arrested by the Gestapo and put on a train headed for Dachau. On the train, Rudy is brutally beaten to death by the guards. As Rudy calls out to Max when he is taken away, Max lies to the guards, denying he is gay. In the camp, Max falls in love with Horst (Lothaire Bluteau), who shows him the dignity that lies in acknowledging one’s beliefs.

This movie is pure fiction, but it has influenced many people to have unreasonable beliefs about the treatment of Homosexuals in Nazi Germany.

Hitler was planning a world exhibition in 1950, at which time the city of Berlin would be renamed Germania. By that time, Hitler had envisioned that all the Volkdeutsch (ethnic Germans) would be living together in one united country, which would dominate the world as the only super power. Authority for this building project came from the “Legislation for the reconstruction of German cities,” which dated from October 4, 1937. Albert Speer, Hitler’s official architect since 1933, was given the job of planning the construction project for Berlin.

To provide building materials for this project, beginning in the summer of 1938, the prisoners at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp were used as forced labor in the construction of the world’s largest brickworks just outside the camp, near the Lehnitz lock on the Hohenzollern canal.

The proposed design for Berlin included the building of a magnificent avenue, 7 kilometers long, which would run north and south, and would intersect with the broad Unter den Linden street at the famous Brandenburg gate. The street was to end at the Grand Hall, planned to be the largest building in the world. It was to be 290 meters high and 315 meters long with a seating capacity of 150,000 to 180,000 people. Hitler designed this building himself with a little help from Albert Speer. All the buildings in this project were planned to be classic buildings along the lines of those in ancient Greece and Rome.

Prisoners working at Sachsenhausen sub-camp

Prisoners working at Sachsenhausen brick works

To provide building materials for this project, beginning in the summer of 1938, the prisoners at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp were used as forced labor in the construction of the world’s largest brickworks just outside the camp, near the Lehnitz lock on the Hohenzollern canal. When World War II started in 1939, Hitler’s building plans had to be put on hold, but after the victory over France in 1940, the plans resumed.

The group of Sachsenhausen prisoners, who were assigned to the brickworks (Klinkerwerk), was called the “punishment commando.” The workers had to march to and from the camp to the brickworks each day.

In 1941 the Klinker punishment commando was given the status of a satellite camp or sub-camp of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Barracks were built on the southeast side of the plant to house the workers.

According to an Information Leaflet about the Klinkerwerk, which I purchased at the Sachsenhausen Memorial Site, the satellite camp was used for the deliberate annihilation of certain prisoners groups. From July to September 1942, the systematically planned murders of some 180 to 200 homosexual prisoners were carried out in the Klinker satellite camp, according to the Information Leaflet.