The Queer Victims of the Holocaust

At least 100,000 gay men were arrested during the Nazi regime, with thousands sent to concentration camps like Dachau, Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen. And many of those who ended up in these camps were even sent to prison after the war for being gay by the American and British occupation forces after the camps were freed.

Now a new exhibit is trying to share their tragic story. “Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals, 1933-1945,”  at Lake Worth, Florida’s Compass Gay and Lesbian Center through January 25, was originally created by the US Holocaust Museum some years back. But with barbaric anti-gay legislation cropping up in various corners of the globe, it’s as relevant as ever.

“Few people recognize the role laws, specifically Paragraph 175, had in justifying the dehumanization and murder of thousands of homosexuals during the Holocaust” says Compass Center CEO Tony Plakas. “There are historic lessons to be learned for sure, but there are present-day applications too: Political currents aimed at denying gays and lesbians employment protections, hate-crime legislation, and the denial of equal recognition of marriage illustrate how legislation and law-enforcement can be used to forward harmful political and social agendas.”

Filled with hundreds of archival photos, the exhibit traces the history of persecution from Weimar Era Germany, when gay people could live somewhat freely, to the height of the Third Reich, when they were exterminated alongside millions of Jews and other “undesirables.”

When the Nazis first took over, homosexuals were deemed “sick” and forced into a brutal version of conversion therapy.  “It had nothing to do with morality or religion,” says the Holocaust Museum’s Ted Phillips, who created the exhibit a number of years ago. “[Gay men] were a brake on the growth of the German Aryan population. So the emphasis was to re-educate them to be productive dads. And if they contacted another male, they were spreading the contagion.”

The policy didn’t address lesbianism, explains Phillips. “Women were not very important in society—mainly as wives and mothers to support men,” he says. “The policy denied women’s sexuality and personhood.”

The another section, “Radicalization,” addresses the virulent persecution that came in the run-up to WWII. Expanding the scope of Paragraph 175, the section of the penal code that addressed homosexuality, the Nazis started staging raids on gay clubs and shutting down queer newspapers. Even the suspicion of homosexuality was enough to get you arrested, and more than 50,000 gay men were sent to prison.

Because so many records were destroyed, it’s hard to say exactly how many gay men were sent to concentration camps—the best estimates are between 5,000 and 15,000.  Once there, they were made to wear pink triangles and placed in forced-labor gangs with hardened criminals.

According to press notes, some men were castrated, brutalized or marked for “extermination through work.” At a granite quarry, gays from the Mauthausen camp were often chosen to plant explosive charges, and the Nazis enjoyed setting off the charges before they escaped. At the Flossenburg camp, a commandant gave gay inmates extra-large pink triangles. “He liked them for target practice,” Phillips says.

Phillips says he hopes the exhibit shows visitors how any group can be targeted: “It shows how easy it is to erode public opinion of a minority, make them outcasts and create the indifference that allows persecution.”

Article by Queerty


34 thoughts on “The Queer Victims of the Holocaust”

    1. Good point. This is a history that effects all of GLBTQXXXXXXXXXXXXetc. It needs to be taught in public schools. It will never be taught in the American South.

  1. The moral confusion of Naziism was complete. The ascension of Adolf Hitler and the NSDAP was due in no small part to the efforts of the S.A (Brownshirts). And the entire leadership of the S.A., from Ernst Rohm on down was gay. As was a large part of the rank and file. In fact, homos were specifically targeted for recruitment into the Brownshirts. Read “The Pink Triangle” for the whole story.

    Aside from the Night of The Long Knives which purged the Party of the S.A.’s gay leadership, Nazi persecution of homosexuals was then focused on effeminate men. In fact, much of the brutality shown these men was inflicted by masculine gays. The problem wasn’t so much about sexual orientation as it was effeminacy. In Hitler’s new Germany, discreet gay manly men were generally tolerated, but sissy boys and flamers need not apply. Not much has changed. Even in today’s gay culture, there is often marked incompatibilit between ‘masculine’ gay boys and ‘fems.’

    The sad historical fact of political life is that a minority, any minority, be it racial or sexual or religious is often seduced into being a great big plantationed “useful idiot” of one party, and a target of fear and loathing to rally against by another. To be safely, credibly and respecfully mainstreamed, a minority must patiently infiltrate and spread itself throughout the political spectrum of the dominant majority culture. That way, the criticism of the haters is quieted by their having as much or more to lose as they have to gain. It is only when a minority allows itself to be identified as a “bloc” that it invites a negative focus.

    Blacks, Hispanics, Gays, atheists, Christian fundies, even Muslims would achieve their social goals far more quickly and easilly if they were equally and openly distributed throughout the economic, political and cultural spectrum, and impossible to identify and label as unassimilated. Funny how in this case, even Ben Franklin would probably agree, that when we all hang together, we do indeed hang together.

    1. Correction: The book is called “The Pink Swastika.”
      I have no idea what the warning jibberish at the top of my post is or even where it came from. I certainly did not add it to my comment.

      1. Hmmm, it appears now that the warning codes and jibberish that originally appeared at the top of both my post and Teylingen’s post has now disappeared. Magic! (If you didn’t see it, you didn’t miss anything.)

      2. The Pink Triangle is the respected one, The Pink Swastika is the conspiratorial conservative Christian one.

  2. Alcoholics
    All LGBTQIA people
    Autistic & Asburgers
    Dissenting Clergy
    Heterochromatics (Different Colored Eyes)
    Jehovah’s Witnesses
    Left-handed people
    Mental Disabilities
    Poles and other Slavs
    Political Dissidents
    Roma & Sinti (Gypsies)

    Current estimates for non-Jews killed are roughly:
    2.5 to 3.5 million non-Jewish Poles
    3.5 to 6 million other Slavic civilians
    2.5 to 4 million Soviet POWs
    1 to 1.5 million political dissidents
    200 000 to 800 000 Roma & Sinti
    200 000 to 300 000 handicapped
    10 000 to 25 000 homosexuals
    6,000 Anabaptists (Amish, Mennonite, Quaker, & Hutterites)
    2,000+ Jehovah’s Witnesses

    Hitler was a Freemason.

    1. Adolf Hitler was NOT a Freemason, neither was he a practicing Catholic. Hitler persecuted the Church, he was a Saxon pagan, and outlawed Freemasonry.
      Nothing in Hitler’s conduct was in any way in accordance with Masonic teaching, either of the Blue Lodge, the Scottish Rite, York Rite, Shriners, Knights Templar Commandery, Knights of Saint Andrew, Rose Croix, Council of Kadosh, DeMolay, or any other Masonic organization.
      I am a Master Mason, 32nd Degree Scottish Rite. Relax. We Masons don’t control everything – just the important stuff.

        1. My bad – he was not a believing Saxon pagan. I did phrase that wrong. I should have said he supported Saxon paganism. What Hitler did do was replace Christian holidays on the calendar with Germanic pagan holidays, and he also ordered the incorporation of Saxon rites into the ceremonies and rituals performed in the S.S. Order Castles where the Waffen and Algemeine S.S. men were indoctrinated and trained. Germanic mythology was also displayed on giant floats in Nazi parades, and depiction of pagan images was officially encouraged in the arts.

          Hitler’s oft repeated Christian references were, I believe, more for political consumption than a reflection of personal committment.

          1. Thanks for the history lesson which is uncommon knowledge, at least for me. I feel so ignorant.

  3. It is also said that some of these men voluntarily put on the yellow star, preferring to partake of the Jewish fate in the oncentration camps in order to escape what was done to gays.

  4. There is a great movie concerning this very subject “Paragraph 175″ made by Klaus Müller, a historian from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum who did not know his Gay Grandfathers as he called them. See if you can find it. Some libraries have it.

    Müller interviews 6 gay survivors and 1 lesbian survivor.

    There is even a great old man in it who was a scout master: HEINZ DÖRMER. He fondly remembers his time with the boys. DÖRMER has since being in the film passed away.

  5. Thanks again horselips for that bit of history. Hitler was raised a Catholic, but of course he did not follow this Catholic faith. Yes he did make statements referring to Christianity in his early speeches, but you must take into account that he was a Politician running to become the head of Germany. Like most politicians you say what the people wish to hear until it’s to late those brain washed people.

  6. I don’t know what your doing to my comment,but I have no clue what those two Waning comments are,but it sure as hell not from me. I can’t do all that fancy print work.

  7. Ted Phillips said that the Nazis did not believe that women where that important in Hitler’s Germany. They where very important,because they had one big purpose, that was to produce Babies for the new Germany. Lesbians could produce babies. They where put in brothel with other good German women. Hitler needed women to produce good health and hopefully male babies. This was the dream of a man with one testicle.

  8. I saw this display at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. quite a few years ago. It, and the whole museum was very moving. The documentary “Paragraph 175″ is well done as was mentioned in an earlier comment. There was also a well done theatrical release called “Bent” about gays during the Holocaust. Here is a review of the 1997 film:
    As J stated the truthful account of gays and the Holocaust is called “The Pink Triangle” the other book is right wing trash which blames gays for the Holocaust. Before the widespread adoption of the Rainbow Flag, many of our community coopted the Pink Triangle as a symbol of pride, sometimes adding the slogan “Never Again, Never Forget.” The AIDS Activist group ACT-UP, turned the pink triangle around and added the sobering words “Silence = Death” Which was true then and remains true today.

  9. Hiedler eveen may have beee a queeer himself. A few historians believe that:
    a. hiedler was said to be a brave soldier in ww1; why wasn’t he promoted?

    b.. there are a few statements of peoplple from Asylums that they had had sexuel encounters with Hiedler.

    c. Why was Hiedler so eager to kill most of the SA-Stuff.? Did Hiedler fear to be outed by them. I think so.

    d. Hiedler “merried” Eva Braun most probably for cover purposes. He never had any familylife with her – and of course they had no children although he liked to be around them pretty much f. i. when he visited the HJ (HitlerJugend)

    As Hiedlers whole life was a blunt lie, his death was too. making his people responsible for all HIS flounders.

    1. a) He was considered too instabile and unqualified to be a leader.
      b) There is a reason why people from asylums are rarely accepted at court.
      c) Before coming to power the NSDAP was a strange combination of ideas. Röhm was a nationalistic socialist in a very classic sense. He wanted to socialise great corporations and the SA was behind him. Since the SA got rather unimportant for further plans, Hitler solved both problems with one strike.
      d) Hitler put great efford in his appearance. He simply did not want to seem too human and prefered to be seen as married to the nation.

      There is no evidence at all that Hitler could have been gay. This theory mainly survived that long because it is entertaining.

  10. Do you think one day such things will be written about men persecuted for loving adolescent boys? (and vice versa) Which is very much the holocaust of today (even if they’re not killing adult “offenders”, they’re destroying their lives beyond redemption)

  11. Often times the boy is also irreparably damaged, not by his contact with the adult, but by the law and psychologists only willing to accept one train of thought (“often they don’t know they’ve been abused and it is our job to tell them”) and brainwashed if they don’t denounce their friend/lover entirely.

    So much for caring for children…

    1. This is a shame as the entire planet is attracted to adolescent boys. How many Disney films had remarkably cute teen boys?

  12. Even platonic love between men and boys is impossible through suspicion being rampant of everyone outside of the immediate nuclear family.

    Boys are crying out for role models and men to show them how to become men, very rarely this will be a teacher at school, even rarer still is a father who can fill this role (how many boys really want advice from their father anyway?)

    They have to find a way for themselves, mostly in a very hostile feminized environment filled with women subverting and demeaning, consciously and unconsciously, their burgeoning masculinity.

    It’s all incredibly foreboding for the future of man.

  13. Interesting about Disney and teen boys. When we were both teens I could hardly wait to get home from school to watch Bobby dance on the Mickey Mouse Club. Bobby and I are the exact same age. Heck he still looks good. We are in our 70’s now and I am smiling as I think of him then and now.

    And as for Hitler being gay. “The Hidden Hitler” by Lothar Machtan presents a pretty convincing argument that Hitler was GAY.

  14. Das ist alles sehr beschämend! Vor allem für mich als Deutscher! Obwohl meine Generation nichts mit dem Scheiß zu tun hatte!!
    Was ich immer noch nicht verstehen kann, ist das immer noch Arschlöcher hier bei uns sowohl auch in den USA und wer weiß wo noch rumlaufen!!!
    Es wurde alles in den Schulen gelehrt!! Und trotzdem haben diese Arschlöcher nichts dazugelernt!!
    (Sorry no Time for the translation) :-) :-)

  15. Platonic relationships are one thing sexual relations are a different thing entirely. It’s disturbing how some old people rationalize child abuse. Sandusky comes to mind. A child has a right to be a child. What’s wrong with adults pursuing relationship with adults? Is it so difficult? Why pursue children is it that they are easier to be manipulated, controlled or bribed?
    It is Religion, the hypermasculization of what it means to be a man and how men relate to one another. It is men who hate Queers and those who are perceived to be Queer. Boys drivin by their fathers and sometimes mothers due to Religious dogma to bully. They feel it is their duty to keep other males in line, those who step outside the range of what they think is masculine. Feminism has nothing to do with anything. It is men who are trying to prove the are more macho and most likley are trying to wrongly over compensate for what they think is an internal moral failing. Fortunately, this idea is shifting as society gains an understanding of sexuality. I’m happy to be living in this era. I don’t know how I’d make it thru a Hitler style regime.

    1. It’s disturbing how some people categorize all adult/minor sexual relations as child abuse. Presumably you understand that pubescent adolescents are sexually active, if only with themselves through masturbation, are they abusing themselves? If they have sex with another minor are they abusing themselves and another? Do you think puberty arrives just to torment teens until they are “ready” (18+) for sex? Is it the sex that is bad or just the power imbalance? Are we sure masturbation isn’t self harm?

      “A child has a right to be a child” What exactly do you mean by this, this is just sentimental emptiness. A child spends its childhood being little but the chattel property of its parents, it has to do what they say, when they say and has little right to be anything other than that its parents allow it to be, this is when its not at school getting the same treatment from the teachers. Children spend their entire childhood being manipulated, controlled and bribed by their parents, yet the parents point the finger at everyone but themselves. Children have precisely zero rights to self-determination of any kind. They are just another object to be owned in the consumer society. For many the abuse begins at home.

      1. How young is too young for you Jim? 10, 8, 5?
        A child by definition is not equipped for an adult relationship? They have no understanding of what is envolved in a sexual relationship or relationships in general. The Adult is bigger, stronger, smarter & has more money. You cannot tell me they would not have an advantage that at some point will not be abused. What does the child have in comparison? This is not the makings of a healthy long lasting relationship.

        When you bring up masturbation, I’m not sure who you are talking to. I’ve not said a thing about it. Presumably you understand that I’m of this world, born and raised. Human nature being what it is, we are all sexual beings exploring ourselves in one way or another.

        “Children spend their entire childhood being manipulated, controlled and bribed by their parents, yet the parents point the finger at everyone but themselves.”
        Who has the best interest of the child at heart a stranger or the parents? If that’s the excuse you tell yourself to make you feel better about what you are doing, Is this what you call a rational argument?

        “Children have precisely zero rights to self-determination of any kind. They are just another object to be owned in the consumer society. For many the abuse begins at home.”
        So you admit that it would be abuse for an adult to engage in sex with a child. We’re making progress here.

  16. Ah, I see, so by arguing for the rights for pubescent adolescents to sexually self-determine (which would include a number of them determining they are interested in relations with adults), I personally am interested in 10, 8 and 5 year olds? Some logic you have there!

    “The Adult is bigger, stronger, smarter & has more money. You cannot tell me they would not have an advantage that at some point will not be abused. What does the child have in comparison?”

    Welcome to reality! Almost every relation between any two people is some degree of power imbalance. Are adult men not usually bigger and stronger than adult women, are all relations between the heterosexual adults based on abuse (there are many crazy feminists that would tell you so!) just because there is a presumed power indifference. In comparison in an adult/minor sexual relationship the child has the ability to tell on their lover at any time and have them arrested and their life demolished entirely, this could be for any reason they wish, as the mere relationship is decided to be “abuse”. Is this not great power?

    “This is not the makings of a healthy long lasting relationship”

    I see all your feelings about sexuality/relationships are influenced by the unnatural divinity of monogamy.

    “When you bring up masturbation, I’m not sure who you are talking to. I’ve not said a thing about it. Presumably you understand that I’m of this world, born and raised. Human nature being what it is, we are all sexual beings exploring ourselves in one way or another.”

    I’m asking the difference between simulated sex with oneself (masturbation) and “real” sex with another, does excessive masturbation not just fuel feelings of insularity and egotism? Where “real sex” is abusive, masturbation is just “sexual beings exploring ourselves in one way or another” What is adolescent masturbation if not simulated sex in the absence of “real sex”? If it is the sexual act that is abusive then by that logic masturbation is abuse, if it is power imbalance that is abusive by that logic any interaction between adults and minors is abusive.

    “Who has the best interest of the child at heart a stranger or the parents? If that’s the excuse you tell yourself to make you feel better about what you are doing, Is this what you call a rational argument?”

    What reason is there to say that parents necessarily have their child’s best interests at heart, this is presuming they know or care for their child’s best interests, often they decide their best interest is the child’s best interest and that is that.

    What is it I’m doing exactly, putting a rational argument up on the internet? I’d suggest you look up reasoning and critical analysis on wikipedia, as I understand they’re not teaching any of this stuff in schools and very few people stumble upon unknowingly. Maybe you could then express yourself without pointing fingers.

    “So you admit that it would be abuse for an adult to engage in sex with a child. We’re making progress here.”

    I’ll admit that if we frame adult/minor sex as only ever being abusive, then all relations of every type between adults and children must be deemed abusive also. This kind of hysteria may appeal to you, but frankly I’d rather not live in a world run by hysterics and emotional blackmailers (however unlikely that reality may be!)

    I don’t believe in this modern idea that childhood and adulthood are two completely separate things but that there is a gradient between them, it seems I’m not alone in this, as different countries have a variety of ages of consent/majority.

    I’d suggest the best way to empower children is to teach them to think rationally for themselves as early as possible, this runs against the control ethics of parenthood and the current ideas of imposed angelic/innocent childhood up until the age of majority (whether that is 18, 16 or 14), but it will serve them much better when they have to make their own way in the world as an adult.

    Personally I think it’s quite abusive to treat someone as a borderline idiot until they reach 18 then throw every responsibility on their shoulders as they’ve now become an “adult”, as if some imaginary switch has flipped in their mind and they will be completely responsible from now on.

  17. When you intiate contact with a child, do you do so with the parents present? Do you do it with any other adult present? If not , the why not? Is it because you know what you are doing is wrong? Do you think his parents would approve? And I’m talking about parents who are accepting of their childs sexuality. Are you even capable of having a relationship with an adult? That is truly sad if true. All your excuses and theories mean nothing.

    I hope you are having a bit of fun at my expense. I hate to think that you are serious. You are joking right? I have to say people like you creap me out. Do yourself a favor and get help.

  18. Yet more finger pointing, I see you cannot fault my arguments so you stoop to that instead. I blame the teachers or maybe the parents, but a person should at some point take responsibility for their own actions. Maybe you’re the end product of such imposed innocence/lack of free will mentioned earlier?

    Maybe I am having fun with you, it’s quite easy for me to have fun with people like you all day long. It is one way to pass time, for sure.

    How about this, why if you feel so strongly about the evils of teen sexuality are you on milkboys, which is almost solely about teenage (boy) sexuality?

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