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Persecution of Homosexuals
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Persecution of Homosexuals

Several books were written about gay victims of the Nazis. This book, by Lutz van Dijk, details the powerful love between a gay Polish teenager and a German soldier. The teenager, Stefan K., is arrested by the Gestapo after a letter to his lover is intercepted. Nothing is ever heard from the German soldier again. In the book, the Polish teenager describes his ordeal at the hands of the Nazis but especially his enduring love for his first lover.

Pink triangle

The Nazis considered homosexuality to be a sick deviation and a threat to the family and the state. They thought that homosexuals could influence and "infect" other "healthy" Germans and so threaten the growth of the German population. This was especially a problem in their eyes because so many German young men had perished during the First World War. As soon as the Nazis came to power in 1933 they banned gay newspapers and organizations.

Gay bars and cafés were quickly closed. These had been widely accepted in large cities such as Berlin and Hamburg. In the autumn of 1933, the first men who had been arrested because of their homosexuality were sent to the Dachau and Fuhlsbüttel concentration camps. In the same way that Jews had to wear a yellow star, they were forced to wear a pink triangle on their prison uniforms. They were on the lowest rung of the prison hierarchy. They were harshly mistreated by camp guards and fellow inmates, which meant that their chances of survival were slim.

One former inmate described his ordeal in a concentration camp as follows:

“Those wearing the pink triangle had to use wheel barrows to pile up earth and clay as an artificial mound, to stop the bullet on the rifle range. However, after a few days, a group of SS men appeared at the range, to practice their shooting, while we were still emptying the earth from our wheelbarrows on to the mound. Naturally, while the shooting was going on, we did not want to bring any more earth up to the mound, in case we were hit by one of the bullets. However, with threats and blows the Kapos and SS men forced us to go on working.

The bullets started to fly between our rank, and many of my comrades in suffering fell together, some only wounded, but many hit fatally. We soon discovered that the SS men were less happy to shoot at the targets than to use us work detail prisoners as targets.”

Quote from: The Racial State: Germany 1933 - 1945, by Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wipperman (Berlin, 1991).

Under the Nazi regime, around 50,000 people were found guilty of the "crime" of homosexuality. It is estimated that around 7,000 German men were put in concentration camps because of their homosexuality, with or without being formally tried and sentenced. Most did not survive.
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This day in history
Today: 11 December 2018
Then: 11 December 1941

Germany and Italy declare war on the United States; the U.S. respond in kind.

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