Homosexual victims of the Nazi regime
In May 1945, the German Wehrmacht surrendered unconditionally. The Second World War came to an end. After it had claimed several million victims, a new era in world history was to begin.
However, the dead and persecuted of this dark time should never be forgotten. Among other things, gays were also persecuted by the Nazi regime. Even before the actual start of the war, in 1936, the so-called "Reichszentrale zur Bekämpfung der Homosexualität und Abtreibung" (Reich Central Office for the Fight against Homosexuality and Abortion) was established. Its task: by fighting homosexuality, too low a population density was to be prevented.
Nazis saw gays as "pests of the people
Gays, in the opinion of the National Socialists, were harmful to the people. After all, they could not contribute to its reproduction. Terms like "degenerate" or "pest of the people" were standard in connection with homosexuals. As "enemies of the state" they were ultimately also prosecuted.
Particularly interesting: even though lesbians were of course not part of the "ideal image" according to the Nazis, there are comparatively few sources that would indicate that women were dealt with similarly harshly as men.
From 1935 onwards, gays were actually persecuted on the legal basis in force at the time. Many citizens "betrayed" their neighbours to the Gestapo if they suspected that he might be gay be. Many ended up in prison. Especially frightening: the law that made all these arrests and punishments possible was only repealed at the end of the 1960s.
Those who were gay and did not have only one partner or were caught having sex with several men had to expect even more severe punishments. Among other things, many of those affected were deported. Once they arrived at the respective concentration camp - mostly Buchenwald or Sachsenhausen - they were often humiliated and tortured by the guards. It was also not uncommon for medical experiments to be carried out on them.
Working until death - gay men in concentration camps
How many gay men were deported to the Nazi concentration camps can only be estimated today. Many historical sources speak of at least 10,000 people.
Some of them were given the choice: Concentration camp or castration? Often the SS and Co. also decided to kill the accused directly or promptly in the concentration camp. Incidentally, it was Heinrich Himmler, among others, who ensured that the possibilities for punishing homosexuality became more and more detailed.
Gays and other victims in the Nazi era
Anyone who studies the history of the Second World War quickly realises that the classic enemy image of the National Socialists did not exist. Rather, the group of victims is made up of the most diverse areas.
Especially the culture of remembrance in connection with the numerous homosexual people who were killed in concentration camps, for example, has played an increasingly important role in recent years. Numerous exhibitions and other documentations prove how meticulously the Nazis proceeded to create their "perfect race". Numerous historians are dealing with the subject nowadays. There are still many blind spots here that may need to be brought more clearly into the focus of research.
Among other things, more and more young historians are also interested in illuminating individual fates and showing how gays slowly developed into an enemy image.
In this way, it could be possible in the future to shed even more light on the darkest chapter of German history and, through education, to ensure that such developments never happen again.
Also interesting: Gay in the 1970s - what did Dr. Sommer actually say?