by Gunter Grau (London, 1995)
"We must exterminate these people, root and branch… We can’t permit such danger to the country; the homosexuals must be entirely eliminated.” Heydrich Himmler used this 1938 speech to spark the intensification of Nazi Germany’s already long history of persecuting homosexuals. The criminalization of homosexuals during the Holocaust, or what has come to be known as the “homocaust,” holds far fewer concrete and objective facts, causing it to be far more difficult to research, than many other aspects of World War II; what Günter Grau’s Hidden Holocaust determines is that homosexuals were persecuted for four main reasons:
(1) The inability to produce German children,
(2) The possible “corruption” of youth
(3) Their tendency to group together
(4) Endangering the morality of the German public.
The main goal of Nazi
Germany was a pure Aryan society. In order to further this end, all
viably reproductive members of society were expected to contribute to the
continuation of the German people by producing children. For biological reasons,
homosexuals are clearly unable to produce children together and according
to German law could therefore be considered criminals. Also, homosexuality
contradicts Nazi ideology of the powerful male and subordinate female. Therefore,
in camps, homosexuals were often forced to work harder than other prisoners
in an effort to regain their masculinity. In many cases, especially
in pre and early war years, homosexuality was looked at as an illness rather
than simply a crime. Some camps isolated homosexuals in order to prevent
the contamination of other prisoners. The attempts to cure homosexuals
through either biological or physical means resulted largely from the notion
that all Germans should work together in order to assist in furthering the
Nazi regime. The treatment of homosexuals varied from camp to
camp and therefore cannot be summarized in few words.
Nazis not only victimized homosexuals because of their inability to produce future Germans, but also extended this notion to their effect on the existing German youth. Nazis felt that the youth of Germany could be easily corrupted by homosexuality. Any male that coerced a boy under fourteen into homosexual acts faced the punishment of castration, and any male over 21 who did so with a male under this age, could be convicted as a sex offender. Hitler Youth was the main tool utilized to prevent homosexuality from a young age.
“…we came to realize that the great majority of boys inwardly get over such misbehavior in a fairly short period of time and go on the become healthy, respectable men. Insofar as boys who have not already developed a tendency to homosexual offenses that represents a danger of health of the community- in which case at least disqualification for a certain time will be necessary.”
This excerpt from an essay published in a Hitler Youth educational newspaper shows the emphasis placed upon heterosexuality. Nazis kept a close watch on Hitler Youth, and any sign of homosexuality resulted from expulsion and persecution. In accordance with Nazi tendencies, Hitler Youth brainwashed young Germans into support of their prejudices and policies against homosexuality.
Not only did homosexuals pose a threat to the continuance of Nazi Germany, but it also caused concern in that homosexuals tended to group together and form cliques. Any group of people could be looked at as a form of resistance and therefore a threat to Nazi power, which thrived upon a lack of organized resistance. This led to the isolation of camp survivors, as likely the majority of his friends were homosexual as well and most perished in camps or emigrated out of Germany. Since homosexuality remained illegal in Germany long after the war, many survivors returned to families that would not accept them. Following World War II, homosexual survivors were often left with only a negligent family and dispersed friends.
One main reason why homosexuality holds a negative connotation not only in Nazi Germany, but also in much of the world is that is believed to be an immoral way of life. Nazis felt that the existence of homosexuality threatened the morality of their culture and should therefore be stopped. Overall, fear of homosexuals led to their persecution during the Holocaust
According to Günter Grau’s Hidden Holocaust, these four points make up the basis for the maltreatment of homosexuals in Nazi Germany. Grau bases his claim on a wide variety of primary sources, making it extremely likely. Hidden Holocaust is more an organized collection of primary sources than a narrative. The commentary at the start of each section provides an overall description of the content to follow, and assists in interpreting the context and purpose of each source. Hidden Holocaust portrays an accurate account of the events of the Holocaust, due to the large quantity of primary sources it contains. I find this book to be a good source for research because of its detailed descriptions of each aspect of its topic. Grau organized these primary sources into a manner that allows researchers to find exactly what they are looking for. Since this book contains so many primary sources, it allows researchers to form opinions on their own rather than simply reading someone else’s written interpretation of an event. I believe that Grau’s Hidden Holocaust holds enough narrative to inform readers as to what they are about to read, yet allows them to draw their own conclusions through a varied collection of primary sources.
Though the information on this web page is somewhat basic, it addresses the basic facts that are crucial to homosexuality in the holocaust. I mainly used this web page in order to get ideas about what details I should focus on in Grau’s collection of sources. It definitely helped me with my overall understanding of this topic and clarified what issues were extremely important and what could be placed in the background.
The most valuable information I got from this website is the opening quote. I found this page to be interesting because it incorporated a large number of quotes, causing it to be more personal than either of the other two sources.
The Men with the Pink Triangle
The Pink Triangle:
The Nazi War against Homosexuals