Homosexuals are forgotten victims of the Nazi regime. How many gay people were condemned and interned in concentration camps is not known, both for the destruction of part of the archives and because many of them, like other categories of persecuted people by the Nazis, were captured by the Gestapo and made to disappear under the Nacht und Nabel decree issued by Hitler on 7th December 1941, with the aim of eliminating the “dangerous subjects for the Reich”, without leaving a trace …
Let’s ignore the fact that already at the beginning of the 20th century, Germany was light years ahead in terms of social integration policies with the affirmed existence of various activist movements for homosexual rights, but this, unfortunately, was not enough to appease the ire of a schizophrenic house painter with xenophobic and delusions of grandeur.
A man is the keystone in this story: Ernst Röhm, a man whom Hitler himself saw as a possible threat to his own supremacy. He was commander of the first Nazi militia – Sturmabteilung – (known mainly by the name of SA), and did not hide his homosexuality at least until 1925. In that year, in fact, the newspaper of the German Social Democratic Party, with the intention of throwing mud on the Nazi party, published a series of love letters written by Röhm and other SA commanders in order to tarnish their reputation and make them unbearable to public opinion.
After the year 1925, however, Röhm inexplicably had the opportunity to express his sexuality more freely and joined the League of Human Rights, the largest German gay rights organisation operating in those years. But unfortunately, in the long run, Hitler’s attempts prevailed, and around 1933 Röhm’s media power weakened, so much so that the party immediately gave way with great fanfare to the “cleaning” of the capital from homosexual and “homophile” clubs in the night which will go down in history as The Night of the Long Knives (Nacht der langen Messer): outlawing any publication relating to sexual topics and prohibiting the activity to all existing gay and lesbian groups and associations. (this happened in 1933 … but something reminds me of today’s homophobic events!)
On 6th May 1933, Hitler Youth of the “Deutsche Studentenschaft” carried out an organised attack on the Institute for Sexology – founded in 1919 by Hirscheld – and a few days later, the entire collection of their library (35 years of work) and the he entire archive were publicly set on fire along the streets around the Opernplatz: 20,000 books and magazines and more than 5,000 images were irreparably destroyed. The same fate was then reserved to t
he books of the library of the German Jewish community. However, from the destruction of the flames, a long lists of names and addresses of real or presumed homosexuals that were kept inside the library were saved and seized.
After consolidating his power and becoming Chancellor, Hitler included the category of homosexuals among those who were to be sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust: a section of the Gestapo was thus created which had the order to compile special lists of homosexual individuals. And, shortly thereafter, the Reich Central Office for Combating Homosexuality and Abortion was created. Homosexual relationships were considered “sterile” and were seen as a betrayal to the demographic policies of empowerment of the Aryan people, since gays are not able to reproduce to give continuity to that “race” destined to be masters of the world (for the same reason also masturbation was considered harmful and this reminds me so much of some laws dictated in Iran even TODAY).
Homosexuals were forced to pretend to be heterosexuals and contract straight marriages, and for anyone who refused, the punishment was severe: at least 100,000 gays were arrested, interrogated and tried, and no less than 50,000 sentenced to imprisonment; hundreds of other men were subjected to compulsory castration or sterilisation by direct order of the courts of the Third Reich.