Paragraph 175 is one of the saddest and hardest chapters of our modern history.
As we said in the previous part of this article, Hitler assumed that homosexuality was a “degenerate behaviour” (later said by one who was a slave to at least 80 different types of drugs that he injected or took every day …) and that represented a threat to the demographic capacity of the state: gays were denounced as “enemies of the state” and accused as “corrupters” of public morality that endangered the birth rate of Nazi Germany. More than a million gays were victims of the Nazi regime even if they were not immediately given the same treatment as Jews; as components, albeit “deviant”, of the “master race” (at least for those not of Jewish origin) he tried to convince them to adopt a “correct” sexuality. Gay men who refused to conform and change their sexual orientation were deported to concentration camps where they were exterminated through hard labor and inhuman physical tortures.
The Nazi persecution of homosexuals was accomplished mainly through the tightening of homophobic laws: the infamous paragraph 175 (aka Section 175), in the name of which 100,000 gays were arrested, 60,000 sentenced to prison terms and an unknown but frighteningly high number, interned in psychiatrist hospitals and deported to the Nazi extermination camps.
Gays in concentration camps – due to the frighteningly homophobic attitudes of the SS – in addition to the imposition of having to wear an upside-down pink triangle (different from the black one that was imposed on deported lesbians) clearly visible on their uniforms were, alas, treated particularly inhumanly.
Some died as a result of ferocious beatings; torn to pieces by the dogs of the Nazi militias or by physical torture: it is well known how the corporals and soldiers of the SS amused themselves in breaking through the intestines and anal orifices of gay deportees.
Nazi doctors often used gays in “scientific” experiments to discover the “homosexuality gene” and thus be able to heal future Aryan children who were born with the “disease” of homosexuality. Particularly cruel were the experiments of the SS doctor Carl Vaernet: he carried out a study with a hormone-based preparation of his own invention injecting it to homosexual inmates in the Buchenwald camp and about 80% of the deportees who were subjected to this “miraculous treatment” based on massive doses of testosterone did not survive. Just think that the death rate among homosexual inmates was about 60%, against 41% of political deportees and about 35% of Jehovah’s Witnesses: practically a rate second only to that of Jewish deportees.
Even lesbians, however, were seen as a danger to the values of the state: being lesbian was often considered an aggravating factor compared to asociality (this is the reason for the black triangle) or to other charges such as being Jewish or thieves or even prostitutes and adulterers. Their fate was very sad: at the Flossenbürg camp there was a brothel, in which lesbians were particularly sought after to satisfy the cravings for sadism and the inhuman perversions of the SS hierarchs.
All this has a name: HOMOCAUST. A word, a wound, which is indissolubly linked to the memory of humanity, to that of the Holocaust and which becomes part of a greater meaning of this sad and inhuman page of our history: HaShoah, which in Hebrew means “destruction”, “catastrophe”, because such it was.
Now, I do not want to say that we are close to a new and never re-wanted Shoah, but the events of recent times – from the so-called civilised Europe, through the Middle East and the problematic countries of the caliphate of hate, up to bloody Africa and even landing in the homeland of “freedom”, the United States – well, these are events that keep our eyes wide open and yet seem too often unnoticed and taken lightly. I invite you to reflect, but even more to remember, because as a gay, as a Jew, but above all as a human being I do NOT forget because I hope that by remembering and watering the seeds of peace, this sad and shameful page of human history, as well as other shameful inhuman catastrophes may not be repeated.