Nazism’s Pink Hell
On January 27th, 1945, Auschwitz was liberated. In the decades since, groups of survivors have gathered to honor that day. On Tuesday 27th January 2015, holocaust survivors will return to Auschwitz for the 70th anniversary of liberation.
In light of this important upcoming event, National LGBT* Rights Organization LGL takes the opportunity to commemorate the death of thousands of homosexual people who were murdered under the Nazi regime. The tragic fate of homosexuals in death camps is still undermentioned topic and many scholars still remain silent about it. Among those who shed some light on the issue is LGBT* activist and politician Robert Biedroń, one of the few Polish researchers who dealt with the topic in his work Nazism‘s Pink Hell. Biedroń‘s analysis focuses on the path of repression that the homosexual community faced in Europe from the 19th century.
In the pre-Nazi epoch, the topic of homosexuality was a controversial one and appeared frequently in the German press, literature, and filmography. Everyone was discussing it. On one side, the Nationalist Right emphasized das Volk, the purity of race and blood, and the role and sanctity of the family. On the other side, the Weimar Republic came under increasingly frequent attack for condoning too great a degree of sexual laxity. In the 30’s, before Hitler’s election as German Chancellor, Nazi propaganda begun to harshly target homosexuals as enemies of the German Nation. A month before Hitler seized power, all active gay organizations in Germany were declared illegal.
One of the first targets of the nationalist propaganda was German physician and sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld, who was both Jewish and a homosexual. The Nazi assault to his Institute for Sexual Research in Berlin was the first drastic step that the Nazis took against homosexuals and, to a degree, against Jews as well. In 1930, Nazi Reichstag delegate Wilhelm Frick, later internal affairs minister in Hitler’s government, presented a plan for the castration of homosexuals. A few months later, Nazi newspapers called for the death penalty for homosexual acts.
Hatred of homosexuals was determined by both party ideology and the personal obsessions of the leaders, and especially of Heinrich Himmler, the main originator of the plan to exterminate homosexuals. For Himmler and other Nazi ideologues, homosexuals—like Jews—were the incarnation of degeneracy. They saw Jews and homosexuals as outsiders and inferior human beings who threatened the purity of der Volk. The nationalist and Nazi typology presented Jews and homosexuals in a highly similar way, treating them as selfish, useless, sexually aggressive and insatiable to the degree that they could not control their urges. They accused Jews and homosexuals of using the fact that they were different as a weapon against society. “This epidemic is destroying our Volk”, said Himmler once. As homosexuality was considered as a plague able to destroy Germany and the Teutonic world, homosexuals started to be incarcerated in concentration camps.
Torture, sadistic experiments, hard labor, humiliating punishments are only a few examples of the daily routine that homosexuals faced in the death camps. Today, it is believed that almost 55% of the people marked by the pink triangle received Hitler‘s ‘final solution’ in concentration camps. The legacy of that horror will never be forgotten.
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