Due to the utter inability of some conservatives and Christian fundamentalists to see facts for what they are, I thought I would elaborate a bit on Nazi anti-homosexuality legislation in relation to the outright laws and distortions of history published in the Christian fundamentalist anti-gay polemic, The Pink Swastika:
The claim made by some conservatives is that because anti-homosexuality laws were on the books before the establishment of the Third Reich, the Nazis were not really anti-homosexual. This is obviously a baseless argument, given that the Nazis not only continued anti-homosexual legislation but strengthened it. Clearly, the pre-existence of anti-homosexuality laws are beside the point. In any event, sexual mores under the Weimar Republic were relaxed and homosexual clubs operated openly before the rise of National Socialism.
The Nazis framed their opposition to homosexuality in the same way today’s Christian fundamentalists do, that it posed a threat to the health and survival of the Aryan race, that it was like a disease to be stamped out and eradicated through any means possible.
Nazis persecution of homosexual males began just weeks after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 (in other words, the very minute they could legally do anything about it) and it became steadily more repressive. As the Holocaust Encyclopedia (313-14) relates, “Some 20 relevant regulations, secret commands, and special rules were enacted, from which the proceedings of the Nazis against homosexuals can be understood.”
Unless, of course, you are one of the authors (or fans of) The Pink Swastika.
The Holocaust Encyclopedia gives three periods of Nazi measures
- 1933-35: “An immense propaganda effort in 193” and “police and Gestapo terror tactics as well as other planned actions against homosexuals, their clubs, and their meeting places,” including Article 175, “which outlawed male homosexual acts.”
- 1936-39: The establishment “of a special administrative body, the Reich Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion” and the second anti-homosexual campaign of the Third Reich, “the so-called Cloister Trials directed against Catholic clerics with eager and aggressive demagoguery.”
- 1939-45: “The extension of physical terror and the formal legalization of deportations to concentration camps, the intrudction of capital punishment in ‘especially serious cases,’ and increased efforts to legalize forced castration.”
In 1928, Hitler had made his position clear:
Supreme lex salus populi!
Communal welfare before personal welfare!
Those who are considering love between men or between women are our enemies. Anything that emasculates our people and that makes us fair game for our enemies we reject, because we know that life is a struggle and that it is insanity to believe that all human beings will one day embrace each other as brothers. Natural history teaches us a different lesson. Might makes right. And the stronger will always prevail against the weaker. Today we are the weaker. Let us make sure that we will become the stronger again! This we can do only if we exercise moral restraint. Therefore we reject all immorality, especially love between men, because it deprives us of our last chance to free our people from the chains of slavery which are keeping it fettered today.
The rate of prosecutions for homosexuality increased dramatically after 1936. “Whereas just 1,000 people were convicted in 1934, there were already 5,310 in 1936 and 8,562 two years later. Between 1933 and 1945 about 50,000 male homosexual adults and juveniles were sentenced by Nazi criminal courts:
1933 — 853
1934 — 948
1935 — 2,106
1936 — 5,310
1937 — 8,271
1938 — 8,562
1939 — 7,614
1940 — 3,773
1941 — 3,735
1942 — 3,963
1943 (first quarter) — 966
1944-45 — ?
The first homosexual was sent to a concentration camp in 1933.
Between 5,000 and 15,000 of those sentenced by the courts were deported to concentration camps after serving their sentence” or were brought directly there by the Gestapo.
Even other concentration camp inmates despised these “moral degenerates.” Of those sent, some 3,000 “were murdered or died.”
In 1935, Paragraph 175 which originally outlawed anal intercourse was broadened to include all types of male homosexual contact and later interpreted by the courts to include a kiss or even a look.
The infamous Nuremberg Laws of 1935 actually took place after these attacks on Germany’s homosexual population. This is not to compare the two in terms of ferocity, but merely to put into perspective Nazi opposition to homosexuality. This opposition was so strong that in 1936 special dispensation had to be made (by Himmler) for the Olympic Games being held in Berlin: foreign foreigners were not to be targeted.
According to Das Schwarze Korps (the official SS newspaper), in 1937 there were two million German homosexuals. Das Schwarze Korps wanted them all dead. All two million of them.
Like fundamentalist Christians, the Nazis apparently believed homosexuals could be reformed or re-education, either through use of punishment or psychology. In 1944 the Nazis even tried the use of synthetic hormones to “cure” homosexuals. It didn’t work of course, and all the patients died. Those who were deemed “predisposed” homosexuals were to be castrated before being put to work for the Reich.
By the way, Article 175 remained in effect in Germany until 1994 (though it had been revised in 1969 and 1973), and the Nazis were not punished for their anti-homosexual activities. Not at the Nuremberg Trials and not at any time afterward.
It’s difficult to see through all this where the homosexuals found time to organize and run the National Socialist Party, which was busily rounding them up and throwing them in jail, or worse. The ideas behind The Pink Swastika are flawed, just as the research is flawed or misused. The whole book is a travesty of intellectual dishonesty on a grand scale, an insult to homosexuals and the study of history alike, and to the intelligence of all who read it.
“Swastika, Pink Triangle and Yellow star: The Destruction of Sexology and the Persecution of Homosexuals in Nazi Germany,” by Erwin J. Haeberle, The Journal of Sex Research 17 (1981), 270-287.
The Holocaust Encyclopedia, by Walter Laqueur and Judith Tydor Baumel (Yale University Press, 2001)