- Nine Reasons Thanksgiving Is Even Gayer Than Halloween
- Seven San Francisco Can’t-Miss Events During The Holiday Season Of Love
- Palms Place Hotel: Las Vegas Luxury For Less
- Time-Traveling George Takei Lands On Broadway At Last
- PHOTOS: In San Francisco, Even State Legislators Love Booty Call
- 12 More Very Real Modern Urban Gay Problems Told In Memes
- Check Out Downtown Las Vegas, Another World Beyond The Strip
- 12 Very Real Modern Urban Gay Problems Told In Memes
- Mustache Mondays, L.A.’s Hottest Monday Night Party, Moves Up In Downtown
- Six Reasons Gays Own Halloween In New Orleans
- Stroke Artwork Goes From Under The Mattress To Out In The Open
- Bro-Jobs, Beards, And Obama: 10 Great Fall Reading Recommendations For Book Nerds
- Five Questions And Answers About The Magic Castle In Hollywood
- Diary Of A Bad Date, But An Amazing Meal, At Otto Pizzeria in Las Vegas
- PHOTOS: It Was All Skin & Leather And Little Else At Folsom Street Fair
Search the blog
POPULAR TAGSLos Angeles Las Vegas Marriage Equality travel GayCities Washington DC London New York City Chicago pride haus Pride Fire Island San Francisco Photos Theater benefit haus party haus Miami Jeffrey James Keyes New York
A Haunting Exhibit Looks Back At The Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals
Dec 11, 2012
At least 100,000 gay men were arrested during the Nazi regime, with thousands sent to concentration camps like Dachau, Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen.
Now a new exhibit is trying to share their tragic story.
“Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals, 1933-1945,” at Lake Worth, Florida’s Compass Gay and Lesbian Center through January 25, was originally created by the United States Holocaust Museum some years back. But with barbaric anti-gay legislation cropping up in various corners of the globe, it’s as relevant as ever.
“Few people recognize the role laws, specifically Paragraph 175, had in justifying the dehumanization and murder of thousands of homosexuals during the Holocaust” says Compass Center CEO Tony Plakas. “There are historic lessons to be learned for sure, but there are present-day applications too: Political currents aimed at denying gays and lesbians employment protections, hate-crime legislation, and the denial of equal recognition of marriage illustrate how legislation and law-enforcement can be used to forward harmful political and social agendas.”
Filled with hundreds of archival photos, the exhibit traces the history of persecution from Weimar Era Germany, when gay people could live somewhat freely, to the height of the Third Reich, when they were exterminated alongside millions of Jews and other “undesirables.”
When the Nazis first took over, homosexuals were deemed “sick” and forced into a brutal version of conversion therapy. “It had nothing to do with morality or religion,” says the Holocaust Museum’s Ted Phillips, who created the exhibit a number of years ago. “[Gay men] were a brake on the growth of the German Aryan population. So the emphasis was to re-educate them to be productive dads. And if they contacted another male, they were spreading the contagion.”
The policy didn’t address lesbianism, explains Phillips. “Women were not very important in society—mainly as wives and mothers to support men,” he says. “The policy denied women’s sexuality and personhood.”
The another section, “Radicalization,” addresses the virulent persecution that came in the run-up to WWII. Expanding the scope of Paragraph 175, the section of the penal code that addressed homosexuality, the Nazis started staging raids on gay clubs and shutting down queer newspapers. Even the suspicion of homosexuality was enough to get you arrested, and more than 50,000 gay men were sent to prison.
Because so many records were destroyed, it’s hard to say exactly how many gay men were sent to concentration camps—the best estimates are between 5,000 and 15,000. Once there, they were made to wear pink triangles and placed in forced-labor gangs with hardened criminals.
According to press notes, some men were castrated, brutalized or marked for “extermination through work.”
At a granite quarry, gays from the Mauthausen camp were often chosen to plant explosive charges, and the Nazis enjoyed setting off the charges before they escaped. At the Flossenburg camp, a commandant gave gay inmates extra-large pink triangles.
“He liked them for target practice,” Phillips says.
Phillips says he hopes the exhibit shows visitors how any group can be targeted: “It shows how easy it is to erode public opinion of a minority, make them outcasts and create the indifference that allows persecution.”
As we in America move toward true equality, let us not forget the lesson of the Holocaust: “Never again.”