Search This Blog

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Nazis, Homosexuals, and Homosexual Nazis

It has become fashionable of late for anti-gay, homophobic, right wing extremists to label those of us who oppose them, call public attention to their hatred, fear-mongering, bigotry, and intolerance as "Nazis."

Graphic Taken from an Anti-Gay website, 2012

Bill Walker, a Scottish Parliament MP is only the most recent public figure to make the comparison.  Mr. Walker, a staunch opponent of marriage equality in Scotland, was expelled from parliament by his own party late last week.  It seems that he has a history of abusing women including each of three ex-wives, and this has embarrassed his conservative brethren.  But enough about that.

Mr. Walker's comments set me to thinking about Nazis, and homosexuals, and about Nazi Homosexuals.

Let's start with the latter, and work our way backwards.

Indeed, there were Nazi homosexuals, the most important of which was a sterling fellow named Ernst Rohm.  Rohm was the head of the notorious SA, a quasi-military muscle organization used by Hitler and the Nazis to violently intimidate and sometimes kill their political opponents.   Rohm was a brute who liked violence, enjoyed attacking his enemies, and was instrumental in bringing Hitler to power.  He carried a whip and liked to use it liberally.  He enjoyed killing people. But he was quite open about his sexuality.  Everyone knew.  They even made fun of him in cartoons.  And he laughed with the rest.

Ernst Rohm, Head of Hitler's SA

Of course he was open.  Who, after all did he have to fear?  He had over 1 million SA men under his personal control. 

Well, as it turned out he had a great many people to fear, not least among them Hitler himself.

"Rohm Inspects the SA"

Paragraph 175


Police File Photos of a man arrested under Para 175

In 1934, as the result of a power struggle amongst the Army, the SS (a rival Nazi organization headed by Himmler), and the SA/Rohm, Hitler personally arrested Rohm and had him summarily shot and killed the same day. 

Soon after Rohm's murder, the Nazis decided that it was time to "clean up" the "problem" of homosexuals in Germany.  Homosexuality was used as an excuse for ridding Germany of Rohm.  Suddenly what had been useful was "disgusting."  

A old law was dusted off -- "Paragraph 175" -- which prohibited "unatural indecency."  An estimated 1.2 million gay men lived in Germany at the time the Hitler was made Chancellor, and a gay culture flourished in nightclubs and cafes. But after Rohm, the Nazis began shuttering gay clubs, and the Gestapo asked local police departments to compile lists of men believed to be gay.

You see, the Nazis came to regard gay men as a socially deviant subclass whose sexual orientation threatened the elite and masculine Aryan race they sought to establish.   They believed homosexuality to be a contagious infection that could be spread among men by seduction.

The Eldorado Club in Berlin was closed in 1934.  Pro-Nazi placards have been placed in its windows. Police guard the building.

And so it became very, very dangerous to be gay.  This is a letter from one young gay friend in Germany, to another who, as both Jewish and gay, had already fled to Switzerland. They were both 19 years old. It will give you a sense of what happened and of how quickly things changed for the worse:

"Have you heard about the Rohm murders?  With that, it started, the rounding up, the closing of the bars, and so on.  No place is open here in Frankfurt. In return we are blessed with new sex laws.  Our old buddy Harold said they can get you if you smile at another boy.  This he told me before he went underground -- I have no idea where he is.  If he is alive.  Remember the G.G. brothers?  Arrested a week ago, put into Preungesheim jail.  Remember Max?  Supposedly in Dachau, near Munich.  What little contact I had with Ferdi is lost but I'm afraid his SA uniform is no protection with Rohm gone.  A few he seduced on his endless expeditions would rat on him quickly.  Richard, you could never guess how many told on their former friends when they were thrown in jail and "reeducated" by the bullies.  Kurt, the pharmacist near your house was dragged out of bed at 5:00 am.  They found his address book -- the fool didn't burn it or throw it in the river.  What happened at headquarters I can only guess --- I haven't seen him and I don't have the nerve to ask his mother.... Now don't worry about me.  I'm going to enlist in the Navy. ... perhaps later we could get away from all this, far away, to Australia, Canada, or California.  Mother wants me to, but how can I leave her?"  

 (from a letter to Richard Plant, author of The Pink Triangle - The Nazi War Against Homosexuals)

About 100,000 German men were arrested under the sweeping anti-gay law, and roughly half were convicted and sent to prison.  Between 5,000 and 15,000 were sent to concentration camps, where many died from starvation, beatings, exhaustion, and murder. 

A favorite game of the Gestapo, of the SS, of the police, and of guards throughout this period was to take iron rods and force them into the rectums of homosexual prisoners.  "After all,"  you can almost hear them saying it ... "that's what they like."  

Homosexuals during roll call at Buchenwald

Some gay men were castrated and prosecuted under the draconian laws prohibiting homosexuality. Others were subjected to crude medical experiments designed to ''correct'' their sexual orientation. Gay men in concentration camps were singled out with distinctive pink triangle badges and assigned backbreaking labor that often killed them.

 In 1943, SS chief Heinrich Himmler approved a medical experiment designed to ''correct'' gay men of their sexual orientation. The experiment involved inserting capsules of testosterone into the groins of 12 prisoners at the Buchenwald concentration camp. Two men died from complications of the surgery. 

"Four Kapos Beating a Homosexual Prisoner" - Richard Grune.  A student of Paul Klee, Grune was a homosexual.  He spent 9 years in the camps until liberated by Americans in 1945. He soon began to document his experiences in works like this one.

 The gay victims of the Nazis were overlooked for years and did not receive formal acknowledgment in Germany until a 1985 speech by the then-president of West Germany. However, memorials to the gay victims have been developed in parts of Europe and one is being created in Berlin. 

Paragraph 175 has been abolished, and the German parliament in 2002 pardoned the men convicted under it.
When you hear or read about anti-gay crazies calling gay activists "Nazis" I wish you would think about all of this, and try to understand how utterly insulting their statements are.  Not only to gay people like me, but to decent people everywhere who understand the difference between what is fundamentally right and quite plainly wrong.
Please try to understand, too, when you hear about "ex-gay" therapy -- about people who claim to be able to "cure" homosexuality, as if it's a disease.  Imagine how insulting that is.  I have no doubt in my mind at all that if a Rick Santorum, or a Michelle Bachmann or even a Cardinal Dolan could do so they would strongly support "reeducation," close the bars and clubs, shut down gay publications and websites and stifle any criticism of them, their churches, their beliefs.  Sound familiar?  

A sampling of wingnut hatred about "gay Nazis":

Bryan Fischer (Radio Talk Show Host) "Homosexual activists are Nazis." video link
Alan Craig (London politician & columnist) "Gaystapo"  The Guardian
Linda Harvey (President, Mission America)  Mission America
Scott Lively (Evangelical Minister Supporting Ugandan Anti-Gay Laws MSNBC - 
Jim O'Neill (Columnist)  Canada Free Press
Cardinal Francis George (Diocese of Chicago)  "communists, Nazis, KKK" Daily Kos
Dan Ramos (Head of Bexar County, TX Democratic Party) Ramos
John Dunleavy (former Chairman NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade)  Dunleavy
Rev. Louis Sheldon (Head, Traditional Values Coalition) "Homosexuals are like Hitler"


  1. I think what you have missed is that given the way the gay rights movement has acted towards *all* heterosexuals in the last 15 years or so, you deserve the insult- and thus, the fact you are insulted by it, is proof that those who use the insult have hit home with respect to your OWN behavior.

  2. yes, of course, i completely missed the part where i fired you from your job, and where i punched you in the face, and the part where i wouldnt' rent an apartment to you, and the part where i used vile names and insults in front of you because i didn't realize that you were "one of them." please, allow me on behalf of gay people everywhere to apologize for "acting" badly toward you poor people. ok? now peddle this BULLSHIT elsewhere. thank you. -- Joe

  3. Hi, could you please tell me where you got all these pictures from?
    I work at a book publishing house and I'm trying to get in touch with whoever owns the copyright of similar pictures.

  4. Yes, there's a slight misreading if history going on here. Röhm and his followers were murdered in the so-called Night of the Long Knives as part of a power struggle within the Nazi Party. It certainly wasn't because they were gay. (Have a quick check on Wikipedia.) As for the Nazi "persecution" of homosexuals, whereas it is true that male sodomy was illegal under the Third Reich (although lesbianism was not), it's also true that it had been illegal before Hitler came to power and continued to be illegal after Germany was "liberated" by the Allies. It only stopped being a criminal offence in the 1960s. Yes, homosexuals were sent to concentration camps, but they were sent there as sex criminals, not because they were members of a particular group such as Jews or Jehovah's Witnesses.