Holocaust

Holocaust

Introduction

The Holocaust is mainly written or spoken about the experiences of millions of Jews who were persecuted by being placed in concentration camps or murdered. However, there are other small groups that are rarely spoken about in spite of them being imprisoned and murdered. They include the disabled, homosexuals, Roma (Gypsy), the Adventists and other nonconforming churches. The essay will focus on explaining the experiences of homosexuals during the Holocaust.

There have been only a few accounts of gay Holocaust survivors. It may be attributed to the continued persecution after getting out of the concentration camps and the failure to recognize them as victims of Holocaust. Homosexuals were still persecuted after the end of Holocaust. The records at the concentration camps made them susceptible to police raids and convictions in the 1950s and 1960s. The rate of gay convictions in the 1950s and 1960s was similar to the level of the Nazi administration. The anti-homosexual law that was used during the Nazi regime was still in use after its end.

 

Germany had a law that targeted homosexuals even before the Holocaust began. It was referred to as Paragraph 175. However, it was seldom utilized and many people were not concerned about it. When the Nazis came to power, they amended the law to require that sexual acts between people of the same gender were punished by imprisonment (Grau & Shoppmann 65). It was considered that homosexual acts made men weak such that they could no longer work and would rely on the government. It was also thought that permitting homosexuality would corrupt other citizens. Also, homosexuality was seen as a taboo because it could not lead to procreation during a time that the country required numerous strong citizens. Therefore, Paragraph 175 was seen Nazi tool to effectively deal with homosexual acts in the country.

When Adolf Hitler ascended to power, he reinforced the anti-homosexuality policies, for instance, the outlawing of rights groups belonging to homosexuals. It also became common for an individual to be arrested on suspicion of engaging in homosexual acts. A Holocaust survivor, Heinz Heger, provides an account of how the secret police (the Gestapo) took him away one day. He did not understand what he had done but was summoned to the police station near him. While there, he was shown a photograph of himself and his boyfriend that he had given him. In the photograph was a message of love and affection for his partner. It was enough evidence to imprison him and later send him to the camps. He was not permitted to inform his family about his situation. Such experiences were prevalent for homosexuals and individuals perceived to be homosexuals. It was easy to target any individual who had past relationships or was deemed to be engaging in homosexual acts.

The homosexuals suffered severely in the camps. The various groups in the camps had different markings to show their identity. For instance, political prisoners had a red triangle on their clothes; offenders had a green triangle, while the homosexuals had a pink triangle. The markings made the prisons to suffer more discrimination and alienation while in the camps. It also made them receive more severe punishment and treatment than other prisoners. Also, the pink triangles markings were bigger than for other groups in the camp, making the prisoners more vulnerable to harsher treatments.

Heinz Heger stated that homosexuals had higher mortality rate than other victims such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and political prisoners. Suffering in the concentration camp also occurred from the inability of the gays to have a support network within the camps. This is because other prisoners treated the gays with disdain. They also often got the hardest tasks and died a few months after getting into the camps.

Works Cited

Grau, Günter, and Claudia Shoppmann, eds. The Hidden Holocaust?: Gay and Lesbian Persecution in Germany 1933-45. Routledge, 1995

Heger, H. (2010). The men with the pink triangle: The true, life-and-death story of homosexuals in the Nazi death camps. ReadHowYouWant. com.

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