Lesbian and gay life in Germany began to thrive at the beginning of the 20th century. By the s, Paragraph of the German Penal Code, which criminalised homosexual acts, was being applied less frequently. In the process towards complete decriminalisation had been initiated within the German legislature.
This morning, six unidentified victims of the Holocaust will be given a formal burial at Bushey New Cemetery in London. Following several years of escalating persecution under the Nazi regime, more than six million Jewish people were murdered during the Holocaust. While Berlin in the s and early s was home to a flourishing LGBT community, since immortalised in Goodbye to Berlin and Cabaret, the Nazi rise to power was followed by a swift and brutal crackdown.
Before the pink triangle became a worldwide symbol of gay power and pride, it was intended as a badge of shame. In Nazi Germany, a downward-pointing pink triangle was sewn onto the shirts of gay men in concentration camps—to identify and further dehumanize them. Homosexuality was technically made illegal in Germany inbut it was rarely enforced until the Nazi Party took power in
Upon the rise of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers Party the Nazi Party in Germany, gay men and, to a lesser extent, lesbianswere two of the numerous groups targeted by the Nazis and were ultimately among Holocaust victims. The Gestapo compiled lists of homosexuals, who were compelled to sexually conform to the "German norm". Between andan estimatedmen were arrested as homosexuals, of whom some 50, were officially sentenced. Most of these men served time in regular prisons, and an estimated 5, to 15, of those sentenced were incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps.
The Nazis believed that homosexuals were weak and effeminate men who were not fit to fight for the nation. Moreover, they made no contribution to the German birth rate. Generally speaking, lesbians were not classed as a threat to the racial policies of the Third Reich and suffered less from persecution than men.
Gay men and, to a lesser extent, lesbians, were two of several groups targeted by Nazis during the Holocaust. Prior to the Third Reich, Berlin was considered a liberal city, with many gay bars, nightclubs and cabarets. There were even many drag bars where tourists, heterosexuals and gays would enjoy female impersonation acts.
On May 6,Nazis ransacked the "Institute for Sexual Science" in Berlin; four days later, as part of large public burnings of books viewed as "un-German," thousands of books plundered from the Institute's library were thrown into a huge bonfire. The institute was founded in by Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld
Whilst their exact provenance is unknown, it is likely that these labels were handed out to encourage the boycott of Jewish shops and businesses. This type of antisemitic signage was visible all over Germany following the Nazis rise to power. It aimed to exclude Jews from every day life.
The persecution and killing of gay men in Nazi Germany will be the focus of a traveling museum exhibit this month in Wilton Manors. Thousands of gays were thought to have perished in Germany during the Nazi regime. Newsome specializes in gay research during the Hitler era.
With LGBTQ Pride Month beginning June 1 — a month chosen to honor the history of activism epitomized by the Stonewall Riots of June — celebrants around the world will be getting ready for parades and other tributes. Symbols such as the rainbow flag and the pink triangle will abound; for example, Nike has announced a new line of LGBTQ history-themed sneakers, including two that boast pink triangles. The brightly colored symbol is now often worn proudly, but it was born from a dark period in LGBTQ history and world history.