‘Double Danger’ in Nazi Germany

70 years ago, the concentration camps run by Nazis were liberated by Allied troops as the Holocaust came to an end. Millions of victims — many of them Jewish — were tragically murdered.

Geoffrey-GilesGeoffrey Giles, Ph.D, travelled to Cleveland State on April 28 to deliver a lecture on a group of Holocaust victims that are not often discussed — those who were both homosexual and Jewish.

Homosexuality became a crime in Germany when they became a country in 1871. However, the courts rarely heard cases because a conviction was only possible if intercourse had occurred. Those on trial merely had to deny that it happened and they would be set free as innocent until proven guilty.

Berlin was the “center of gay life in Europe,” Giles said.

Things changed when the Nazis came to power. Heinrich Himmler and the Gestapo sent many homosexual Germans to the concentration camps. Gay men who entered concentration camps were forced to wear a pink triangle to identify themselves. Those who were both Jewish and gay had to wear pink and yellow triangles.

Hitler and the Nazis did not seem to hold anger against non-German gays specifically, as he believed being gay made a man weak and that he needed his men to be producing children to fight in the war. Therefore, he did not mind other countries being occupied by “weak” men.

The legal system in Germany during this time was surprisingly fair in its treatment of gay Jews — for the most part. Giles provided many individual accounts of men who were only given light sentences or had no jail time after sentencing because of time served.

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