Homosexuality and the Nazi Party - Part 1
January 9, 2005
by Scott Lively
The pink triangle, symbol of the "gay rights" movement, is familiar to many Americans. As the badge used by the Nazis to designate homosexuals in the concentration camps, the pink triangle perfectly expresses the message of "gay rights." That message is that homosexuals are currently and historically victims of irrational prejudice and that those who oppose homosexuality are hateful bigots. This all-important victim status engenders sympathy for the homosexual "cause" among well-meaning heterosexuals. Thus, millions of otherwise rational Americans support a movement whose sole unifying characteristic is a sexual lifestyle they personally find repugnant.
When homosexuals display the pink triangle, they are equating all opposition to homosexuality with Nazism and themselves with the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. As pro-homosexual Rabbi Bernard Mehlman puts it, "Homophobia and Anti-Semitism are part of the same disease." This quote appeared in an advertisement in a homosexual newspaper. It announced the dedication ceremony of the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston last year. An accompanying article reported that New England homosexuals had pledged $1 million to help build the memorial, including $50,000 for an initial monument consisting of six steel and glass towers. Alongside the monument is an inscription honoring homosexual victims of the Nazis. Another Holocaust memorial being prepared in New York City is expected to similarly honor homosexuals. Washington, D.C. is home to the official U.S. Holocaust Museum which not only maintains a pro-homosexual display, but also employs noted homosexual activist Klaus Mueller as a staff researcher. Other Holocaust related projects, such as the Anne Frank Exhibit now touring the United States, incorporate a similar message in their programs.
While some homosexuals were interned in Nazi work camps, the role of homosexuals in Nazi history cannot be accurately represented solely by a pink triangle. Our review of more than 200 history texts written since the 1930s suggests that a pink swastika is equally representative, if not more so. For, ironically, while many homosexuals were persecuted by the Nazi party, there is no doubt that the Nazi party itself had many homosexuals within its own ranks, even among its highest leadership.
The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
The "gay rights" movement often portrays itself as an American phenomenon which arose from the civil rights movement of the 1950s. It is not uncommon to hear homosexualists (those both "gay" and "straight" who promote the legitimization of homosexuality) characterize "gay rights" as the natural third wave of civil rights activism (following blacks and women). In reality, however, Germany was the birthplace of "gay rights," and its legacy in that nation is truly alarming.
The "grandfather of gay rights" was a homosexual German lawyer named Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. Ulrichs had been molested at age 14 by his male riding instructor. Instead of attributing his adult homosexuality to the molestation, however, Ulrich devised in the 1860s what became known as the "third sex" theory of homosexuality. Ulrichs' model holds that male homosexuals are actually female souls trapped within male bodies. The reverse phenomenon supposedly explains lesbianism. Since homosexuality was an innate condition, reasoned Ulrichs, homosexual behavior should be decriminalized. An early follower of Ulrichs coined the term "homosexual" in an open letter to the Prussian Minister of Justice in 1869.
By the time Ulrichs died in 1895, the "gay rights" movement in Germany had gained considerable strength. Frederich Engels noted this in a letter to Karl Marx regarding Ulrich's efforts: "The pederasts start counting their numbers and discover they are a powerful group in our state. The only thing missing is an organization, but it seems to exist already, but it is hidden." After Ulrichs' death, the movement split into two separate and opposed factions. One faction followed Ulrichs' successor, Magnus Hirschfeld, who formed the Scientific Humanitarian Committee in 1897 and later opened the Institute for Sex Research in Berlin. The other faction was organized by Adolf Brand, publisher of the first homosexual magazine, Der Eigene (The Special). Brand, Benedict Friedlander and Wilhelm Janzen formed the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen (The Community of the Special) in 1902. What divided these groups was their concepts of masculinity. Ulrichs' theory embraced a feminine identity. His, and later Hirschfeld's, followers literally believed they were women trapped in men's bodies.
The followers of Brand, however, were deeply insulted by Ulrichs' theory. They perceived themselves not merely as masculine, but as a breed of men superior in masculine qualities even to heterosexuals. The Community of the Special (CS) asserted that male homosexuality was the foundation of all nation-states and that male homosexuals represented an elite strata of human society. The CS fashioned itself as a modern incarnation of the warrior cults of ancient Greece. Modeling themselves after the military heroes of Sparta, Thebes and Crete, the members of the CS were ultra-masculine, male-supremacist and pederastic (devoted to man/boy sex). Brand said in Der Eigene that he wanted men who "thirst for a revival of Greek times and Hellenic standards of beauty after centuries of Christian barbarism."
One of the keys to understanding both the rise of Nazism and the later persecution of some homosexuals by the Nazis is found in this early history of the German "gay rights" movement. For it was the CS which created and shaped what would become the Nazi persona, and it was the loathing which these "Butches" held for effeminate homosexuals ("Femmes") which led to the internment of some of the latter in slave labor camps in the Third Reich.
From Boy Scouts to Brownshirts
The "Butch" homosexuals of the CS transformed Germany. Their primary vehicle was the German youth movement, known as the Wandervogel (Rovers or Wandering Youth). "In Central Europe," writes homosexual historian Parker Rossman, "there was another effort to revive the Greek ideal of pedagogic pederasty in the movement of 'Wandering Youth'... Ultimately, Hitler used and transformed the movement...expanding and building upon its romanticism as a basis for the Nazi Party" (Rossman:103).
Rising spontaneously in the 1890s as an informal hiking and camping society, the Wandervogel became an official organization at the turn of the century, similar to the Boy Scouts. From early on, however, the Wandervogel was dominated and controlled by the pederasts of the CS. CS co-founder Wilhelm Janzen was its chief benefactor, and its leadership was rife with homosexuality. In 1912, CS theorist Hans Blueher wrote The German Wandervogel Movement as an Erotic Phenomenon which told how the organization was used to recruit young boys into homosexuality.
Wandervogel youths were indoctrinated with Greek paganism and taught to reject the Christian values of their parents (mostly Catholics and Lutherans). The CS belief in a homosexual elite took shape within the Wandervogel in the concept of "der Fuehrer" (The Leader). E.Y. Hartshorne, in German Youth and the Nazi Dream of Victory, records the recollections of a former Wandervogel member in this regard: "We little suspected then what power we had in our hands. We played with the fire that had set a world in flames, and it made our hearts hot...It was in our ranks that the word Fuehrer originated, with its meaning of blind obedience and devotion...And I shall never forget how in those early days we pronounced the word Gemeinschaft ["community"] with a trembling throaty note of excitement, as though it hid a deep secret" (Hartshorne:12). Louis Snyder notes in the Encyclopedia of the Third Reich that, "The Fuehrer Principle became identical with the elite principle. The Fuehrer elite were regarded as independent of the will of the masses" (Snyder:104). Snyder was not writing about the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen or of the Wandervogel, but of the upper ranks of the Nazi party some thirty years later. Another Nazi custom from the Wandervogel was the "Seig Heil" salute, which was an early form of greeting popular among the wandering youth. During World War I, the greatest hero of the German youth movement was Gerhard Rossbach. Described by historian Robert G. L. Waite as a "sadist, murderer and homosexual," Rossbach was "the most important single contributor of the pre-Hitler youth movement" (Waite,1969:210). More importantly, Rossbach was the bridge between the Wandervogel and the Nazi Party.
In the turbulent days following Germany's defeat in World War I, Gerhard Rossbach was one of many former army officers placed in command of Freikorps (Free Corps) units. These unofficial auxilary military units were designed to circumvent limitations imposed on German troop strength by the Allies. Rossbach organized a Freikorps called Rossbach's Sturmabteilung (Rossbach's Storm Troopers). Rossbach also built the largest post-war youth organization in Germany, named the Schilljugend (Schill Youth) in honor of a famous Prussian soldier. In The Black Corps, historian Robert Lewis Koehl notes that both Rossbach's Storm Troopers and the Schilljugend "were notorious for wearing brown shirts which had been prepared for German colonial troops, acquired from the old Imperial army stores" (Koehl:19). These Storm Troopers would soon become known as Nazi Brownshirts. Konrad Heiden, a contemporary of Hitler and a leading authority on Nazi history, wrote that the Freikorps "were breeding places of perversion" and that "Rossbach's troop...was especially proud" of being homosexual (Heiden:295). Rossbach's adjutant was Edmund Heines, noted for his ability to procure boys for sexual orgies. Ernst Roehm, recruited by Rossbach into homosexuality, later commanded the Storm Troopers for the Nazis, where they were more commonly known as the SA (an acronym for Sturmabteilung).
The Power Behind the Throne
While Adolf Hitler is today recognized as the central figure of Nazism, he was a less important player when the Nazi machine was first assembled. Its first leader was Ernst Roehm. Homosexual historian Frank Rector writes that "Hitler was, to a substantial extent, Roehm's protegé" (Rector:80). Roehm had been a captain in the German army. Hitler had been a mere corporal. After World War I, Roehm was highly placed in the underground nationalist movement that plotted to overthrow the Weimar government and worked to subvert it through assassinations and terrorism. In The Order of the Death's Head, author Heinz Hohne writes that Roehm met Hitler at a meeting of a socialist terrorist group called the Iron Fist and "saw in Hitler the demagogue he required to mobilize mass support for his secret army" (Hohne:20). Roehm, who had joined the German Worker's Party before Hitler, worked with him to take over the fledgling organization. With Roehm's backing, Hitler became the first president of the party in 1921 (ibid.:21) and changed its name to the National Socialist German Worker's Party. Soon after, Rossbach's Storm Troopers, the SA, became its military arm. In his classic Nazi history, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, author William Shirer describes Roehm as "a stocky, bull-necked, piggish-eyed, scar- faced professional soldier...[and] like so many of the early Nazis, a homosexual" (Shirer:64). Rector writes:
Was not the most outstanding, most notorious, of all homosexuals the celebrated Nazi leader Ernst Ro[e]hm, the virile and manly chief of the SA, the du buddy of Adolf Hitler from the beginning of his political career? Hitler's rise had in fact depended upon Ro[e]hm and everyone knew it. Ro[e]hm's gay fun and games were certainly no secret; his amorous forays to gay bars and gay Turkish baths were riotous. Whatever anti-homosexual sentiments may have been expressed by straight Nazis were more than offset by the reality of highly visible, spectacular, gay-loving Ro[e]hm. If there were occasional ominous rumblings and grumblings about "all those queers" in the SA and Movement, and some anti-gay flare-ups, homosexual Nazis felt more-or-less secure in the lap of the Party. After all, the National Socialist Party member who wielded the greatest power aside from Hitler was Ro[e]hm (Rector:50f).
Betraying his roots in the "Butch" faction of the German "gay rights" movement, Roehm viewed homosexuality as the basis for a new society. Louis Snyder writes that Roehm "projected a social order in which homosexuality would be regarded as a human behavior pattern of high repute...he flaunted his homosexuality in public and insisted that his cronies do the same. What was needed, Roehm believed, was a proud and arrogant lot who could brawl, carouse, smash windows, kill and slaughter for the hell of it. Straights, in his eyes, were not as adept in such behavior as practicing homosexuals" (Snyder:55). "The principle function of this army-like organization," writes historian Thomas Fuchs, "was beating up anyone who opposed the Nazis, and Hitler believed this was a job best undertaken by homosexuals" (Fuchs:48f).
The favorite meeting place of the SA was a "gay" bar in Munich called the Bratwurstglockl where Roehm kept a reserved table (Hohne:82). This was the same tavern where some of the earliest formative meetings of the Nazi Party had been held (Rector:69). At the Bratwurstglockl, Roehm and associates-Edmund Heines, Karl Ernst, Ernst's partner Captain Rohrbein, Captain Petersdorf, Count Ernst Helldorf and the rest-would meet to plan and strategize. These were the men who orchestrated the Nazi campaign of intimidation and terror. All of them were homosexual (Heiden:371).
Indeed, homosexuality was all that qualified many of these men for their positions in the SA. Heinrich Himmler would later complain of this: "Does it not constitute a danger to the Nazi movement if it can be said that Nazi leaders are chosen for sexual reasons?" (Gallo:57). Himmler was not so much opposed to homosexuality itself as to the fact that non- qualified people were given high rank based on their homosexual relations with Roehm and others. For example, SA Obergruppenfuhrer (Lieutenant General) Karl Ernst, a militant homosexual, had been a hotel doorman and a waiter before joining the SA. "Karl Ernst is not yet 35," writes Gallo, "he commands 250,000 men...he is simply a sadist, a common thug, transformed into a responsible official" (ibid.:50f).
This strange brand of nepotism was a hallmark of the SA. By 1933 the SA had grown far larger than the German army, yet the Vikingkorps (Officers' Corps) remained almost exclusively homosexual. "Roehm, as the head of 2,500,000 Storm Troops," writes historian H.R. Knickerbocker, "had surrounded himself with a staff of perverts. His chiefs, men of rank of Gruppenfuhrer or Obergruppenfuhrer, commanding units of several hundred thousand Storm Troopers, were almost without exception homosexuals. Indeed, unless a Storm Troop officer were homosexual he had no chance of advancement" (Knickerbocker:55).
In the SA, the Community of the Special's Hellenic ideal of masculine homosexual supremacy and militarism was fully realized. "Theirs was a very masculine brand of homosexuality," writes homosexualist historian Alfred Rowse, "they lived in a male world, without women, a world of camps and marching, rallies and sports. They had their own relaxations, and the Munich SA became notorious on account of them" (Rowse:214). The similarity of the SA to Freidlander and Brand's dream of Hellenic revival is not coincidental. In Gay American History, Jonathan Katz writes that Roehm was a prominent member of the Society for Human Rights (SHR), an offshoot of the CS (J.Katz:632).
The "relaxations" to which Rowse refers were, of course, the homosexual activities (many of them pederastic) for which the SA and the CS were both famous. Hohne writes that Roehm "used the SA for ends other than the purely political...Peter Granninger, who had been one of Roehm's partners...and was now given cover in the SA Intelligence Section. For a monthly salary of 200 marks he kept Roehm supplied with new friends, his main hunting ground being Geisela High School Munich; from this school he recruited no fewer than eleven boys, whom he first tried out and then took to Roehm" (Hohne:82).
Hitler's "Gay" Roots
In 1945 a Jewish historian by the name of Samuel Igra published Germany's National Vice, which called homosexuality the "poisoned stream" that ran through the heart of Nazism. (In the 1920s and 30s, homosexuality was known as "the German vice" across Europe because of the debaucheries of the Weimar period.) Igra, who escaped Germany in 1939, claims that Hitler "had been a male prostitute in Vienna at the time of his sojourn there, from 1907 to 1912, and that he practiced the same calling in Munich from 1912 to 1914" (Igra:67). Desmond Seward, in Napoleon and Hitler, says Hitler is listed as a homosexual in Viennese police records (Seward:299). Lending credence to this is the fact, noted by Walter Langer, that during several of those years Hitler "chose to live in a Vienna flophouse known to be inhabited by many homosexuals" (Langer:192). Rector writes that, as a young man, Hitler was often called "der Schoen Adolf" (the handsome Adolf) and that later his looks "were also to some extent helpful in gaining big-money support from Ernst Ro[e]hm's circle of wealthy gay friends" (Rector:52).
Langer, a psychiatrist, was commissioned by the Allies in 1943 to prepare a thorough psychological study of Hitler. His report, kept under wraps for 29 years, was published in book form in 1972 as The Mind of Adolf Hitler. Langer writes that Hitler was certainly a coprophile (a person who is sexually aroused by human excrement) and may have practiced homosexuality as an adult. He cites the testimony of Hermann Rauschning, a former Hitler confidante who "reports that he has met two boys who claimed that they were Hitler's homosexual partners, but their testimony can hardly be taken at face value. More condemning," adds Langer, "would be the remarks dropped by [Albert] Foerster, the Danzig gauleiter, in conversation with Rauschning. Even here, however, the remarks deal only with Hitler's impotence as far as heterosexual relationships go, without actually implying that he indulges in homosexuality. It is probably true that Hitler calls Foerster 'Bubi,' which is a common nickname employed by homosexuals in addressing their partners. This alone is not adequate proof that he has actually indulged in homosexual practices with Foerster, who is known to be a homosexual" (Langer:178). However, writes Langer, "Even today, Hitler derives sexual pleasure from looking at men's bodies and associating with homosexuals" (Langer:179). Too, Hitler's greatest hero was Frederick the Great, a well-known homosexual (Garde:44).
Like Langer, Waite also hesitates to label Hitler a homosexual but cites substantial circumstantial evidence that he was.
It is true that Hitler was closely associated with Ernst Ro[e]hm and Rudolf Hess, two homosexuals who were among the very few people with whom he used the familiar du. But one cannot conclude that he therefore shared his friend's sexual tastes. Still, during the months he was with Hess in Landsberg, their relationship must have become very close. When Hitler left the prison he fretted about his friend who languished there, and spoke of him tenderly, using Austrian diminutives: 'Ach mein Rudy, mein Hesserl, isn't it appalling to think that he's still there.' One of Hitler's valets, Schneider, made no explicit statement about the relationship, but he did find it strange that whenever Hitler got a present he liked or drew an architectural sketch that particularly pleased him, he would run to Hess- who was known in homosexual circles as "Fraulein Anna"-as a little boy would run to his mother to show his prize to her...Finally there is the nonconclusive but interesting fact that one of Hitler's prized possessions was a handwritten love letter which King Ludwig II had written to a manservant" (Waite, 1977:283f).
Hitler, if homosexual, was certainly not exclusively so. There are at least four women, including his own niece, with whom Hitler had sexual relationships, although these relationships were not normal. Both Waite and Langer suggest that his sexual encounters with women included expressions of his coprophilic perversion as well as other extremely degrading forms of masochism. It is interesting to note that all four women attempted suicide after becoming sexually involved with Hitler. Two succeeded (Langer:175f).
The Homoerotic Brotherhood
Whether or not Hitler was personally involved in homosexual relationships, the evidence is clear that he knowingly and intentionally surrounded himself with practicing homosexuals from his youth. Like Roehm, Hitler seemed to prefer homosexual companions and co-workers. In addition to Roehm and Hess, two of his closest friends, Hitler filled key positions with known or suspected homosexuals. Rector, himself a "gay Holocaust" revisionist, attempts to dismiss sources that attribute homosexuality to leading Nazis, but nevertheless writes that...
Reportedly, Hitler Youth leader, Baldur von Schirach was bisexual; Hitler's private attorney, Reich Legal Director, Minister of Justice, butcher Governor- General of Poland, and public gay-hater Hans Frank was said to be a homosexual; Hitler's adjutant Wilhelm Bruckner was said to be bisexual;...Walter Funk, Reich Minister of Economics [and Hitler's personal financial advisor] has frequently been called a "notorious" homosexual ...or as a jealous predecessor in Funk's post, Hjalmar Schacht, contemptuously claimed, Funk was a "harmless homosexual and alcoholic;" ...[Hitler's second in command] Hermann Goering liked to dress up in drag and wear campy make-up; and so on and so forth (Rector:57).
Igra, who confidently asserts that the above men were homosexuals, cites still other Hitler aides and close friends who were known homosexuals as well. He states that Hitler's chauffeur and one-time personal secretary, Emile Maurice, for example, was homosexual, as well as the pornographer Julius Streicher, who "was originally a school teacher, but was dismissed by the Nuremberg School Authorities, following numerous charges of pederasty brought against him" (Igra:72f). SS Chief Heinrich Himmler's "pederastic proclivities [were] captured on film" by Nazi filmmaker Walter Frenz (Washington City Paper, April 4, 1995). Reinhard Heydrich, mastermind of the first pogrom, Kristallnacht, and of the death camps, was homosexual (Calic:64). In The Twelve Year Reich, Richard Grunberger tells of a party given by Nazi propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, which degenerated into a homosexual orgy (Grunberger:70). A recent biography of Albert Speer by Gitta Sereny speaks of a "homo-erotic (not sexual) relationship" between Speer and Hitler (Newsweek, Oct. 30, 1995). Langer notes that Hitler's personal bodyguards were "almost always 100 percent homosexuals" (Langer:179). Hitler's later public pronouncements against homosexuality never quite fit with the lifelong intimacy-sexual or otherwise-which he maintained with men he knew and accepted as homosexuals.
In light of the above it is not surprising that many of those whose ideas influenced Hitler were also homo-sexual. Chief among those were occultists Jorg Lanz Von Liebenfels and Guido von List. In 1958, Austrian psychologist Wilhelm Daim published Der Mann der Hitler die Ideen gab ("The Man Who Gave Hitler His Ideas") in which he called Lanz the true "father" of National Socialism. Lanz was a former Cistercian monk who had been excommunicated for homosexuality (Sklar:19). After being expelled from the monastery, Lanz formed an occultic order called the Ordo Novi Templi or The Order of the New Temple (ONT). The ONT was an offshoot of the Ordo Templi Orientis which practiced tantric sex rituals (Howard:91).
On Christmas day, 1907, many years before it would become the symbol of the Third Reich, Lanz and other members of the ONT raised the swastika flag over the castle which Lanz had purchased to house the order (Goodrick-Clarke:109). Lanz chose the swastika, he said, because it was the ancient pagan symbol of Wotan, the god of storms (Cavendish:1983). (Wotan, the inspiration for "Storm Troopers," was the Teutonic equivalent of Baal in the Old Testament and Zeus in Greek culture). Waite notes that it was through Lanz that Hitler would learn that most of his heroes of history were also "practicing homosexuals" (Waite, 1977:94f).
Refuting "Gay Holocaust" Revisionism
"Gay Holocaust" revisionists assert that Hitler's ascension to the Chancellorship marked the beginning of a homosexual Holocaust in Germany. For example, in The Pink Triangle, Richard Plant writes, "After years of frustration...Hitler's storm troopers now had the opportunity to smash their enemies: the lame, the mute, the feebleminded, the epileptic, the homosexual, the Jew, the Gypsy, the communist. These were the scapegoats singled out for persecution. These were the 'contragenics' who were to be ruthlessly eliminated to ensure the purity of the 'Aryan race.'" (Plant:51). Rector, another revisionist, makes a similar statement: "Hitler's homophobia did not surface until 1933-1934, when gays had come to affect adversely his New Order designs-out of which grew the simple solution of murdering them en masse" (Rector:24). The fact is that homosexuals were never murdered "en masse" or "ruthlessly eliminated" by the Nazis. Yet many homosexuals were persecuted and some did die in Nazi work camps. What is the truth about Nazi persecution of homosexuals? There are several incidents in Nazi history which are most often cited as evidence of a "gay Holocaust." This list includes a series of increasingly harsh public pronouncements and policies against homosexuality by Hitler and Himmler, the sacking of the Sex Research Institute of Berlin, "the Roehm Purge" (also known as "the Night of the Long Knives"), and the internment of homosexuals in work camps.
The law against homosexual conduct had existed in Germany for many years prior to the Nazi regime as Paragraph 175 of the Reich Criminal Code, to wit: "A male who indulges in criminally indecent activity with another male, or who allows himself to participate in such activity, will be punished with imprisonment" (Burleigh and Wipperman:188). When Hitler came to power he used this law as a means of tracking down and punishing those homosexuals who, in the words of one victim, "had defended the Weimar Republic, and who had tried to forestall the Nazi threat" (ibid.:183). Later he expanded the law and used it as a convenient tool to detain other enemies of the regime.
In February of 1933, Hitler banned pornography, ho-mosexual bars and bath-houses, and groups which promoted "gay rights" (Plant:50). Ostensibly, this decree was a blanket condemnation of all homosexual activity in Germany, but in practice it served as just another means to find and destroy anti-Nazi groups and individuals. "Hitler," admit Oosterhuis and Kennedy, "employed the charge of homosexuality primarily as a means to eliminate political opponents, both inside his party and out" (Oosterhuis and Kennedy: 248).
The masculine homosexuals in the Nazi leadership selectively enforced this policy only against their enemies and not against all homosexuals. Even Rector lends credence to this perspective, citing the fact that the decree "was not enforced in all cases" (Rector:66). Another indication is that the pro-Nazi Society for Human Rights (SHR) continued to participate in German society for several years after the decree. In The Racial State, Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wippermann remind us that Roehm was a leading member of the SHR; and we know from Anthony Read and David Fisher that the SHR was still active in Germany as late as 1940 (Read and Fisher:245). Furthermore, Oosterhuis and Kennedy write that "although he was well known as a gay-activist, [Adolf] Brand was not arrested by the Nazis" (Oosterhuis and Kennedy:7). Some of Brand's files were confiscated by the Nazis in their attempt to gather all potentially self-incriminating evidence.
In 1935, Paragraph 175 was amended with Paragraph 175a which criminalized any type of behavior that could be construed as indicating a homosexual inclination or desire (Burleigh and Wipperman: 190). (Interestingly, the new criminal code addressing homosexuality deleted the word "unnatural" from the definition-Reisman, 1994:3.) This new law provided the Nazis with an especially potent legal weapon against their enemies. It will never be known how many non-homosexuals were charged under this law, but it is indisputable that the Nazis used false accusations of homosexuality to justify the detainment and imprisonment of many of their opponents. "The law was so loosely formulated," writes Steakley, "that it could be, and was, applied against heterosexuals that the Nazis wanted to eliminate...the law was also used repeatedly against Catholic clergymen" (Steakley:111). Kogon writes that "The Gestapo readily had recourse to the charge of homosexuality if it was unable to find any pretext for proceeding against Catholic priests or irksome critics" (Kogon:44).
The charge of homosexuality was convenient for the Nazis to use against their political enemies because it was so difficult to defend against and so easy to justify to the populace. Since long before the Nazis, homosexuals had generally lived clandestine lives, so it was not unusual for revelations of their conduct to come as a surprise to their communities when it became a police matter. This is not to say that actual homosexuals were not prosecuted under the law. Many were. But the law was used selectively against the "Femmes." And even when they were threatened, many effeminate homosexuals, especially those in the arts community, were given protection by certain Nazi leaders (Oosterhuis and Kennedy:248). Plant writes:
The most famous example is that of the actor Gustaf Grundgens...Despite the fact that his homosexual affairs were as notorious as those of Roehm's, Goering appointed him director of the State Theater...[And] On October 29, 1937 ...Himmler advised that actors and other artists could be arrested for offenses against paragraph 175 only with his personal consent, unless the police caught them in flagrante (Plant:116).
There is one additional reason why the Nazis arrested homosexuals and raided even the homes of their supporters. They were looking for incriminating evidence against themselves (the Nazi leaders). Blackmail of homosexuals by estranged partners and prostitutes was a simple fact of life in Germany. "[H]omosexuals were particularly vulnerable to blackmailers, known as Chanteure on the homosexual scene," write Burleigh and Wippermann. "Blackmail, and the threat of public exposure, resulted in frequent suicides or suicide attempts" (Burleigh and Wipperman:184). The Nazi leaders were quite familiar with this phenomenon. Igra reports that Heinrich Hoffman, the official Nazi photographer, gained his position by using information about Hitler's perverse abuse of his (Hoffman's) daughter to blackmail the future Fuehrer (Igra:74). Heiden relates another story in which Hitler bought an entire collection of rare political writings to regain possession of a letter to his niece in which he openly revealed his "masochistic- coprophil inclinations" (Heiden:385). Once he was in power he had other ways to solve these kinds of problems.
The Nazis' hunt for incriminating evidence, as well as the selectivity of the Nazi violence, was obvious in the attack on Magnus Hirschfeld's Sex Research Institute, May 6th, 1933. As noted previously, the Sex Research Institute of Berlin had been founded by Hirschfeld (in 1919) as a center for "study" of homosexuality and other sexual dysfunctions. For all intents and purposes, it served as the headquarters for the effeminate branch of the German "gay-rights" movement. For this reason alone, the "Butch" homosexuals of the Nazi Party might have destroyed the Institute. Indeed, throughout the preceding years the Nazis had increasingly harassed Hirschfeld personally. Victor Robinson, Hirschfeld's biographer, wrote in 1936:
Although the Nazis themselves derived great profit from Hirschfeld's theories (and called on him personally for help), they continued his persecution relentlessly; they terrorized his meetings and closed his lecture halls, so that for the safety of his audiences and himself, Hirschfeld was no longer able to make public appearances (Haeberle:368).
Homosexualist James Steakley acknowledges the "Butch/Femme" aspect of the incident, saying that some German homosexuals "could conceivably have approved of the measure, particularly if they were Nazi sympathizers or male supremacists" (Steakley:105).
However, the attack against the Institute was not motivated solely by the Nazi enmity against effeminate homosexuals. It was an attempt to cover up the truth about rampant homosexuality and other perversions in the Nazi Party. Sklar writes that, "Hitler attempted to bury all his earlier influences and his origins, and he spent a great deal of energy hiding them...[In this campaign to erase his past] Hitler ordered the murder of Reinhold Hanish, a friend who had shared his down-and-out days in Vienna" (where Hitler is suspected of having been a homosexual prostitute) (Sklar:21). Hitler also knew that Hirschfeld's facility had extensive records that could be damaging to himself and his inner circle. This was the reason for the raid, according to Ludwig L. Lenz, the assistant director of the Sex Research Institute, who was in charge on the day of the raid. A part of the following quote was cited earlier:
...our Institute was used by all classes of the population and members of every political party...We thus had a great many Nazis under treatment at the Institute. Why was it then, since we were completely non-party, that our purely scientific Institute was the first victim which fell to the new regime? The answer to this is simple...We knew too much. It would be against medical principles to provide a list of the Nazi leaders and their perversions [but]...not ten percent of the men who, in 1933, took the fate of Germany into their hands, were sexually normal...Many of these personages were known to us directly through consultations; we heard about others from their comrades in the party...and of others we saw the tragic results....Our knowledge of such intimate secrets regarding members of the Nazi Party and other documentary material-we possessed about forty thousand confessions and biographical letters-was the cause of the complete and utter destruction of the Institute of Sexology (Haberle:369).
Burleigh and Wipperman report that the ransackers had "lists" of materials they were looking for (Burleigh and Wipperman:189) and that they carted away two truckloads of books and files. The materials taken from the Institute were burned in a public ceremony, captured on film, on May 10th. The spectacular and oft replayed newsreel footage of this event has caused the burning of books to become synonymous with Nazism. What information went up in smoke on that day will never be known, but we can infer that the pile of burning paper contained many Nazi secrets. According to homosexual sources at the time, the Nazis destroyed twelve thousand books and thirty-five thousand photographs. The building itself was confiscated from the SHC and turned over to the Nazi Association of Jurists and Lawyers (Steakley:105).
The Roehm Purge
The event in history most frequently cited as evidence of Nazi persecution of homosexuals is known variously as the Blood Purge, the Night of the Long Knives, and the Roehm Purge. Steakley writes that "the indisputable beginning of Nazi terror against homosexuals was marked by the murder of Ernst Ro[e]hm on June 28, 1934, 'The Night of the Long Knives'" (Steakley:108). It was on that night (actually over an entire weekend) that Adolf Hitler's closest aides orchestrated the assassinations of hundreds of his political enemies in one bloody sweep. Among the victims of this purge were Roehm and several of the top officers of the SA.
We have emphasized that the leadership of the SA was mostly, if not entirely, homosexual. The fact that SA leaders were the primary targets in the massacre could therefore be construed as a sort of "moral cleansing" of the Nazi ranks, which, in fact, Hitler claimed it was. But Hitler lied. The Roehm Purge was driven by political, not moral concerns. Hitler feigned disgust and outrage about the homosexuality of the murdered SA leaders to justify himself to the German people; it was a tactic he had used previously to allay public suspicions about the sexual deviancy of his inner circle. The importance of this fact is asserted in many leading works by both mainstream and homosexualist historians. The following are excerpts from four different historians who have examined the issue:
Hitler eliminated his closest friend Roehm and certain SA leaders as potential rivals. The strictly political motivation of this ruthless power play was initially too obvious to be entirely denied, but later it was conveniently obscured by charges of homosexual depravity (Haberle:369f).
The formal accusations against Roehm and those arrested with him centered on their homosexual activities, which Hitler had of course known about for fifteen years and shrugged off, it being alleged that these activities disgraced the party. For those victims without any homosexual background, "the Great Blood Purge" continued all over Germany, as Nazi leaders got rid of all their most hated enemies, as well as the inevitable "mistakes" (Garde:726f).
Ernst Roehm wasn't shot because the Nazi Party felt outraged by the abrupt discovery that he was "having" his storm troopers-that had been known for ages; but because his sway over the SA had become a menace to Hitler. In the Hitler Youth the "dear love of comrades" was evilly turned into a political end. And if the Nazi hierarchy was well larded with homosexuals, so was Wilhelm II's court and so was the Weimar Republic (Davidson:152).
Hitler himself, of course, had been well aware of Roehm's sexual orientation from the earliest days of their long association....So strong was Roehm that the Wehrmacht [German Army High Command] was concerned that he might seize control of the army. In 1934, Hitler became fearful that the Wehrmacht was plotting a coup against him to prevent such a takeover. To forestall this danger, Hitler had Roehm and about one thousand other men murdered one weekend in June 1934, the famous "Night of the Long Knives" (Crompton:79f).
Igra provides us with a long and detailed account of the power struggle which led to the purge, beginning with a refutation of the idea that it represented a policy of extermination of homosexuals by Hitler:
We shall find that, far from eliminating the sex perverts from his party, Hitler retained most of them, and that he moved against those whom he did eliminate only with the greatest reluctance and after he had been relentlessly pushed by outside forces and circumstances. On June 14 and 15 Hitler was in Venice to see Mussolini. It soon became common knowledge that the German Dictator and his entourage had made an unfavorable impression upon the Italians... Mussolini was never a stickler for puritan morality, to say the least, but there was one vice which the Italians particularly loathe; they call it il visio tedesco, the German vice. The conduct of some members in Hitler's entourage at Venice disgusted the Italians. Mussolini protested against the moral character and political unreliability of the leading personnel in the Nazi Storm Troops and warned Hitler that he would have to sacrifice his favorite colleagues if he wished to save his own personal prestige and that of his regime. Among those colleagues, Roehm, Heines and Karl Ernst were mentioned (Igra:77f).
The Roehm Purge, then, was not a "moral cleansing" of the Nazi ranks, but a re-alignment of power behind the German government which was primarily forced upon Hitler by powerful political elements whose support he needed to maintain control. Igra goes on to point out that not only did the majority of the SA homosexuals survive the purge, but that the massacre was largely implemented by homosexuals. He cites Strasser's statement that "the Chief Killers of Munich [were] Wagner, Esser, Maurice, Weber and Buch." These men "were all known to be sex perverts or sexual maniacs of one type or another," concludes Igra (ibid.:80). Plant records that the larger campaign of assassinations across Germany was orchestrated by Reinhard Heydrich, also a well-known homosexual (Plant:56). Igra addresses Hitler's justification for the purge:
In his defense before the Reichstag a week later Hitler talked of "traitors." That was his alibi...In his speech to the Reichstag he admitted that one of the motives for ordering the massacre was to get rid of the moral perverts in his party and that they were traitors because they practiced homosexualism. But under the dictatorship it was not possible for anyone to put Hitler at question. Nobody asked him to explain how it was that, if his purpose was to get rid of homosexuals, he really didn't rid himself of them but used them as the instruments of his own murder lust and still retained most of them as members of his personal entourage, as well as in key positions of the party organization and the government. Otto Strasser, in his book, The German St. Bartholemew's Night (which has not been published in English), mentions sixteen of these highly placed homosexualist officials who survived the massacres of June 30 and retained their posts (Igra:82).
Continue reading Part 2 of this book.
Scott Lively is co-author of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuals and the Nazi Party (Keizer, Oregon: Founders Publishing Company, 1995). The Pink Swastika is available by calling Jeremiah Films at 1-800-828-2290.
Posted: January 9, 2005 9:22 AM