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A Chronicle of Persecution

From 1919 to 1933   During the Weimar Republic the civil rights for gays and lesbians movement, which had been founded during the period of the German Empire, grew in strength. In 1929 the Law Committee of the Reichstag (Parliament) recommended the abolition of the law relating to punishment for homosexual acts between adults. However, the increase in votes for the Nazis and the crisis of the Weimar Republic prevented the carrying out of the Committee's decision.

30th January 1933   The National Socialist (Nazi) Party, led by Adolf Hitler, takes power.

23rd February 1933   The Prussian Minister of the Interior orders the closing of the restaurants and pubs "in which, by serving as meeting places, the practice of unnatural sex-acts is encouraged". Gay and lesbian pubs were closed down.

February/March 1933   The first male homosexuals are sent to concentration camps. The National Socialists ban organisations of gays and lesbians or force them to dissolve themselves. Journals and books are banned, publishers closed down.

6th May 1933   The Institute for Sexual Science, founded by Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, is stormed and ransacked by Nazi Students. People wearing SA (Storm Troop) uniforms take away the Institute's library in lorries. On 10th May 1933 the books, along with the works of »un-German« writers such as Berthold Brecht, Thomas and Heinrich Mann and Franz Kafka are publicly burned on the square between the former Royal Library and Berlin's Opera House. (Now known as Bebelplatz.)

24th October 1934   Heinrich Himmler orders all police stations and police authorities, to draw up a list of all persons who have, in any way, been homosexually active. The lists are to be sent to the Secret Police Headquarters in Berlin. A special department for homosexuality is set up there at the end of October.

26th June 1935   Changes in the "Law for the prevention of Children with inherited Diseases", also makes possible the castration of "political-criminal homosexual males". In order to avoid prison or concentration camp many homosexuals who had been sentenced to a jail term are forced to agree to "voluntary" castration. From 1942 onwards, in concentration camps castration without the consent of the victim is legalised.

28th June 1935   Paragraph 175 (§ 175) of the penal code is made more severe. From now on any form of "unnatural" sex between men is liable to draconic punishment. With this measure all homo-sexuals are made criminals. The judgements against male homosexual rise rapidly. During the Nazi period around 50,000 men are sentenced for "unnatural sex".

10th October 1936   Heinrich Himmler establishes a Government Department for the Fight against Homosexuality and Abortion. Its task is to gather information and lead an effective fight against both forms of the "population-plague".

12th July 1940   Himmler orders that all homosexuals sentenced under Paragraph 175, "who have seduced more than one partner", should be taken into "preventive detention" after they are released from prison". In reality that means they are sent to a concentration camp. Those incarcerated there for § 175 offences are forced to wear a pink triangle in order to make them identifiable.

Only a minority survived the terror of the camps. It has been proven that pink triangle prisoners were sent to Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Berlin/Columbiahaus, Buchenwald, Dachau, Emslandlager, Flossenbuerg, Groß Rosen, Lichtenburg, Majdanek, Mauthausen, Mittelbau-Dora, Natzweiler, Neuengamme, Ravensbrueck (Männer-Lager), Sachsenhausen, Stutthof.

15th November 1941   In a „Decree of the Fuehrer for the Cleansing of the SS (Secret State Police) and the police force", Hitler orders the death penalty for homosexual activity by members of the SS and Police.

19th May 1943    The head of the General Staff of the German Army (Wehrmacht), General Keitel, issues a decree laying down "regulations for the punishment of unnatural sexual acts." In "special difficult cases" the death penalty should be ordered.

1944   The Danish SS-Doctor Carl Vaernet carried out medical experiments on homosexuals in Buchenwald concentration camp. He wanted to "cure" homosexuals by implanting artificial hormone glands in the region of the upper leg.

8th May 1945   The war comes to an end. The concentration camps are liberated. In distinction to other Nazi laws, the Allies do not withdraw the Nazi version of § 175. Some homosexuals who had been liberated are required to serve the remainder of their sentence in a "normal" prison. § 175 remains in force in the Federal Republic of Germany (West!) until 1969. The German Democratic Republic (East!) adopts the "milder" pre-Nazi version.

29th June 1956   The Federal German Law for the Compensation of the Victims Nationalsocialism is announced. Persecution on grounds of homosexuality is not recognised as a typical Nazi injustice.

10th May 1957   The Federal German Constitutional Court asserts that the § 175 in the (Nazi) version of 1935 was passed according to the rules and regulations, and does not regard it as a Nazi law, that should be rejected in a free democratic state. The opinion of the constitutional judges was that same-sex activity conflicts with the laws of morality.

1st September 1969   In the Federal Republic the first Reform of § 175 of the penal code comes into force. Homosexuality between adults is no longer punishable. The final provisions of § 175 are only abolished in 1994.

1984   The first memorial plaque anywhere for pink triangle prisoners is set up in Mauthausen Memorial Site.
Later others are erected in Neuengamme, Dachau, and Sachsenhausen.

1987   In Amsterdam the Homo-Monument, a large sculpture laid flat on the ground is created as a national memorial to the victims of oppression and for the social recognition of gays and lesbians.

1989   At Berliner Nollendorfplatz on the wall of the Underground Station, for the first time in a public place a monument to Berlin's homosexual victims of the Nazis is set up. Further regional monuments are created in Frankfurt am Main (1994) and Cologne (1995).

The establishment of a national Place of Remembrance for the Homosexual Victims of the Nazis has yet to be achieved.






Appeal For The Monument

Artistic Competition

Colloquium on the Artistic Design Competition


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