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,
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.
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
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
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
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,
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.
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
Main (1994) and
The establishment of a national Place of Remembrance for the Homosexual Victims
of the Nazis has yet to be achieved.