History of gay men in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust

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In the 1920s, homosexual people in Germany, particularly in Berlin, enjoyed a higher level of freedom and acceptance than anywhere else in the world. However, upon the rise of Adolf Hitler, gay men and, to a lesser extent, lesbians, were two of the numerous groups targeted by the Nazi Party and were ultimately among Holocaust victims. Beginning in 1933, gay organizations were banned, scholarly books about homosexuality, and sexuality in general,[which?] were burned,[when?] and homosexuals within the Nazi Party itself were murdered.[who?] The Gestapo compiled lists of homosexuals, who were compelled to sexually conform to the "German norm."

Between 1933–45, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested as homosexuals, of which some 50,000 were officially sentenced[citation needed]. Most of these men served time in regular prisons, and an estimated 5,000 to 15,000[citation needed] of those sentenced were incarcerated in concentration camps. It is unclear how many of the 5,000 to 15,000 eventually perished in the camps, but leading scholar Ruediger Lautman believes that the death rate of homosexuals in concentration camps may have been as high as 60%. Homosexuals in the camps were treated in an unusually cruel manner by their captors, and were also persecuted by their fellow inmates. This was a factor in the high death rate for homosexuals, compared to other groups.

After the war, the treatment of homosexuals in concentration camps went unacknowledged by most countries, and some men were even re-arrested and imprisoned based on evidence found during the Nazi years. It was not until the 1980s that governments began to acknowledge this episode, and not until 2002 that the German government apologized to the gay community. This period still provokes controversy, however. In 2005, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the Holocaust which included the persecution of homosexuals.


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