Paragraph 175: Male Homosexuality and the Third Reich
On Thursday night, I went to a lecture with my aunt about homosexuality and the Holocaust. I began to write a blog post about it yesterday and then thought, “This is super interesting. More people need to see it.” So I wrote to my editor at Xtra and the result was this article.
It was edited down to make it much more newsworthy, but I wanted to share my original opening, as I think that the quote from the survivor should be shared.
Gay men were not only persecuted by the Nazis, but were re-victimized when liberating armies put those rescued from concentration camps back into prison, Dr. James Waller explains
“In order not to mutually incriminate ourselves, we decided to no longer recognize each other.”
These words, recorded as the testimony of a gay survivor of the Third Reich, struck Dr. James Waller, the Cohen Chair of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire, as particularly heart wrenching.
It was as though they also could no longer recognize themselves, Waller explained. He likened this to what many LGBT people continue to experience today, particularly in countries where homosexual acts are illegal and the LGBT community is forced to “not recognize” who they truly are, at least publicly.
On November 6, Waller gave a public lecture during Holocaust Education Week in Toronto, co-sponsored by Facing History and Ourselves, Kulanu Toronto, and The Equity Studies Program at New College, University of Toronto. Entitled “Do No Harm? Nazi Doctors and the Persecution of Gay Men,” the lecture looked at the psychological, social, and cultural factors that influenced Nazi policy against homosexuality.
For more on how ordinary people, such as German doctors, can commit extraordinary acts of evil, see Waller’s book “Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing.”