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Tue Jan 27, 2015, 03:50 AM

(X-post from GD) They Wore Pink Triangles: Gay Victims of the Holocaust [View all]

Jews comprised the largest single group of victims of the systematic slaughter by the Nazi Third Reich. However, several other groups were also targets of mass extermination, among them were homosexuals, especially gay men.

Prior to the rise of the Third Reich, Germany had a large, and thriving GL community, especially in Berlin, which boasted several gay bars, clubs, newspapers, and organizations. The larger cities were much more tolerant, but homosexuality was still frowned upon, so people were discreet and cautious. However, with a crushing depression in post WWI Germany, many started looking for scapegoats to the problems of Germany and the reason for her defeat in WWI. Jews, of course, were the main target, but gays and others also became singled out for blame. When the Nazis started to rise to power, a long standing, but mostly unused law, Paragraph 175, was enforced. It criminalized all sexual acts between men. Gay men started to be arrested, tried, and imprisoned throughout Germany.

When the initial work camps were established, gay men were among the first to be sent to the various camps. They gay men were identified with a large "A" on their clothes. It stood for Arschficker, "Ass Fucker". Eventually, they would come to be identified by a pink triangle. While there were a few other identifiers employed, the pink triangle became the most recognized and used. Gay men were made to wear a pink triangle on their chest, as well as a large one on their back. The pink triangles were made larger, like the yellow triangles for the Jews, than other triangles, so that guards and other prisoners would know a gay man was approaching.

Gay men were brutalized in the work camps. They were made to do chores so grueling as to work them to death. They didn't just face hate and degradation from the guards, but other prisoners could be just as cruel, as they viewed them as "perverts". The men were sometimes forced to work nude, raped, beaten to death, lynched, and even had dogs set upon them. Eventually, with the death camps establishment, they would die in the gas chambers. Most other prisoners avoided them so there would be no "guilt by association."

The liberation of the camps didn't have the same meaning for gay men. Many were simply moved to German prisons to serve out their sentences from their prosecutions under Paragraph 175. Some were given "time served" shorter sentences or reprieves. Those who didn't go directly to jail, faced discrimination because their families were "shamed" by having a "homosexual" in the family. While others received compensation for loss of money and property, gay men didn't get any reparations. It would 54 years (1999) before the first memorials of the Holocaust included gay men!! But it was the dawn of the 21st century (2000), before the German government officially apologized for the persecution of gay men after the liberation of the camps and acknowledged the devastation brought down on gay men in during the Holocaust.

Believed to be the last gay survivor of the Holocaust, Gad Beck passed away on June 24, 2012.

Today is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. We must remember.

The pink triangle is no longer a symbol of shame and persecution; it is a symbol of PRIDE!

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Reply (X-post from GD) They Wore Pink Triangles: Gay Victims of the Holocaust [View all]
Behind the Aegis Jan 2015 OP
dbackjon Jan 2015 #1
Joe Magarac Jan 2015 #2
nomorenomore08 Jan 2015 #4
nomorenomore08 Jan 2015 #3