Wreath-laying ceremony at the Memorial to the Persecuted Homosexuals (January 27, 2016)

Dozens of people took part last Saturday in Berlin to commemorate the homosexual victims of German fascism, to which the Foundation for Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD) Berlin-Brandenburg had called. Due to the corona pandemic, the organizers had given no speeches and called on the participants to individually lay flowers at the memorial for the homosexuals persecuted between 1933 and 1945, which is located in the Berlin zoo.

57,000 convicts

In addition to representatives of the LSVD, Berlin’s Senator for Culture, Klaus Lederer, also placed a wreath on the memorial to commemorate the persecuted. “Your suffering must be our obligation to stand up for queer rights worldwide,” he later wrote on the short message service Twitter. As a reminder: Between 1933 and 1945, a total of around 100,000 investigative proceedings according to paragraph 175 of the Criminal Code are said to have been initiated. About 57,000 men were sentenced under paragraph 175.

By 1940, data on 41,000 men who were suspected of being homosexual or suspected of being homosexual were also collected by the secret so-called “Reich Center for Combating Homosexuality and Abortion”. The main task of this authority, which was newly created by the fascists as part of the reorganization of the criminal police in 1936, was to register and combat homosexuals. The data sets about alleged or actual gays, which were later referred to as “pink lists” and were first publicly mentioned in 1869, may also have proven to be very helpful for the state persecution authorities.

All data collected by the police of the Weimar Republic about homosexuals was also used after 1933 in order to be able to track them more specifically. It was not uncommon for men convicted under paragraph 175 to be held in a concentration camp after serving their prison terms. This is said to have affected at least 6,000 men who were explicitly deported to a concentration camp because of their homosexuality. Between 53 and 60 percent of those affected, who were branded with a “pink triangle” as homosexuals, died in the Nazi camps. In addition, there are actually or supposedly gay and bisexual men who have been the victims of forced castrations and medical experiments, which have mostly resulted in death. An unknown number of homosexuals were referred to psychiatric institutions. Hundreds of gays have been neutered by a court order or turned into human guinea pigs by doctors.

Continued persecution

However, the suffering of the persecuted did not end with the liberation of Germany from fascism. The Federal Republic also seamlessly followed up on paragraph 175, which, in the form shaped by the Nazis, applied until 1969. In 1957, the Federal Constitutional Court called this legal. Only after the legal approximation between the former GDR and the Federal Republic of Germany was paragraph 175 deleted in 1994 without replacement. It was not until 2002 that the Bundestag managed to officially apologize to the homo- and bisexual victims of the Nazi regime and the Adenauer era.

Meanwhile, Federal Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) caused a sensation a few days ago with her announcement to rehabilitate homosexual and bisexual soldiers who were sexually disadvantaged due to their sexuality. Those affected should also be financially compensated for the injustice they have suffered. So far, Kramp-Karrenbauer has by no means been a supporter of gay, lesbian and transgender issues. The federal interest group of gay seniors continues to provide information and advice to those affected on all issues relating to rehabilitation and individual compensation claims.