Germany’s shame: Paragraph 175 and homosexuality

Gay men were not only persecuted by the Nazis, but were revictimized when liberating armies put the men they rescued from concentration camps back into prison, Dr James Waller told a Toronto lecture hall.

The Nazis, he said, rationalized their persecution of male homosexuals on the basis of their failure to reproduce for the Aryan race, their alleged propensity to “infect” youth, and their existence as a disloyal, subversive threat to the regime. Within the span of a few years, Germany went from being the home to a 1920s Berlin that had more gay bars than 1970s New York City, to more than 100,000 gay men arrested under the newly expanded Paragraph 175.

The statistics Waller cites are grim. About half the men arrested served some sort of prison term as convicted homosexuals. Between 5,000 and 15,000 gay German men were sent to concentration camps; they are often referred to as “The 175ers.” An unknown number of gay men were institutionalized in mental hospitals, castrated or committed suicide. Read More