Friday, December 12, 2008

Nazi Persecution Of Homosexuals 1933-1945 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


The Nazi campaign against homosexuality targeted the more than one million German men who, the state asserted, carried a "degeneracy" that threatened the "disciplined masculinity" of Germany. Denounced as "antisocial parasites" and as "enemies of the state," more than 100,000 men were arrested under a broadly interpreted law against homosexuality. Approximately 50,000 men served prison terms as convicted homosexuals, while an unknown number were institutionalized in mental hospitals. Others—perhaps hundreds—were castrated under court order or coercion. Analyses of fragmentary records suggest that between 5,000 and 15,000 homosexual men were imprisoned in concentration camps, where many died from starvation, disease, exhaustion, beatings, and murder...

In the racist practice of Nazi eugenics, women were valued primarily for their ability to bear children. The state presumed that women homosexuals were still capable of reproducing. Lesbians were not systematically persecuted under Nazi rule, but they nonetheless did suffer the loss of their own gathering places and associations.

Nazi Germany did not seek to kill all homosexuals. Nevertheless, the Nazi state, through active persecution, attempted to terrorize German homosexuals into sexual and social conformity, leaving thousands dead and shattering the lives of many more.

The Nazi state, in Adolf Hitler's words, intended "to promote the victory of the better and the stronger and demand the subordination of the inferior and weaker." Drawing on the "science" of eugenics—the study of improving heredity through selective breeding—Nazi authorities claimed a legitimate right to take action against those they believed to debilitate the "Aryan" Volk.

Homosexuality, the Nazis charged, weakened Germany in several ways. It was accused of being a factor in the declining birthrate that threatened to leave the nation unable to sustain itself. It was also feared as an "infection" that could become an "epidemic," particularly among the nation's vulnerable youth. It was thought that it could give rise to a dangerous state–within–the–state since homosexuals were believed to form self–serving groups. It endangered public morality and contributed to the decline of the community. For the good of the state, the Nazis asserted, homosexuality had to be eradicated.

The regime's eugenic rationale for attacking homosexuality sought to capitalize on prejudices and stereotypes about homosexuals shared by many in German society. The Nazi ideology of persecuting the society's "inferior and weaker" elements fostered public acceptance of state–sponsored intolerance and brutality.

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