THE HOMOSEXUAL ROOTS
OF THE NAZI PARTY
It was a quiet night in Munich. The people moving along the streets in
the heart of the city were grim. They walked heads down, hands deep in
the pockets of their frayed coats. All around, the spirit of defeat hung
like a pall in the evening air; it was etched on the faces of the out-of-work
soldiers on every street corner and in every café. Germany had been defeated
in the war, but it had been crushed by the terms of the Versailles Treaty.
Everywhere the people were still mired in depression and despair, several
years after the humiliating surrender of Kaiser Wilhelm.
In this atmosphere the purposeful stride of Captain Ernst Roehm seemed out of place. But Roehm was accustomed to being different. A homosexual with a taste for boys, Roehm was part of a growing subculture in Germany which fancied itself a superior form of German manhood. A large, heavy man, Roehm had been a professional soldier since 1906, and, after the war, had temporarily lent his talents to a socialist terror organization called the Iron Fist. On this night Roehm was on his way to meet some associates who had formed a much more powerful socialist organization.
At the door of the Bratwurstgloeckl, a tavern frequented by homosexual roughnecks and bully-boys, Roehm turned in and joined the handful of sexual deviants and occultists who were celebrating the success of a new campaign of terror. Their organization, once known as the German Workers Party, was now called the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, The National Socialist German Workers Party the Nazis.
32 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
Yes, the Nazis met in a gay bar.
It was no coincidence that homosexuals were among those who founded the
Nazi Party. In fact, the party grew out of a number of groups in Germany
which were centers of homosexual activity and activism. Many of the characteristic
rituals, symbols, activities and philosophies we associate with Nazism
came from these organizations or from contemporary homosexuals. The extended-arm
Sieg Heil salute, for example, was a ritual of the Wandervoegel (Wandering
Birds or Rovers), a male youth society which became the German equivalent
of the Boy Scouts. The Wandervoegel was started in the late 1800s by a
group of homosexual teenagers. Its first adult leader, Karl Fischer, called
himself der Fuehrer (the Leader) (Koch:25f). Hans Blueher, a homosexual
Nazi philosopher and important early member of the Wandervoegel, incited
a sensation in 1912 with publication of The German Wandervoegel Movement
as an Erotic Phenomenon, which told how the movement had become one in
which young boys could be introduced into the homosexual lifestyle (Rector:39f).
The Wandervoegel and other youth organizations were later merged into
the Hitler Youth (which itself became known among the populace as the
Homo Youth because of rampant homosexuality. - Rector:52).
Many of the Nazi emblems, such as the swastika, the double lightning bolt SS symbol, and even the inverted triangle symbol used to identify classes of prisoners in the concentration camps, originated among homosexual occultists in Germany (some, such as the swastika, are actually quite ancient symbols which were merely revived by these homosexual groups).
In 1907, Jorg Lanz Von Liebenfels, a former Cistercian monk whom the church excommunicated because of his homosexual activities (Sklar:19), flew the swastika flag above his castle in Austria (Goodrick-Clarke:109).
After his expulsion from the church Lanz founded the Ordo Novi Templi (Order of the New Temple) which merged occultism with violent anti-Semitism. A 1958 study of Lanz, Der Mann der Hitler die Ideen gab (The Man Who Gave Hitler His Ideas), by Austrian psychologist Wilhelm Daim, called Lanz the true father of National Socialism.
List, a close associate of Lanz, formed the Guido von List Society in Vienna in 1904. The Guido von List Society was accused of practicing a form of Hindu Tantrism which featured sexual perversion in its rituals. This form of sexual perversion was popularized in occult circles by a man named Aleister Crowley who, according to Hitler biographer J. Sydney Jones, enjoyed playing with black magic and little boys (J. S. Jones:123). List was accused of being the Aleister Crowley of Vienna (ibid.:123). Like Lanz, List was an occultist; he wrote several books on the magic principles of rune letters (from which he chose the SS symbol). In 1908, List was unmasked as the leader of a blood brotherhood which went in for sexual perversion and substituted the swastika for the cross (Sklar:23). The Nazis borrowed heavily from Lists occult theories and research. List also formed an elitist occult priesthood called the Armanen Order, to which Hitler himself may have belonged (Waite, 1977:91).
The Nazi dream of an Aryan super-race was adopted from an occult group called the Thule Society, founded in 1917 by followers of Lanz and List. The occult doctrine of the Thule Society held that the survivors of an ancient and highly developed lost civilization could endow Thule initiates with esoteric powers and wisdom. The initiates would use these powers to create a new race of Aryan supermen who would eliminate all inferior races. Hitler dedicated his book, Mein Kampf, to Dietrich Eckart, one of the Thule Society inner circle and a former leading figure in the German Workers Party. (Schwarzwaller:67). The various occult groups mentioned above were outgrowths of the Theosophical Society, whose founder, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, is thought by some to have been a lesbian (Webb:94), and whose bishop was a notorious pederast named Charles Leadbeater.
The SA Brownshirts or Stuermabteilung (Storm Troopers) were largely the creation of another homosexual, Gerhard Rossbach (Waite, 1969:209). Rossbach formed the Rossbachbund (Rossbach Brotherhood), a homosexual unit of the Freikorps (Free Corps). The Freikorps were independent inactive military reserve units which became home to the hundreds of thousands of unemployed World War I veterans in Germany. Rossbach also formed a youth organization under the Rossbachbund, calling it the Schilljugend (Schill Youth) (ibid.:210). Rossbachs staff assistant, Lieutenant Edmund Heines, a pederast and murderer, was put in charge of the Schilljugend. The Rossbachbund later changed its name to Storm Troopers (in honor of Wotan, the ancient German god of storms. - Graber:33). Rossbach seduced Hitlers mentor, Ernst Roehm, into homosexuality. It was under Roehms leadership that the Brownshirts became notorious for brutality.
Famous events in Nazi history are also linked to homosexuality; events such as the burning of the German Reichstag in 1932, the 1938 pogrom called Kristallnacht, and the 1944 attempt on Hitlers life. Even the enduring image of Nazi book-burning, familiar to us from newsreels of the 1930s, was directly related to the homosexuality of Nazi leaders. The first such incident occurred four days after Hitlers Brownshirts broke into Magnus Hirschfelds Institute for Sexual Research in Berlin on May 6, 1933. On May 10 the Nazis burned thousands of books and files taken in that raid. The Institute had extensive records on the sexual perversions of numerous Nazi leaders, many of whom had been under treatment there prior to the beginning of the Nazi regime. Treatment at the Sex Research Institute was required by the German courts for persons convicted of sex crimes. Ludwig L. Lenz, who worked at the Institute at the time of the raid but managed to escape with his life, later wrote of the incident:
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34 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
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36 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
Why was it then, since we were completely non-party, that our purely scientific Institute was the first victim which fell to the new regime? The answer to this is simple...We knew too much. It would be against medical principles to provide a list of the Nazi leaders and their perversions [but]...not ten percent of the men who, in 1933, took the fate of Germany into their hands, were sexually normal...Our knowledge of such intimate secrets regarding members of the Nazi Party and other documentary material we possessed about forty thousand confessions and biographical letters was the cause of the complete and utter destruction of the Institute of Sexology. (Haberle:369).
THE PINK SWASTIKA 37
The attack on the Sex Research Institute is often cited as an example of
Nazi oppression of homosexuals. This is partly true, but as we shall see,
the oppression fits into a larger context of internecine rivalry between
two major homosexual groups. Magnus Hirschfeld, who headed the Institute,
was a prominent Jewish homosexual. Hirschfeld also headed a gay rights
organization called the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee (SHC), formed
in 1897 to work for the repeal of Paragraph 175 of the German legal code,
which criminalized homosexuality (Kennedy:230). The organization was also
opposed to sadomasochism and pederasty, two of the favorite practices of
the militaristic, Roehm-style homosexuals who figured so prominently in
the early Nazi Party. Hirschfeld had formed the SHC to carry on the work
of the pioneer gay rights activist, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895).
Ulrichs had written against the concept of Greek love (pederasty) advocated
by a number of other homosexuals in Germany.
One such advocate was Adolf Brand, who formed the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen (Community of the Elite) in 1902. The Gemeinschaft der Eigenen inspired the formation in 1920 of the German Friendship League, which changed its name in 1923 to the Society for Human Rights. The leaders of this group were instrumental in the formation and the rise of the Nazi Party. Adolf Brand published the worlds first homosexual periodical, Der Eigene (The Elite - Oosterhuis and Kennedy:cover). Brand was a pederast, child pornographer and anti-Semite, and, along with many homosexuals who shared his philosophies, developed a burning hatred of Magnus Hirschfeld and the SHC. When Hirschfelds Sex Research Institute was destroyed, the SA troops were under the general command of Ernst Roehm, a member of Brands spinoff group, the Society for Human Rights.
38 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
The Divided Movement
This was not the last time homosexual leadership of the Nazis would attack other ideologically dissimilar homosexuals. Later in this discussion we will examine the so-called pink triangle homosexuals who were interned in concentration camps. The pink triangle, part of a scheme of variously-colored triangles used by the Nazis to identify specific classes of prisoners, was applied to those convicted under Paragraph 175 of the German Penal Code. Homosexuals were one of these classes, but according to Johansson,
THE PINK SWASTIKA 39
[M]any of those convicted under Paragraph 175 were not homosexual: some were opponents of the regime such as Catholic priests or leaders of youth groups who were prosecuted on the basis of perjured testimony, while others were street hustlers from Berlin or Hamburg who had been caught up in a police dragnet (Johansson in Dynes:997).
As many as 6,000 of the approximately 10,000 pink triangles died in the
work camps, but few, if any, were gassed in the death camps. Some of those
who died met their deaths at the hands of homosexual Kapos (trustees)
and guards of the SS. At first glance it is difficult to understand why
the homosexual leaders of the Nazis would persecute other homosexuals on
the basis of their sexual behavior. We alluded, in the matter of the Sex
Research Institute, to the fact that the homosexual movement in Germany
was divided into two diametrically opposed camps which some have called
the Fems and the Butches. These terms are common among homosexuals
today, as is the disdain Butches feel for Fems.
A researcher of the homosexual movement Gordon Westwood writes that masculine homosexuals deplore [effeminate] behavior, many considering effeminate homosexuals repulsive (Westwood:87). Another researcher, H. Kimball Jones, reports that reaction to Fems is often violent in the general homosexual community. [They label them] flaming faggot or degenerate fag, with one homosexual exclaiming, You know, I loathe these screaming fairies (H.K.Jones:29). Jay and Youngs 1979 examination of the American homosexual movement, The Gay Report, contains numerous personal statements by masculine homosexuals critical of effeminacy. Fem behavior can be vicious and destructive, demeaning to women and gay men, says one. Another asserts, To me someone who is femme is a self-indulgent...petty, scheming, gossipy gay being whose self-image has been warped and shaped by unfortunate family situations (Jay:294ff).
The most hostile to Femmes are precisely those homosexuals who deem themselves the most masculine. In The Homosexual Matrix, C.A. Tripp writes that [f]ar to the other extreme, there are a number of utterly masculine, sometimes supermasculine homosexuals....They are obses- sed with everything male and eschew anything weak or effeminate....Unquestionably they represent the epitome of what can happen when an eroticized maleness gains the full backing of a value system that supports it (Tripp:92). Cory and LeRoy, in their detailed discussion of homosexual culture, describe the scene in a typical American leather bar:
40 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
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Here, sturdy swaggering males dressed in tight dungarees, leather jackets or heavy shoes, dark hued woolen shirts, and sometimes motorcycle helmets, aspire toward a super-masculine ideal...Behind the facade of robust exploits, the uniform of pretentious male prowess, the mask of toughness, there sometimes lies a dangerous personality that can express itself physically by substituting violence for erotic pleasure; capable of receiving sexual pleasure only by inflicting pain (or receiving it). The general atmosphere in such places is restless and brooding, and one can never be sure when the dynamite of violence will erupt (Cory and LeRoy:109).
Reading this description, one can imagine oneself looking into Munichs
Bratwurstgloeckl tavern, where the Brownshirts congregated, and finding
the same cast of characters -- only wearing different costumes.
This contrast of homosexual types is not simply a phenomenon of modern society. Greenberg writes about homosexuality among the Germans of the first centuries A.D.:
42 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
As war became more important to the Germans, the male warriors and their culture became dominant, and the status of women declined. Effeminacy and receptive homosexuality were increasingly scorned and repressed....The effeminate homosexual...was depicted as a foul monster....this stigmatization did not extend to active male homosexuality. [Later, acceptability of masculine oriented homosexuality declined under Christianity, which] was officially opposed to all forms of homosexuality (Greenberg:249f).
The authors do not wish to imply that all homosexuals fall into one or
the other of these two simplistic stereotypes. The terms Butch and Fem
in this study are used loosely to differentiate between two ideological
extremes relating to the nature of homosexual identity. Generally in this
work the German Fems are defined as homosexual men who acted like women.
They were pacifists and accomodationists. Their goals were equality with
heterosexuals and the right to privacy, and generally they opposed sex
with young children. Their leaders were Karl Heinrich Ulrichs and Magnus
The Butches, on the other hand, were masculine homosexuals. They were militarists and chauvinists in the Hellenic mold. Their goal was to revive the pederastic military cults of pre-Christian pagan cultures, specifically the Greek warrior cult. They were often vicious misogynists and sadists. Their leaders included Adolf Brand and Ernst Roehm. The Butches reviled all things feminine. Their ideal society was the Maennerbund, an all-male comradeship-in-arms comprised of rugged men and boys (Oosterhuis and Kennedy:255). In their view, heterosexuals might be tolerated for the purpose of continuing the species, but effeminate homosexuals were considered to be subhuman, and thus intolerable.
Most of the estimated 1.2 to 2 million homosexuals in Germany at the time of the Third Reich undoubtedly fit somewhere between the two extremes of the movement. This may explain the fact that less than 2% of this population were prosecuted under anti-sodomy laws by the Nazis (Cory and LeRoy estimate that Fems make up 5-15% of male homosexuals. Cory and LeRoy:73). Most of those who were prosecuted can be shown to fit the profile of the Fems. Kurt Hiller, a ranking member of the SHC who later succeeded Hirschfeld, estimated that 75 percent of the male homosexuals sympathized with the parties of the Right (Johansson in Friedlander:233).
In his introduction to The Men with the Pink Triangle, the supposed testimony of a former pink triangle prisoner at the Flossenburg concentration camp, translator David Fernbach confirms that the Butch/Fem conflict was at the heart of the Nazi hatred of the pink triangles. He writes,
THE PINK SWASTIKA 43
Naturally, in the paramilitary organization of the SA, Hitler Youth, etc., even the elite SS, the forms of homosexuality that are characteristic of such all-male bodies were as common as they always are...it was quite fundamental to Nazi ideology that men were to be properly masculine...when male homosexuality disguises itself as a cult of manliness and virility, it is less obnoxious from the fascist standpoint than is the softening of the gender division that homosexuality invariably involves when it is allowed to express itself freely (Heger:10f).
This, then, is the explanation for the paradox of the Nazi persecution
of homosexuals. It is found in the history of two irreconcilable philosophies
linked by a common sexual dysfunction. The roots of this conflict extend
back into the eighteenth century and span a 70-year period which saw the
rise of homosexual militancy in the movement that gave Nazism to the world.
One final item before we move to the next section. It should by this time be apparent to the reader that lesbians did not have a major part to play in Nazism, but they were not completely absent from the Party. Herzer writes that Claudia Schoppmann has recently shown that prior to 1933, there were Nazi adherents among the leading lesbians in the homosexual emancipation movement. As an example she names the case of Elsbeth Killmer, a leading editor of the most important lesbian periodical of that time, Die Freundin, who was active in the Nazi organization NS-Frauenschaft early on (Herzer:221f).
44 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
Karl Heinrich Ulrichs
The grandfather of the world gay rights movement was a homosexual German
lawyer named Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895). At the age of 14, Ulrichs
was seduced by his riding instructor, a homosexual man about 30 years old
(Kennedy in Pascal:15). Observers familiar with the apparently high correlation
between childhood sexual molestation and adult homosexuality might conclude
that this youthful experience caused Ulrichs to become a homosexual. Ulrichs
himself, however, arrived at a hereditary rather than an environmental
explanation for his condition. In the 1860s Ulrichs began advancing a theory
that defined homosexuals as a third sex. He proposed that male homosexuality
could be attributed to a psycho-spiritual mix-up in which a mans body
came to be inhabited by a womans soul (and vice-versa for females). He
called members of this third sex Urnings (male) and Dailings (female).
Since homosexuality was an inborn condition, he reasoned, it should not
Although Ulrichs was to be unsuccessful in changing the laws against homosexuality, his efforts did encourage widespread political activism. One early follower, a German-Hungarian writer named Benkert (under the pseudonym, Karoly Maria Kertbeny), coined the term homosexual in an anonymous open letter to the Prussian Minister of Justice in 1869 (Lauritsen and Thorstad:6). Steakley writes that prior to this, homosexuals were known as sodomites, pederasts, or Knabenschaender (literally, boy-ravishers) (Steakley:13). The first psychiatric study of homosexuality in Germany was published in 1869 as the result of Ulrichs efforts. It advocated the decriminalization of homosexuality in favor of medical treatment (Oosterhuis and Kennedy:13).
Ulrichs greatest intellectual impact on his own generation came from his invention of the term Uranians, which he introduced in 1862 as a new designation for homosexuals (both Urnings and Dailings). He took the term from Platos Symposium, in which homosexual activity was said to fall under the protection of the ninth muse, Urania. In the late 1800s German homosexuals frequently called themselves Uranians, and a militant homosexual slogan, Uranians of the world, unite! became popular internationally (Rutledge:41). In the following quote Ulrichs uses the term in his explanation of the third sex theory, and graphically illustrates the mentality of the Fems:
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46 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
Apart from the womanly direction of our sexual desire, we Uranians bear another womanly element within us which, it appears to me, offers proof positive that nature developed the male germ within us physically but the female spiritually. We bear this other womanly element from our earliest childhood on. Our character, the way we feel, our entire temperament is not manly, it is decidedly womanly. This inner womanly element is outwardly recognizable by our outwardly apparent womanly nature (Fee:37).
Ulrichs was publicly opposed to sadomasochism and pedophilia (perhaps because of his own molestation as an adolescent). He wrote against the concept of Greek love and considered sexual attraction to the prepubertal to be a sickness. In his attempts to repeal Paragraph 175 of the German Penal Code, Ulrichs advocated more stringent laws against pedophilia. Ulrichs condemnation of man/boy sex, however, extended only to prepubescent boys. As the following quote from his publication Forschungen Ueber das Raetsel der mannmannlichen Liebe (Investigation of the Enigma of Homosexual Love) reveals, Ulrichs was not opposed to sex between men and boys who were sexually mature.
The Urning is not by a hairs breadth any more dangerous to immature boys than the genuine man is to immature girls. For the rest, I gladly leave the child molester to his deserved punishment by the law. Let the integrity of a will-less minor be sacred to every Urning. I have no defense for whoever touches it. Therefore, let the seduction of immature boys, I grant it completely, be a punishable indecent act (Ulrichs:16).
THE PINK SWASTIKA 47
This distinction between mature and immature boys was lost on many who
followed the rise of the homosexual movement in Germany. For example, Friedrich
Engels, in a letter to Karl Marx about a book Ulrichs had written, said,
The pederasts start counting their numbers and discover they are a powerful
group in our state. The only thing missing is an organization, but it seems
to exist already, though it is hidden (Plant:38). Engels considers Ulrichs
a pederast despite his arbitrary age restriction for sex with boys.
Ulrichs political activities paved the way for a large and powerful homosexual movement which grew both in numbers and in political and social influence in pre-Nazi Germany. Barely a quarter of a century after his death in 1895, homosexuality would become openly widespread in the Germany of the Weimar Republic era. Cities such as Munich and Berlin would become international Meccas for the practitioners of all forms of sexual perversion. As William Manchester observed in The Arms of Krupp Wilhelmine Kulture's emphasis on masculinity had produced a generation of perverts. Abroad, sodomy was delicately known as the German vice (Manchester, 1968:232).
Samuel Igra, a German Jew who published Germanys National Vice in 1945 (a study of homosexual influences in Germany), commented on the rise of homosexuality after the turn of the century:
In Germany these unnatural vices became a veritable cult among the ruling
classes. In 1891 the well-known German psychiatrist, Krafft-Ebbing, one
of the great pioneers in that branch of psycho-pathology, published a book
entitled Psychologia Sexualis in which he declared that sex perversion
in Germany was alarmingly on the increase. Commissioner Hans von Tresckow,
who was head of a special branch of the Criminal Police Department in Berlin
from 1905 to 1919, has published the following in his memoirs:
I can confirm the statement (made by Krafft-Ebbing) that homosexualist groups have been steadily on the increase in recent decades, especially in the big cities. At the present time in Berlin there are for certain more than one hundred thousand persons who are addicts of this practice. They are closely banded together and even have their own paper, Die Freundschaft, which appears regularly and defends their interests" (Von Fuersten and Anderen Sterblichen, by Hans von Tresckow, p. 110. F. Fontane & Co. Berlin. 1922) [Igra:27f].
48 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
Magnus Hirschfeld and the SHC
Ulrichs successor Magnus Hirschfeld was a prominent Jewish physician and homosexual. Dr. Hirschfeld, along with two other homosexuals, Max Spohr and Erich Oberg, joined together to form the Wissenschaftlich-Humanitaeres Komitee (Scientific-Humanitarian Committee). As we have noted, the SHC was dedicated to two goals: 1) to carry on Ulrichs philosophy and works and 2) to work for the legitimization of homosexuality by the German public via the repeal of Paragraph 175, the German law which criminalized homosexual conduct (Steakley:23f). Homosexualist historian Richard Plant writes,
It would be hard to overestimate Hirschfelds importance...He became the leader of several psychological and medical organizations, the founder of a unique institute for sexual research...He also founded the Yearbook for Intersexual Variants, which he edited until 1923 (Plant: 28-29).
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Hirschfeld was originally committed to Ulrichs third sex theory but
he later abandoned this idea. Still, Hirschfeld remained true to many of
the rest of Ulrichs theories, building upon them through the work of the
Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, whose efforts he directed toward the
political goal of decriminalizing homosexuality. Hirschfeld coined the
term transvestite, which has become the accepted label for both men and
women who compulsively costume themselves as members of the opposite sex
The SHC circulated petitions among German intellectuals and politicians calling for the abolition of Paragraph 175. Due to Hirschfelds groundwork in creating a positive public image, these petitioning efforts met with increasing success. But for all the appearance of dignity and scientific impartiality which it displayed to German society, the SHC offered a far different perspective to those who saw it from within. Hans Blueher, whose contribution to the German homosexual movement is chronicled later in this study, once visited Hirschfeld at the SHC. The meeting was precipitated by Hirschfelds offer to write the foreword to Bluehers book describing homosexuality in the Wandervoegel. Blueher writes,
I was led into the study of the Wise Man of Berlin (as he was called)...Sitting on a silk-covered fauteuil, legs under him like a Turk, was an individual with bloated lips and cunning, dimly coveting eyes who offered me a fleshy hand and introduced himself as Dr. Hirschfeld...[Later in a meeting of the SHC] the first to greet me was a corporal with a deep bass voice; he was, however, wearing womens clothes... A so-called transvestite! commented Dr. Hirschfeld, whose nickname was Aunt Magnesia, and introduced us...Then a most beautiful youth appeared..."A hermaphrodite!" said Hirschfeld. Why dont you come to me during my office hours tomorrow, you can see him naked then...An older gentleman in his sixties...recited a poem...to a sixteen year old youth, full of yearning...I turned to Laurent, who was the only kindred spirit in this pack of lemurs, Tell me, havent you noticed that were in a downright brothel here? (Blueher in Mills:160f).
50 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
Bluehers disgust with Hirschfeld and the SHC was representative of the
attitude of the masculine homosexual camp. But at this stage of the conflict,
the Fems were fully in control and enjoyed what support there was in
German society for the homosexual political cause. The SHCs scientific
focus lent an air of legitimacy to its political goals that the masculine
group could not achieve. Yet it was a strategy that would ultimately backfire
on the Fems. Sociologist David Greenberg writes that Ulrichs third-sex
theory was a controversial strategy among German homosexual activists;
those in the anti-feminist wing of the movement viewed male homosexuality
as an expression of male superiority and considered the Ulrichs-Hirschfeld
position insulting (Greenberg: 410).
Hoping to use the argument that homosexuality is congenital to justify its decriminalization, Hirschfeld tried desperately to legitimize his third-sex theory and homosexuality generally (ibid.:410). He formed the Sex Research Institute of Berlin, which opened its doors on July 1, 1919. Its purpose was in part to provide legal services for men arrested for violating Paragraph 175 but also to legitimize the view of homosexuality as a medical condition (Bianco:64). In that same year, Hirschfeld produced the first pro-homosexual film Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others) in which he appeared briefly (ibid.).
The Sex Research Institute, housed in a Berlin mansion purchased by Hirschfeld, assimilated the SHCs massive collection of books, photographs and medical documents and began a campaign to make itself respectable in German society. According to Plant, attending physicians offered various kinds of sexual counseling...treated people for venereal diseases...[and gave] advice on abortion procedures. The fact that many Nazi leaders were treated at the Sex Research Institute led the Institutes Assistant Director, Ludwig L. Lenz, to conclude that its destruction by the Nazis in 1933 was for the purpose of destroying evidence of Nazi perversions (see above).
For many years the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee was the largest and most influential homosexual organization in the German gay rights movement. In 1914, it had one thousand members (Steakley:60). But homosexuality in Germany was much more prevalent than the size of the membership of the SHC would suggest. Not surprisingly, one of the early goals of the SHC was to find out how many homosexuals there were in the German population. In what may have been the worlds first survey of its kind, the SHC distributed 6611 questionnaires to Berlin students and factory workers in 1903. The results were published the following year in the Jahrbuch (Yearbook) and showed that 2.2% of the German male population admitted to being homosexual (ibid.:33).
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The New Hellenes
At the same time that Ulrichs and Hirschfeld were promulgating their theories of male homosexuality as an expression of femininity, a rival group of homosexuals was reaching into antiquity for its own masculine philosophy. As homosexual scholar Hubert Kennedy writes in Man/Boy Love in the Writings of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs:
Happily, some boy-lovers were already speaking out in opposition to Hirschfeld in Berlin at the beginning of this century...[Der Gemeinschaft] Der Eigene, mostly bisexual and/or boy-lovers, opposed the third sex view of homosexuality. Seeing the love of friends as a masculine virtue, they urged a rebirth of the Greek ideal (Kennedy:17f).
52 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
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This Greek ideal was a culture of pederastic male supremacy. Male homosexuality, especially between men and boys, was considered a virtue in Hellenic (Greek) society. In several of his Dialogues, Plato serves as an apologist for pederasty, and apparently considered man/boy sex to be superior to heterosexual relations. As author Eva Cantarella notes in Bisexuality in the Ancient World, Plato makes clear in the Symposium that it was perfectly acceptable to court a lad, and admirable to win him...Pederasty did not lurk in the shadows of Greek life, it was out in the open (Greenberg:148, 151). Cantarella reviews the literature of the period, including Platos writings. She writes that Plato developed a theory of the existence of two different types of love: the love inspired by the heavenly Aphrodite, and the love inspired by the common Aphrodite. Only pederastic courtship, notes Cantarella, reflected the heavenly form of love (Cantarella:59). In his Symposium, Plato expounds this theory:
[Homosexual] boys and lads are the best of their generation, because they are the most manly. Some people say they are shameless, but they are wrong. It is not shamelessness which inspires their behavior, but high spirit and manliness and virility, which leads them to welcome the society of their own kind. A striking proof of this is that such boys alone, when they reach maturity engage in public life. When they grow to be men, they become lovers of boys, and it requires the compulsion of convention to overcome their natural disinclination to marriage and procreation; they are quite content to live with one another unwed (ibid.:60).
Cantarella writes that [t]he gender which attracted and tempted Socrates
was the male sex as well. She cites another of Platos dialogues in which
Socrates falls in love with Cydias, a schoolboy, proclaiming [I] caught
fire, and could possess myself no longer (ibid.:56ff).
Voltaire may have had both of these men in mind when he once remarked of the propensity of classical philosophers, Once, a philosopher, twice, a sodomite! (Grant, 1993:28). To be fair, however, the characterizations of Plato and Socrates as pederasts is hotly contested by many historians.
In the defense of the philosophers it must be noted that Plato, whose writings provide our only evidence for speculating on the life of either man, wrote mostly in dialogue. It is thus difficult to know to what extent he agreed with the ideas expressed by his characters. It should also be noted here that in is last work, the Laws, Plato asserted the value of the family and the moral wrongness of homosexuality (Laws: 841A-841D). Still, based on the fact that homosexual pederasty was widely practiced and accepted in Greece and that Plato based The Republic (his vision of utopian society -- addressed later in this book) upon the Spartan homosexual military cult, the authors believe that in his earlier life Plato was at least an apologist for pederasty and may indeed have practiced this perversion himself.
What remains most relevant to this study (and is confirmed by Plato) is that the Greek military establishment enthusiastically embraced homosexuality. Here we find the model for the new Hellenes -- an ultramasculine, male supremacist, homoerotic warrior cult. The armies of Thebes, Sparta and Crete were each examples of this phenomenon (as are the modern Islamist terror groups). Cantarella notes that the ancient historian, Plutarch of Chaeronea (50-120 A.D.) wrote of the sacred battalion of Thebans made up of 150 male homosexual pairs (Cantarella:72), and of the legendary Spartan army, which inducted all twelve-year-old boys into military service where they were entrusted to lovers chosen among the best men of adult age. Plutarch also reports of a Cretan military induction ritual in which boys were abducted and sexually enslaved for a period of two months by adult pederasts before receiving their military kit (ibid.:7). This last perversion undoubtedly inspired or was inspired by the Greek myth of Ganymede. Author Jason Berry sheds some light on this apparent derivation:
54 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
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Certain gods practiced man-boy love as did the bi-sexual male aristocracy; the armies of Thebes and Sparta were charged with homosexuality as a fire of the male power drive. Pagans in the late [Roman] Empire adulated gods like Zeus, who abducted and raped Ganymede a living myth that one philosopher denounced for influencing those men who ran marketplaces of immorality and...infamous resorts for the young for every kind of corrupt pleasure (Berry:200f).
It is possible that the term gay is derived from this mythical Greek
figure, Ganymede, cup-bearer of the gods, who exemplified the concept of
man/boy sex to the masculine homosexuals. The British term catamite,
meaning the submissive partner in a male homosexual relationship, is derived
from the Roman version of Ganymede, Catamitus. The terms gay and lesbian
(the latter derived from the name of the Isle of Lesbos in Greece) eventually
replaced the terms Urning and Dailing as the names of choice for homosexuals.
In ancient Greece, as in the masculine homosexual faction in Germany, only the masculine form of homosexuality was esteemed and all things feminine were despised. The form of homosexuality which dominated Greek culture was ultramasculine and militaristic. It can be assumed that women, as well as men who identified with womanly traits and thinking, were considered naturally inferior to the elite pederasts. Cantarella writes that Plato, in Timaues, went so far as to theorize that women were the reincarnations of men who had lived badly in a previous life (Cantarella:58).
As we will see, the revival of Hellenic paganism became a fundamental aspect of the Nazi identity. In Nationalism and Sexuality, historian George L. Mosse notes its significance: The Greek youth, an important national symbol in the past, reigned supreme during the Third Reich. Hitlers own taste was influenced by the neo-classical revival...[which often included] pictures of nude youth...not unlike those of boys bathing (Mosse:172). But the Nazis adopted more than just symbolism from the boy-lovers who reasserted the Greek ideal; their ideas and philosophies are indelibly stamped on the Nazi regime.
The influence of the Greek homosexuals on Nazi culture is perhaps explained best by contemporary German psychoanalyst, Wilhelm Reich in his 1933 classic, The Mass Psychology of Fascism:
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Among the ancient Greeks, whose written history does not begin until patriarchy has reached a state of full development, we find the following sexual organization: male supremacy...and along with this the wives leading an enslaved and wretched existence and figuring solely as birth machines. The male supremacy of the Platonic era is entirely homosexual...The same principle governs the fascist ideology of the male strata of Nazi leaders (Bluher, Roehm, etc.). For the fascists, therefore, the return of natural sexuality is viewed as a sign of decadence, laciviousness, lechery, and sexual filth...the fascists ...affirm the most severe form of patriarchy and actually reactivate the sexual life of the Platonic era in their familial form of living...Rosenberg and Bluher [the leading Nazi ideologists] recognize the state solely as a male state organized on a homosexual basis (Reich:91ff).
The Clash of Cultures
A key to understanding the cause of the German social collapse, which culminated in the atrocities of the Third Reich, is found in the conflict of Hellenic and Hebrew (Judeo-Christian) value systems. This war of philosophies, as old as Western civilization itself, pits the homoeroticism of the Greeks against the marriage-and-family-centered heterosexuality of the Jews. Johansson and Percy write of this conflict from the homosexualist perspective:
58 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
While the Greeks cultivated paiderasteia as a fundamental institution of male society and attribute of gods and heros, in two centuries, under Persian rule (538-332 B.C.), Biblical Judaism came to reject and penalize male homosexuality in all forms. Jewish religious consciousness deeply internalized this taboo, which became a distinctive feature of Judaic sexual morality, setting the worshippers of the god of Israel apart from the gentiles whose idols they despised. This divergence set the stage for the confrontation between Judaism and Hellenism (Johansson and Percy:34).
In implying that the rejection of homosexuality by the Jews began in this time period, Johansson and Percy ignore the Biblical record, but they are correct that the Jews opposition to homosexuality was a central factor in their hostility to the Greeks. They continue (somewhat bitterly), describing the context in which the first clash of these value systems occurred:
At the heart of the sodomy delusion lies the Judaic rejection of Hellenism and paiderasteia, one of the distinctive features of the culture brought by the Greek conquerors of Asia Minor. It is a fundamental, ineluctable clash of values within what was destined to become Western civilization. Only in the Maccabean era did the opposition to Hellenization and everything Hellenic lead to the intense, virtually paranoid hatred and condemnation of male homosexuality, a hatred that Judaism bequeathed to the nascent Christian church (ibid.:36).
In his article Homosexuality and the Maccabean Revolt, Catholic scholar
Patrick G. D. Riley also identifies homosexuality as the focal point of
conflict between the Jews and the Greeks. The Greek King, Antiochus, had
ordered that all the nations of his empire be welded... into a single
people (Riley:14). This created a crisis for the Jews, forcing them to
choose between faithfulness to Biblical commandments (at the risk of martyrdom)
and participation in a range of desecrations from the sacrificing of
pigs and the worshiping of idols, to leaving their sons uncircumsized,
and prostituting themselves to all kinds of impurity and abomination (1
Macc. 1:49-51) (ibid.:14).
The Greeks also built one of their gymnasia in Jerusalem, which attracted the noblest young men of Israel...subduing them under the petaso (emphasis ours -- 2 Macc. 4:12). In the traditional Latin translation the above phrase is rendered to put in brothels (Riley:15). The gymnasia were notorious throughout the ancient world for their association with homosexual practices. In fact, Flaceliere concludes from Plutarchs writings that from the beginning of its acceptance in Greece, the development of homosexuality was connected to the rise of gymnasia...[which usually contained] not only a statue or Hermes, but also one of Eros (Flaceliere:65).
The tensions which led to the Jewish revolt were exacerbated when the Jewish high priest, a Hellenist himself, offered a sacrifice to Heracles (Hercules), who was a Greek symbol of homosexuality. Riley adds, The Jewish temple itself became the scene of pagan sacrificial meals and sexual orgies [including homosexuality]. The final insult (for which Antiochus is identified in the Bible as the archetype of the antichrist) was the installation in the temple of a pagan symbol, possibly a representation of Zeus [Baal], called by a sardonic pun the abomination of desolation (Riley.:16).
In the ensuing religious revolt, the Maccabees preserved what would become the moral charter of Christendom, just as in defending marriage they saved what would be the very material of its construction, namely, the family (ibid.:17). Yet, though they preserved the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic, the Maccabees did not vanquish Greek philosophy as a rival social force. Of the two irreconcilable belief systems, the Judeo-Christian one would prevail, allowing the development of what we know today as Western culture; yet Hellenism survived.
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60 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
Adolf Brand and the Community of the Elite
One of the earliest leaders of the masculine homosexual counter-movement
in Germany, himself a Hellenist, was Adolf Brand. In 1896, one year before
Magnus Hirschfeld formed the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, young Adolf
Brand began publishing the worlds first homosexual serial publication,
Der Eigene (The Elite). [The word Eigene, eye'-gen-eh, can be roughly
translated queer, which may shed some light on the derivation of this
term in English, but we have chosen the translation used most often by
historians because it emphasizes the elitist philosophy of Der Eigene's
Besides being militantly pro-homosexual, Der Eigene was racist, nationalistic and anti-Semitic. Mosse writes,
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The use of racism to gain respectability was a constant theme of the first homosexual journal in Germany, Der Eigene...Even before the paper published a supplement called Rasse und schonheit (Race and Beauty) in 1926, Germanic themes had informed much of its fiction, as well as images of naked boys and young men photographed against a background of Germanic nature. One poem, written by Brand himself and entitled, The Superman, praised manliness, condemned femininity, and toyed with anti-Semitism, apparently because of the poets quarrel with Magnus Hirschfeld, a rival for leadership of the homosexual rights movement (Mosse:42).
Brands stated market for Der Eigene was men who thirst for a revival
of Greek times and Hellenic standards of beauty after centuries of Christian
barbarism (Brand in Oosterhuis and Kennedy:3).
In 1903 Brand was briefly jailed as a child pornographer for publishing pictures of nude boys in the magazine, but nevertheless Der Eigene remained in publication until 1931, peaking at over 150,000 subscriptions during the years of the Weimar Republic [1919-1933] (Mosse:42). In addition to Der Eigene, Brand published a satirical journal Die Tante (The Fairy or The Auntie) which often ridiculed Hirschfeld and his assistants (Oosterhuis and Kennedy:6).
On May 1, 1902, Brand and two pederasts, Wilhelm Jansen and Benedict Friedlander, formed the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen (Community of the Elite). Its leading theorist was Friedlander (1866-1908), author of Renaissance des Eros Uranios (Renaissance of Uranian Erotica), a 1904 publication which featured a picture of a Greek youth on the cover. Friedlander wrote that the Community wanted to carry out the goals of the lesbian and radical feminist Dr. Helene Stocker who wanted German society to revert to pagan values. Friedlander writes,
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The positive goal...is the revival of Hellenic chivalry and its recognition by society. By chivalric love we mean in particular close friendships between youths and even more particularly the bonds between men of unequal ages (B. Friedlander:259).
According to James Steakley in The Homosexual Emancipation Movement in Germany:
The Community looked to ancient Greece and Renaissance Italy as model civilizations and argued that Christian asceticism was responsible for the demise of homosexual relations. Friedlander, who was married, advocated pedophile relations combined with family life, and Brand contrasted his journal with Hirschfelds Jahrbuch by saying he wanted to show more of the Hellenic side of things (Steakley:43).
Steakley goes on to show how the Community supported the work of Elisar
von Kupffer, a Butch homosexual and an advocate of Greek love, who
strongly attacked the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee as pseudo-scientific
In Homosexuality and Male Bonding in Pre-Nazi Germany , Oosterhuis and Kennedy write that Kuppfer stated in a letter of 25 December 1925 to Brand that the word homosexual was repugnant to him, because it reminded him of the fairies in Hirschfeld's Committee, and he requested Brand never to mention his name in such a context (Oosterhuis and Kennedy:34).
Friedlander described heterosexuals and effeminate homosexuals as Kummerlings (puny beings). The Ulrichs-Hirschfeld school believed that both homosexuality and heterosexuality were equal and legitimate forms of sexual love. However, the Brand-Friedlander school believed that eros (sexual love) had a rising scale of worth, with heterosexuality at the bottom and pederasty at the top. Steakley writes, For the Community, however, heterosexual relations were relegated to purely procreative ends and the esthetic superiority of pedophile relations was asserted (Steakley:46). In other words, heterosexuals were valued only as breeders.
Friedlander also quoted from Gustov Jager who argued that, in contrast to the Fems, masculine homosexuals were Uebermaenner (supermen), superior to heterosexuals because they were even more masculine (Oosterhuis and Kennedy:87). Some of the pederasts of the Community of the Elite did not consider themselves homosexuals at all, declaring the love of friends and homosexuality two different phenomena (ibid.:86).
Friedlander for a time was a member of both the Community of the Elite and the SHC. A review of his articles written for the SHC reveal that he endeavored to convince the members of the group that they were not going far enough: the SHC simply wanted the right to privacy, but the Community of the Elite wanted a complete transformation of Germany from a Judeo-Christian society to a Greco-Uranian one. But the leadership of the SHC was never convinced. The two philosophies were just too different. In 1906 Friedlander left the SHC and, hoping to discredit Hirschfeld, strongly hinted that Hirschfeld and other leaders of the SHC had mismanaged the Committees funds. But this was not the real reason for his departure. Steakley writes,
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The membership of the Community realized that the Committee's petition, which called for the legalization of same-sex relations only between those over the age of sixteen, neglected their interests. They were also affronted by Hirschfeld's personal effeminacy and his sweeping classification of all homosexuals in one category [as Fems] (Steakley:47f).
After his falling-out with Hirschfeld and the leaders of the SHC, Friedlander continued to try to sway its members regarding pederasty as well as to attract its financial supporters to the Community of the Elite. In 1907, Friedlander published an article in Der Eigene with a long but revealing title: Memoirs for the Friends and Contributors of the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee in the Name of the Succession of the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee. In the article, Friedlander said that the Greek love of youth (pederasty) was the cause of Paragraph 175. He said that the law was not enacted because of men, but rather because of their jealous wives and mistresses who viewed young boys as a kind of unfair competition (Journal of Homosexuality, Jan.-Feb. 1991). In the same article Friedlander writes,
Let us just understand that no one can be a good educator who does not love his pupils! And let us not lie to ourselves that in love the so-called spiritual element can ever be completely detached from its physiological foundation. It is an eternal verity: only a good pederast can be a complete pedagogue (Friedlander in Ooosterhuis and Kennedy:77ff).
Benedict Friedlander died in 1908 at the age of 42, but his influence on the German homosexual movement endured. In 1934, just one year after Adolf Hitler came to power, a man named Kurt HildeBrandt echoed Friedlanders views in a book titled Norm Entartung Verfall (Ideal - Degeneration - Ruin). In 1934 HildeBrandt was a leader in the Society for Human Rights (SHR), a spinoff of the Community of the Elite. He referred to Friedlander as his master and asserted that Greek pederasty had led to an enhancement of masculinity (Steakley:49). In Norm Entartung Verfall, HildeBrandt presents the Brand- Friedlander theory that masculine homosexuals are the ideal; a master race of beings, and that effeminate homosexuals are, in fact, degenerations of the ideal. HildeBrandt declares that the masculine type is the one that Nature intended to rule the world, but that the effeminate types were freaks of nature who would bring any Hellenic society to destruction. HildeBrandt writes,
66 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
It is incomprehensible that these forms should be confused with that type of homosexuality about which such a ruckus is made today. The latter arises contrarily in groups of effeminate men; it counteracts military and intellectual manliness...and is certain of ruin (HildeBrandt :207).
In many ways it is Friedlanders theory of homosexuality that we see implemented in the policies of the Nazis. Although there were obvious exceptions made for political reasons, there is evidence to suggest that only the effeminate homosexuals were mistreated under the Nazi regime -- and usually at the hands of masculine homosexuals. (We will consider the internment of Roehms Avengers -- Butch homosexuals of the SA interned in the wake of the Roehm purge -- in a later section). Some historians, such as James Steakley, see Friedlander's influence in Adolf Hitlers own philosophy of homosexuality as well. Steakley writes,
Hitler, on the other hand, was the Nazi visionary...and there is a truly striking affinity between his views on homosexuality and those of Friedlander and [Hans] Bluher. These male supremacists wanted to create a new Hellas peopled by strong, naked, but chaste men, inspired by heroism and capable of leadership (Steakley:119).
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The Rift Widens
It is clear that Adolf Brand's Community of the Elite wanted nothing to
do with Ulrichs theory of anima muliebris in corpore virili inclusa (a
female soul confined in a male body). They perceived themselves as fully
masculine and despised everything female and effeminate. For many years,
Ulrichs Fem faction had dominated the German homosexual movement. But
during this time, the rift between the Butches and the Fems grew increasingly
wider as the revival of Hellenic pagan values began to transform German
As early as 1908, Hirschfeld wrote that the scandals and division of opinion between the Butches and Fems was damaging the homosexual cause in Germany. He criticized the Community of the Elite for being anti-feminist. In 1914, reflecting the increase of tensions, Hirschfeld characterized the Community of the Elite as exaggerated side-currents and fanatics (Oosterhuis and Kennedy:24f). At this point Hirschfeld still controlled the movement, but somewhere between 1914 and 1920 the Butches became a serious political force themselves. In 1920, they formed the Society for Human Rights. The title seems to lay claim to what had become the Scientific-Humanitarian Committees trademark: political activism under the banner of gay rights. Two years later the new SHR published the following, now militant, call to arms:
We no longer want only a few scientists [i.e., Hirschfeld et al.] struggling for our cause, we want to demonstrate our strength ourselves. Here we stand, demanding that which is our right and who would dare challenge us? For this reason we must work steadily and everyone must take their part in our work. No homosexual should be absent -- rich or poor, worker or scholar, diplomat or businessman. We cannot deprive ourselves of any support. Therefore join us, swell our ranks before it is too late. At Easter we must show whether we have developed into a fighting organization or just a social club. He who does not march with us is against us (Steakley:76f).
68 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
Here we can see the militaristic tone of the Butch faction and sense
its eagerness to wrest control of the movement from the SHC. Jonathan Katz
records, in Gay American History, that [the SHR became] the largest of
the Gay groups in Germany during the 1920s, one that aimed at being a mass
organization, and it criticized Hirschfelds scientific approach (J. Katz:632).
Bear in mind that these were also the early years of the Nazi Party, an
organization which shared some founding members with the SHR. Increasingly,
the Nazi Party became the vehicle with which the Butches opposed Hirschfeld.
In July of 1927, after a Nazi Party member made a speech attacking the
SHC, Hirschfeld wrote in the SHC newsletter, We further feel obliged to
urgently request of our numerous members in the National Socialist German
Workers Party...that they vigorously call their delegates [to the Reichstag]
to order (Steakley:91). The rather desperate tone of Hirschfelds complaint
reflects the reality that his faction had by this time lost control.
To some extent, the homosexuals of the SHC may have brought on themselves the later wrath of the Nazis. In the 1920s and 30s the political enemies of the Nazis used the Nazis homosexual scandals against them, hurting the partys effort to gain legitimacy. Stories were printed in the newspapers containing inside information about homosexual activities among the Nazi leaders. The most noteworthy example of this tactic was when documentation of Ernst Roehms proclivity for boys, in the form of handwritten letters from Roehm himself, was leaked to the Social Democrat newspapers (Oosterhuis and Kennedy:239n).
The Social Democrat Party, of course, was the home of many of the effeminate homosexuals, which the Nazis well knew. It is likely that they suspected some of the inside information against them had come from Hirschfelds camp. This was probably an accurate surmise. Steakley writes that Hirschfeld was later sorely discredited within the homosexual community of Germany when it was revealed that he at least occasionally leaked information on homosexuals to the press (Steakley:64).
This may help to explain why the Nazis bore such enmity against the Fems, and why they targeted certain of these homosexuals for persecution. However, the Nazis needed no special justification for revenge. The fact that the SHC had made opposition to pederasty an essential tenet of their political strategy was enough. Though not a Nazi, the Butch homosexual poet, Stefan George, summed up the attitude of the anti-Hirschfeld camp, saying, It should be apparent that we have nothing to do with those far from charming people who whimper for the repeal of certain laws, for the most revolting attacks against us [pederasts] have issued from precisely these circles (George in Steakley:49).
As we can see, understanding the gay rights movement in Germany is essential to a complete understanding of the formation of the Nazi Party and the policies of the Third Reich. In turn, understanding the German gay rights movement requires an appreciation of the rivalry between the two distinct homosexual factions: the Ulrichs/Hirschfeld Fems and the Brand /Friedlander/ Roehm Butches. Their contest for domination of the gay rights movement ended when the Butches of the Nazi Party came to power in 1933 and began to construct the Third Reich. They had realized their dream of a revived Hellenic culture of ultramasculine militarism, a dream that was to prove a nightmare for all those who fell short of the Nazi ideal.
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70 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
Hans Blueher and the Wandervoegel
In Germany, writes Mosse, ideas of homosexuality as the basis of a better society can be found at the turn of the century within the German Youth Movement (Mosse:87). Indeed, at the same time that Brand and Friedlander were beginning to articulate their dream of a neo-Hellenic Germany to the masses, a youthful subculture of boys and young men was already beginning to act out its basic themes under the leadership of men like Karl Fischer, Wilhelm Jansen and youth leader Hans Blueher. In Sexual Experience Between Men and Boys, homosexualist historian Parker Rossman writes,
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In Central Europe...there was another effort to revive the Greek ideal of pedagogic pederasty, in the movement of Wandering Youth [Wandervoegel]. Modern gay-homosexuality also can trace some of its roots to that movement of men and boys who wandered around the countryside, hiking and singing hand-in-hand, enjoying nature, life together, and their sexuality. Ultimately Hitler used and transformed the movement much as the Romans had abused the paiderastia of the ancient Greeks expanding and building upon its romanticism as a basis for the Nazi Party (Rossman:103).
Another homosexualist, Richard Mills, explains in Gay Roots: Twenty Years
of Gay Sunshine how the Wandervoegel movement traces its roots to an informal
hiking and camping society of young men started in 1890 by a fifteen-year-old
student named Hermann Hoffman. For several years the open-air lifestyle
of these boys grew increasingly popular. They developed their own form
of greeting, the Heil salute, and much of the vocabulary...[which] was
later appropriated by the Nazis (Mills:168). Early in its development,
the movement attracted the attention of homosexual men, including the pederasts
who belonged to the Community of the Elite. In 1901 a teacher by the name
of Karl Fischer (who, as we have mentioned, called himself der Fuehrer)
formalized the movement under the name Wandervoegel (Koch:25, Mills:153).
Hans Blueher, then just seventeen years old, organized the most ambitious Wandervoegel excursion to that date in 1905. It was on this trip that Blueher met Wilhelm Jansen, one of the original founders of the Community of the Elite. At this time the Wandervoegel numbered fewer than one hundred young men, but eventually the number of youths involved in Wandervoegel-type groups in Europe reached 60,000.
Wilhelm Jansen became an influential leader in the Wandervoegel, but rumors of his homosexuality disturbed German society. In 1911, Jansen addressed the issue in a circular to Wandervoegel parents. Jansen told them, As long as they conduct themselves properly with your sons, you will have to accustom yourselves to the presence of so-called homosexuals in your ranks (Mills:167). Hans Blueher further substantiated the fact that the movement had become a vehicle for homosexual recruitment of boys with his publication of The German Wandervoegel Movement as an Erotic Phenomenon in 1914 (Rector:39f). Mills writes,
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[T]he Wandervoegel offered youth the chance to escape bourgeois German society by retreating back to nature...But how was this accomplished? What made it possible for the lifestyle created within the Wandervoegel to differ significantly from its bourgeois parent? The answer is simple: the Wandervoegel was founded upon homosexual, as opposed to heterosexual sentiments ...In order to understand the success of the movement, one must acknowledge the homosexual component of its leaders...Just as the leaders were attracted to the boys, so were the boys attracted to their leaders. In both cases the attraction was sexually based (Mills 152-53).
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Like many of the Butch homosexuals Blueher had married but only for the
purpose of procreation. Woe to the man who has placed his fate in the
hands of a woman, he wrote. Woe to the civilization that is subjected
to womens influence (Blueher in Igra:95).
Foreshadowing the Nazi regime, Blueher saw male bonding as crucial to the formation of male elites, writes homosexualist historian Warren Johansson. The discipline, the comradeship, the willingness of the individual to sacrifice himself for the nation -- all these are determined by the homoerotic infrastructure of the male society (Johansson:816). Mills adds that Blueher believed that male homosexuality was the foundation upon which all forms of nation-states are built (Mills:152). Blueher called his hypothetical political figures heroic males, meaning self-accepting masculine homosexuals. It is precisely this concept of the heroic male that prompts Steakley to compare Adolf Hitlers views to those of Blueher and Friedlander.
But this is not the only instance in which the views of Blueher and Friedlander coincide. Like Friedlander, Blueher believed that homosexuals were the best teachers of children. There are five sexual types of men, ranging from the exclusively heterosexual to the exclusively homosexual, writes Blueher. The exclusive heterosexual is the one least suited to teach young people...[but exclusive homosexuals] are the focal point of all youth organizations (ibid.:154).
Blueher was also anti-Semitic. In writing about his visit with Magnus Hirschfeld and the SHC, Blueher denigrated Hirschfelds egalitarian views, complaining that concepts like rank, race, physiognomy... things of importance to me -- were simply not applicable in this circle. Igra adds that [a]ccording to Blueher, Germany was defeated [in W.W.I] because the homosexualist way of life (die maennerbuendische Weltanschauung) had been considerably neglected and warlike virtues had degenerated under the advance of democratic ideas, the increasing prestige of family life...the growing influence of women and, above all, the Jews (emphasis ours -- Igra:97).
Importantly, Bluehers hostility towards the Jews was not primarily based on a racial theory but on their rejection of homosexuality. Igra writes,
74 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
Soon after the defeat [of Germany in W.W.I] Blueher delivered a lecture to a group of Wandervoegel, which he himself had founded. The lecture was entitled The German Reich, Jewry and Socialism. He said: There is no people whose destiny...so closely resembles ours as that of the Jews. The Jews were conquered by the Romans, lost their State and became only a race whose existence is maintained through the family. The primary cause of this collapse, he says, was that the Jews had failed to base their State on the homoerotic male community and had staked all on the family life, with its necessary concomitant of womens encouragement of the civic and social and spiritual virtues in their menfolk rather than the warlike qualities (ibid.:97).
Though largely neglected by historians, Blueher was enormously important
to Nazi culture. Igra writes that in the Third Reich Blueher...[was]
adopted by the Nazis as an apostle of social reform. And one of his disciples,
Professor Alfred Bauemler...[became] Director of the Political Institute
at the University of Berlin (ibid.:75). Writing before the collapse of
the Third Reich, he adds that [Bluehers teaching] has been systematically
inculcated by the Nazi Press, especially Himmler's official organ, Das
Schwarze Korps, and has been adopted in practice as the basis of German
social organization. The Nazi élite are being brought up in segregated
male communities called Ordensburgen. These are to replace the family as
the groundwork on which the state is to rest (Igra:87). The all-male societies
of these Ordensburgen (Order Castles) were fashioned after the Wandervoegel.
Through his influence in the Wandervoegel and later as a fascist theoretician, Hans Blueher must be recognized as a major force in the reshaping of Germany. This (and the homosexuality of other Wandervoegel leaders) is acknowledged by homosexualist author Frank Rector:
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Blueher's case further explains why many Nazi Gays were attracted to Hitler and his shrill anti-Semitism, for many gentile homosexuals were rabidly anti-Semitic...Gays in the youth movement who espoused anti-Semitism, chauvinism, and the Fuehrer Prinzip (Leader Principle) were not-so-incipient Fascists. They helped create a fertile ground for Hitlers movement and, later, became one of its main sources of adherents....A substantial number of those Wandervoegel leaders were known homosexuals, and many others were allegedly gay (or bisexual) (Rector:40).
From Boy Scouts to Brownshirts
In the introduction to his book The Pink Triangle, homosexual author Richard
Plant writes of his own experience in a Wandervoegel-type group called
Rovers. In such brotherhoods, writes Plant, a few adolescents had
little affairs, misty and romantic sessions around a blazing fire...Other
boys...talked openly about going with friends and enjoying it. The leaders
of these groups tended to disregard the relationships blossoming around
them -- unless they participated (Plant:3).
Blueher himself described the homosexual quality of the group as follows:
The Wandervoegel movement inspired the youth all around during the first six years of its existence, without awaking the slightest suspicion...towards its own members...Only very seldom might one might notice one of the leaders raising questions of why he and his comrades didnt want any girls....[later] the name Wandervoegel was mentioned in the same breath as the words pederasty club (Blueher:23f).
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Richard Plants reminiscences also substantiate that the Wandervoegel groups
served as a training ground for Nazis. He recalls his friend in the Rovers,
Ferdi, who explained and demonstrated the mysteries of sex to me and my
friends. Plant was later shocked, he says, upon returning to Germany from
abroad to see Ferdi wearing a brown shirt with a red, white and black
swastika armband (ibid.:4).
E.Y. Hartshorne, in German Youth and the Nazi Dream of Victory records the recollections of a former Wandervoegel member who confirms that the organization was the source of important elements of Nazi culture. Our knowledge of the influence of the Community of the Elite on the Wandervoegel may provide us insight into the cryptic comment at the end of the testimony:
We little suspected then what power we had in our hands. We played with the fire that had set a world in flames, and it made our hearts hot. Mysticism and everything mystical had dominion over us. It was in our ranks that the word Fuehrer originated, with its meaning of blind obedience and devotion. The word Bund arose with us too, with its mysterious undertone of conspiracy. And I shall never forget how in those early days we pronounced the word Gemeinschaft [community] with a trembling throaty note of excitement, as though it hid a deep secret (Hartshorne:12).
Indeed, not only did the grown-up former members of the Wandervoegel become one of Hitlers main sources of supporters in his rise to power, but the movement itself became the core of a Nazi institution: the Hitler-Jugend (Hitler Youth). So rampant had homosexuality become in the movement by this time that The Rheinische Zeitung, a prominent German newspaper, warned, Parents, protect your sons from physical preparations in the Hitler Youth, a sarcastic reference to problems of homosexuality in the organization (Burleigh and Wipperman:188). Sadly, the boys themselves had by this time been completely indoctrinated by their homosexual masters. Waite writes,
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With the exception of Ehrhardt, Gerhard Rossbach, sadist, murderer, and homosexual was the most admired hero of nationalistic German youth. In Ehrhardt, but also in Rossbach, says a popular book on the youth movement, we see the Fuehrer of our youth. These men have become the Ideal Man, idolized...and honored as can only happen when the personality of an individual counts for more than anything else"...the most important single contributor of the pre-Hitler youth movement [was] Gerhard Rossbach (Waite, 1969:210f).
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Hans Peter Bleuel, in Sex and Society in Nazi Germany, points out that
most of the adult supervisors of the Hitler Youth were also SA officers
(who were almost exclusively homosexual). Rector states that Baldur von
Schirach, leader of the Hitler Youth organization, was reportedly bisexual
(Rector:56). In Germanys National Vice, Jewish historian Samuel Igra confirms
this, saying Schirach was arrested by the police for perverse sexual practices
and liberated on the intervention of Hitler, who soon afterward made him
leader of the Hitler Youth (Igra:72). Igra further states that Schirach
was known as the baby among the inner pederast clique around Hitler (ibid.:74).
Rempel reports that Schirach always surrounded himself with a guard of
handsome young men (Rempel:88). Psychiatrist Walter Langer in his 1943
secret wartime report, The Mind of Adolf Hitler, also writes of Schirachs
reputed homosexuality (Langer:99).
In 1934, the Gestapo reported forty cases of pederasty in just one troop of the Hitler Youth. Bleuel writes of the case of one supervisor, a 20-year-old man who was dismissed from the Hitler Youth in 1938. Yet he was transferred to the National Socialist Flying Corps (Civil Air Patrol) and was assigned to supervise work by members of the Hitler Youth Gliding Association and eventually detained to help with physical check-ups a grievous temptation. The man was once again caught sodomizing young men, but was not dismissed from the NSFK (the National Socialist Flying Corps) - Bleuel:119).
Conditions were essentially the same in 1941. Bleuel reports of another homosexual flying instructor involved in at least ten cases of homosexuality with student pilots of the Hitler Youth and a student teacher and student ...[who] had committed twenty-eight proven acts of indecency with twenty boys at Hitler Youth and Young Folk camps (ibid.:119). He adds that [t]hese cases were only the tip of the iceberg, for few misdemeanors within the Party became public in later years and even fewer came to trial (ibid.:119).
The prevalence of homosexuality in the Hitler Youth is also confirmed by historian Gerhard Rempel in his book Hitlers Children: Hitler Youth and the SS:
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Homosexuality, meanwhile, continued on into the war years when Hitler Jugend boys frequently became victims of molestations at the hands of their SS tutors; Himmler consistently took a hard line against it publicly but was quite willing to mitigate his penalties privately and keep every incident as secret as possible (Rempel:51f).
This last quote from Rempel raises two important points which will be addressed
at greater length later in the book, but deserve at least some mention
here. The first point is that Heinrich Himmler, who is often cited as being
representative of the Nazi regimes alleged hatred of homosexuals, was
obviously not overly concerned about homosexual occurrences in the ranks
of his own organization. The second point is that this homosexual activity
continued long after Hitler had supposedly purged homosexuals from the
Nazi regime (in 1934) and promoted strict policies against homosexuality
(from 1935 on). As we shall see later, these policies were primarily for
public relations and were largely unenforced.
An interesting sideline to the story of the Hitler Youth illustrates both the control of the youth movement by pederasts and the fundamental relationship between homosexuality and Nazism. In Great Britain, the pro-Nazis formed the Anglo-German Fellowship (AGF). The AGF was headed by British homosexuals Guy Francis de Moncy Burgess and Captain John Robert Macnamara. British Historian John Rempel relates how Burgess, Macnamara and J.H. Sharp, the Church of Englands Arch-deacon for Southern Europe, took a trip to Germany to attend a Hitler Youth camp. Costello writes,
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In the spring of 1936, the trio set off for the Rhineland, accompanied by Macnamaras friend Tom Wylie, a young official in the War Office. Ostensibly they were escorting a group of pro-fascist schoolboys to a Hitler Youth camp. But from Burgess uproariously bawdy account of how his companions discovered that the Hitler Jugend satisfied their sexual and political passions, the trip would have shocked their sponsors -- the Foreign Relations Council of the Church of England (Costello: 300).
In pre-World War II France, the pro-Nazi faction was represented by the Radical-Socialist Party (RSP) and the Popular Party (PP). The Secretary-General of the RSP was Edouard Pfeiffer. Costello writes of Guy Burgess' visit to Pfeiffer in Paris shortly before the war:
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As a connoisseur of homosexual decadence, Pfeiffer had few equals, even in Paris. As an officer of the French Boy-Scout movement, his private life was devoted to the seduction of youth. Burgess discovered all this when he visited Pfeiffer's apartment in Paris and found...[him] with a naked young man...he explained to Burgess that the young man was a professional cyclist, who just happened to be a member of Jacques Doriots Popular Party (ibid.:315).
Once again we see flagrant sexual perversion in the heart of the Nazi movement
-- long after the Roehm Purge. It appears also that the correlation between
Nazism and homosexuality disregarded national boundaries. As we have seen,
both Hans Blueher and Benedict Friedlander observed that youth organizations
are often (in their view, appropriately) led by pederasts. Events in Europe
during the first part of the twentieth century, particularly those involving
the National Socialists, strongly support this theory.
The revival of Hellenic culture in the German homosexual movement, then, was an integral factor in the rise of Nazism. Right under the nose of traditional German society, the pederasts laid the groundwork for the ultramasculine military society of the Third Reich. The Wandervoegel was certainly not a homosexual organization per se, but its homosexual leaders molded the youth movement into an expression of their own Hellenic ideology and, in the process, recruited countless young men into the homosexual lifestyle. The first members of the Wandervoegel grew to manhood just in time to provide the Nazi movement with its support base in the German culture. As Steakley put it, [the] Free German Youth jubilantly marched off to war, singing the old Wandervoegel songs to which new, chauvinistic verses were added (Steakley:58).
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Gerhard Rossbach and the Freikorps Movement
The Freikorps movement began during the years immediately following the close of World War I. After the war and the subsequent socialist revolution in Germany in 1918, tens of thousands of former soldiers of the German army volunteered for quasi-military service in a number of independent reserve units called Freikorps (Free Corps), under the command of former junior officers of the German army. These units were highly nationalistic and became increasingly violent as the social chaos of the Weimar Republic worsened. Rossbachs organization, originally called the Rossbachbund (Rossbach Brotherhood) exemplified the German Freikorps. As Waite records in Vanguard of Nazism, the lieutenants and the captains Roehm...Ehrhardt, Rossbach, Schultz and the rest formed the backbone of the Free Corps movement. And...it was they who were the link between the Volunteers [anti-communists] and National Socialism (Waite, 1969:45). Once again we see the essential relationship between homosexuality and Nazism, since many of these lieutenants and captains were known or probable homosexuals, some of whom eventually served in the SA. German historian and Hitler contemporary Konrad Heiden writes that [m]any sections of this secret army of mercenaries and murderers were breeding places of perversion (Heiden:30). Historian G. S. Graber agrees:
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Many...[Freikorps] leaders were homosexual; indeed homosexuality appears to have been widespread in several volunteer units. Gerhard Rossbach...was an open homosexual. On his staff was Lieutenant Edmund Heines who was later to become the lover of Ernst Roehm (Graber:33).
Waites analysis shows that the Freikorps movement was one intervening
phase between the Wandervoegel movement and the Nazi Stuermabteilung
the SA. The generation to which the Freikorpskaempfer [Free Corps warriors]
belonged, writes Waite, the generation born in the 1890s participated
in two experiences which were to have tremendous effect on his subsequent
career as a Volunteer [in the Freikorps]. The first of these was the pre-war
Youth Movement; the second, World War I (Waite, 1969:17). The young men
who had been molded by the Hellenic philosophies of the youth movement
had come of age just in time to fight in the first World War. There, they
were further shaped and seasoned by the hardships and horrors of trench
It was in the trenches of World War I that the concept of Stuermabteilung (Storm Troops) was developed elite, hard-hitting units whose task it was to storm the enemy lines. The tactics of the Storm Troopers proved to be so effective that they were quickly adopted throughout the German army. The Storm Troop system created a tremendous increase in the number of young commanders of a certain breed. Waite writes,
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Only a very special type of officer could be used. He must be unmarried, under twenty-five years of age, in excellent physical health...and above all he must possess in abundance that quality which German military writers call ruthlessness. The result was that at the time of the Armistice Germany was flooded with hundreds of capable, arrogant young commanders who found an excellent outlet for their talents in the Free Corps movement (ibid.:27).
It is not difficult to recognize that the description of the preferred
Storm Trooper is a model of the Wandervoegel hero: ultramasculine, militaristic,
physically conditioned, largely unrestrained by Judeo-Christian morality,
and guided by the Fuehrer Principle (ibid.:28). It is no wonder, then,
that many of these men became youth leaders in their turn (ibid.:210).
In the preceding chapter, we learned that homosexual sadist and murderer
Gerhard Rossbach was the most important single contributor to the pre-Hitler
youth movement and a hero to nationalistic German youth. In the days
before Baldur von Schirach developed the Hitler Youth, Rossbach organized
Germanys largest youth organization, named the Schilljugend (Schill Youth)
in honor of a famous Prussian soldier executed by Napoleon (ibid:210n).
But Rossbachs contribution to the Nazis was far greater than the mere shaping of young men into Nazi loyalists. It was Rossbach who formed the original terrorist organization which eventually became the Nazi Storm Troopers, also known as Brown Shirts. Both the Rossbach Storm Troopers and the Schilljugend were notorious for wearing brown shirts which had been prepared for German colonial troops, acquired from the old Imperial army stores (Koehl:19). It is reasonable to suppose that without Rossbachs Storm Troopers, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis would never have gained power in Germany. Heiden describes them:
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Rossbachs troop, roaring, brawling, carousing, smashing windows, shedding blood...was especially proud to be different from the others. Heines had belonged to it before joining Hitler; then Rossbach and Heines had formed a center with Roehm; it led the SA while Hitler was under arrest [for leading the Beer Hall Putsch] (Heiden, 1944:295).
Rossbachs Freikorps was formed almost exclusively of homosexuals. As fascist novelist, Edwin Dwinger, would later declare through one of his characters, Captain Werner, Freikorps men arent almost all bachelors for nothing. Believe me, if there werent so many of their kind, our ranks would be pretty damn thin (Theweleit, Vol 1:33). Rossbachs adjutant, Edmund Heines, was another pederast and a convicted murderer who later became Ernst Roehms adjutant in the SA (he was also the sexual partner of Rossbach, Roehm and possibly Hitler as well). During the incident known as The Night of the Long Knives in which Hitler killed Roehm and a number of other SA leaders, Heines was surprised in bed with a young SA recruit (Gallo:236). Historian Frank Rector describes Heines:
86 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
Distinguished by a girlish face on the body of a truck driver, Heines was an elegant, suave, and impeccably groomed killer. He liked to shoot his victims in the face with his 7.65 Walther automatic or beat them to death with a club...In addition to Heines value as a first rate adjutant, gifted administrative executive, and aggressive and adroit SA leader, Heines had a marked talent as a procurer [of boys]...garnering the fairest lads in the Fatherland for...sexual amusement (Rector:89).
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Perhaps because of Edmund Heines special talent, Rossbach assigned him to develop the Schilljugend. Igra tells how he profited thereby:
Edmund Heines, the group-leader of the storm troops at Breslau, was a repulsive brute who turned the Nazi headquarters of the city into a homosexual brothel. Having 300,000 storm troopers under his command he was in a position to terrorize the neighborhood...One of his favorite ruses was to have members of the youth organization indulge in unnatural practices with one another and then threaten their parents that he would denounce these youths to the police...unless he received...hush money. Thus Heines not only indulged in homosexual orgies himself he was often Roehms consort in this but he promoted the vice as a lucrative business (Igra:73).
Ernst Roehm and the Development of the SA
Next to Adolf Hitler, Ernst Roehm was the man in Germany most responsible
for the rise of Nazism, indeed of Hitler himself. Rector writes that Hitler
was, to a substantial extent, Roehms protégé (Rector:80). A driving force
behind the National Socialist movement, Roehm was one of the early founders
of the Nazi Party. Both Roehm and Hitler had been members of the socialist
terrorist group called the Iron Fist (Heiden, 1944:89).
It was at a meeting of the Iron Fist that Roehm reportedly met him and saw in Hitler the demagogue he required to mobilize mass support for his secret army (Hohne:20). With Roehms backing, Hitler became the first president of the Nazi Party in 1921 (ibid.:21). Shortly thereafter, Rossbachs Freikorps, integrated into the Party first under Herman Goerings and then Roehms authority, was transformed into the dreaded Nazi SA.
In his classic Nazi history, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, author William Shirer describes Ernst Roehm as a stocky, bull-necked, piggish-eyed, scar-faced professional soldier...[and] like so many of the early Nazis, a homosexual (Shirer:64). Roehm was recruited into homosexuality by Gerhard Rossbach (Flood:196). Rector elaborates,
88 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party
Was not the most outstanding, most notorious, of all homosexuals the celebrated Nazi leader Ernst Roehm, the virile and manly chief of the SA, the du buddy of Adolf Hitler from the beginning of his political career? [Hitler allowed Roehm the rare privilege of addressing him with the familiar form thou, indicating intimate friendship]. Hitlers rise had in fact depended upon Roehm and everyone knew it. Roehms gay fun and games were certainly no secret; his amorous forays to gay bars and gay Turkish baths were riotous. Whatever anti-homosexual sentiments may have been expressed by straight Nazis were more than offset by the reality of highly visible, spectacular, gay-loving Roehm. If there were occasional ominous rumblings and grumblings about all those queers in the SA and Movement, and some anti-gay flare-ups, homosexual Nazis felt more-or-less secure in the lap of the Party. After all, the National Socialist Party member who wielded the greatest power aside from Hitler was Roehm (Rector:50f).
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Consistent with the elitist philosophies of Benedict Friedlander, Adolf Brand, and Hans Blueher, Roehm viewed homosexuality as the basis for a new society. Louis Snyder, prominent historian of the Nazi era, writes,
[Roehm] projected a social order in which homosexuality would be regarded as a human behavior pattern of high repute...he flaunted his homosexuality in public and insisted that his cronies do the same. What was needed, Roehm believed, was a proud and arrogant lot who could brawl, carouse, smash windows, kill and slaughter for the hell of it. Straights, in his eyes, were not as adept in such behavior as practicing homosexuals (Snyder:55).
Under Roehm, the SA became the instrument of Nazi terrorism in German society.
It was officially founded on August 3, 1921, ostensibly as a Special section
for gymnastics and sport, but in his first directive to the group, Hitler
defined the SAs purpose as a means of defense for the movement, but above
all a training school for the coming struggle for liberty (Heiden, 1935:82f).
Historian Thomas Fuchs reports that The principle function of this army-like organization was beating up anyone who opposed the Nazis, and Hitler believed this was a job best undertaken by homosexuals (Fuchs:48f). At first serving simply to protect the Nazis own meetings from disruptions by rivals and troublemakers, the SA soon expanded its strong-arm tactics to advance Nazi policies and philosophies. In a 1921 speech in Munich, Hitler set the stage for this activity: [the] National Socialist movement will in future ruthlessly prevent if necessary by force all meetings or lectures that are likely to distract the minds of our fellow citizens... In Mein Kampf, Hitler describes an incident (when his men were attacked by Communists adversaries) which he considered the baptismal act of the SA:
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When I entered the lobby of the Hofbrauhaus at quarter to eight, I no longer had any doubts as to the question of sabotage...The hall was very crowded...The small assault section was waiting for me in the lobby...I had the doors to the hall shut, and ordered my men some forty-five or -six to stand at attention...my men from the Assault Section from that day known as the SA launched their attack. Like wolves in packs of eight or ten, they threw themselves on their adversaries again and again, overwhelming them with blows...In five minutes everyone was covered with blood. These were real men, whom I learned to appreciate on that occasion. They were led by my courageous Maurice. Hess, my private secretary, and many others who were badly hurt pressed the attack as long as they were able to stay on their feet (Hitler:504f).
In all actions the SA bore Roehms trademark of unabashed sadism. Max Gallo describes the organization:
Whatever the SA engage in whether they are torturing a prisoner, cutting the throat of an adversary or pillaging an apartment they behave as if they are within their rights, as artisans of the Nazi victory...They are the SA, beyond criticism. As Roehm himself said many times: The battalions of Brown Shirts were the training school of National Socialism" (Gallo:38).
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The favorite meeting place of the SA was a gay bar in Munich called
the Bratwurstgloeckl where Roehm kept a reserved table (Hohne:82). This
was the same tavern where some of the early meetings of the Nazi Party
had been held (Rector:69). At the Bratwurstgloeckl, Roehm and associates
Edmund Heines, Karl Ernst, Ernsts partner Captain [Paul] Rohrbein, Captain
Petersdorf, Count Ernst Helldorf would meet to plan and strategize. These
were the men who orchestrated the Nazi campaign of intimidation and terror.
All of them were homosexual (Heiden, 1944:371).
Indeed, homosexuality was all that qualified many of these men for their positions in the SA. Heinrich Himmler would later complain of this: Does it not constitute a danger to the Nazi movement if it can be said that Nazi leaders are chosen for sexual reasons? (Gallo:68). Himmler was not so much opposed to homosexuality itself as to the fact that non-qualified people were given high rank based on their homosexual relations with Roehm and others. For example, SA Obergruppenfuehrer (Lieutenant General) Karl Ernst, a militant homosexual, had been a hotel doorman and a waiter before joining the SA. Karl Ernst is not yet thirty-five, writes Gallo, he commands 250,000 men...he is simply a sadist, a common thug, transformed into a responsible official (ibid.:50f). Later, Ernst became a member of the German Parliament (Machtan:185). Gallo writes,
Roehm, as the head of 2,500,000 Storm Troops had surrounded himself with a staff of perverts. His chiefs, men of rank of Gruppenfuehrer or Obergruppenfuehrer, commanding units of several hundred thousand Storm Troopers, were almost without exception homosexuals. Indeed, unless a Storm Troop officer were homosexual he had no chance of advancement (Knickerbocker:55).
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Otto Friedrichs analysis in Before the Deluge is similar:
Under Rohm, the SA leadership acquired a rather special quality, however, for the crude and blustering Oberster SA Fuehrer was also a fervent homosexual, and he liked to surround himself, in all the positions of command, with men of similar persuasions (Friedrich:327).
In the SA, the Hellenic ideal of masculine homosexual supremacy and militarism
had finally been realized. Theirs was a very masculine brand of homosexuality,
writes homosexualist historian Alfred Rowse, they lived in a male world,
without women, a world of camps and marching, rallies and sports. They
had their own relaxations, and the Munich SA became notorious on account
of them (Rowse:214). The similarity of the SA to Friedlanders and Brands
dream of Hellenic revival is not coincidental. In addition to being a founder
of the Nazi Party, Ernst Roehm was a leading member of the Society for
Human Rights, an offshoot of the Community of the Elite (J. Katz:632).
The relaxations to which Rowse refers in the above quote were, of course, the homosexual activities (many of them pederastic) for which the SA and the CE were both famous. Hohne writes,
[Roehm] used the SA for ends other than the purely political. SA contact men kept their Chief of Staff supplied with suitable partners, and at the first sign of infidelity on the part of a Roehm favorite, he would be bludgeoned down by one of the SA mobile squads. The head pimp was a shop assistant named Peter Granninger, who had been one of Roehms partners...and was now given cover in the SA Intelligence Section. For a monthly salary of 200 marks he kept Roehm supplied with new friends, his main hunting ground being Geisela High School Munich; from this school he recruited no fewer than eleven boys, whom he first tried out and then took to Roehm (Hohne:82).
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Although the original SA chapter in Munich was the most notorious, other
SA chapters were also centers of homosexual activity. In Political Violence
and the Rise of Nazism, Richard Bessel notes that the Silesian division
of the SA was a hotbed of perversion from 1931 onward (Bessel:61).
Roehm and his closest SA associates were among the minority of Nazi homosexuals who did not take wives. Whether for convention, for procreation, or simply for covering up their sexual proclivities, most of the Nazi homosexuals had married. Some, like Reinhard Heydrich and Baldur von Schirach, married only after being involved in homosexual scandals, but often these men, who so hated femininity, maintained a facade of heterosexual respectability throughout their lives. As Machtan notes, That Hitler...encouraged many of them to marry should not be surprising: every conspiracy requires camouflage (Machtan:24). These were empty marriages, however, epitomized by one wifes comment: The only part of my husband Im familiar with is his back (Theweleit:3).
As we have seen, then, the SA was in many respects a creation of Germanys homosexual movement, just as the Nazi Party was in many ways a creation of the SA. Before we take a closer look at the formation and early years of the Nazi Party, we must examine two other very important movements which contributed to Nazism. These are the occult Theosophical-Ariosophical movement, and the intellectual movement which created the National Socialist philosophy. Both of these movements, which are integral to our understanding of the Nazi Party and its actions, were also heavily influenced by homosexuals.
94 The Homosexual Roots of the Nazi Party