THE PERSECUTION OF HOMOSEXUALS
Homosexualist revisionists assert that Hitlers ascension to the Chancellorship
marked the beginning of a homosexual Holocaust in Germany. For example,
as early as 1978, homosexual political activists claimed that [m]any thousands
and hundreds of thousands [of homosexuals] were...imprisoned in concentration
camps where they died (ONE Letter, May, 1978). Over the years the story
has assumed ever more fantastic proportions. In 1986 Plant wrote, After
years of frustration...Hitlers storm troopers now had the opportunity
to smash their enemies: the lame, the mute, the feebleminded, the epileptic,
the homosexual, the Jew, the Gypsy, the Communist. These were the scapegoats
singled out for persecution. These were the contragenics who were to
be ruthlessly eliminated to ensure the purity of the Aryan race. (Plant:51).
Rector writes, Hitlers homophobia did not surface until 1933-1934, when
gays had come to affect adversely his New Order designs -- out of which
grew the simple solution of murdering them en masse (Rector:24).
Unsupported assertions such as these have allowed the theory of a Gay Holocaust (in which homosexuals are portrayed alongside the Jews as victims of a campaign of extermination) to gain currency in the United States. The evidence does not support this theory. Unfortunately, the portrayal of homosexuals as Nazi victims has assumed a kind of untouchable status among supporters of gay rights, probably because the success of the movement depends so heavily on public sympathy. Thus, today we see active suppression of information linking homosexuals to the Nazis and misrepresentation of homosexuals experience in the Third Reich. A few gay academics are more forthright. For example, homosexualist scholar Manfred Herzer admits:
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As far as the scope of homosexual mens support of the Nazis is concerned, we face a self-imposed void in our knowledge that has taken on the dimensions of an ideologically motivated taboo. Within gay historiography, even such a repugnant figure as the Nazi leader Ernst Roehm has repeatedly been consigned to the role of victim, first of leftist and then of Nazi homophobia, for only by doing so has it been possible to perpetuate a slanted account of history that persistently portrays homosexuals as persecuted martyrs and passive victims (Herzer:199).
Homosexualists Johansson and Percy promote the use of outing (exposing
public figures, past and present as gay) to influence public opinion
about homosexuality and the gay agenda. They advise that [a]ctivists
should clearly not out a notorious criminal or mass murderer as they would
a famed medical missionary or celebrated inventor (Johansson and Percy:284).
They acknowledge that [a]pologists generally prefer to deny that homosexuality
was widespread among Nazi leaders after the purge of Roehm and his associates....[although
Italian gay activist] Massimo Consoli has reversed this tendency by dwelling
at length on the homosexuality of the early followers of the NSDAP (National
Socialist Party). (Consoli is, however, a leading proponent of the Gay
Holocaust public relations ploy -- Grau:5).
Then we have the problem of simple error in claims such as that made by homosexualist Claudia Schoppmann. She has claimed that German gay rights leader Martin Radszuweit was murdered in a concentration camp (Herzer:226). Herzer states authoritatively that Radszuweit did not die in a concentration camp: ...he died in the 1980s in his house in Berlin-Kopenick (ibid.:226).
The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review (Summer 1995) contains an admirably candid review of the book Hidden Holocaust? by Gunter Grau (in which Schoppmann was a minor contributor):
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Grau and Schoppman conclude that there was no holocaust of gays hence the question mark in the books title. This assessment is based on the wide range of contemporary documents...Grau discounts the current wild estimates of the number of gays killed by the Nazis, suggesting a figure closer to 5,000...How, then are we to read the widely quoted incendiary statements by Nazis like SS leader Himmler, who consistently called for the eradication of homosexuals?...Much of this rhetoric, Grau says, was propaganda meant for public consumption... Gays were never the subject of pogroms, and never faced the danger that the Jews did in Germany and occupied Europe.
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Dr. Judith Reisman, in The Pink Swastika and Holocaust Revisionist History, wrote this comparison of the fate of the two groups under the Nazis:
Were homosexuals treated like Jews, 2-3 million out of 2-3 million German homosexuals should have lost their businesses, their jobs, their property, their possessions and most would have lost their lives. Homosexuals would have been forced to wear pink triangles on their clothing in the streets, they would have had their passports stamped with an H, been barred from travel, work, shopping, public appearances without their armbands, and we would have thousands of pictures of pink triangle graffiti saying kill the faggots, and the like. If German homosexuals were not Nazis, these 2-3 million men would have been homeless, walled in ghettos, worked as a mass labor pool, then gassed and their abuse recorded in graphic detail, as were the millions of Jews. And, if Germanys several million gays were not Nazi victims, they were Nazi soldiers, collaborators or murderers (Reisman:Culture Wars, April 1996).
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The fact is that relatively few homosexuals died in concentrations camps.
They were never murdered en masse or ruthlessly eliminated by the Nazis.
Yet many homosexuals were jailed and some did die in Nazi work camps.
(Of course, those who were jailed were males; there was never a systematic
prosecution of lesbians -- Grau:15). What is the truth about Nazi persecution
There are several incidents in Nazi history which are most often cited as evidence of their persecution of homosexuals. This list includes (1) the sacking of the Sex Research Institute of Berlin, (2) a series of increasingly harsh public pronouncements and policies against homosexuality by Hitler and Himmler, (3) the Roehm Purge (also known as The Night of the Long Knives), and (4) the internment of homosexuals in work camps. We will look at each of these issues in turn.
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The Path of the Paranoid
One overarching factor must be kept in mind as we examine the history of Nazi persecution of homosexuals: the paranoia of Adolf Hitler. Hitler was deathly afraid that his own homosexuality would be exposed to the German people, undoing all that he had worked for in his ascension to power. Indeed, Lothar Machtan argues convincingly that the entire Nazi campaign against homosexuality, from the initial anti-sodomy policies to the Roehm purge to the internment of homosexuals in the camps, was orchestrated to prevent the truth about Hitler from coming out. Machtan writes
Hitlers determination to destroy anything that might have provided an insight into his private life is well documented. He got rid of anything he could, and his arm was long, even before 1933. Those privy to his secrets were bribed, sworn to secrecy, blackmailed or killed....Hitlers...homosexuality...was the secret from his past that threatened at any time to rear its head as he rose politically....and he defended that secret by all available means (Machtan:20f).
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One of Hitlers greatest problems was blackmail. Blackmail of homosexuals
by estranged partners and prostitutes was a simple fact of life in Germany.
[H]omosexuals were particularly vulnerable to blackmailers, known as Chanteure
on the homosexual scene, write Burleigh and Wippermann. Blackmail, and
the threat of public exposure, resulted in frequent suicides or suicide
attempts (Burleigh and Wipperman:184).
Police Commissioner Hans von Tresckow, who served in Berlin during the years that Hitler was on the streets in Munich and Vienna, wrote the following in his memoirs:
One of the worst features of homosexualism is that it gives rise to an enormous amount of male prostitution. Many persons who are perfectly normal find it a lucrative though disgraceful trade. In Berlin there are many centers where homosexualists make the acquaintances of accomplices who will serve their requirements. And there are many cafés and taverns which are frequented almost exclusively by such people. The police are powerless to put down this practice, because they require legal authorization to interfere. My experience is that male prostitution has been steadily increasing for some decades past and cases of blackmail are becoming more numerous accordingly; for a person who goes in for this profession is almost always a blackmailer. (Treschow in Lively:18).
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For Hitler, the list of blackmailers included numerous political opportunists.
Igra reports that Heinrich Hoffman, the official Nazi photographer, gained
his position by using information about Hitlers perverse abuse of his
(Hoffmans) daughter, Henny, to blackmail the future Fuehrer (Igra:74).
(Henny Hoffman was later married off to reputed homosexual Baldur von Schirach,
probably to quell rumors about his exploits with Hitler Youth boys). Heiden
relates another story in which Hitler bought an entire collection of rare
political writings to regain possession of a letter to his niece in which
he openly revealed his masochistic-coprophil inclinations (Heiden, 1944:385).
Even more dangerous than the political opportunists were the political enemies who could not be bought off. As early as 1923, Hitlers enemies were relying on their proof of his perversion to secure an advantage, even if that advantage were only their own self-preservation. Eugen Dollman recorded his experience at a dinner meeting with General Otto von Lossow at the Bavarian war ministry.
Since November 9 [said Lossow], Hitler and his supporters have been well aware that any attempt on my life or those of my officers would cause a European scandal. I have some good friends in this world, and Adolf would lose that game just as he did on November 9 [date of the failed Beerhall Putsch]....The general produced from a desk drawer a police file containing secret reports and depositions about the private life of Herr Adolf Hitler dating from the time that he again turned up after the war -- all from the vice squad or police headquarters on Ettstrasse....What a dangerous weapon Otto von Lossow had forged during the years when he was at the height of his authority in Munich (Machtan:135).
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Lossow would in fact survive unscathed until his death in 1938, despite
Hitlers well-documented hatred of the traitor Lossow (ibid.:137).
Others without benefit of hidden documentation of Hitlers sexual sins did not fare as well, even those with whom he had been intimate. Sklar writes that Hitler attempted to bury all his earlier influences and his origins, and he spent a great deal of energy hiding them...[In this campaign to erase his past] Hitler ordered the murder of Reinhold Hanish, a friend who had shared his down and out days in Vienna (Sklar:21). Hitler was enraged that Hanish had collaborated with Konrad Heiden, the Hitler biographer who had aired the Nazis dirty linen (Machtan:52).
Until Hitler and his crew finally gained power in Germany, their methods for dealing with those privy to Nazi secrets were limited in form and scope. Afterwards, however, there were more and better ways to solve these kinds of problems and to punish their enemies at the same time.
The Sacking of the Sex Research Institute
The Nazis hunt for incriminating evidence was obvious in the attack on
Magnus Hirschfelds Sex Research Institute on May 6th, 1933. As noted previously,
the Sex Research Institute of Berlin had been founded by Hirschfeld in
1919 as a center for the study of homosexuality and other sexual dysfunctions.
For all intents and purposes, it served as the headquarters for the effeminate
branch of the German gay rights movement. For this reason alone, the
Butch homosexuals of the Nazi Party might have destroyed the Institute.
Indeed, throughout the preceding years the Nazis had increasingly harassed
Victor Robinson, editor of an autobiographical sketch by Hirschfeld, wrote in 1936 that [a]lthough the Nazis themselves derived great profit from Hirschfelds theories (and called on him personally for help) they continued his persecution relentlessly; they terrorized his meetings and closed his lecture halls, so that for the safety of his audiences and himself, Hirschfeld was no longer able to make public appearances (Haeberle:368). Homosexualist James Steakley acknowledges the Butch/Fem aspect of the incident, saying that some German homosexuals could conceivably have approved of the measure, particularly if they were Nazi sympathizers or male supremacists (Steakley:105).
Ignorance of the Butch/Fem conflict in the German gay subculture left many contemporary writers puzzled as to why the Nazis would attack Hirschfeld. An obituary for Hirschfeld written in 1934 exemplifies this confusion:
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There is a darker and more savage irony in the fact that the Nazis should have treated him as an archenemy; for the Nazi ranks are notoriously honeycombed with all degrees of homosexuality, and Hirschfeld is indisputably the man to whom it is mainly due that the right of these 2 percent of sexual abnormals in the masses of the European populations to exist and to function on their own lines is now a matter for public discussion and public agitation (Herzer:221).
The attack against the Institute, however, was not motivated solely by the Nazi enmity against effeminate homosexuals. It was also an attempt to cover up the truth about rampant homosexuality and other perversions in the Nazi Party. Hitler also knew that Hirschfelds facility had extensive records that could be damaging to himself and his inner circle. This was the reason for the raid, according to Ludwig L. Lenz, the assistant director of the Sex Research Institute, who was in charge on the day of the raid. His description of the situation, part of which was quoted previously, is given here at greater length.
[O]ur Institute was used by all classes of the population and members of every political party...We thus had a great many Nazis under treatment at the Institute. 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...Many of these personages were known to us directly through consultations; we heard about others from their comrades in the party...and of others we saw the tragic results: I refer here especially to a young girl whose abdomen was covered with pin scratchings through the sadism of an eminent Nuremberg Nazi; I refer also to a thirteen year old boy who suffered from a serious lesion of the anal muscle brought about by a senior party official in Breslau and to a youth from Berlin with severe rectal gonorrhea, etc., etc....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).
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Burleigh and Wipperman report that the ransackers had lists of materials
they were looking for (Burleigh and Wipperman:189) and that they carted
away two truckloads of books and files. The materials taken from the Institute
were burned in a public ceremony, captured on film, on May 10th (Steakley:105).
The spectacular and oft-replayed newsreel footage of this event has caused
the burning of books to become synonymous with Nazism. What information
went up in smoke on that day will never be known, but we can be sure that
the pile of burning paper contained many Nazi secrets. According to homosexual
sources who were in Germany at the time, the Nazis destroyed twelve thousand
books and thirty-five thousand photographs.
The building itself was confiscated from the SHC and turned over to the Nazi Association of Jurists and Lawyers (ibid.:105). This may perhaps be interpreted to mean that it remained in the hands of homosexuals. We know that at least Hans Frank, Hitlers private lawyer, and the Nazi partys star attorney Dr. Alfons Sack were homosexuals (Machtan:219).
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Whenever the Nazis arrested homosexuals and raided even the homes of their supporters they were looking for incriminating evidence against themselves. Machtan writes:
Hitler was mortally afraid of the obscurity of the homosexual milieu, which he himself had experienced firsthand in Vienna and Munich. He knew that this demimonde could at any time yield up disreputable secrets -- even some, perhaps, that might affect him personally....Although not interested in a policy of repression toward ordinary homosexuals, he was doubly so in cases where definite interests were involved (Ibid.:226).
However, there were also old scores to settle with the effeminate homosexuals
who had opposed the Nazi rise to power. What developed, then, was a policy
designed primarily to prevent embarrassment to Hitler in which all things
homosexual were closely scrutinized by Himmlers secret police. But action
was taken only when the Nazi nets caught enemies of the party or of the
regime. These activities occurred independently of normal police functions
in which violators of German anti-sodomy and anti-pederasty laws continued
to be processed through the courts.
The law against homosexual conduct had existed in Germany for many years prior to the Nazi regime as Paragraph 175 of the Reich Criminal Code, to wit: A male who indulges in criminally indecent activity with another male, or who allows himself to participate in such activity, will be punished with imprisonment (Burleigh and Wipperman:188). When Hitler came to power he used this law as a means of tracking down and punishing those homosexuals who, in the words of one victim, had defended the Weimar Republic, and who had tried to forestall the Nazi threat (ibid.:183). Later he expanded the law and used it as a convenient tool to detain other enemies of the regime.
In February of 1933, Hitler banned pornography, homosexual bars and bath-houses, and groups which promoted gay rights (Plant:50). Ostensibly, this decree was a blanket condemnation of all homosexual activity in Germany, but in practice it served as just another means to find and destroy anti-Nazi groups and individuals. Indeed, it is likely that Hitler had been a patron of some of the homosexual-oriented businesses that he shut down. The Berlin Eldorado club, for example, was a favorite haunt of the Berlin SA under Captain Paul Rohrbein, a close friend of Roehm and Karl Ernst (Machtan:185).
The masculine homosexuals in the Nazi leadership enforced the new policy selectively, employ[ing] the charge of homosexuality primarily as a means to eliminate political opponents, both inside his party and out (Oosterhuis and Kennedy:248). Revisionst Frank Rector also admits that the decree was not enforced in all cases (Rector:66). Oosterhuis and Kennedy write that Although he was well known as a gay-activist, [Adolf] Brand was not arrested by the Nazis but nearly all of his files were confiscated (Ooosterhuis and Kennedy:7) .
The Washington Blade, the newspaper of the homosexual community in Washington D.C., reported on the research of John Fout, a gay history professor at Bard College in New York:
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The Nazis shut down the two or three active Gay political organizations that had been operating in German (sic) as soon as Hitler took power in 1933. However, according to Fout, Gay bars and bathhouses remained open until the late 1930s.... The Gay urban subculture survived the Nazi period, said Fout (Researcher says Nazi persecution not systematic, The Washington Blade, May 22, 1998).
Jewish homosexual Gad Beck, Director of Berlins Jewish Adult Education
Center, also challenges gay dogma on the degree to which homosexuals
were persecuted in Germany. In his book, An Underground Life: Memoirs
of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin, Beck claims There was no problem be[ing]
a homosexual Jew. Everyone turned a blind eye to whatever we boys were
up to with each other and cited only one case of the Nazis persecuting
a homosexual man (Beck in Fearless under the Fuhrer,The Advocate, October
In 1935, Paragraph 175 was amended with Paragraph 175a which broadened the scope of the law restricting homosexual conduct (Burleigh and Wipperman:190). (Interestingly, the new criminal code addressing homosexuality deleted the word unnatural from the definition -- Reisman, 1994:3). This new law provided the Nazis with an especially potent legal weapon against their enemies.
It will never be known how many non-homosexuals were charged under this law, but it is indisputable that the Nazis used false accusations of homosexuality to justify the detainment and imprisonment of many of their opponents. The law was so loosely formulated, writes Steakley, that it could be, and was, applied against heterosexuals that the Nazis wanted to eliminate...the law was also used repeatedly against Catholic clergymen (Steakley:111). Kogon writes that The Gestapo readily had recourse to the charge of homosexuality if it was unable to find any pretext for proceeding against Catholic priests or irksome critics (Kogon:44).
The charge of homosexuality was convenient for the Nazis to use against their political enemies because it was so difficult to defend against and so easy to justify to the populace. Since long before the Nazis assumed power, homosexuals generally lived clandestine lives, so it was not unusual for revelations of their conduct to come as a surprise to their communities when it became a police matter. This is not to say that actual homosexuals were not prosecuted under the law. Many were. But the law was used selectively against the Fems. And even in this case, many effeminate homosexuals, especially those in the arts community, were given protection by certain Nazi leaders (Oosterhuis and Kennedy:248). Plant writes,
192 The Persecution of Homosexuals
The most famous example is that of the actor Gustaf Grundgens...Despite the fact that his homosexual affairs were as notorious as those of Roehms, Goering appointed him director of the State Theater...[And] On October 29, 1937...Himmler advised that actors and other artists could be arrested for offenses against paragraph 175 only with his personal consent, unless the police caught them in flagrante (Plant:116).
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Even the most visible Fems, however, were treated far differently than
were the Jews. Kurt Hiller, successor to Magnus Hirschfeld in the Fem
faction of the German gay movement, was interned in a concentration camp
but released (battered but alive) after nine months (Steakley:103).
An unknown percentage of homosexual prisoners were arrested not for sex offenses at all, but for political reasons. A document from the Buchenwald archive states,
In the spring of 1942 a Berlin writer called Dahnke was sent to the camp as a homosexual. The main reason for his internment, however, was political statements which had brought him to the attention of the Gestapo (Grau:267).
A study of the Hitler Youth offers more examples that expose the meaninglessness of the Nazis harsh rhetoric against homosexuals. We have already noted Koehls observation that Himmler mitigated his penalties privately and tried to keep every incident of homosexual molestation of the Hitler Youth boys by the SS as secret as possible (Koehl:51f). But Koehl goes on to cite the records of the RJF, the security division of the Hitler Youth administration. [D]uring the first six months of 1940, he writes, [there were] 10,958 crimes committed by Hitler Youths, the most common were theft (5,985), [and] homosexuality (901) (ibid.:84). When he compared the number of homosexual offenses to the list of expulsions from the organization (an absurdly mild punishment for a supposed capital crime), however, Koehl found a low rate of expulsions for homosexuality:
Since the RJF Report listed 900 cases of homosexual crimes during a six month period alone, and only a third of that number were expelled during a twenty-five month period by court action, it suggests that the RJF was more hesitant to uphold Article 175 of the Criminal Code than its official propaganda would have the public believe...[One] young delinquent with a record of minor thefts, for which he had spent eight weeks in jail, was not expelled from the HJ [Hitler Youth]. In September 1940...[officials] surprised him and several prison workers in a wild homosexual orgy in broad daylight on a roadside. With sensational evidence like this in hand, the...leader then sought to have the culprit expelled from the HJ. But it took some time before this occurred, suggesting that the enforcement of Article 175 was lax (Koehl:85ff).
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The increasing indifference of Hitler Youth officials toward homosexuality was an attitude reflected in the larger society as well. In 1937 the Reich Minister of the Interior issued a change of policy regarding Paragraph 175. Under the new ruling only four-time repeat offenders could be jailed or sent to camps for homosexual offenses. This was reaffirmed in 1940 by Himmler (S. Katz:146).
The Roehm Purge
The event in history most frequently cited as evidence of Nazi persecution
of homosexuals is known variously as the Blood Purge, the Night of the
Long Knives, and the Roehm Purge. Steakley writes that [t]he indisputable
beginning of Nazi terror against homosexuals was marked by the murder of
Ernst Roehm on June 28, 1934, the night of the long knives (Steakley:108).
It was on this night (actually over an entire weekend), that Adolf Hitlers
closest aides orchestrated the assassinations of hundreds of his political
enemies in one bloody sweep. Included in this purge were Roehm and several
of the top officers of the SA.
We have emphasized that the leadership of the SA was mostly, if not entirely homosexual. The fact that SA leaders were the primary targets in the massacre could therefore be construed as a sort of moral cleansing of the Nazi ranks, which, in fact, Hitler claimed it was. But Hitler lied. The Roehm Purge was driven by political, not moral concerns. Hitler feigned disgust and outrage about the homosexuality of the murdered SA leaders to justify himself to the German people; it was a tactic he had used previously to allay public suspicions about the sexual deviancy of his inner circle. The importance of this fact is asserted in many leading works by both mainstream and homosexualist historians. The following are excerpts from four different historians who have examined the issue:
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Hitler eliminated his closest friend Roehm and certain SA leaders as potential rivals. The strictly political motivation of this ruthless power play was initially too obvious to be entirely denied, but later it was conveniently obscured by charges of homosexual depravity (Haberle:369f).
The formal accusations against Roehm and those arrested with him centered on their homosexual activities, which Hitler had of course known about for fifteen years and shrugged off, it being alleged that these activities disgraced the party. For those victims without any homosexual background, the Great Blood Purge continued all over Germany, as Nazi leaders got rid of all their most hated enemies, as well as the inevitable mistakes (Garde:726f).
Ernst Roehm wasnt shot because the Nazi Party felt outraged by the abrupt discovery that he was having his storm troopers that had been known for ages; but because his sway over the SA had become a menace to Hitler. In the Hitler Youth the dear love of comrades was evilly turned into a political end. And if the Nazi hierarchy was well larded with homosexuals, so was Wilhelm IIs court and so was the Weimar Republic (Davidson:152).
Hitler himself, of course, had been well aware of Roehms sexual orientation from the earliest days of their long association....So strong was Roehm that the Wehrmacht [German Army High Command] was concerned that he might seize control of the army. In 1934, Hitler became fearful that the Wehrmacht was plotting a coup against him to prevent such a takeover. To forestall this danger, Hitler had Roehm and about one thousand other men murdered one weekend in June 1934, the famous Night of the Long Knives (Crompton:79f).
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There is some dispute among historians about whether Roehm had planned
a coup against Hitler after Hitlers refusal to replace the regular army
with Roehms troops. This takeover of the army had apparently been part
of the Nazis original plan for the maximization of their political strength.
Upon his appointment as Chancellor, Hitler was confronted with new and
different challenges which required new and different alliances. For some
time it appeared that Hitler would remain true to his pact with Roehm.
From the time Hitler assumed control of the German government in January
of 1933, until the spring of 1934, he allowed the SA to grow from 300,000
to over 3 million members (Plant:54). During this period of rapid growth,
Roehms rivals within the Nazi inner circle grew increasingly alarmed,
as did the powerful industrialists and military leaders.
Tension between the SA and the army increased. General Walther von Brauchitsch, speaking for the majority of his fellow officers, said, [t]hat gang of homosexuals, thugs and drunks should be allowed no part of [German rearmament] (Gallo:87). For their part, the SA taunted the regular army soldiers, singing The grey rock will be drowned in a sea of brown (ibid.:87), meaning that the grey uniformed army would be swallowed up by the Brownshirts. Strasser writes,
At a meeting of the Cabinet, to which he belonged, [Roehm] demanded the incorporation of the Brown Shirts into the regular army, the Brown Shirt officers to retain their ranks. In other words he demanded supreme command of the Reichswehr, the S.S., and the S.A.. He confidently believed that he had Adolfs support...but Hitler remained silent...Blomberg, the Minister of National Defense, suddenly declared that the only course open to President Hindenberg would be to refuse outright. The discussion is closed, Hitler then said, without daring to look his old friend in the face. Roehm, speechless with fury, walked quickly from the room. After June 30, General von Reichenau declared in an interview with the Petit Journal that Roehms death sentence was virtually signed that day (Strasser, 1940:178).
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As the conflict came to a head, SA conspirators created a hit list of Army officers who were to be killed (ibid.:218) and allegedly selected Standartenfuehrer Julius Uhl to assassinate Hitler himself (ibid.:237). It may be, however, that these allegations were invented as part of a fall-back rationale for the purge. It is well known that Himmler, Goering and Himmlers deputy, Reinhard Heydrich, worked behind the scenes to limit Roehms power; and it has been reported by some sources that they generated rumors of a Roehm plot to drive a wedge between Roehm and Hitler. In any case, the Roehm Purge was not motivated by the homosexuality of its victims. The great majority of victims were not homosexuals at all. Otto Strasser, a high Nazi functionary whose brother, Gregor, was murdered that night, lists some of the casualties in Hitler and I:
Klausener and several other Catholic leaders were executed, as well as [Vice Chancellor] von Papens secretaries. At Hirschberg, in Silesia, all the Jews, all the members of the Stahlhelm, and a few communists were arrested...beaten with rifle butts...and eight people were murdered...[V]on Kahr, an old man of sixty three...was taken from his bed, taken to Dachau, and tortured to death...His crime had been his failure to support the Munich putsch in 1923. Ballerstaedt...who had been instrumental in Hitlers being sentenced to three months imprisonment, was murdered by a special killer squad. [And] death was the penalty paid by Father Staempfle for having edited Mein Kampf, and therefore being familiar with the authors weaknesses (ibid.:200).
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Igra provides us with a long and detailed account of the power struggle which led to the purge, beginning with a refutation of the idea that it represented a policy of extermination of homosexuals by Hitler:
We shall find that, far from eliminating the sex perverts from his party,
Hitler retained most of them, and that he moved against those whom he did
eliminate only with the greatest reluctance and after he had been relentlessly
pushed by outside forces and circumstances. On June 14 and 15 Hitler was
in Venice to see Mussolini. It soon became common knowledge that the German
Dictator and his entourage had made an unfavorable impression upon the
Italians...Mussolini was never a stickler for puritan morality, to say
the least, but there was one vice which the Italians particularly loathe;
they call it il vizio tedesco, the German vice. The conduct of some members
in Hitlers entourage at Venice disgusted the Italians. Mussolini protested
against the moral character and political unreliability of the leading
personnel in the Nazi Storm Troops and warned Hitler that he would have
to sacrifice his favorite colleagues if he wished to save his own personal
prestige and that of his regime. Among those colleagues, Roehm, Heines
and Karl Ernst were mentioned.
What chagrined [Hitler] the most was that he knew Mussolini had been prompted...by...[German] President Hindenberg...On June 21, Hitler went to Neudek, Hindenbergs country seat...[He] was literally dumbfounded when confronted on the steps of the Hindenberg family home by General Blomberg and Goering, both in uniform. They informed him that the President would not receive the Chancellor, and that if the heads of the SA were not dismissed martial law would be declared, whereupon Goering would take over civilian control as Chief of Police, and Blomberg, as Minister of War, would take over military control.
Hitler was still recalcitrant and conceived the idea of rallying the Storm Troops around him, as a gesture of defiance against those gentlemen of the right...But an event occurred...which led Hitler to change his plan...He was summoned to Krupps headquarters and there was received by Goering, and the heads of the Krupp firm and other industrialists...[T]hey delivered their ultimatum: Either Hitler should get rid of his companions or the Goering-Krupp-Blomberg combination would withdraw their support for the regime. Hitler accepted the alternative, but in his own way. He would double-cross Roehm, but he would also double-cross his taskmasters to the Right. He would eliminate a few of the elements that had proved objectionable to the Right, but he would maintain the bulk of them. Besides, he would take the opportunity of the general massacre to remove those against whom he had a grievance -- General Streicher, General Bredlow, Gregor Strasser, etc.(Igra:77f).
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Lothar Machtans analysis, benefitting from an additional fifty years of hindsight, adds another important perspective on this critical event. His study emphasizes that while the German powers were forcing their will upon Hitler, the Fuehrer was confronted with one unescapable truth: the very men he must betray were the ones who held his own darkest secrets in trust. These were already hinting at blackmail due to the increasing tensions in the party. Machtan writes:
202 The Persecution of Homosexuals
Roehm was not only acquainted with the shady beginnings of Hitlers political career, he was one of the very few people who knew about his homosexuality. It must have been Hitlers nightmare that he would one day launch a smear campaign....Roehms friend Edmund Heines [once threatened in 1933] Adolf hasnt the slightest reason to open his trap so wide -- one word from me, and hell shut up for good....As Hitler himself put it, he was faced with a crisis that could only too easily have had truly devastating consequences for the foreseeable future. His political instinct for self-preservation, if nothing else, compelled him to escalate matters. At the same time, he was urged on by the prospect of concealing his own homosexuality forever by the elimination of dangerous witnesses (Machtan:211f).
Edmund Heines was an especially dangerous threat if former Freikorps soldier
Peter Martin Lampel is to be believed. In his unpublished memoirs Niemandes
Knecht, Lampel claimed to know a lot about Hitlers homosexuality, including
specific knowledge of a liaison with Heines (ibid.:138). Roehm, too, was
alleged to have been a sex partner of Hitler, although these rumors were
considered highly exaggerated by one-time Hitler favorite Putzi Hanfstaengl
Pushed to the wall, Hitler chose the Nietzschean path of merciless self-interest. Machtan writes:
Hitler could defend himself only by going to extremes, so the few people
who knew that he, too, was homosexual had to be either murdered or thoroughly
intimidated. This is revealed by a closer look at the individual victims...Roehm,
Ernst and Heines...Gregor Strasser... Karl-Gunther Heimsoth and Paul Rohrbein...senior
civil servants privy to potentially explosive evidence about Hitler, for
instance, [Prussian Police officials] Erich Klausener...and...Eugen von
Kessel; Reichswehr Minister...Kurt von Schleicher and his right hand man,
Ferdinand von Bredlow, the Munich police chief August Schneid-huber, the
ex-premier of Bavaria, Gustav Ritter von Kahr....the attorneys of Roehm,
Strasser, Ludecke and other senior Nazis...the Munich journalist Fritz
Gerlich...and....Karl Zehnter [of the gay bar] Bratwurstglockl.
It may readily be inferred from these few examples that the operation carried out on and around June 30 was....a carefully planned campaign against people who knew, or were suspected of knowing, too much about Hitler (Machtan:216ff).
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The Roehm Purge, then, was not a moral cleansing of the Nazi ranks, but a political one. Equally it was a realignment of power behind the German government which was primarily forced upon Hitler by powerful political elements, whose support he needed to maintain control. Igra points out that not only did the majority of the SA homosexuals survive the purge, but that the massacre was largely implemented by homosexuals. He cites Strasser that the Chief Killers of Munich [were] Wagner, Esser, Maurice, Weber and Buch. These men were all known to be sex perverts...of one type or another, concludes Igra (ibid.:80). Plant records that the larger campaign of assassinations across Germany was orchestrated by Reinhard Heydrich, also a homosexual (Plant: 56). Igra addresses Hitlers justification for the purge:
204 The Persecution of Homosexuals
In his defense before the Reichstag a week later Hitler talked of traitors. That was his alibi...In his speech to the Reichstag he admitted that one of the motives for ordering the massacre was to get rid of the moral perverts in his party and that they were traitors because they practiced homosexualism. But under the dictatorship it was not possible for anyone to put Hitler a question. Nobody asked him to explain how it was that, if his purpose was to get rid of homosexuals, he really didnt rid himself of them but used them as the instruments of his own murder lust and still retained most of them as members of his personal entourage, as well as in key positions of the party organization and the government. Otto Strasser, in his book, The German St. Bartholemews Night (which has not been published in English), mentions sixteen of these highly placed homosexualist officials who survived the massacres of June 30 and retained their posts (Igra:82).
Following the purge, Hitler received a telegram from Hindenberg expressing his profoundly felt gratitude. You have saved the German people from a grave peril, the President wired (Fest, 1975:470). Likewise, Defense Minister von Blomberg congratulated Hitler for the successful completion of the purge. (ibid.: 470). The army, too, was pleased by Hitlers move. Only a week after the purge an anti-Nazi Reichswehr officer told the French military attaché in Berlin that the army was 25% pro-Nazi before the purge, but 95% pro-Nazi after the purge (Gallo:312).
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After the Purge
While it is certainly true that several of the most prominent homosexuals
in the Nazi regime were killed on the Night of the Long Knives the fact
of history is that Adolf Hitler did not purge his regime of homosexuals
in this incident or at any subsequent time. On the contrary, a simple review
of the historic record reveals that Hitler continued not only to surround
himself with homosexuals, but to place them in key positions in the Third
Judith Reisman notes that Kazimierz Mocazarski, a Polish resistance fighter, confirmed that homosexuals remained party members...got promotions...were protected by the top [Nazi] brass and served on the battlefield and in prisons (Reisman, 1994:3). Of the thirteen corps commanders of the SA, all known or suspected homosexuals, only seven were killed in the Roehm Purge (Gallo:16). The rest, along with the probable thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of homosexuals remaining in the SA, were quickly reassigned by Hitler, who put the entire SA under the authority of Heinrich Himmlers SS. Many of these sadistic, brutal men had been useful to Hitler since the beginning, and he made certain that their talents would remain available to him. It is likely that some of these SA survivors were among the participants in Goebbels dinner-party-turned-orgy in 1936 (Grunberger:70).
Not all SA homosexuals remained loyal to Hitler, however. Snyder records that at least 155 SS leaders were killed in late 1934 and 1935 by a group called Roehms Avengers who identified their unit on a slip of paper pinned to the body of each victim (Snyder:298). These assassinations help to explain why Himmlers anti-homosexual policies were initially strictly enforced, but later (after the Roehm loyalists had been arrested) were much less rigorously applied.
Aside from the SA, Hitler retained all of the sexual deviants of his inner circle, including Goering, Streicher, Frank, Maurice, Schaub, Wagner, Brueckner, Weber and Karl Kaufman, gauleiter of Hamburg. Hess was to remain until 1941, when he left (whether of his own accord or as an emissary of Hitler is still unknown) on his ill-fated peace mission to England. As an aside, the loss of Hess must have been very difficult for Hitler. As Ebermayer noted, Hess was for many years the Fuehrers [homosexual] partner, especially during their joint detention in Landsberg (Ebermayer in Machtan:232).
Hitler later openly rewarded some of these men with top jobs in the government. Rector, for example, writes that Hitler knew about [Walther] Funk, a notorious homosexual, when he appointed him Reich Minister of Economics on February 5, 1938" (Rector: 63). SS Lieutenant-General Albert Foerster, the homosexual who is mentioned in Langer as a possible sexual partner of Hitler (Langer:178), and whose black record of atrocities against the Poles earned him a death sentence in later war trials, was appointed Reich Regent of the Danzig Free State just prior to World War II (Wistrich:178). And Graf von Helldorf, one of Rossbachs original homosexual Brownshirts (Strasser, 1940:26), was appointed by Hitler to the post of police president of Berlin in 1935 (Snyder:145).
As he had turned on Ernst Roehm, several of the homosexuals in his inner circle eventually turned on Hitler himself. Johansson and Percy write,
206 The Persecution of Homosexuals
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One gay scholar, Ricard Dey, for years has with others collected data computerized into what he dubs the Encyclopedia Homophilica. Recent publicity about Deputy Fuehrer Rudolf Hesss homosexuality has led him to conclude that the tragically unsuccessful plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944 carried out by Colonel Count von Stauffen berg was masterminded by Admiral Canaris and backed by a network of other conspirators, like them, rightest homosexuals (emphasis ours. Johansson and Percy:285).
Discretion would be the watchword for Nazi homosexuals after 1934, however.
In light of its public stance following the Roehm purge, the Party could
no longer protect flagrant homosexuals in leadership positions. A case
in point is mentioned by Oosterhuis. He writes that [i]n 1937, a top
leader of the Nazi movement of the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia was
arrested for a homosexual offense, once again embroiling the party in a
scandal that resembled the Roehm affair (Oosterhuis:243). In response
to this incident, newspaper reporter Walther Bartz (undoubtedly at great
personal risk) wrote a series of articles in Die neue Weltbuehne on the
homosexual roots of Nazism (ibid.:243).
One additional incident must be mentioned here which, aside from exposing homosexuals in the post-Roehm party, has great historical significance in its own right: the assassination of Austrian Chancellor Englebert Dollfuss, July 25, 1934. Dollfuss opposed Anschluss (the Nazi plan to annex Austria) and Adolf Hitler personally. Igra writes,
208 The Persecution of Homosexuals
A few days after the murder of Dr. Dollfuss in Vienna (July 25, 1934) the
semi-official Italian newspaper, Il Popolo di Roma, published the comment:
Pederasts and assassins rule in Berlin.
By intimating that the authors of the Vienna crime were directly associated with the pederasts and assassins who ruled in Berlin, Mussolini's paper made a grave accusation against the German government at a time when friendly relations existed between the two countries. Under ordinary circumstances the publication of such a statement would have given rise to a diplomatic protest and demanded an explanation. Yet, as far as is known, Hitler made no such protest. Moreover, Mussolini backed up his accusation by ordering the mobilization of Italian troops on the Austro-Italian frontier, as a gesture against Hitler's designs on Austria. But Hitler made no counter-move.
The explanation of Hitler's silence and inactivity in the face of the Italian challenge may be, and probably is, that he was cowed by Mussolini's blackmail. Mussolini knew that the murder of the Austrian Chancellor had been ordered by Hitler and that this was not done from political motives exclusively. He knew that personal revenge against Dollfuss was the chief motive working in the dark recesses of Hitler's mind. For Dollfuss had come into possession of an authentic affidavit which connected Hitler directly with the moral scandals I have spoken of....he had certified copies of the affidavit made and entrusted to the diplomatic representatives of [several] governments in Vienna. That is the account which has been given me, and I have every reason to believe it to be at least substantially true. Among others Dr. Hermann Rauschning assured me that he had seen a copy of such a document, which was in the hands of a foreign government. It declared that Hitler had been a male prostitute in Vienna at the time of his sojourn there, from 1907 to 1912, and that he practiced the same calling in Munich from 1912 to 1914. Mussolini obviously knew of the existence of this document, and had a copy of it at his disposal when he charged Hitler with pederasty and murder at one and the same time (Igra:66f).
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Igra goes on to relate that the leader of the gang who murdered Dr. Dollfuss
and who actually fired the shots into the Chancellors body was a certain
criminal named [Otto] Planetta who was also a well-known sex pervert (ibid.:78).
Hitler failed to take control of Austria at this time. That would occur
in 1938 when Hitler forced the resignation of Dollfuss successor, Kurt
von Schuschnigg in favor of Artur Seyss-Inquart (leader of the Austrian
Nazis and also a homosexual -- ibid.:86, Snyder:8).
A few additional words are in order about the extent to which Hitlers personal fear of disclosure dictated Nazi policy about homosexuality after the purge. Machtan writes:
210 The Persecution of Homosexuals
The violent imposition of a state of emergency was intended to enable the authorities to gain possession, at a stroke, of documents considered dangerous by Hitler...His principle motive for taking action against Roehm and associates was fear of exposure and blackmail. What additionally confirms this is that the mountains of confiscated documents were not to be used in trials of any kind....Only six months after the Roehm murders, the so-called Malicious Practices Act came into force. This act penalized any remark that might seriously prejudice the welfare of the Reich....most of the remarks...related to Hitler himself and his homosexuality....from 1943, remarks to the effect that the Fuehrer was homosexually inclined were punishable by death (Machtan:220ff).
It is in this context that we must examine Hitlers instruction to Himmler to clamp down on homosexuality in the nation: He wanted to get such a grip on the problem of homosexuality that it could never again present a threat to his position of power (ibid.:225). For this reason he required a system of complete control over the homosexual community. The fact that he gained such control and did not use it beyond what was necessary to protect himself (and punish his enemies) is testament to his continued sympathy for his fellow gays. Indeed, there was really never a campaign to eliminate homosexuality from German society, despite Nazi rhetoric to the contrary.
Heinrich Himmler and the SS
Heinrich Himmler is an extremely important figure in Nazi history. He joined
the Nazis in the early years of the party and participated in the Munich
Beer-Hall Putsch of November 1923 as a standard-bearer at the side of Ernst
Roehm (Wistrich:138). After holding a number of mid-level positions in
the party he was appointed head of Hitlers personal bodyguard, the black-shirted
Schulzstaffel (SS), at that time a small body of 200 men (ibid.:138).
Over the next dozen years Himmlers astonishing capacity for work and
irrepressible power-lust showed itself in his accumulation of official
posts (ibid.:138), eventually winning him the most powerful position in
the Third Reich under Hitler himself.
The role of Himmler is also critically important to the assertions of homosexual revisionists. Heinrich Himmler, Reichsfuehrer SS and head of the Gestapo, writes Steakley, richly deserves a reputation as the most fanatically anti-homosexual member of the Nazi leadership (Steakley:111). Indeed, if one were to accept Himmlers public pronouncements against homosexuality at face value, he would certainly deserve this distinction. For example, in a speech in which he commemorated the Roehm Purge, he said:
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212 The Persecution of Homosexuals
Two years ago...when it became necessary, we did not hesitate to strike this plague with death, even within our own ranks...in our judgment of homosexuality a symptom of degeneracy which could destroy our race we must return to the guiding Nordic principle: extermination of degenerates (ibid.:111f).
However, as we have demonstrated, homosexuality was not the reason for the Roehm Purge. And if we look at other evidence we find that Himmlers practice regarding homosexuals was far different than his rhetoric would imply. Grau notes in Hidden Holocaust? that
In these speculations about a supposed final solution to the problem of homosexuality, there is clearly a failure to differentiate what was said in Nazi programmes from what was actually carried out. If Himmlers eradication rhetoric is thought to reflect the fate of individual homosexuals, then obviously the Nazis policy will be seen as a drive to exterminate them all in the literal sense of the term. But things appear in a different light once we distinguish between anti-homosexual propaganda for public consumption and the reality on the ground....what he had in his sights was the homosexual type. (Grau:6, emphasis ours).
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What the Nazis considered the homosexual type was the effeminate homosexual
male who showed no interest in sexual relations with women. Let us recall
the Friedlander distinction between Butches and Fems. Remember that
Friedlander, together with the masculine homosexuals of the Community of
the Elite, referred to effeminate homosexuals as degenerates. Clearly,
in his speech, Himmler rhetorically lumped the masculine Roehm with all
homosexuals, but it is probable that the distinction would have been lost
on this particular audience anyway.
Himmlers opposition to homosexuality was directly proportionate to the attitudes of homosexuals about procreation. For him, the individuals highest duty to the state was the improvement of the race through proper breeding. Himmler was obsessed with creating a race of supermen. But in his view, some of the most perfect specimens of Aryan manhood were being lost to this effort due to homosexuality. Himmler felt this loss more keenly in light of the fact that Germany had lost two million men in World War I. He also believed there were two million homosexuals in the population. This meant, write Burleigh and Wippermann, that Germanys sexual balance sheet had gone into deficit because four million men capable of sex had either died or had renounced their duty to procreate on account of their sexual proclivities (Burleigh and Wipperman:192).
Himmlers solution to this problem was, logically enough, not the extermination of the delinquent males. Instead he placed great hope in the use of medical treatments to reclaim homosexuals for the race. One experiment involved implanting artificial glands in homosexual subjects to introduce additional male hormones to the body. Other efforts paired homosexual prisoners with female prostitutes (ibid.:195f). While the idea of forced medical experiments is abhorrent, the fact that Himmler invested time and resources in such projects shows that he had a very different view of homosexuals than of other prisoners, even of those effeminate homosexuals who were held in such contempt by the Nazi Butches. Himmler was determined to rehabilitate rather than dispose of them.
214 The Persecution of Homosexuals
Was Himmler a Homosexual?
Himmler may himself have been a homosexual. Filmmaker Walter Frenz, who
worked closely with the Nazi elite (including a stint as Hitlers private
filmmaker), is reported to have traveled to the Eastern front with Himmler
whose pederastic proclivities he captured on film (Washington City Paper,
April 4, 1995). We also know that Gauleiter Helmut Bruckner of Silesia,
upon being denounced as a homosexual by a Himmler underling in the month
after the Roehm Purge, sent a veiled blackmail threat via Hess and Goering
to expose Himmlers alleged homosexual tendencies (Machtan:226).
Himmler began his Nazi career as an aide to Ernst Roehm, a fact which clearly refutes the idea that he was a priggish anti-homosexual zealot. On the contrary, Himmlers service to Roehm was not performed grudgingly. Himmler voluntarily wrote his own oath of loyalty to Roehm and repeated it ceremoniously each year in Roehms presence. Gallo records a portion of a letter written to Roehm by Himmler: As a soldier and a friend, I wish you all you could desire in obedience and loyalty. It has been and always will be my greatest pride to be counted among your most faithful followers (Gallo:57). For many years Himmler had been pleased to serve the most brazen and outspoken homosexual in the Nazi Party.
It must be noted that even though Himmler helped to orchestrate the Roehm purge, the homoerotic components of his personality had not substantially changed. Herman Glaser, in The Cultural Roots of National Socialism, writes,
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216 The Persecution of Homosexuals
[Even after]...the murder of Roehm and the leading SA personalities...in a certain sense the sodomite romanticism continued to assert itself. The virtually manic search for beautiful male figures perpetrated by Heinrich Himmler, for example, could not just be explained by the delusions of the breeder; it was also compensation for a repressed physical inferiority complex, which especially in people with homosexual tendencies gives rise to neuroses (Glaser:132).
Himmler, like Hitler, was closely associated with homosexuals throughout his adult life. His path to Nazi leadership, however, was not, like that of so many others, through the German gay rights movement. Instead it was through the occult movement, and his Nazi career was defined by his passion for the occult. We have seen how Himmler was profoundly influenced by Guido von List and Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels, the homosexual gurus of nationalistic and anti-Semitic occultism. It was Lists dream of a hierarchical male supremacist social order which formed the blueprint for the SS. And it was from List that Himmler appropriated the SS symbol. From Lanz, Himmler adopted other occult themes. Wistrich writes,
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For him, the SS was at one and the same time the resurrection of the ancient Order of the Teutonic Knights with himself as Grand Master, the breeding of a new Herrenvolk aristocracy based on traditional values of obedience, courage and loyalty, and a vast experiment in modern racial engineering (Wistrich:140).
Lanz originated both the revival of the Teutonic Knights theme and the plan for German racial engineering. The latter idea manifested itself in Germany in 1936 as the State-registered human stud farm known as Lebensborn [meaning fount of life], where young girls selected for their perfect Nordic traits could procreate with SS men (ibid.:138). By 1945 over 11,000 births had resulted from the program (Conway:273), which Himmler was later to claim as his greatest contribution to the Third Reich. But the plan, down to some of its details, must be attributed to Lanz. Goodrick-Clarke writes,
The similarity between Lanzs proposals and the latter practices of Himmlers SS Lebensborn maternity organization... indicate the survival of these mental reflexes over a generation. Lanzs advocacy of brood mothers in eugenic convents (Zuchtkloster), served by pure-blooded Aryan stud-males (Ehehelfer), was revived in the Third Reich (Goodrick-Clarke:97).
Despite his homoerotic inclinations, Himmler was dedicated to the fantasy of an Aryan super race through eugenics, which necessitated heterosexual breeding as a cultural priority. As long as a man performed his procreative duties to the state, Himmler had no problem with his other sexual practices. This attitude is easily recognized in the case of his second-in-command, Reinhard Heydrich, whose own contribution to the Third Reich deserves special attention.
218 The Persecution of Homosexuals
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Reinhard Heydrich: The Blonde Beast
In an organization which exemplified evil, Reinhard Heydrich was considered the quintessential member. Tall, slim, blonde-haired, with slanting, deep set blue eyes, writes Wistrich, Heydrich with his military bearing and ice-cool hardness seemed to epitomize the Nordic-Aryan type of Nazi mythology (Wistrich:134). Himmler selected Heydrich as his right hand-man in 1931, and within a few short years he was feared by everyone but Hitler himself (Rector:61). Wistrich describes him well:
...ruthless, cold and calculating, without any compunction to carrying out the most inhuman measures, Heydrich made himself indispensable to the masters of the Third Reich...His cynicism and contempt for human beings led him to exploit the basest instincts...in weaving his gigantic spiders web of police surveillance in the Third Reich. He filed extensive dossiers, not only on enemies of the Party but also his rivals and colleagues. The Blonde Beast, who controlled the sole intelligence service after 1935, specialized in devious methods of blackmail alongside weapons of open terror and persecution. His hand was most probably in the Tukhachevsky Affair which led to the purge of Red Army generals in the Soviet Union and he fabricated the scandalous intrigue which brought down the leading German generals von Blomberg...and von Fritsch...[He] masterminded the mock attack on the Gleiwitz radio transmitter which provided Hitlers excuse for invading Poland...[But] The most satanic consequence of this accumulation of power was revealed in Heydrichs implementation of the order for the wholesale extermination of European Jewry (Wistrich:134f).
Like so many of the Nazis, Heydrich had been a member of the Freikorps and was strongly influenced in his early years by the racial fanaticism of the volkish circles (ibid.:134). Heydrich also shared the sexual vice that marked Hitlers circle of power. Stevenson created a profile of Heydrich taken directly from the BSC (Allied Intelligence) profile of Heydrich.
220 The Persecution of Homosexuals
[Reinhard Heydrich] was the protégé of Heinrich Himmler, Reich Commissioner
for Consolidation of German Racial Stock. Heydrich was fanatical in his
hatred of Jews, having himself some Jewish blood. For this reason, Himmler
considered him safe. It was always useful to have the means of blackmailing
one's colleagues.... Nobody, Heydrich declared in his anxiety to reach
the top, has greater contempt for Jews than myself. I intend to eliminate
The fate of sub-humans herded into Germany's new mercy-killing centers to be executed on the strength of a physician's oath that the victim was no use to society, the preparations that moved inexorably forward to redesign Europe's entire railroad system to serve the future death camps, all such obscenities before war were made tolerable by the pretense that if you could not actually see them, they could not be happening. In this atmosphere, Heydrich moved with single-minded purpose to a position so close to the Fuehrer that none dared touch him except perhaps Admiral Canaris, who directed the German High Command intelligence service (HICOMINTEL). But even Canaris lost control over young Heydrich. The Admiral had a dossier on Heydrich's homosexual activities after he had been cashiered from the navy, but Heydrich had also become expert at ferreting out embarrassing information about colleagues and superiors...
Heydrichs career was guided and dominated by his relationship with an older friend, Freidrich Karl von Eberstein, son of Count Ernst von Eberstein, Heydrichs godfather. Freidrich von Eberstein was Heydrichs senior by ten years and had served in the navy during World War I. More importantly, Eberstein was one of the original Nazi leaders in the SA and was a personal friend of Adolf Hitler (Calic:33). Historian Callum MacDonald writes,
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While Heydrich was serving on the Naval staff in Kiel, von Eberstein had been leader of the Nazi Stuermabteilung or SA, in Munich and upper Bavaria...In 1931, however, von Eberstein joined another organization, the Schutzstaffel or SS...On the recommendation of von Eberstein, now an officer on Himmlers staff, Heydrich became a member of the Nazi Party, number 544,916, in June 1931. He joined the SA in Hamburg and was soon involved in bloody street battles against the communists and other opponents of the Nazis. He took this step on the understanding that his association with the beerhall brawlers was to be purely temporary and that von Eberstein would use his influence to secure a speedy transfer to the SS...[Later, Hitler] began to look for someone capable of organizing the SS intelligence service on a professional basis and was handed Heydrichs file by von Eberstein (MacDonald:16f).
Outside of his involvement with the early SA we have little evidence to
conclude that von Eberstein was homosexual, but we strongly suspect that
he was. Other of Heydrichs close associates were known homosexuals.
In 1931, when Ernst Roehm was faced with accusations of homosexuality under
Paragraph 175, it was Heydrich who came to his defense (Lombardi:12). Heydrichs
mentor in the navy, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, was also alleged to be homosexual
-- by Heydrichs successor in the position of Chief of the SD-SS, Ernst
Kaltenbrunner (Rector:62). Rector questions this allegation because Kaltenbrunner
once said that 80% of the Abwehr [German Military Intelligence] were sexually
perverted and believed it to be a center of every form of vice (ibid.:62).
This allegation, however, seems quite consistent with what we have come
to know of certain segments of the German military, though the specific
statements are perhaps exaggerated. Heydrich and Canaris were very close
during Heydrichs tenure in the navy (MacDonald:12), but Canaris later
came to fear the man he had trained in intelligence tactics, and kept a
dossier on Heydrichs homosexuality as insurance to protect his own career
(Stevenson: 349). Much later Canaris was discovered to be a leader in the
attempt to assassinate Hitler and was executed at Flossenberg concentration
camp on April 9, 1945.
Heydrichs loyalty to Hitler never wavered. Rector writes that Hitler considered him the ideal Nazi, and Nazi inner circles regarded Heydrich as a likely successor to Hitler even though Hermann Goering was officially slated for the post of Fuehrer (Rector:62). Hitlers support gave Heydrich nearly unlimited power. As Snyder writes, Heydrich could order immediate arrests and preventative detention, and he could send any persons to concentration camps at any time. He was the absolute master of life and liberty in the Third Reich (Snyder:317).
222 The Persecution of Homosexuals
The Grynszpan Affair Kristallnacht
Perhaps the single most infamous incident orchestrated by Heydrich was
the November 9, 1938 pogrom known as Kristallnacht (Crystal Night), in
which hundreds of Jews were killed and synagogues and businesses were destroyed
across Germany. In fifteen hours, writes Snyder, 101 synagogues were
destroyed by fire, and 76 were demolished. Bands of Nazis systematically
destroyed 7,500 Jewish-owned stores. The pillage and looting went on through
the night. Streets were covered with broken glass, hence the name Kristallnacht
(ibid.:201). Michael Berenbaum, in The World Must Know, adds that ninety-six
Jews were killed and thirty thousand were arrested and sent to the camps.
Jewish cemeteries, schools and homes were destroyed. As a final insult,
the Jews were held responsible for the damage and collectively fined one
billion Reichsmarks (Berenbaum:54).
The Nazis characterized this wave of terror as the German peoples spontaneous response to the assassination of German Embassy Councilor, Ernst vom Rath. While the spontaneous rioting was actually a calculated act of terrorism, the incident that allegedly sparked it was not planned. Ernst vom Raths murder was a legitimately spontaneous occurrence which the Nazis exploited to justify an attack on the Jews which they had undoubtedly been planning for some time. Interestingly, however, the one common element in the story of the assassination and the story of Kristallnacht is homosexuality.
Ernst vom Rath was a high-level SA official who had received a diplomatic posting to the German embassy in Paris. While serving there he had taken up with a seventeen-year-old male prostitute by the name of Herschel Grynszpan, a Polish Jew (Read and Fisher:33). In partial payment for his services, Grynszpan had extracted a promise from vom Rath that his parents would be spared the consequences of a recent law that revoked the citizenship of Polish Jews who had been living abroad for more than five years and who still retained Polish citizenship (Rector:57). But vom Rath apparently failed to keep his promise; Grynszpans family, along with thousands of others were herded into camps in a no-mans land along the border region of Zbonszyn in freezing weather (ibid.:58). In retaliation, Grynszpan shot vom Rath on the night of November 7, 1938. Two days later the Nazis staged the Night of Broken Glass.
Grynszpan was seized by the Gestapo in 1940 (ibid:58). When at last they had him in their possession, however, their planned high-profile courtroom prosecution went up in smoke. At the last moment the trial was canceled on Hitlers orders: Grynszpan had threatened to reveal a homosexual relationship with Rath (ibid.:58). The Nazis were furious. Vom Rath had been sold to the world as an official martyr, shot down in the service of the Fuehrer. He had even been given a state funeral at which Hitler himself had been a mourner. Was he now to be portrayed in the worlds press as a queer with a taste for seventeen-year-old boys? (Read and Fisher:252).
Of course, the Nazis claimed that the confession was a lie, but apparently there must have been enough evidence to support the story, or the prosecutors could have easily refuted it. Instead, they delayed the trial. Read and Fisher explain:
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224 The Persecution of Homosexuals
The delay gave Goebbels the time to create a new myth about the late Ernst vom Rath, and he set about it in a highly ingenious manner. He arranged for the letters of French prisoners of war to be specially vetted by one of his men, who seized the more passionate and erotic messages. The letters were then doctored to make it appear that they had all been written to vom Rath by various mistresses, with the aim of producing them in court as written evidence of his heterosexuality. At one stroke, Goebbels would have created a new Don Juan, a German womanizer irresistible to Frenchwomen (ibid:253).
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Clearly the Nazis could produce no legitimate evidence that vom Rath was
a heterosexual. But even their falsified evidence went unused because,
in the meantime, the Justice Ministry had obtained additional information
that made a public trial impossible. [A] story had been circulating in
public that Herschel had in fact been vom Raths male whore and procurer
for some time in 1938, and that vom Rath had been known in Parisian homosexual
circles as the ambassadress and Notre Dame de Paris (ibid.:253). Additionally,
it was learned that vom Raths brother had been dismissed from the service
for homosexual offenses (ibid.:253). This was too much for even Hitlers
propaganda machine to overcome, so the trial was again postponed.
To be fair, we must acknowledge that Read and Fisher concluded that the allegations of a homosexual affair between vom Rath and Grynszpan were untrue, merely the creation of Grynszpans lawyer. A review of all the evidence, however, including much which was apparently unknown to Read and Fisher, compels us to conclude that the incident occurred as we have described it herein. Our conclusion is further bolstered by the fact that the Nazis had placed pederastic homosexuals in other foreign posts. The German consul in Casablanca, Morocco, Dr. Theodor Auer, was homosexual as well. His affair with the son of a local sheikh and his behaviour with Arab, French and Jewish bumboys were detailed by the British Secret Operations Executive (SOE) (How sex became a weapon of war, Daily Telegraph, July 23, 1998).
Grynszpans young life began and ended in tragedy associated with homosexual perversion. His home town of Hanover (perhaps not coincidentally the birthplace of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs) was a center of homosexuality, according to Read and Fisher:
226 The Persecution of Homosexuals
There were no fewer than 500 male prostitutes on the police books in 1918, and the chief criminal inspector put the number of homosexuals in the city at about 40,000, out of a total population of 450,000. The Grynszpans neighborhood earned particular notoriety during the early years of Herschels childhood through the activities of one Fritz Haarman, known as the Butcher of Hanover, who picked up his victims, mostly adolescent boys, in the railway station, and took them home...When he had finished with them, he strangled them, butchered their corpses, and sold the flesh as meat. He was executed in 1925 (ibid.:33).
Grynszpan never did go to trial, though he remained in Nazi custody. Interestingly,
the organization which came to his aid during this time was called the
Society for Human Rights (ibid.:245). [We are not certain if this was
the same homosexual rights group which had once boasted Ernst Roehm as
a member, but it may have been.] Victor Basch, then head of the SHR had
pleaded for liberty or judgment in an effort to get him freed, but to
no avail (ibid.:245). After 1942 Grynszpan just disappeared, probably killed
secretly by the Gestapo.
Kristallnacht, the spontaneous incident which Grynszpans act had supposedly sparked, has also been described as being defined by homosexuality. As all of Europe struggled to understand the cause for this horror, an answer was offered by British Consul-General, R.T. Smallbones. Smallbones was a self-confessed Germanophile who had served in Germany, from 1932 to 1939 and had developed great admiration and respect for the sterling qualities of the people (ibid.:127). His opinion, therefore, writes Igra, rests on first-hand experience of the German people for a long period of years (Igra:7). He continues:
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[Smallbones authored] a British White Paper, Concerning the treatment of German Nationals (including the Jews) in Germany, in which the following statement is made: The explanation of this outbreak of sadistic cruelty may be that sexual perversion, and, in particular, homosexuality, are very prevalent in Germany. It seems to me that mass sexual perversion may offer an explanation of this otherwise inexplicable outbreak...I am convinced that this explanation is the correct one [writes Igra]. For, as a matter of fact, the widespread existence of sexual perversion in Germany...at the time the Hitler movement rose to power...is notorious. And authorities on criminal sociology are agreed that there is a causal connection between mass sexual perversion and the kind of mass atrocities committed by the Germans (ibid:7).
Heydrich, the man most responsible for this atrocity, met his death in
May, 1942, at the hands of two Czechoslovakian resistance fighters. A bomb
was tossed into his car, shattering his spine. He died on June 4, 1942.
In retaliation the Germans took savage revenge, after the manner of the
old Teutonic rites, for the death of their hero (Shirer:1288f). Over 1,500
people were immediately executed and thousands more followed, including
the entire population of Lidice (ibid.:1289). The Lidice massacre was orchestrated
by Heydrichs replacement, Kurt Daluege, formerly a unit leader in Rossbachs
notorious homosexual Freikorps (Wistrich:43).
As for the official legal resolution of the Kristallnacht affair, that matter was handed to homosexual Walter Buch. A former early SA leader, now President of the Nazi Party Supreme Court, Buch concluded that the Nazi rank and file who had participated in the murderous pogrom were innocent of any crime (ibid:33f).
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