THE MYTH OF A NAZI EXTERMINATION OF HOMOSEXUALS
By Jack Wikoff
REMARKS Newsletter, April 20, 1997
On December 2, 1979, the Broadway Play Bent opened at the New Apollo Theater in New York City. The starring role was played by Richard Gere.
Bent is the tale of a German homosexual named Max who is arrested and sent to Dachau. To avoid the stigma of wearing the pink triangle, Max denies his homosexuality and opts instead to claim he is Jewish. (According to the logic of Bent, the status of homosexuals in the concentration camps was even than that of Jews.) Max falls in love with another homosexual inmate and the play depicts their trials and tribulations. At the end, Max reclaims his inverted status as a homosexual and commits suicide by falling on an electrified fence.
film adaptation with Mick Jagger
This maudlin melodrama was largely responsible for popularizing the false notion that homosexuals were exterminated by Germany’s National Socialist regime.
The play’s publicity promoted the claim that huge numbers of homosexuals had been murdered. Martin Sherman, the homosexual and Jewish author of Bent, stated in an interview in the Novembr 15, 1979 New York Times that:
“It wasn’t until I heard from gay friends of mine in London that at least 250,000, perhaps 500,000 homosexuals died in the camps that the possibility of doing a play about it occurred to me... That was in August 1977.”
Since 1977 claims had been made in the media alleging a Nazi extermination of homosexuals. The Broadway success of Bent and a growing acceptance of homosexual “liberation” went far to secure the foundations for this mythology.
Claims of an extermination program directed at homosexuals were seldom if ever heard before 1973. That year saw a rapid shift in “official” attitudes towards sexuality. In 1973, the American Psychological Association declare that it would no longer class homosexuality as a mental illness. Also in 1973, the United States Supreme Court legalized abortion. These two decisions helped a powerful minority of “gay rights activists” and “feminists” to force their now “politically correct” opinions into the public arena.
A chronological review of the more extravagant claims demonstrates how the mythical death toll of homosexuals under the Nazis expanded in the telling:
An article in the 1974 November Gay Liberator reported that the Protestant Church of Austria had recently claimed 220,000 homosexuals were killed during the Third Reich.
In 1975, James Steakley’s book The Homosexual Emancipation Movement in Germany was published as part of an Arno Press series on homosexuality. Steakley claime that the Nazi campaign against homosexual males resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 gays. Steakley gave as his sourc the previously mentioned article in the Gay Liberator.
In an opinion page edited in the September 10, 1975 New York Times, Ira Glasser, of the ACLU, wrote the following:
“Nearly a quarter of a million homosexuals were executed by the Nazis between 1973 and 1945, along with six million Jews”.
Of particular interested in this quotation is the word “executed”. This implies specific murder or extermination as opposed to deaths by disease or starvation.
In 1978, an article by Louis Crompton entitled “Gay Genocide”: From Leviticus to Hitler” claimed between 100,000 to 400,000 homosexuals perished in Nazi Germany (1).
Then, in 1979, Martin Sherman, author of Bent, claimed “at least 250,000, perhaps as many as many as 500,000 homosexuals died in the camps...” (2).
In 1981, the myth was given another major boost in Frank Rector’s widely distributed book The Nazi Extermination of Homosexuals (3). Rector wrote:
“It seems reasonable to conclude that at least 500,000 gays died in the Holocaust because of anti-homosexual prejudice...” Actually 500,000 may be too conservative a figure.”
It is significant that Rector included homosexuals as official victims in that amorphous event known as the “Holocaust”. He even claimed that homosexuals were sent to the gas chambers. Among the illustrations in The Nazi Extermination of Homosexuals is a frequently reproduced photo of a US soldier in front of a ten cubic meter disinfestations chamber at Dachau (claimed to be a homicidal gas chamber). Rector’s caption reads:
“The final solution to the homosexual problem lay behind that door for homosexuals not exterminated in many other ways. This chamber at Dachau. The screaming, the weeping, the futile gasping for breath, the agony that room held in a air-tight horror, was, in its hideous way, a blessing for many gays. It reduced their suffering to about fifteen minutes.”
Also in 1981, an article entitled “Some Jews and the Gays” by the homosexual novelist Gore Vidal appeared in The Nation (4). Vidal was responding to an essay in Commentary by the “neo-conservative “ Jewish author Midge Decter (5). Decter had been ruthlessly critical of the homosexual lifestyle, so Vidal told her that “like it or not, Jews and homosexuals are in the same fragile boat”. He then proceeded to lecture her that in some future “holocaust”, neo-conservative Jews were “going to be in the same gas chambers as the blacks and the faggots”.
Vidal backed up his account of homosexual victimization with a claim that fellow homosexual writer Christopher Isherwood once told him “Hitler killed 600,000 homosexuals”.
Vidal was so outraged at Decter’s “fag-baiting” that he claime that her article outdid The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He asserted that Decter:
“... has managed to go on step further than the Protocol’s authors; she is a virtuoso of hate, and thus do pogroms begin”.
By 1988, the myth had received international recognition. In Le Triangle rose: La deportation des homosexuals, 1933-1945, Jean Boisson said he believed that the Nazis had killed one million homosexuals, presumably all citizens of the Reich (6).
A pattern is evident in such a list of alleged mortality figures for homosexuals in the Third Reich.
First, estimates of the numbers of deaths of gays seems to have steadily grown with time. It would appear that as the story of a Nazi extermination of homosexuals was repeatedly told, the myth took on a life of its own.
Secondly, these claims of hundreds of thousands of deaths did not appear before 1973. While a number of books on the Nazi era were written before 1973 mention the incarceration of homosexuals in concentration camps, most accounts known to this author do not make any accusations of extermination.
It seems that the claim of a Nazi extermination of homosexuals first surfaced during the same years that homosexuality began to gain a measure of acceptance from Establishment academics, scientists and journalists.
During the 1970s, the homosexual community in the United States and abroad acquired considerable political power. This was manifested in the election of several overtly homosexual politicians and the repeal of sodomy laws in many states.
The elevation of homosexuals to the highest ranks of the “politically correct” completed the inversion of former public moral and political values. What had once been condemned by society had become, if not a virtue, at least acceptable “lifestyle”.
Acceptance as official victims of the “Holocaust” has given homosexuals the illusion of moral superiority over an allegedly oppressive patriarchal, white, heterosexual value system which has been the norm of Western Civilization for 2000 years.
The Correct Statistics on Homosexual Arrests and Detentions in Nazi Germany
To begin to determine true figures for homosexual arrests and incarceration in concentration camps it is essential to look at the official records of the Third Reich.
The following chart gives the official Gestapo figures for individuals sentence to prison under article 175, the anti-sodomy law.
1944 2,000 (estimated)
Also, about 4,967 men in the German Armed Forces were indicted between 1940 and 1943 for offenses under article 175 (8).
These figures total 54,330. Estimates of 50,000 to 63,000 convictions from 1933-1944 for homosexuality are accepted by serious researchers on the subject (9).
Only a small percentage of these men were sent to concentration camps after serving their prison terms.
Obviously, if less than 63,000 German were sentenced to prison for homosexuality, figures of hundreds of thousands of deaths in the concentration camps are impossible exaggerations.
Erwin J. Haeberle, in an article entitled “Swastika, Pink Triangle, and Yellow Star: The Destruction of Sexology and the Persecution of Homosexuals in Nazi Germany” (10) criticized lurid and inaccurate portrayals of the subject:
“...It was only in the late 1960s that the two Germanies reformed their old sodomy paragraph 175 and decriminalized all sexual contact between consenting male adults. Soon thereafter, an emerging ‘gay rights’ movement, especially in the US, discovered the Nazi persecution of homosexuals. Unfortunately, because of the paucity of information and the complete absence of solid research, misconceptions and exaggerations were common. ‘Underground papers’ and ‘gay freedom rallies’, even a Broadway play and then some of its reviews painted a lurid, an all too often inaccurate, historical picture. Finally, and very appropriately, a team of German researchers shouldered the task of ascertaining some basic facts. Rüdiger Lautmann, a sociologist at the University of Bremen, together with some collaborators, examined original camp records and published the findings in a major study dealing with a whole variety of societal responses to homosexuality.”
The research by Dr. Rüdiger Lautmann is extremely significant and was published in Frankfurt, Germany in 1977 and appeared as an article in English in 1980 (11). Based on his research at the International Red Cross Tracing Service in Arolsen, Hessen, Dr. Lautmann estimated:
“The total number of officially-defined homosexual prisoners ever incarcerated in the camps was about 10,000 (but it could be as low as 5,000 or as high as 15,000)”.
Ten thousand homosexual prisoners sentenced to concentration camps are approximately 18% of the 54,330 men who served prison time. Thus it can be seen that only a small number of homosexuals who were convicted in the courts were taken into protective custody and sent to concentration camps.
Working in the Arolsen archives, Dr. Lautmann and his associates gathered individual data (prisoner I.D. cards, fact sheets, lists of personal belongings, administrative data, infirmary sheets, work squad lists, death notices, medical records, etc.) for 1,572 inmates. As control groups, the records of 751 Jehova’s Witnesses and 219 political prisoners were used.
This data was used as a basis for estimates of the sociological character and fate of the approximately 10,000 homosexuals sent to the concentration camps. Most homosexuals were interned in the following camps in Germany and Austria: Buchenwald, Dachau, Flossenburg, Mauthausen, Natzweiler, Neuengamme, Ravensbruck, and Sachsenhausen.
Repeat offenders, transvestites and male prostitutes were most likely to be sent concentration camps after serving their prison sentences. In fact, Lautmann’s study estimated that 86% of men sent to concentration camps for homosexuality had previously been convicted for sexual crimes of a homosexual nature.
In addition, of the total number of men still sent to concentration camps Lautmann estimated that 10% had been previously convicted of ”seduction”, which was defined as a sexual act with a minor from fourteen to twenty years of age or with a dependent (12).
In preparation for the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the police greatly increased arrests of these kinds of individuals. The 250% leap in convictions from 1935 represents this effort by the German police to rid the streets of homosexuals.
The Death Rate for Homosexuals in the Concentration Camps
Of the 1,572 pink-triangled cases Dr. Lautmann studied, 1,136 provided enough data to ascertain an approximate death rate for these homosexual inmates. 60% of Lautmann’s homosexual case studies died while in concentration camps, while 41% of political prisoners and 35% of Jehovah’s Witnesses died.
Nevertheless, it would not be correct to apply this 60% figure to the total estimate of 10,000 homosexuals interned in the camps over the twelve years of the Third Reich. Lautmann’s 1,572 homosexual case studies appear to be mostly from the end of the war when the death rates in the camps were skyrocketing because of disease (13). The death rates in the camps were low from 1933 through 1940.
Statistics are available which confirm an extremely higher death rate in the camps during the war years. As an example, the fluctuating death rates from month to month at the Dachau camp are mentioned in Dachau: 1933-45, The Official History (14). Certain years, notably 1941-42 and 1944-45 saw the highest death rates, especially the very end of the war when conditions totally broke down. For instance in February of 1940, only 17 people died at Dachau; yet in March of 1945 3,977 died.
Therefore, the average death rate over twelve years for homosexuals who were put in concentration camps in undoubtedly far less than Lautmann’s estimate of 60%. Nevertheless these mortality figures are a serious matter. The concentration camps were obviously dangerous places for homosexuals.
Yet it cannot be claimed that these men were murdered. The vast majority of these deaths were probably caused by typhus. The suffering and death caused by this disease is well documented by German and Allied sources. Typhus is transmitted by body lice and caused millions of deaths in wartime Europe. The Germans used Zyklon-B to disinfest clothing, bedding and buildings in an attempt to contain the epidemics. Typhus was not eliminated in Europe until the introduction of DDT an other powerful insecticides which were developed by American chemical companies at the end of the war.
Particularly absurd are claims that homosexuals were marched into gas chambers. Assertions that concentration camps had homicidal gas chambers have been proven to be false (15).
It is true that gays had a far more difficult time surviving in the dangerous environment of the camps. Homosexuals were sometimes single out for mistreatment by guards and inmates, especially in the first days after they arrived in camp. The homosexual’s status as the lowest type of inmate only reinforced their isolation which made survival much more difficult.
“Any group-forming or contact between homosexual inmates immediately raised the suspicion of the guard personnel. [...] The homosexual population frequently must have been too small in numbers to have organized mutual aid, for example, by engaging in barter. Possibilities for communication with inmates of other categories also were limited, on the one hand because of the personal discredit that might result for a prisoner of another category seen to associate with a homosexual inmate... Of course, this situation mirrors the social status of all homosexual men in the Germany of the time, but in the camps their stigmatization was exacerbated to a perilous degree. [ ...] Under conditions of extreme stress, such as incarceration, family ties are an important source of security. Obviously the homosexual prisoner, as compared to inmates in other categories, was less often in the position to receive support from a conjugal family... The prisoners with the pink triangle were three to five times less often married (or widowed) than the others and nearly twice as often without children.”
Lautmann also discovered that:
“Those pink-triangle inmates most threatened with death were the very young [18 to 21] and the older prisoners. Only for inmates between twenty-one and thirty were chances of survival at all good... How much survival depended on adapting to conditions in the camps is shown by the correlation between th length of incarceration and the nature of the termination of imprisonment. [...] among homosexual inmates who were in the concentration camps for one year or less, four out of five died, whereas for those who were imprisoned for longer than two years, three out of four survived.”
Another condition which isolated homosexuals is that gays were transferred from one camp to another far more frequently than other inmates. This meant having to adjust to entirely new conditions in the new camp, with the attendant struggle for adequate food, clothing and medical care.
It is also interesting to note that, according to Lautmann, homosexuals did not have a higher rate of suicide
than did political prisoners and Jehovah’s Witnesses (1%).
The Jewish Backlash Against the Homosexual “Holocaust”
A number of authors, usually Jewish, have taken exception to the inclusion of homosexuals as victims of the “holocaust”.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual for 1990 expressed the situation as follows:
“In the immediate postwar period, many of those who wrote about the concentration camps... treated homosexuals as common criminals, justly punished for violating the penal code of the Third Reich. Postwar historians of the Holocaust, especially those asserting the exclusivist view that the Holocaust was a historical experience unique to the Jewish people, have taken a similar position. Thus Lucy C. Dawidowicz, a leading exclusivist, has dismissed as not worthy of mention the ‘prostitutes, homosexuals, perverts, and common criminals’ incarcerated by the Nazis.”
Dawidowicz made her crack about “prostitutes, homosexuals, perverts, and common criminals” in 1981. In 1990, in an article entitled “How They Teach the Holocaust” (17), she explicitly denied the notion of a Nazi extermination of homosexuals:
“...some curricula enlarge the list of victims of Nazi genocide to include those whom the Nazis never intended to wipe out. The Pennsylvania/Grobman curriculum is one of several which instance homosexuals and members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, though there is no historical evidence that the Nazis ever planned to exterminate these as groups. To be sure, the Nazis put homosexuals in concentration camps and identified them with pink triangles, proposing to ‘reeducate’ them to function in ‘normal’ society. And Jehovah’s Witnesses (Bibelforscher in German), who refuse to recognize the authority of the Nazi state, were likewise sent to concentration camps (and identified by purple triangles) for a term limited to two months. Both groups were incarcerated together with other categories of prisoners whom the Germans did not intend to murder: criminals (green triangles); anti-socials – beggars, vagrants, prostitutes, and the like (black triangle); and political prisoners (red triangle). Many of these inmates, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals, unable to withstand the hardships of forced labor, became ill and died for lack of medical care...”
The conflicting claims of Jews and homosexuals as “holocaust” victims were also laid out in Richarc Goldstein’s article “Whose Holocaust?” in the December 10, 1979 Village Voice.
Goldstein points out that “For gay people, inclusion in the Holocaust has become a symbol of social visibility” and furthermore:
“...myths are created to serve needs, and given the imperatives of the late ‘70s, it is inevitable that homosexuals would come to ‘need’ the Holocaust, if only because it simplifies the immensely complicated process by which they come to feel oppressed”.
But for Jewish people, claims that Jews were treated better in the concentration camps than gays (as depicted in the play Bent) is an outrage. To illustrate this point Goldstein writes:
“But Raul Hilberg, author of The Destruction of the European Jews and a member of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, says, ‘Homosexuals had a much better chance of survival in a concentration camp’. He says there is no evidence to suggest that Jews were treated better than gays, and that ‘the notion of someone disguising himself as a Jew is preposterous on the face’. Most damning is Hilberg’s assertion that homosexuals were highly valued prisoners, and that many kapos, inmates who administered the barracks and disciplined the others, were gay, Hilberg is opposed to including gays in the monument to the Holocaust. ‘That would be a travesty’, he says. ‘There was no conduct that would save a Jew. This is a monument to commemorate that particular fate’”.
Debunking the Homosexual and Jewish “Holocausts”
False claims of a Nazi extermination of homosexuals can be broken down into three categories:
1) Intent – The German National Socialist government is wrongly portrayed as planning and implementing a program of extermination of homosexuals.
2) Numbers – The number of homosexual “victims” of the German National Socialist government is outrageously represented as being in the hundreds of thousands (or even a million).
3) Cause of death -- It is falsely claimed that homosexuals were murdered in gas chambers or by acts of extreme sadism and perversion.
Applying these same standards of analysis, Revisionist research has shown that claims of intent, numbers, and cause of death regarding Jewish casualties during World War Two have been falsified.
Far more than Jews or homosexuals will admit, both “need” the inverted status conferred by alleged “victimhood”. In the current cultural and political milieu, being proclaimed victims of the “holocaust” provides immense financial, political, social, and religious profit.
Accusations that homosexuals and Jews were “exterminated” by the National Socialist government are false and a vicious slander of the German people.
Under such circumstances, it would be the honourable thing for people to approach tales of the “holocaust” with a great deal more objectivity.
Remarks, Isssue no. 22, April 20, 1997
1) The Gay Academic, Palm Springs, Calif.; Etc. Publications, 1978, pp. 67-91
2) In addition to the November 15, 1979 New York Times interview, this same claim by Martin Sherman also appeared in the published edition of Bent (New York, Avon Books, 1980) Page 80.
3) New York: Stern and Day, 1981.
4) The Nation, November 14, 1981
5) “The Boys on the Beach”, Commentary, September 1980
6) Boisson’s book is mentioned in “Homosexuals in Nazi Germany” by Warren Johanssen and William A. Percy in the Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual, Volume # 7, 1980. Published by Allied Books, Ltd.
7) These figures are from Johanssen and Percy in the Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual, Vol. # 7, 1990, p. 251. Both of these publications refer to numerous German language sources.
8) Plan, p. 230.
9) Warrren Johanssen and William A. Percy, Richard Plant, Erwin J. Haeberle, Rüdiger Lautmann and others.
10) In Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past. Edited by martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus and George Chauncey, Jr; New York: Meridian, 1989-90.
11) “The Pink Triangle: The Persecution of Homosexual Males in Concentration Camps in Nazi Germany” by Rüdiger Lautmann, Dr. phil Dr. jur. Appeared in A Homosexual Emancipation Miscellany c. 1835-1952. New York: Arno Press, 1975. That article is a condensed version of material from Professor Lautmann’s book Seminar: Gesellschaft und Homosexualitä't (Frankfurt, 1977).
12) These types of offenses were covered under paragraph 174 and 176 of the German Criminal Code.
13) Lautmann’s article contains a table entitled “Disposition of Prisoners So Far as Known”, 26% of homosexuals, 41% of political prisoners, and 57% of Jehovah’s Witnesses are listed as “liberated”, meaning they were in the camps in the spring of 1945.
14) By Paul Berben. London: The Norfolk Press, 1975. Reviewed by John Cobden in the Winter 1989-90 issue of The Journal of Historical Review.
15) Among the “holocaust” authorities who have admitted there were no gassings at Dachau (or any other camps in Germany or Austria) are Dr. Martin Broszat (Die Zeit, August 26, 1960, p. 14) and Simon Wiesenthal (Books and Bookmen, April 1975). Revisionists assert that there were no gas chambers in any of the camps, including those in Poland.
16) Warren Johanssen and William A. Percy, p. 226.
17) Commentary, Vol. 90 # 6, December 1990.
National Socialist Policy Towards Homosexuals (translation by C.W. Porter)