smallPink triangle

 

On July 30 2017, the German Bundestag passed the "marriage for all" law, which finally abolished legal discrimination against same-sex couples. It marks the end of a history of discrimination and persecution that began in 1871....

Homosexual prisoners in the Dachau concentration camp

Bundesarchiv Bild 146 1993 051 07 Tafel mit KZ Kennzeichen Winkelteil

 

On July 30 2017, the German Bundestag passed the "marriage for all" law, which finally abolished legal discrimination against same-sex couples. It marks the end of a history of discrimination and persecution that began in 1871 with the introduction of a law that punished homosexuality and reached a terrible climax with the persecution and murder of homosexual men during the years of the National Socialist dictatorship. In 1935, the law was strengthened and in 1936 the "Reichszentrale zum den Homosexualität und Abortion" (Reich Center for Combating Homosexuality and Abortion), was specially set up for the persecution of homosexual men. After mass arrests and convictions, about 5,000 to 15,000 homosexual men were deported to National Socialist concentration camps, where very many of them - estimates start of 53 per cent - died.

In the overall history of Dachau concentration camp, among the about 200,000 inmates, the 800 homosexual prisoners of German and Austrian nationality constituted only a small group. 595 are documented by name. As in all the other concentration camps, right from the start, they were exposed to a particular hatred of SS guards. They were humiliated, tormented and harassed, and often injured in particularly heavy labor detachments. From 1938 they were marked with a pink fabric triangle on their prison clothes, the "pink angle". Most of them were ostracized also by the other prisoners. It is not known how many prisoners with the pink angle were selected for sterilizations and castration in Dachau concentration camp. At the time of the liberation, 143 homosexual detainees were registered in Dachau and its outer camps, and for 103 there are documents to prove their death.

After the war the survivors of those who were persecuted for homosexuality continued to be criminalized and socially marginalized. They were neither recognized as persecuted nor were they entitled to compensations for the injustices suffered. It took half a century, until 1995, for the law which punished homosexuality, to finally disappear. And it was not the survivors themselves, but homosexuals of subsequent generations, who publicly spoke in the early 1980s. They asked for the history of the persecution of this group of victims to be investigated and for their inclusion in the exhibitions and media coverage of the memorial sites. Totgeschlagen TotgeschwiegenBut it was not only the majority of the Society to which it took a long time to deal with the recognition of this persecuted group of homosexuals, even after the liberation, the former political prisoners, did not want to be presented as having anything in common with the homosexuals, their companions in sufferance. The “Comité International de Dachau”, for example, granted permission only in 1995, for the erection of a commemorative plaque in the memory of the homosexual victims, in the rooms of the Dachau concentration camp memorial.

Barbara Distel

See also: Albert Knoll, Totgeschlagen – Totgeschwiegen
The homosexual prisoners in the Dachau concentration camp
In: Dachauer Hefte. Studies and Documents on the History of National Socialist Concentration Camps,
Heft 14, 1998 Verfolgung als Gruppenschicksal, S.77 -102.(german only.)
Also Albert Knoll, Der Rosa-Winkel-Gedenkstein. Die Erinnerung an die Homosexuellen im KZ Dachau(german only.)