#InternationalHolocaustRememberanceDay Remembering Gay Victims of the Holocaust

“In 1928 there was an estimated 1.2 million “out” homosexual men living in Germany.  As Adolf Hitler rose in power, gay organizations were banned and scholarly books regarding homosexuality were burned. Hitler’s racial state ideology branded homosexuals not only as “parasites” and degenerates, but as enemies of the state. In 1935, the Nazi government significantly expanded the criminalization of homosexuality.” via Stop Homophobia

If this doesn’t sound familiar, perhaps you should take a look at the rising anti-gay hysteria going on in Russia since Vladimir Putin enacted the Russian LGBT Propaganda Law which claims to “Protect Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development” but in has since led to an increase and justification of violence against LGBT people. To be clear, these laws have nothing to do with family or children. These laws are meant to scapegoat gays in very much the same way Germans scapegoated Jews and other “undesirables”.

The following is a collection of quotes and links compiled from around the web that shine a light on the forgotten victims of nazi terror.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

Mug shot of a homosexual prisoner in Auschwitz. Pink triangles were used to designate homosexual inmates. State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland

Mug shot of a homosexual prisoner in Auschwitz. Pink triangles were used to designate homosexual inmates. State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland

“In Nazi Germany, homosexuality was persecuted to a degree unprecedented in history. In 1935, the National Socialists issued an order making all male homosexuality a crime; the provisions governing homosexual behavior in Section 175 of the Criminal Code were significantly expanded and made stricter. A kiss was enough reason to prosecute. There were more than 50,000 convictions. Under Section 175, the punishment was imprisonment; in some cases, convicted offenders were castrated. Thousands of men were sent to concentration camps for being gay; many of them died there. They died of hunger, disease and abuse or were the victims of targeted killings.” — Travels of Adam

By now, most people are familiar with the Pink Triangle which, along with the Lambda and the Rainbow Flag, is a symbol for LGBT pride. But it has a dark history, one that isn’t taught in school. I remember a teacher talking about nazis exterminating millions of Jews and “others“, as if the others were an insignificant footnote of world history. When pressed, he explained that the ‘others’ were made up of gypsies, socialists, deviants and political prisoners.

triangle key2

Nazi Badge Chart identifies prisoners according to “offense”


Under the direction of SS head, police drew up “Pink Lists”, and embarked on a vicious crackdown on homosexual men and women. Many were sent to mental hospitals, others were castrated by court order, and 100,000 of these men were sent to concentration camps.The pink triangle (now a symbol of Gay Pride) was placed on the prisoners to mark that they were homosexuals. An estimated 55,000 were executed.

Heinz Dormer, spent nearly ten years in prisons and concentration camps. He spoke of the “haunting agonizing cries” from “the singing forest”, a row of tall poles on which condemned men were hung: “Everyone who was sentenced to death would be lifted up onto the hook. The howling and screaming were inhuman, beyond human comprehension”. source

Here is the badge chart translated to English

Here is the badge chart translated to English

The vast majority of those forced to wear pink triangles didn’t survive.

The Nazis believed that male homosexuals were weak, effeminate men who could not fight for the German nation. They saw homosexuals as unlikely to produce children and increase the German birthrate. The Nazis held that inferior races produced more children than “Aryans,” so anything that diminished Germany’s reproductive potential was considered a racial danger” — US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Eventually, the LGBT community took back the symbol of oppression.

LGBT reclaim the Pink Triangle (1980s)


Nazis interested in finding a “cure” for homosexuality expanded this program to include medical experimentation on homosexual inmates of concentration camps. These experiments caused illness, mutilation, and even death, and yielded no scientific knowledge.– source

“There are no known statistics for the number of homosexuals who died in the camps.”

I don’t know what it’s like to have family members that have survived the horrors of Auschwitz. It’s something for which I have no frame of reference so I would never assume to put myself in the same category as those with a direct familial link to nazi persecution. But I can identify with those who were singled out for something that is innate, especially when I look around and see history repeating itself.  I can honor forgotten victims.

Nazi Holocaust – The Forgotten Gay Victims

The fight against fascism and bigotry must also incorporate the defence and support of the Gay and Lesbian Communities. The message needs to be made loud and clear, and repeated often; ANY form of discrimination, bigotry or oppression must be fought and defeated in the 21st Century!!! — PNW


When we say “Never Again” we’ve got to mean it for everybody. It’s the only way to ensure that we are all safe from persecution because, if they come for one group they will come for yours too.

For more on Gays and the Holocaust…

8 thoughts on “#InternationalHolocaustRememberanceDay Remembering Gay Victims of the Holocaust

    • Thank you, Bonnie.
      I know how you feel. I have yet to visit any of the Holocaust museums. — We stopped by the one in DC the last time we visited the capital but I just couldn’t go in.
      I’ve tried for years to understand the mentality someone must have in order to justify such horrors even for themselves. I just can’t wrap my head around it.

  1. Thanks for this, wish I’d seen it on the day ~ as this is always in my mind whenever the holocaust is mentioned. The great documentary “Paragraph 175” is also of note as it documents not just the horror of the concentration camps but the long road to being legitimized (by the Gay Rights Movement) and the fact that none of the victims received reparations, many were thrown back into jail upon liberation, and the ongoing history of this rather dark part of our history we should remember so as not to repeat. Bent ( a dramatic retelling) also broke my heart in a million pieces when it came out & I saw it in the theater.

    Thanks for this post, I totally missed out this year on several outlets shining a spotlight on this very crucial thing for us to remember.

    • Thank you.
      It pains me that most of us never learned about the other victims of the Holocaust while still in school. I only learned of gay victims when inquiring about the meaning of the Pink Triangle in the 1980s.

      This past few years has seen many advancements for the LGBT community but we’ve also seen a great deal of backlash, which is why I made it a point to post this rather sparse collection of snippets from around the interwebs.

      Thanks for your input. 🙂

  2. DOH! Let me try this for the third time! (sorry tried to reply via the browser plugin & got distracted, switched to another tab & lost two previous versions ~ apologize if this makes less sense because of it)

    As it so happens tonight, aside from looking for mashup movie posters, I was also researching AIDS activism of the 80s (which I participated in) and trying to draw corollaries between that and what we are seeing #Baltimore & as I’ve done previously with #Ferguson.

    So stumbling upon this, in that context, it is true that we do need to remember – especially as SCOTUS is about to hand down rulings on Same-Sex Marriage, etc… how we got here. Not imagine that this was a short & peaceful trip through the courts, but a long hard slog through many types of protests, actions, lost lives & loved ones, rememberances, memorials, and backlash(es) [as you rightly note].

    “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.”
    ― Assata Shakur

    And until we are all free, none of us are truly free.

    Cheers, D.

    PS: I’ll link to this article and some others I found tangential to it, as we gear up for the coming Gay Pride Month Celebrations… etc…

    • It has been a long road. I wonder if any of the Daughters of Bilitis or Mattachine Society ever dreamed that same gender marriage would someday be a reality.

      I’ve been neglecting Word Press while dealing with some changes at home. (The house I rent with my other half is up for sale and we’re trying to buy it.) I’ll pick up again in a few weeks. When I do, I’d like to focus on reminding the larger LGBT community that we owe quite a bit to the greater civil rights movement. It would serve us well to return the favor.

      PS: I look forward to reading your points of view on the subject.

  3. Pingback: Four articles about Gay Holocaust Survivors | astound me: D.A. Królak

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s