The Holocaust might be one of the darkest moments in history, but one good thing came of it: the end of the fucking Holocaust. That moment when the good guys broke down the prisons and concentration camps and provided warmth, shelter, and humanity to those who needed it most.
Oh, except the gay ones, that is.
Among the many groups that occupied a special place on Hitler's hate-boner were homosexuals, mainly gay men. Prior to the Nazis, major cities such as Berlin and Hamburg were hotbeds for sexual experimentation where people could mash their genitals into whatever exciting and energetic configurations they wanted without any fear of the law. That all changed in 1935 with the passing of Paragraph 175, which strictly outlawed "lewd and lascivious acts" between men (between women wasn't as serious, for some reason). Under this legislation, thousands upon thousands of men were arrested for anything ranging from sex to kissing to baseless rumor. By 1942, they were being sent to concentration camps, because Nazis are so original.
via Same Same
This is who the whole pink triangle pride symbol is in remembrance of.
Following the end of the war, the new government repealed many of the laws introduced by the Nazis. Paragraph 175 wasn't one of them. Sadly, this made sense: Considering that the U.S., Great Britain, and the Soviet Union all had laws outlawing homosexuality, there was nothing specifically Nazi-ish about Paragraph 175. To the Allies and Germany v. 3.0, this was a basic law of the land. Indeed, one survivor recalled a soldier berating a 175er (as they were known) for having the temerity to be gay.
With their conviction still legally sound, survivors were ostracized by society, their friends, and even other survivors. In actual fact, the post-war government was responsible for more convictions under Paragraph 175 than the Nazis were. We were better Nazis than the Nazis at this.
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Presenting one of the rare times "worse than Hitler" has been a legitimate internet response.
Faced with this situation, survivors disappeared into anonymity or committed suicide. As they were still considered criminals, they were denied the same financial compensation awarded to other groups of survivors. Additionally, this led to Kafkaesque nightmares, such as survivors being rejected by leftist support groups and being refused a symbolic payment of one Deutschmark. In the case of Josef Kohout, he was denied pension benefits that even ex-concentration camp guards received.
In all, only a handful of survivors won the battle for the compensation that they were rightfully owed (one case wasn't finalized until 1992). In 1969, however, West Germany began decriminalizing sexual activity between men. In 1994, Paragraph 175 was abolished. In 2002, all 175ers received official pardons from the government. It took them only 57 years. We'd normally end this with some pithy remark about it being better late than never, but fuck 'em.
When Adam isn't ruining history for fun and profit, he tweets on Twitter. He also has an email address where you can contact him with compliments/comments/something else beginning with C.
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