Australasian Union of Jewish Students

The LGBTIQ Community

The LGBTIQ Community

Under the Weimar Republic, Germany in the 1920s had a modern and thriving culture, especially in Berlin, for the LGBTIQ community. Hundreds of gay clubs and bars opened, homosexual journals were published, and the first global gay rights organisation emerged: the World League for Sexual Reform.

However, homosexuality was still not generally approved of outside Berlin. As a result, most gay affairs were conducted with discretion and some caution.

Members of the LGBTIQ community were greatly persecuted by the Nazis from the time Hitler came to power in 1933.

In 1934, all homosexuals were expelled from military service and Heinrich Himmler, head of the Gestapo, ordered all police departments to gather information about homosexual men and report findings to the Gestapo. Large numbers of homosexual men were subsequently arrested.

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Homosexual men and women were required to wear pink triangles to identify them easily, just as European Jewry were required to wear yellow Stars of David.

Thousands were taken to concentration camps where they were forced to complete gruelling physical work, and concentration camp commandments reserved the right to castrate homosexual inmates, if they saw fit.

An estimated 100,000 homosexuals were arrested from 1939-1945. Around 60 percent of those taken to concentration camps perished.

After the war, the treatment of homosexuals in concentration camps went mostly unacknowledged. Some men were even re-arrested and imprisoned based on evidence found during the Nazi years.

It was not until the 1980s that governments began to acknowledge the impact of the Holocaust on the LGBTIQ community, and not until 2000 that the German government apologised to the LGBTIQ community. In 2002, thousands of homosexuals who suffered under the Reich, were officially pardoned by the German government. The pink triangle has become a symbol of the gay liberation movement.


 The Nameless Love

Because still on the youthful wing

The scent of innocent beauty lies

That touched by a stranger scatters & dies –

This love must I tenderly sing.

 

Yet since you think it a dirty thing

Have dragged it through fear & infamy

And kept it under lock and key -

This love will I freely sing.

 

To love's persecuted my sing I bring

And to the outcasts of our time

Since happy or not this love is mine –

This love dare I loudly sing.

 

- John Henry Mackay