Gay and Lesbian Issues - The Nazi Extermination of Homosexuals Essays

Gay and Lesbian Issues - The Nazi Extermination of Homosexuals Essays

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Gay and Lesbian Issues - The Nazi Extermination of Homosexuals

The Holocaust is the greatest atrocity ever committed. Millions upon millions of people were ruthlessly tortured and executed during the infamous reign of the Third Reich. The events and conditions surrounding Adolf Hitler’s rise to power have been extensively studied by historians, sociologists, political scientists, and psychologists in the hopes of preventing this state of merciless dictatorship from ever recurring. Due to the immensity of the Nazi campaign against those of the Jewish faith, that ethnic group is most often mentioned in association with the concentration camps and exterminations of the Third Reich. However, there were many other groups who were persecuted alongside the Jews. These groups include political dissidents, criminals, gypsies, the handicapped, Jehovah’s Witnesses, emigrants, and homosexuals (Heger 32). The plight of homosexuals is, perhaps, the most overlooked aspect of the Holocaust. Of all the concentration camps, Sachsenhaussen, just north of Berlin, was the most important in the imprisonment and execution of homosexuals. The conditions under which all prisoners here were forced to live were absolutely inhuman, but for homosexuals it was far worse. As the one group that was despised by both the Nazis and those who were imprisoned within concentration camps, gays were persecuted with the greatest enthusiasm, and because of the taboos surrounding their lifestyle, their tragedy was left unnoticed for nearly three decades.

The persecution of homosexuals at Sachsenhaussen was a natural outgrowth of the Nazi idea of the “master race” and was made possible by manipulation of German law. Homosexuals, according to Nazi propaganda, ...

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...he testimonies of gay survivors from Sachsenhaussen are to teach us anything, it is that they, like the Jews and every other group exterminated by the Nazis, were victims. Their tragedy has been compounded by society’s rejection of their plight. In order to truly abolish the dangerous views of Nazism, we must first learn to accept all people as human beings, no matter what their national origin, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation may be. This must be our goal if we are to prevent the atrocities of Sachsenhaussen from ever happening again.


Feig, Konnilyn G. Hitler’s Death Camps. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1979.

Heger, Heinz. The Men With the Pink Triangle. London: Gay Men’s Press, 1972.

Plant, Richard. The Pink Triangle. New York: Henry Holt, 1986.

Rector, Frank. The Nazi Extermination of Homosexuals. New York: Stein and Day, 1981.

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