Once I read graffiti on the toilet wall at campus and its content shocked me in disgust. The graffiti said that homosexual is fashion. Did he understand that throughout history, homosexual had been harshly treated? Because of this writing on the toilet wall about gay, I decided to write up one grim story of gay during the Nazi.
For popular belief, most of the Nazi victims were Jewish. This argument was not entirely wrong as most Jewish indeed received harsh treatment from the Nazi. Apart from Jewish, Gypsies were also amongst of the Nazi victims (later I’ve learnt that the term Gypsies actually has a derogatory meaning. Sinti or Roma are perceived to be appropriate term. Europeans thought that these nomad people were from Egypt and Gypsie is a modification of that word Egypt). The lives of massive number of Sinti people ended up in the hand of the Nazi and its collaborators.
Since the stories of Sinti and Jewish came to surface, only little did people know about the murder of gay people during the Nazi occupation. Even though, some stories of survivors may have mentioned the life of gay people in concentration camps or elsewhere, it may have been only a fragment of that personal narrative. The hidden story of gay people during the Nazi came out only in the eighties following the gay and lesbian movement. As a result of this more liberated atmosphere, one survivor published his personal account on homosexuals during the Nazi era. From that moment, the stories of gay people in the camps began to unfold.
It was puzzling as well as challenging to see the prosecution of gay during the Nazi era. Hitler as many may understand it was not madly preoccupied with gay as he was with Jewish. We all know that Euthanasia was carried out for elderly and others because they were unfit within the society. Is it because this ideology that was based on politicised body conception so the gay were haunted and sent off to the camps? Isn’t it strange to know that homosexual was pilloried while the Nazi party itself was masculine and homosocial in nature? Isn’t it possible homoerotism appears within homosocial organisation? How did the Nazi characterise gay people as gestures and official records did not give clues at all? Why female homosexuals were not widely targeted as the males? What is also interesting is that we can’t simply put victims and perpetrators paradigm as these gay people were sent to the frontier in order to defend the German military.
What is surely known is that the Nazi used one article in the penal code to proscribe homosexuality. It was known as the article 175 of the German Penal Code. The Nazi did not create this article. Nor did the Nazi insert homophobic passage into it. The article was a legacy of 19th and it was only modified in 1930s.
Prior to the amendment of Article 175, Nazis had already started to purge homosexuals soon after they seized power in 1933. Nazis raided gay pubs and bars as well as Magnus Hirschfeld’s Sexual Science Institute in May 1933. Two years later, the executions of Ernst Röhm and others members of Sturmabteilung (SA), a paramilitary organisation, took place. Ernst Röhm was close to Hitler and helped him a lot in the development of SA. This has been noted as marking the turning point in Nazi policy against homosexuals. The amendment of Article 175 two years later provided a legal basis for continued persecution, and the establishment of The Reich Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion as part of the Criminal Police reorganisation functioned to register and compile records of homosexuals.
Some Nazi scientists thought that homosexual is sort of disease which could spread and contaminate society. They also maintained that homosexual behaviour is curable and some attempts were therefore carried out to sort this problem out. One of them is castration, which was common within the military. It was believed that after being castrated the deviant sexual urge would decline. At that time, within scientist circle, there was a raging debate over the nature of homosexuality as to whether it was nature or nurture. The nurture paradigm held more sway, nevertheless.
The number of gay held in the camp is difficult to know. One scholar, Lautmann, estimated that around 10.000 alleged homosexuals were found in the camps. While it is widely known how atrocious prisoner conditions were in the camps, for homosexual inmates’ treatment was even worse, from guards as well as other inmates. This is, of course, not suggesting that there is a hierarchy of anguish within the camps or amongst victims of Nazi atrocities. Rather, this discriminatory treatment against homosexual inmates can be seen as reflecting society’s attitudes towards homosexuals outside the camp or in a normal situation. Homosexual inmates were marked with pink triangle to identify them within the camp.
This discrimination stemmed from the view that homosexual men were weak and effeminate, which could undermine the strength of the state. As homosexual men were not contributing to the reproduction process, their non-procreative sexual practice meant an inevitable decrease in the population. Moreover, the Nazi movement was the ultimate manifestation of the Männerbund. Stemming from the eighteen century view, Männerbund prioritises male friendship over other relationships, stressing solidarity and dedication created through male bonding. Yet tension arose from the homosocial concept of Männerbund and the tendency towards homoeroticism. According to Harry Oostehuis, this tension was pushed to extremes during the Nazi anti-gay crusade. George Mosse has an interesting analysis of this tension and its relation to the vilification of homosexuals, suggesting that the ‘otherness’ was necessary to construct Nazi masculinity. In this sense, criminalisation through legal definition of homosexuality enabled a concurrent definition Nazi masculinity by denigrating ‘the other’.
Following the downfall of the Nazi party, the persecution of homosexuals remained a largely untold story, and Article 175 has not yet been repealed until after the reunification of Germany. Even when some survivors of the Nazi campaign began to share their horrific experiences, homosexual survivors remained largely silent due to social and legal stigma. In the post-war period, even within gay and lesbian circles there was a reluctance to talk about experiences of persecution, with majority indicating that they wished to forget about the Nazi period. As the gay and lesbian liberation movement created a more tolerant atmosphere, some attempts were made to bring the hidden effects of Nazi atrocities into the public.
The anti-gay crusade during the Nazi period tells us much about how issues of sexuality are crucial in enriching our understanding of violence. In the case Nazi Germany, discourses on the homosexual experience, whether it be a legal, medical or historical discourse, often function to categorise homosexuals as what we consider ‘the other’. However ambiguous the definition of Article 175, it enabled the Nazi party to significantly impact on homosexual community in Germany, which was perceived as a menace to the social hygiene of Aryan Germany, and as undermining the foundations of masculinity upon which the Männerbund was laid.
 Rudiger Lautmann, ‘The Pink Triangle: Homosexuals as “Enemies of The State”, in Michael Berenbaum and Abraham J. Pech (eds), The Holocaust and History: The Known, The Unknown, The Disputed, and The Reexamined, Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 1998, p. 348.
 The argument of population growth and procreative sex re-emerged in the Nazi propaganda against homosexuals. Heinrich Himmler was particularly concerned with the imbalance between the number of homosexuals and the number of those who died during the First World War. He estimated in a speech, that there were two millions homosexuals and two millions deaths of soldiers during World War I which meant, according to Himmler, that four million men were unable to contribute to the population growth. Stümke and Finkler in Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wippermann, The Racial State Germany 1933-1945, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991, pp. 192-193. See also, Robert G Moller, ‘The Homosexual Man Is a 'Man,' the Homosexual Woman Is a 'Woman'": Sex, Society, and the Law in Postwar West Germany’, Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 4, No. 3, Special Issue, Part 2: Lesbian and Gay, Histories. (Jan., 1994), p. 403.
 Harry Oosterhuis, ‘Medicine, Male Bonding and Homosexuality in Nazi Germany’, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 32, No. 2. (Apr., 1997), p. 205.
 Elizabeth D. Heineman, ‘Sexuality and Nazism: The Double Unspeakable?’, Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 11, Nos. 1/2, (January/April 2002), p. 38.
 Erik N. Jensen, ‘The Pink Triangle and Political Consciousness: Gays, Lesbians, and the Memory of Nazi Persecution’, Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 11, No. 1/2, (January/April 2002), p. 321.