Gloria Brame, Ph.D.

Grim Remembrance: Gay Nazi prisoners photo

Filed By Gloria Brame, Ph.D. | October 26, 2010 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Politics
Tags: concentration camps, gay Nazis, Holocaust, pink triangle

My parents were Holocaust Survivors (Polish Jews), so any and all material about that episode in human history always catches my eye. This image popped up on my radar the other day, showing gay prisoners at Sachsenhausen.

It is one of the most powerful images I've seen: the tragedy on their faces and those pink triangles on their uniforms bring tears to my eyes. God only knows what happened to these poor men, but I am glad this picture survived, so we will never forget their faces or their suffering.

Photo after the jump.


For any of the younger people who don't already know about the epic tragedy of gay persecution in Nazi Germany, I highly recommend you read up on it - if only to re-enforce your own activism and determination to never let anyone tell you who you can love.

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I really enjoy all your photo posts. Today's is in a really special category, and thank for sharing this.

I've always had so many emotions about this era.

>My grandfather fought the Japanese in the Pacific and the German's in Europe during WWII. He fought in Europe in WWI in the Army.
>6 of my Great Uncles were in WWII, 5 in the Navy, on a cruiser gun team in the Pacific. 1 in the Army in Europe. He didn't know how to swim and joined the Army because of it. He was blown up during the Battle of the Bulge. Lost his arms and legs, but survived in to his 80's.
>One of my childhood friends, Davie, his Mom and Dad survived the camps. They were some of the first Jew's to move to the new nation of Israel. Then the 7 Days war broke out and they had enough of fighting and moved down the street from us. Only to find out that south Alabama has some hicks that don’t like anyone who’s Jewish.
>After we moved north, our next door neighbor and her family had managed to escape the Warsaw ghetto’s before everyone was marched away.
>Our family doctor was German. He was in the German Army, on the eastern front. He was lucky by his own accounts. Once the Russians started rolling up the German Army he managed to make his way to the American lines and surrender. That’s how he ended up in the US, as a POW.

My grandfather beat in to me, never just follow orders. Just following orders leads down a path whose toll is your soul. In the military, I always listened to the orders and followed them….

Just not DADT, being southern, I know hatred and bigotry when I see it. I can say for certain, I didn’t follow those orders.

John Kingsbury | October 26, 2010 7:14 PM

There is an excellent book called The Pink Triangle by Richard Plant (hope it is still in print). "A valuable contribution...the lesson that The Pink Triangle elicits from the Holocaust is the realization that we are still haunted by the specters of the Third Reich" - San Francisco Cronicle

What a great recommendation, John. I've read the book and it is incredibly powerful.

I too have the book. I've read that the Nazi guards would regularly set the German Shepherds trained to attack the genitals, on gays.

There's a large section of the museum at Dachau on gay holocaust victims.

george grassby | October 27, 2010 12:42 PM

8th May - The war comes to an end. The concentration camps are liberated. In distinction to other Nazi laws, the Allies do not withdraw the Nazi version of § 175. Some homosexuals who had been liberated are required to serve the remainder of their sentence in a "normal" prison. § 175 remains in force in the Federal Republic of Germany (West!) until 1969. The German Democratic Republic (East!) adopts the "milder" pre-Nazi version."
- Matt & Andrej Koymasky

THe allies treated the released gaya with disdain; they also did not receive any monitary compensation as did other prisoners.

There are a few books with details but not many; male homosexuals were deemed not worthy of historical information. Lesbians did not have the same experience (prison/camps) and were generally tolerated.