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Hitler Was Straight

Fri 13 Feb 2004 In: Comment

Behind the tabloid-style sensationalism and fingerpointing Wellington researcher Craig Young finds bugger all in the way of actual facts. Last week TV3 screened a tabloid documentary about Adolf Hitler's alleged homosexuality that was based on somedubious "facts." Unfortunately, it doesn't stand up to reputable historical analysis. In this article, I'll note the objections and summarise Nazi antigay policies. According to Les Carlyon of Australia's respected The Bulletin ("Nein Camp", Bulletin, 12.02.02), Adolf Hitler was straight. Okay, so he wasn't a butch guy, had some rather limp salutes, floppy hands, little finger problems, cleanliness and kitsch uniform fetishises, got hysterical easily, and liked the company of men too much. But Carlyon rubbishes Lothar Machtan's "Hidden Hitler" (Basic Books: New York, 2001) as shallow tabloid hackwork. Hitler was an asocial, non-tactile, misogynist character, but the so-called case for a "gay Hitler" was produced by rumour, hearsay, surmise and innuendo - and nothing concrete. Machtan's "evidence" consisted of recollections from an old war mate of Adolf's, one Hans Mend, a vandal, thief, and paedophile with an alcohol and drug habit - not exactly a reliable witness. Then there's one Eugene Dolman, who resorted to hearsay rumours from a German General in Munich (c1923). Then there's more wild guesswork. Rudolf Hess wasn't butch, and were Ernest Rohm of the SA and Adolf "just friends?" And was the anti-SA putsch of 1934 a catfight, or a test of power politics? Carlyon concludes that the "case" for Hitler's "homosexuality" is based on too many assumptions and stereotypes and too few concrete facts. There are numerous materials that detail Nazi homophobia. I've used Richard Plant's "Pink Triangle", one of the earliest such studies to compile the following list of Nazi homophobic abuses over their decade of power within Germany and Occupied Europe (1933-1945). Before Hitler seized power in 1933, there was a robust lesbian/gay rights movement in Weimar Germany. This movement campaigned for the repeal of Paragraph 175 of the Imperial German Penal Code, which criminalised gay anal sex. Magnus Hirschfeld's "Scientific Humanitarian Committee" was at the forefront of reformist efforts, although not without violent attacks on Hirschfeld himself (who was also Jewish). Shortly after he seized power, Hitler outlawed lesbian and gay rights groups (February 23, 1933). On February 29, 1933, Marinus van der Lubbe (the alleged Reichstag fire arsonist) was labelled homosexual, and was executed. On June 30, 1934, the Nazis purged Ernest Roehm, his homosexual SA chief, and dissolved his organisation. Hitler ordered gay men to be purged from the Nazi armed forces. In October /November 1934, the Gestapo conducted large-scale arrests of gay men and compiled lists of homosexually active men. The Gestapo established a specific Berlin office against abortion and homosexuality at the same time. According to Plant, Heinrich Himmler and his SS were amongst the worst homophobes. He wanted the death penalty for homosexuality, but was satisfied with intensified surveillance, apprehension and scope of anti-gay legislation in 1935. Himmler repeated his calls for 'elimination' of homosexuality in 1936, and established a Federal Security Office for Combatting Homosexuality and Abortion later that year. In 1937, Himmler repeated his call for the extermination of gay men, apart from actors and artists, while Josef Goebbels gaybaited the Catholic Church. In 1938, Himmler ordered that those convicted of "homosexual offences" should be sent to concentration camps. In 1940, this became official Nazi policy. In 1941, "deviant crime" became a capital offence within the SS and Gestapo. In 1942, Heydrich clarified this rule, under new legislation that rendered homosexuality as a capital offence for all German gay and homosexually active men. Altogether, one hundred thousand gay men are estimated to have starved, or been worked to death, within Hitler's concentration camps. We forget this history at our peril, although the Christian Right seems to have sanitised it through reference to its anti-abortion and anti-gay policies as "pro-life and pro-family," despite their grim precedents. It took until 1969 for West Germany (as it was then) to repeal Weimar's antigay legislation. Hitler was straight. He wasn't the only architect of homophobia amongst the Nazi state apparatus, but gay men and some lesbians died amongst the Jews, Sinti/Romani (Gypsies) and other victims of the regime. To say otherwise is to do grave dishonour to their collective memories. Hitler Biographies: For a more reputable study of Hitler, try Ian Kershaw's two-volume "Hitler: Hubris: 1889-1936" and "Hitler: Nemesis: 1936- 1945" (Penguin, New York, 2002). Kershaw rejects Machten's flimsy "case." Nazi Homophobia: Les Carlyon "Nein Camp" Bulletin (Australia)12.02.02. Gunter Grau: Hidden Holocaust? Gay and Lesbian Persecution in Germany 1933-1945: London: Cassell: 1995. Heinz Heger: The Men With the Pink Triangle: London: Gay Men's Press: 1980. Richard Plant: The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals: New York: New Republic Books: 1986. Martin Sherman: Bent: Ashover: Amber Lane Press: 1979. Craig Young - 13th February 2004    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Friday, 13th February 2004 - 12:00pm

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