Homosexual Victims of the Holocaust
By: Michelle Lewis
During the time of the Holocaust almost no one cared about the homosexual victims that were being tested on and beaten in the camps on a daily basis. Homosexuality was considered a crime in that time, so to the people soldiers were just enforcing the law. Jump forward to today, when people think of Holocaust victims they automatically think of the Jewish people not the gay victims. In fact, in the Holocaust Museum in St. Louis there is only one symbol to recognize the Homosexual victims. These victims of the Holocaust are just as important in history as the Jewish victims, they were forced to look death in the eye nearly everyday because of their sexual orientation and no one was there to help them. It needs to be known just how awful the homosexual victims have been treated.
Conditions and Treatment During the War
Homosexuals had some of the worst conditions in contrast to other victims of the war. They were placed onto lists of of possible homosexuals without their knowing, then if they were caught doing anything that was considered out of the ordinary they were arrested and sent off to camps where their horrible fate awaited them. Upon arrival at camps homosexuals were beaten and forced to wear pink triangles so they could be easily identified. They were seen as weak and low, which lead to officers and other prisoners constantly abusing and harassing them on a daily basis. Not only were they beaten and tortured to death, but they often were forced to go through cruel medical experiments that were used as attempts to turn them into heterosexuals. These experiments, such as the surgical insertion of the male hormone testosterone and castration, often resulted in death and in no way “cured” the homosexuals. Officers found sport in torturing and harassing the homosexuals with in camps, they thought of them as worthless and lesser, but it is not known just how many fell victim to this abuse and torture from the people around them.
Many Homosexal surviors of the Holocast never came forward with their stories of the war because of fear or shame. But, the ones who have shared their stories with the world have given the chance to take a deeper look into what really happened to them in their daily lives. Pierre Seel; the only french survivor to speak out about being a homosexual during the Holocaust, was only sixteen when he was arrested. He was imprisoned without trial and was sodomized with wood before he even arrived at a concentration camp. When he arrived at the camp he constantly was beaten, tortured, and raped. Soon after finding that his lover Jo was a prisoner in the same camp, Pierre and three hundred other prisoners were forced to watch him be torn apart and eaten by Alsatian dogs. When Pierre was released in 1941 he was forced to censor what he told those around him of his time in the camps, out of fear of being further victimized. Another survivor Friedrich-Paul von Groszheim, was beaten so often that he couldn't lie down. After ten months of constant everyday torture Friedrich was castrated and released. These people and many others were forced to live a lie after the war until they felt they could finally speak out about what really happened to them.
Ignored in History
When the war ended the persecution and hardship lessened for many survivors of the holocaust, but the homosexual survivors had to continue to live in fear for they were not recognized as victims by the outside world. Other survivors were recognized as survivors when the men forced to wear the pink triangle because of their sexual orientation were ignored in memorials in museums, some were even forced to finish their terms of imprisonment. The people of history had ignored the constant abuse and harassment that the gay victims faced until five decades after the war. Museums finally began to recognize the homosexuals as victims and realize the truth of what happened to them during the dark years of the war.