Remembering Gay Victims and Rescuers of the Holocaust

 

In commemoration of June as Gay Pride Month, the Institute recognizes the gay men and women persecuted under the Nazis from as early as 1934 to the end of the war in 1945, some of whose stories are in the Institute’s Visual History Archive. They are stories of survival, resistance, rescue, and heartbreaking loss. Some of the witnesses were targeted by the Nazis for being gay under the German penal code, Paragraph 175. Other witnesses recall their encounters with gay men and women who provided rescue and aid at great risk to their own lives.

There are 14 indexing terms related to homosexuality in the Visual History Archive that are mentioned across 437 testimonies.

The “Homosexual Survivor” experience group contains only six testimonies, which are conducted in German, Dutch, English and French. By the time that the Institute began recording testimony in 1994, almost 50 years after the end of the war, very few homosexual survivors of the Holocaust were still alive, being already adults during World War II. However, the Archive contains testimonies from gay men and women from other experience groups including Jewish survivors and Rescuer/Aid Providers.

This is a showcase of video clips from the Archive, blog posts, and links to lectures by visiting scholars to the Institute, providing a glimpse into the complexity of the gay experience under Nazi persecution.

Gay Pride Testimony Series

Susan Dregely on Coming Out

Language: English

Susan discusses coming to terms with her identity as a lesbian, and knowing she didn't have to change who she was even while lacking support and resources.

  • Susan Dregely on Coming Out

    Language: English

    Susan discusses coming to terms with her identity as a lesbian, and knowing she didn't have to change who she was even while lacking support and resources.

  • Gad Beck on rescuing his lover Manfred Lewin

    Language: German

    Hearing that his lover, Manfred Lewin, has been taken with his family to a transit camp, Gad Beck makes the dangerous choice to go undercover as a Hitler Youth to break Manfred out.

  • Albrecht Becker on gay life in 1934 Germany

    Language: German

    Albrecht Becker recounts the atmosphere for gays in Nazi Germany while Röhm was still in charge of the SA and how the relative freedom he enjoyed during that time changed dramatically after Röhm's assassination in June 1934.

  • Gad Beck on coming out to his family

    Language: German

    In this clip, Gad Beck recalls the day he ran in to tell his mother that he "had his first man" and her surprising reaction. It is a sweet story of family acceptance and support.

  • Bertram Schaffner on helping gay soldiers during World War 2

    Language: English

    Dr. Bertram Schaffner, who served as a military psychiatrist during World War 2, recounts how he dealt with the military's anti-gay policy while evaluating draftees.

  • Kitty Fischer on her rescue by a gay male prisoner

    Language: English

    100 Days to Inspire Respect

    Kitty Fischer recounts her time in Auschwitz-II Birkenau when as a young girl she encounters for the first time a gay male prisoner who will turn out to save her life.

  • Marion Pritchard on her early attitude regarding homosexuality

    Language: English

    Marion Pritchard recalls bringing up the topic of homosexuality at the dinner table and how her father took her aside to discuss the importance of tolerance.

  • Douglas Fox recalls a narrow escape

    Language: English

    Thanks to the quick response of a homosexual prisoner at the Oranienburg-Heinkelwerke labor camp (a subcamp of Sachsenhausen), Douglas Fox escaped from a line of transferred prisoners who were unknowingly being given a lethal injection upon their arrival.

  • Stefan Kosinski on meeting Willi G.

    Language: English

    Stefan recalls the evening of November 4, 1941, when leaving the theater where he worked in Torun, Poland, he encounters a German soldier who turns out to be a man named Willi, his first real romance.

    Foreign words in this video clip:

    • Ersatzkaffee (German): substitute coffee
  • Johan Klisser on hiding

    Language: English

    In this video clip, Johan Klisser recalls when he was 16 years old and separated from his parents in Amsterdam. At one point during his attempt at hiding from the Nazis, he stayed with a gay couple who were part of the Dutch resistance.

Academic Lectures

Peter Hayes: "Antisemitism and Homophobia in Nazi Germany: Different but Related Hatreds"

Language: English

Theodore Zev Weiss Holocaust Educational Foundation Professor at Northwestern University Peter Hayes examines antisemitism and homophobia as central components of Nazi racism.

MORE CLIPS...