While male homosexuality remained illegal in Weimar Germany under Paragraph of the criminal code, German homosexual-rights activists became worldwide leaders in efforts to reform societal attitudes that condemned homosexuality. Many in Germany regarded the Weimar Republic's toleration of homosexuals as a sign of Germany's decadence. Nazi leaders posed as moral crusaders who wanted to stamp out the "vice" of homosexuality from Germany in order to help win the racial struggle. Once they took power in , Nazi officials intensified persecution of German male homosexuals. Persecution ranged from the dissolution of homosexual organizations to internment in concentration camps.
The persecution of homosexuality in the Holocaust
The persecution of homosexuality in the Holocaust - Auschwitz
On May 6, , Nazis ransacked the "Institute for Sexual Science" in Berlin; four days later, as part of large public burnings of books viewed as "un-German," thousands of books plundered from the Institute's library were thrown into a huge bonfire. The institute was founded in by Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld It sponsored research and discussion on marital problems, sexually transmitted diseases, and laws relating to sexual offenses, abortion, and homosexuality. The author of many works, Hirschfeld, himself a homosexual, led efforts for three decades to reform laws criminalizing homosexuality.
Registration Pictures and Marking System
The Auschwitz- Birkenau Memorial and Museum holds a collection of 38, registration photographs that were taken between February and January in the laboratory of Erkennungsdienst in Auschwitz I. The preserved photos, 31, of men and 6, of women, constitute only a fraction of a vast Nazi photo archive destroyed during the camp evacuation in January While we do not know the total number of registration photographs taken during the operation of Auschwitz- Birkenau , we do know that only prisoners who survived the initial selection and incorporation into the Auschwitz- Birkenau prisoner population had their photos taken. Those condemned to extermination at the onset were not photographed.
The Nazis believed that homosexuals were weak and effeminate men who were not fit to fight for the nation. Moreover, they made no contribution to the German birth rate. Generally speaking, lesbians were not classed as a threat to the racial policies of the Third Reich and suffered less from persecution than men. It was the first in a long series of measures to eradicate gay and lesbian culture.