THE PINK TRIANGLE: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals by Richard Plant

THE PINK TRIANGLE: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A wrenching, highly readable study. Nazi homophobia had its own twisted logic. Homosexuality among ""inferior peoples,"" i.e., non-Germans, was tolerated ""as a tactic for weakening their 'vigor.'"" German lesbians mostly were ignored, in part because German anti-homosexual laws and traditions were directed at sex between males. But Aryan men had to be kept ""pure"" and ""clean.' Plant estimates that between 50,000 and 59,000 German men were convicted of homosexuality during the Nazi era and between 5,000 and 15,000 perished. In the concentration camps, gays (along with Jews) were the lowest category of prisoner. Easily identified by the pink triangles they wore, gays were often treated more harshly by fellow prisoners than by guards. And because of their widely disparate backgrounds, it was difficult to achieve the kind of ""group solidarity"" that helped other prisoners to survive. In one sense, the greatest indignations for survivors came at Liberation: since Nazi anti-homosexual laws (under which mere ""intent"" was made punishable) remained on the books in both Germanies until the late 1960's, many gays were still considered criminals at war's end. Gays were also excluded from West German restitution programs. In recounting the grisly story, Plant provides a history of homosexuality in Germany, focusing on the work of gay pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld. He also offers a study of Himmler's obsession with gays as well as the deadly repercussions of the Roehm Affair. Perhaps most poignant here is Plant's own story: sent to Switzerland by his prescient father (a Socialist and a Jew) one month after Hitler took power, Plant lost many of his friends in the anti-gay firestorm. Recommended for both its personal insights and scholarship.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1986
ISBN: 0805006001
Publisher: Henry Holt