One attempt by the Nazis to purify German society was their condemnation of male homosexuals as "socially aberrant." Early in the Nazi regime, male homosexual organizations were banned. In 1934, a special Gestapo division was established to create lists ("pink lists") of homosexuals throughout Germany. In 1936, Heinrich Himmler created a "Reich Central Office for the Combatting of Homosexuality and Abortion." The prosecution of homosexuals reached its peak in the years 1937-1939. The police conducted raids on meeting places, seized address books from arrested men to identify and locate other homosexuals, and set up networks or informers to compile names leading to more arrests.

Between 1933 and 1945, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested, and of these, some 50,000 officially-defined homosexuals were sentenced. Most of these men spent time in regular prisons, and an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 were sent to concentration camps. Those defined as homosexuals were designated by a pink triangle. We do not know how many of these men died in the camps. (Jews who were homosexuals were killed because they were Jews.)

Lesbians were not subjected to systematic persecution. Few women are believed to have been arrested.

Source: Dr. William L. Shulman, A State of Terror: Germany 1933-1939. Bayside, New York: Holocaust Resource Center and Archives. Used with permission.

Homosexuals: Victims of the Nazi Era is a booklet published by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Visit the Resource section to view a photo gallery of memorials to homosexual victims of the Third Reich.

"Homosexuals in Nazi Germany" by Warren Johansson and William A. Percy.

This site details how homosexuals were treated in Germany, before and during World War II.

This site offers brief eyewitness descriptions of how homosexuals were treated in concentration camps.

The Pink Triangle Pages: About the Gay Male and Lesbian Experience during World War II.

Encyclopedia of the Holocaust article on "Homosexuality in the Third Reich" from the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Read about Willem Arondeus, a homosexual member of a Dutch resistance unit.

Friedrich-Paul von Groszheim was arrested and castrated under paragraph 175.

This New York Times article is about Josef Kohout, a Homosexual Holocaust survivor who died in 1994.

In "Triangles and Tribulations: The Politics of Nazi Symbols" (Journal of Homosexuality Vol. 30, No. 3, 1-11), R. Amy Elman reviews the history of the pink and black triangles and explores the politics of "reclamation."


Burleigh, Michael, and Wolfgang Wippermann. The Racial State Germany.1933-1945 (Cambridge, England, 1991).

Heger, Heinz. The Men with the Pink Triangle. (Boston, 1994).

Isherwood, Christopher. Christopher and His Kind(New York, 1976).

Lautmann, Ruediger. "Gay Prisoners in Concentration Camps as Compared with Jehovah's Witnesses and Political Prisoners," in Michael Berenbaum, ed., A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis (New York. 1990), pp. 200-221.

Plant, Richard. The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War against Homosexuals (New York, 1986).

Wolff, Charlotte. Magnus Hirschfeld: A Portrait of a Pioneer in Sexology (London, 1986).

Bibliography source: Homosexuals: Victims of the Nazi Era, published by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Used with permission.

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A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
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