Homosexuals in the Concentration Camps
In addition to these main categories of prisoners, the SS made a number of other distinctions. Of these the homosexuals deserve special mention. This group had a very heterogeneous composition. It included individuals of real value, in addition to large numbers of criminals and especially blackmailers. This made the position of the group as a whole very precarious. Hostility toward them may have been partly rooted in the fact that homosexuality was at one time wide spread in Prussian military circles, as well as among the SA and the SS, and it was to be mercilessly outlawed and erased. The Gestapo readily took recourse to the charge of homosexuality, if it was unable to find any other pretext for proceeding against a Catholic priest or irksome critic. The mere suspicion was sufficient. Homosexual practices were actually very widespread in the camps. The prisoners, however, ostracized only those whom the SS marked with the pink triangle.
The fate of homosexuals in the concentration camps can only be described as ghastly. They were often segregated in special barracks and work details. Such segregation offered ample opportunities for unscrupulous elements in positions of power to engage in extortion and maltreatment. Until the fall of 1938 homosexuals at Buchenwald were divided up among the barracks occupied by political prisoners, where they led a rather inconspicuous life. In October 1938 they were transferred to the penal company in a body and had to slave in the quarry. This consigned them to the lowest caste in the camp during the most difficult years. In shipments to extermination camps, such as Nordhausen, Natzweiler, and Gross-Rosen, they furnished the highest proportional share, for the camp had an understandable tendency to slough off all elements considered least valuable or worthless. If anything could save them at all, it was to enter into sordid relationships within the camp, but this was as likely to endanger their lives as to save them. Theirs was an insoluble predicament, and virtually all of them perished.
Eugen Kogan, Chapter 3: The Categories of Prisoners, pages 35 - 36
|Eugen Kogon, |
The Theory and Practice of Hell
The Theory and Practice of Hell: The German Concentration Camps and the System Behind Them
by Eugen Kogon (1950)
Translated from the German by Heinz Norden (1950)
Introduction by Nikolaus Wachsmann (2006)