Horrors of the Holocaust: This is how queer prisoners were treated

The Nazis didn't just target Jews during the Holocaust. They condemned many other minorities, including those in the LGBTQ+ community, to a life of suffering as well.

The gruesome treatment of LGBTQ+ during the Holocaust
© Hulton Deutsch GETTY_IMAGES
The gruesome treatment of LGBTQ+ during the Holocaust

During the dark times of the Holocaust, when anti-semitism was heavily popular in Nazi Germany, Jews were not the only ones who suffered. Anyone who didn’t fit the idea of the perfect human race, as per the Nazis, was condemned to either gruesome torture, or death. Aside from Jews, the LGBTQ+ population was also unjustifiably punished.

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Lives of LGBTQ+ before the Holocaust

The LGBTQ+ community was surprisingly thriving in Berlin. As per the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, Berlin was the hub for a thriving population of queer people in the early 20th century. There were several gay and lesbian bars and cafes that entertained the queer population.

However, it all changed when Paragraph 175 of the German Penal Code was implemented, which criminalized homosexual acts and relationships. The prisoners captured due to this law were appointed with a pink inverted triangle on their uniform, which indicated their category, i.e., queers. Most of them were sent to prisons rather than concentration camps, where they would endure the cruel behaviour of the Nazi officers.

Treatment of LGBTQ+ during the Holocaust

Things took turn for the worse for the prisoners in concentration camps. Gay men were treated significantly harsher than lesbians. They were not only despised by the Nazis but also by their own straight inmates. As per The Conversation, they were considered to be bottom of the food chain and were treated horrendously. They worked extra hard and were given gruesome manual labour that would leave them physically exhausted.

They were tormented not only by the Germans but also by the other inmates. Many gay prisoners were ‘beaten to death’ by both because of their symbolic pink triangle. In addition, they were inhumanely experimented upon by Nazi scientists who wanted to experiment to see whether they can turn their sexuality straight, scientifically.

However, the struggle was not over for queer people even after the liberation. Paragraph 175 was still in place, even after the Nazis were defeated, and many queer prisoners were persecuted again and sent to prisons due to their homosexuality. To this day, it is still unknown how many LGBTQ+ lives were lost. People from the community refuse to reveal their stories due to the fear of being punished again. Very few survivors have come out and shared their stories.

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