One purpose of The Pink Swastika is to minimize the suffering and persecution of homosexuals during the tenure of the Third Reich. In reaction to gay holocaust theories employed by some gay advocates, Lively and Abrams advance a theory about why some homosexuals were persecuted while others were Nazi promoters. Lively and Abrams suggest that masculine oriented, “Butch” homosexuals were favored by the Nazis. These “Butch” gays hated and persecuted effeminate, “Fem” homosexuals when the Nazis came to power. Thus, by their theory, some gays were hurt but more often it was the gays who did the hurting. While there are real problems conceptually and historically with this simplistic notion, I will address those issues in a future post.
In order to discount the persecution of gays, a resource quoted favorably by Lively and Abrams is Hidden Holocaust? Edited by Gunter Grau with a contribution from Claudia Shoppmann. Grau’s book is a compendium of documents from the Nazi era, many from East German archives which had not been released prior to this book.
By my count, The Pink Swastika references Grau six times. To find segments which fit their “homofascism” theory, the authors had to ignore quite a few documents which, if considered, would balance the picture and offset their thesis. Here are some illustrations of their selective references.
On page 180, Lively and Abrams quote a review of the Hidden Holocaust? which seems to suggest that Grau discounts the suffering of male homosexuals.
The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review (Summer 1995)contains an admirably candid review of the book Hidden Holocaust? by Gunter Grau (in which Schoppmann was a minor contributor):
Grau and Schoppman [sic] conclude that there was no “holocaust” of gays — hence the question mark in the book’s title. This assessment is based on the wide range of contemporary documents…Grau discounts the current wild estimates of the number of gays killed by the Nazis, suggesting a figure closer to 5,000…How, then are we to read the widely quoted incendiary statements by Nazis like SS leader Himmler, who consistently called for the ‘eradication’ of homosexuals?…Much of this rhetoric, Grau says, was propaganda meant for public consumption…Gays were never the subject of pogroms, and never faced the danger that the Jews did in Germany and occupied Europe.
Lively and Abrams then quote a paper by Judith Reisman which further questions the degree of persecution experienced by homosexuals and concludes with a sinister accusation.
Dr. Judith Reisman, in “The Pink Swastika and Holocaust Revisionist History,” wrote this comparison of the fate of the two groups [Jews and homosexuals] under the Nazis:
Were homosexuals treated like Jews, 2-3 million out of 2-3 million German homosexuals should have lost their businesses, their jobs, their property, their possessions and most would have lost their lives. Homosexuals would have been forced to wear pink triangles on their clothing in the streets, they would have had their passports stamped with an “H,” been barred from travel, work, shopping, public appearances with out their armbands, and we would have thousands of pictures of pink triangle graffiti saying “kill the faggots,” and the like. If German homosexuals were not Nazis, these 2-3 million men would have been homeless, walled in ghettos, worked as a mass labor pool, then gassed and their abuse recorded in graphic detail, as were the millions of Jews. And, if Germany’s several million “gays” were not Nazi victims, they were Nazi soldiers, collaborators or murderers (Reisman: Culture Wars , April 1996).
As we shall see, Grau points out that homosexuals did experience at least some of what Reisman says they avoided.
On page 179 of The Pink Swastika, Lively and Abrams also reference Grau’s identification of Massimo Consoli as the proponent of the theory that gays were victims of holocaust on the same order as the Jews.
(Consoli is, however, a leading proponent of the “Gay Holocaust” public relations ploy — Grau:5).
However, surrounding one of the pages (5) in Grau’s book cited by Lively and Abrams is Grau’s assessment of the treatment received by homosexuals by the Nazis. Grau writes
A major role was played by various eugenic concepts. Seeing male homosexuals as an immediate threat to the growth of the nation, National Socialist ideologues partly blamed them for the lower birth-rates and preached the need to make optimum use of the ‘generative power’ of the male population. In this way, they supplied ideological justification for all the intended, and eventually implemented, forms of persecution. The ‘eugenic aim’ of putting the ‘hereditary flow’ in order, by eliminating that which is ‘unhealthy’ and undesirable and blocking the reproduction of inferior blood, was the basic drift of measures that were designed and eventually put into operation against homosexuals as well as other groups…
The declared aim of the Nazi regime was to eradicate homosexuality. To this end, homosexuals were watched, arrested, registered, and — if this was unsuccessful — exterminated. In the twelve years of the National Socialist dictatorship, the arsenal of repressive measures devised in support of its population policy became ever more extensive. They included:
-the ordering and carrying out of police activities and of measures designed to instil terror;
-the sharpening of penal sanctions;
-the creation of special administrative bodies to carry out prosecutions;
-deportation and isolation in concentration camps;
-extension of the grounds for compulsory castration, and
-the organization of para-medical experiments, up to and including ‘reversal of hormonal polarity’. (p. 4).
Grau notes that the Nazi measures became more severe and repressive as their power increased.
Prosecutions and other repressive measures began just a few weeks after the Nazi seizure of power. In the following years the pressure on those concerned became more intense and severe, and the various measures used against them escalated with the help of state violence and in the framework of a comprehensive system of manipulation. (Grau, 4-5)
Grau then describes three periods of Nazi oppression of gays beginning with the closing of homosexual meeting places and concluding with drastic measures such as internment in concentration camps, medical experiments, pressure to be castrated, and for some the death penalty. Although Grau does not believe gays were singled out in the same manner as were the Jews, he characterizes the Nazi response as
…a rather differentiated series of punishments and deterrents, whose purpose was to dissuade the ‘homosexual minority’ from their sexual practice: that is, either to integrate them as ‘proper’ (heterosexual) men into the ‘national community’, or to make them abstain from sex in general. The key concern was ‘re-education’. That was the spirit in which the criminal law was tightened up: re-education through deterrence. And anyone who could not be deterred was sent to a concentration camp: re-education through labour. Psychology was also brought into service: re-education through psychotherapy. And even ‘predisposed’ homosexuals, for whom the Nazis held out no hope of improvement, could still be exploited as manpower for the ‘national community’ – provided that they were first castrasted.
Another dramatic example of selective citation comes from a document from the Buchenwald archives (titled “The situation of homosexuals in Buchenwald concentration camp – report from Spring 1945”) and included in Grau from pages 266-270. Here is what Lively and Abrams took from the document.
An unknown percentage of homosexual prisoners were arrested not for sex offenses at all, but for political reasons. A document from the Buchenwald archive states,
In the spring of 1942 a Berlin writer called Dahnke was sent to the camp as a homosexual. The main reason for his internment, however, was political statements which had brought him to the attention of the Gestapo. (Grau:267)
Lively and Abrams want the reader to believe that gays were not singled out due to their homosexuality but for other reasons — in this case for some political opposition. Indeed, this no doubt happened. In this case, it is possible that the man was homosexual and a political opponent. In any case, Lively and Abrams fail to tell the rest of the story about unfortunate Mr. Dahnke. The reason for his internment may relate to politics but his demise was due to perception of homosexuality. I pick up the story on page 267 exactly where Lively and Abrams end.
One morning, after he [Dahnke] had been working for several months in the quarry, he was taken by someone on fatigue duty to the sick bay and presented to the camp doctor as suffering from TB. As a matter of fact, he was having chest trouble. The camp doctor at first wanted to put him in the TB unit for treatment, but when D. [Dahnke], not knowing how things stood, mentioned that he was really there for political reasons, the doctor sat up and took notice, realized that he was dealing with a homosexual, and had him taken into the room reserved for the death list. Two days later he was given the lethal injection.
Lively and Abrams selectively include the part of the story which, out of context, support their point. However, the real story here is about a man who was killed because he was thought to be a homosexual. Including the entire paragraph provides the real message from the Buchenwald archives and directly contradicts the premise promoted in The Pink Swastika.
Scott Lively said in a speech (at about 8:20) to the Temecula county GOP that gays were not sent to death camps, but rather work camps (cf. 2:02). For sure, gays were sent to work camps as noted by Grau. However, in this same Buchenwald document, the archives make clear that gays were sent to death camps as well. On page 266, the Buchenwald document discloses:
Until autumn 1938 homosexuals were divided among the political blocks, where they went relatively unnoticed. In October 1938, they were sent enmasse to the punishment battalion and had to work in the quarry, whereas previously all other units had been open to them. Apart from a few recorded cases, every member of the punishment battalion had the prospect of being transferred after a certain time to a normal block where living and working conditions were significantly better, but this possibility did not exist for homosexuals. Precisely during the hardest years they were the lowest caste in the camp. In proportion to their number they made up the highest percentage of transports to special extermination camps such as Mauthausen, Natzweiler, and Gross Rosen, because the camp always had the understandable tendency to ship off less important and valuable members, or those regarded as less valuable. In fact, the wider deployment of labour in the war industry brought some relief to this type of prisoner too — for the labour shortage made it necessary to draw skills from the ranks of such people, although in January, 1944 the homosexuals, with very few exceptions, were still going to the ‘Dora’ murder camp, where many of them met their death. (Grau, 266).
This is the opening paragraph in the same Buchenwald archive document which Lively and Abrams quote approvingly. This kind of selective citation compromises any accurate presentations of the historical record in The Pink Swastika. As we have demonstrated throughout this series, readers should carefully check all claims and alleged facts.
Prior posts in this series:
June 3 – Before The Pink Swastika
June 17 – Does homosexuality lead to fascism?