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Germany asks for ‘forgiveness’ for persecuting gays under Nazi rule

Germany asks for ‘forgiveness’ for persecuting gays under Nazi rule

Over 100,000 men were arrested on homosexuality charges in Nazi Germany

German’s president Frank-Walter Steinmeier has asked for ‘forgiveness’ for the persecution of LGBTI people under Nazi rule.

Thousands of gay men, lesbians and gender non-conforming people were locked up in concentration camps during World War 2.

Even after the victims of the Holocaust were freed, many LGBTI people then spent decades imprisoned under homophobic laws.

How gay men suffered under Nazi rule (and in the decades after)

Inside the camps, men were seen as slaves; but after their liberation, not all of them walked free.
Inside the camps, men were seen as slaves; but after their liberation, not all of them walked free.

Gay men were considered the ‘lowest of the low’ in the concentration camp hierarchy.

They were constantly beaten, had their testicles boiled off by water, sodomized by broken broomsticks, and were used by the SS as target practice.

The Nazis also used gay men for cruel human experimentation.

Lesbians were raped, forced to work in brothels for officers.

‘The German state has inflicted grave suffering on these people. Above all, under the National Socialists, but also afterwards, in East Germany and for too long under [West German] Basic Law,’ Steinmeier said.

‘That is why I ask for forgiveness today – for all the suffering and injustice that has happened, and for the long silence that followed.’

President issues apology and asks for forgiveness

The president spoke at the 10th anniversary of the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism.

In Berlin, the memorial is a concrete cube that bears a small window where visitors can see a video of a gay couple kissing. The kiss represents the act of love that was considered criminal, and the tomb-like cube represents the certain death LGBTI people would face.

About 50,000 men were convicted under Paragraph 175 of the criminal code between 1945 and 1969 in western Germany.

The law was first enacted in 1871, and made more extreme by the Nazis in 1935.

Watered down in West Germany in 1969, the homophobic law was not fully abolished by Germany until 1994.

In June last year, gay men who were convicted between 1945 and 1969 were given a pardon.

Thousands of victims received a lump sump of €3,000 (£2,630; $3,350) in compensation along with €1,500 per year spent in jail.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas described the new law is a ‘belated act of justice.’