dialog on Pride

04 – The Holocaust and the Institute for Sexual Science

The Nazi Regime brought about harsher enforcement of Paragraph 175—which declared homosexuality illegal—by doubling down on recording and punishing gay men. An estimated 100,000 gay men were imprisoned in harsh conditions, while 10,000-15,000 were put in concentration camps and labeled with a pink triangle to signify their “low-ranking status” as homosexuals. Coming out of the Holocaust, gay men were not granted amnesty as victims—they were forced to either suffer in silence and hide their story, or be imprisoned for their homosexuality. Paragraph 175 was not dropped from German criminal code until 1994.

One consequence of the Holocaust for queer people is in relation to the exile of Magnus Hirschfeld. Hirschfeld was the Jewish doctor who founded the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin, which extensively researched sex, sexuality, and gender, as well as advocated for those who did not conform to societal gender and sex norms. On May 6, 1933, the Nazis violently raided and shut down the Institute for Sexual Science, burning its collection of knowledge and research in the streets.

A newspaper clipping with the headline "Against the Un-German Spirit" announces the plundering of the Institute for Sexual Science. (Source: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.)