The Arty Semite

Pink Triangles: Gays, Jews and Gay Jews

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share

Despite such pioneering exhibits as 2003’s “Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals: 1933-1945” at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, official commemorations of the Nazi mistreatment of gay men and women pose still-evolving problems, as a brilliantly researched study, “Pink Triangle: Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals and its Remembrance,” (Triangle rose. La persécution nazie des homosexuels et sa mémoire) establishes.

Published on January 26 by Les éditions Autrement, “Pink Triangle,” written by Régis Schlagdenhauffen, a post-doctoral student at the University of Strasbourg, explains that the pink triangle, widely adopted during the 1970s as a symbol of gay people’s ordeals during the Fascist era, was worn by only a small minority of Nazi victims. In concentration camps, green, black, and red triangles were also used to label gay people. In a preface, Holocaust historian Annette Wieviorka praises Schlagdenhauffen’s “powerfully innovative” research, which establishes that there was no Europe-wide mass deportations of gay people.

Nazis imprisoned large numbers of gay people only in Germany and areas annexed to Germany, such as Alsace. Nazi-occupied countries such as France and Poland did relatively little to deport their own gay citizens. Yet Nazis closely identified gays and Jews, attacking such gay Jews as the pioneering German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld and a Swiss wine importer, Leopold Obermayer. The latter was arrested in Germany in 1936 and murdered in Mauthausen in 1943. The weekly Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer ran the headline: “Trial of the Jew Obermeyer, Corrupter of Men. Horrific Infamies of a Real Talmudic Jew.”

Nazis officially saw homosexuality as a Jewish plot to undermine Aryan population growth. Obsessed with demography and eugenics, in 1936 the Nazis established a “Reich Center for Fighting Homosexuality and Abortion (Reichszentrale zur Bekämpfung der Homosexualität und Abtreibung). These tragic events only began to be recognized publicly in the 1970s and 80s, often over strenuous objections from surviving deportees who suffered for political or religious reasons. At a 1985 commemoration of Nazi deportations from the city of Besançon, a group of gays who wished to participate were attacked by deportees, who shouted

The ovens should be reopened for [gays] to be put inside…They should have all been exterminated.

By contrast, the historian Pierre Vidal-Naquet opined that it is “legitimate that homosexuals commemorate the deportation which victimized them.” Philosopher André Glucksmann agreed: “Everyone has the right to place commemorative wreaths to honor martyred victims, whether they are Jewish, Communist, or homosexual.” These triangles provide a focus for a fascinating study of evolving historical perspectives.

Watch author Regis Schlagdenhauffen accepting an Auschwitz Foundation prize in Brussels in December, 2010.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Annette Wieviorka, Régis Schlagdenhauffen

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.