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The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals
by Richard Plant
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This is a topic, sad and horrific as it is, that I've always wanted to know more about. As a Jew, I was brought up to know about what happened to Jews in the Holocaust, and I've read extensively on the subject since. But though I've always known that homosexuals, Gypsies, and a whole range of other minorities were also in Hitler's crosshairs, I've never done much reading about those groups in this context. The Pink Triangle I found to be well-written and informative. It begins with overviews of both the long history of antipathy and superstition regarding homosexuals within German culture and the various Gay rights movements in Germany dating from the late 19th century through the days of the Weimar Republic. The main villain of this history isn't even Hitler so much as it is Heinrich Himmler, the Nazis' chief anti-homosexual fanatic and architect of the deadly campaign against them.
Plant does well describing the particular nature of the dilemma homosexual concentration camp inmates faced. For example, while the overall numbers of homosexuals who ended up in concentration and work camps was relatively low compared to other groups, their mortality rate was the highest of all the groups, because they were particularly reviled by the SS guards and often disdained as well by their fellow inmates.
On the other hand, because Himmler believed that homosexuality represented a cultural disease that could help bring about a society's downfall, he was much less interested in persecuting homosexuals in the countries the Nazis conquered, as he was fine with the idea of, for instance, the Slavic cultures being "weakened" in this way.
This book was published in 1986. Plant himself explains that he feels he has only begun to scratch the surface of the topic. I would be interested to know whether there's been more detailed research conducted and/or published since. Either way, this book provides an effective entry into this grim subject matter.
This was one of the harder reads for me over the Holocaust because it had more of a personal twinge to it than the other books that I have read. The book focuses primarily on the plight of homosexual men during the holocaust. We are aware of the fact that numerous jewish individuals died during this event, but most people are not aware of the other 5 million people that died. There is a mix of various other classes of individuals that died during this horrendous event of our history. One of these groups were homosexuals. They were put in the camps as well. This book focuses in on that.
Sometimes the other seems to go off on other tangents that does not focus entirely on the homosexual plight in the camps and holocaust, but once you get to the end you understand how it all ties together. I feel he could have organized the book slightly better, but overall you learn a great deal about a subject that seems to get swept under the rug a lot. This book will educate you on how it was possible for even gay men to be treated horribly during this time period. Also you will learn how the Nazi party would use homosexuality to weed out people they didn't like in their party. It is a book that will teach you something you didn't know about the Holocaust and as a result you will understand the modern day world better.
People often forget or perhaps don't even known that many other groups were persecuted alongside the Jews by the Nazis during World War II. Homosexual men, especially German homosexual men, made up one of these groups. Their position is especially unique because homosexuality was illegal not only in Germany, but in much of the rest of the world. Because of this, they found very little sympathy or help even after liberation. Richard Plant was fortunate, he was able to escape from Germany to Sweden and then to America, despite being both Jewish and homosexual. However, most of his friends were not so fortunate. In The Pink Triangle he examines the plights particular to the homosexual community during the Nazis rise to and fall from power, an often neglected and ignored part of history.
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This is the first comprehensive book in English on the fate of the homosexuals in Nazi Germany. The author, a German refugee, examines the climate and conditions that gave rise to a vicious campaign against Germany's gays, as directed by Himmler and his SS--persecution that resulted in tens of thousands of arrests and thousands of deaths. In this Nazi crusade, homosexual prisoners were confined to death camps where, forced to wear pink triangles, they constituted the lowest rung in the camp hierarchy. The horror of camp life is described through diaries, previously untranslated documents, and interviews with and letters from survivors, revealing how the anti-homosexual campaign was conducted, the crackpot homophobic fantasies that fueled it, the men who made it possible, and those who were its victims, this chilling book sheds light on a corner of twentieth-century history that has been hidden in the shadows much too long.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)306.76620943Social sciences Social Sciences Culture and Institutions Relations between the sexes, sexualities, love Sexual orientation, gender identity Homosexuality Gay Men Biography And History Europe
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