Josef Kohout (24 January 1915 – 15 March 1994) was an Austrian concentration camp survivor, imprisoned for his homosexuality. He is known best for the 1972 book Die Männer mit dem rosa Winkel (The Men With the Pink Triangle), which was written by his acquaintance Hans Neumann using the pen name Heinz Heger.
Josef Kohout is the name; prisoner No. 1896, Block 6, at the Flossenburg concentration camp in Bavaria, near the Czech border.
At the age of 24, he was arrested in Vienna as a homosexual outlaw after the Gestapo obtained a photograph he had inscribed to another young man pledging “eternal love.” Liberated six years later by American troops, Mr. Kohout returned to Vienna, where he died in 1994.
Kohout was interned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in January 1940 after having served a six-month sentence. In May 1940, Kohout was transferred from Sachsenhausen to Flossenbürg, in Bavaria, where he remained until his liberation in 1945.
He reported that homosexual prisoners were the most reviled of all the camp’s detainees, and prevented from mutual association.Though the SS guards controlling the camp prevented the homosexual prisoners from associating with one another, sex between straight guards and gay prisoners nonetheless took place, with the guards construing such encounters as a “natural” expression of their “normal” sexuality in unusual circumstances.Kohout was selected for sexual services by a Kapo, and then the senior of his block. Florence Tamagne, a contemporary author on the history of homosexuals in Europe, describes these involvements as fortunate for Kohout; the protection of these relatively privileged men may have helped Kohout to survive.
Like other prisoners, Kohout was assigned futile tasks during his time in the camp, including using wheelbarrows to move the snow (and bare hands to move rocks) from one side of the compound to the other and back again. The repetition and pointlessness of the tasks were such that many prisoners committed suicide.Kohout observed the beating and the torture of prisoners,and theorized in his writings that the sadism of some of the SS officers reflected repressed homosexual desires of their own.
In the summer of 1943 a brothel was established in the camp.This was part of Himmler’s plan to cure homosexuality.
On December 28,1943 Josef (senioer) and Amilia Kohout wrote to the commandant of Flossenbürg to ask to visit their son.
Two months later, having heard nothing, they wrote again. This time, they despaired because their son had failed to notify them that he had received a package of bread and marmalade they had sent. The Kohouts were brave not to have signed these letters with the customary “Heil Hitler.”
Josef Kohout Senior eventually committed suicide for not being able to secure a release for his son.leaving a note for his wife asking “May God protect our son”
Josef Kohout was eventually reunited with his mother. Kohout’s journal entry for his final day in the camp reads “Amerikaner gekommen” (“Americans came”).
In 1946 he met his partner, with whom he stayed until his death in 1994.