Josef Kohout- One name-2 fates.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Pink Triangle

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Hitler considered homosexuals “infectious” and sought to isolate or exterminate them to ensure his pure German master race. Most of what the Nazis called “die Rosa-Winkel” (the Pink Triangles), died – possibly up to 15,000 of them – either from exhaustion or starvation in the camps or on long marches led by the Nazi SS as allied forces closed in.

Shortly after the Nazis became the only legal party in the Third Reich, homosexual men and women became the target of police raids and interrogation. Under a section of the existing 1871 German Penal code, known as Paragraph 175 (§ 175), homosexual men could be arrested and tried. Paragraph 175 made sexual acts between men a punishable act.

Although the code was operational prior to 1933 it was largely ignored throughout Germany. The ‘unnatural’ sexual act of sodomy itself was difficult to prove unless actually caught while still in progress, making criminal charges cumbersome in many cases.

Before Hitler became Chancellor, the act was almost repealed in parliament as a result of the pioneering campaigning by sexologist Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld.

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When the Nazi party came to power the act was adjusted to include further punishment for homosexual men and the code was used as the main instrument to arrest both known homosexuals and later, men suspected of homosexual acts. The photo below is a police identity picture showing a German man arrested in October 1937 for violating Paragraph 175.

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By June 28th 1935, and in effect from September 1st 1935, the new § 175 had been revised to include indecency and two further additions: 175a and 175b.

By 1944 a suggestion of homosexuality was all that was required for an arrest and many more men found themselves arrested and imprisoned.

To differentiate between the various groups in the camps, the Nazis devised a simple system of easy identification. Besides the individual numbering system of tattooing each prisoner on entry, various cloth symbols and letters were sewn onto uniforms and worn at all times to aid instant recognition.

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Letter A:
Initially homosexuals were identified by the letter ‘A’, which was sewn on to their left breast or trouser leg. The ‘A’ stood for Arschficker, which is the German word for ‘Ass-F*cker’. Later replaced by a triangle system as shown in the chart above recovered from the Dachau camp in Germany.

The Nazis soon developed a system of several different coloured triangles: yellow for Jews; red for political ; green for criminals; purple for Jehovah’s Witnesses; black for a-socials; brown for gypsies; blue for emigrants and pink for homosexuals. Jewish homosexuals were made to wear both the yellow triangle and the pink triangle, which undoubtedly left them feel ‘the lowest of the low’.

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In some of the early concentration and ‘security camps’ a blue bar worn on the breast and sleeve identified homosexual inmates. It also identified catholic and political prisoners

The pink triangle, or Rosa Winkel, was the most associated symbol for men held under § 175. Inmates were made to wear a large piece of pink cloth on the breast side of their clothes  and a larger one across their backs. The pink triangle was made 2cm larger than any of the other identification triangle so that guards and other prisoners could clearly see when a homosexual prisoner was approaching.

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Prisoners with the pink triangle made little contact with other prisoners for fear of further persecution. By associating with the pink triangles, other detainees would have almost certainly drawn unwanted attention on to themselves and the best way of avoiding further abuse was clearly to remain as invisible as possible.

In the Berlin Nollendorfplatz subway station, a pink triangle plaque honors gay male victims.

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Between 1933 and 1945, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested as homosexuals, of whom some 50,000 were officially sentenced.Most of these men served time in regular prisons, and an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 of those sentenced were incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps.It is unclear how many of the 5,000 to 15,000 eventually died in the camps, but leading scholar Rüdiger Lautmann believes that the death rate of homosexuals in concentration camps may have been as high as 60%. Homosexuals in the camps were treated in an unusually cruel manner by their captors.

Persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany.

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Upon the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany, gay men and, to a lesser extent, lesbians, were two of the numerous groups targeted by the Nazis and were ultimately among Holocaust victims. Beginning in 1933, gay organizations were banned, scholarly books about homosexuality, and sexuality in general, (such as those from the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, run by Jewish gay rights campaigner Magnus Hirschfeld) were burned, and homosexuals within the Nazi Party itself were murdered. The Gestapo compiled lists of homosexuals, who were compelled to sexually conform to the “German norm.”

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While male homosexuality remained illegal in Weimar Germany under Paragraph 175 of the criminal code, German homosexual-rights activists became worldwide leaders in efforts to reform societal attitudes that condemned homosexuality. Many in Germany regarded the Weimar Republic’s toleration of homosexuals as a sign of Germany’s decadence. The Nazis posed as moral crusaders who wanted to stamp out the “vice” of homosexuality from Germany in order to help win the racial struggle. Once they took power in 1933, the Nazis intensified persecution of German male homosexuals. Persecution ranged from the dissolution of homosexual organizations to internment in concentration camps.

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The Nazis believed that male homosexuals were weak, effeminate men who could not fight for the German nation. They saw homosexuals as unlikely to produce children and increase the German birthrate. The Nazis held that inferior races produced more children than “Aryans,” so anything that diminished Germany’s reproductive potential was considered a racial danger.

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In late February 1933, as the moderating influence of Ernst Röhm-Röhm’s sexual orientation was no secret after the mid-1920s. Hitler either ignored it or said it was immaterial-weakened, the Nazi Party launched its purge of homosexual (gay, lesbian, and bisexual; then known as homophile) clubs in Berlin, outlawed sex publications, and banned organized gay groups. As a consequence, many fled Germany

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In March 1933, Kurt Hiller, the main organizer of Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sex Research, was sent to a concentration camp.

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On May 6, 1933, Nazi Youth of the Deutsche Studentenschaft made an organized attack on the Institute of Sex Research. A few days later on May 10, the Institute’s library and archives were publicly hauled out and burned in the streets of the opernplatz. Around 20,000 books and journals, and 5,000 images, were destroyed. Also seized were the Institute’s extensive lists of names and addresses of homosexuals.[4] In the midst of the burning, Joseph Goebbels gave a political speech to a crowd of around 40,000 people.

Hitler initially protected Röhm from other elements of the Nazi Party which held his homosexuality to be a violation of the party’s strong anti-gay policy. However, Hitler later changed course when he perceived Röhm to be a potential threat to his power. During the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, a purge of those whom Hitler deemed threats to his power took place, he had Röhm murdered and used Röhm’s homosexuality as a justification to suppress outrage within the ranks of the SA.

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After solidifying his power, Hitler would include gay men among those sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust.

On June 28, 1935, the Ministry of Justice revised Paragraph 175. The revisions provided a legal basis for extending Nazi persecution of homosexuals. Ministry officials expanded the category of “criminally indecent activities between men” to include any act that could be construed as homosexual.

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The courts later decided that even intent or thought sufficed. On October 26, 1936, Himmler formed within the Security Police the Reich Central Office for Combating Abortion and Homosexuality. Josef Meisinger, executed in 1947 for his brutality in occupied Poland, led the new office.

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The police had powers to hold in protective custody or preventive arrest those deemed dangerous to Germany’s moral fiber, jailing indefinitely—without trial—anyone they chose. In addition, homosexual prisoners just released from jail were immediately re-arrested and sent to concentration camps if the police thought it likely that they would continue to engage in homosexual acts.

 

From 1937 to 1939, the peak years of the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, the police increasingly raided homosexual meeting places, seized address books, and created networks of informers and undercover agents to identify and arrest suspected homosexuals.

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On April 4, 1938, the Gestapo issued a directive indicating that men convicted of homosexuality could be incarcerated in concentration camps. Between 1933 and 1945 the police arrested an estimated 100,000 men as homosexuals. Most of the 50,000 men sentenced by the courts spent time in regular prisons, and between 5,000 and 15,000 were interned in concentration camps.

The Nazis interned some homosexuals in concentration camps immediately after the seizure of power in January 1933. Those interned came from all areas of German society, and often had only the cause of their imprisonment in common. Some homosexuals were interned under other categories by mistake, and the Nazis purposefully miscategorized some political prisoners as homosexuals. Prisoners marked by pink triangles to signify homosexuality were treated harshly in the camps. According to many survivor accounts, homosexuals were among the most abused groups in the camps.

Because some Nazis believed homosexuality was a sickness that could be cured, they designed policies to “cure” homosexuals of their “disease” through humiliation and hard work. Guards ridiculed and beat homosexual prisoners upon arrival, often separating them from other inmates. Rudolf Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz, wrote in his memoirs that homosexuals were segregated in order to prevent homosexuality from spreading to other inmates and guards. Personnel in charge of work details in the Dora-Mittelbau underground rocket factory or in the stone quarries at Flossenbürg and Buchenwald often gave deadly assignments to homosexuals.

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Survival in camps took on many forms. Some homosexual inmates secured administrative and clerical jobs. For other prisoners, sexuality became a means of survival. In exchange for sexual favors, some Kapos protected a chosen prisoner, usually of young age, giving him extra food and shielding him from the abuses of other prisoners.

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Homosexuals themselves very rarely became Kapos due to the lack of a support network. Kapo guardianship was no protection against the guards’ brutality, of course. In any case, the Kapo often tired of an individual, sometimes killing him and finding another on the next transport. Though individual homosexual inmates could secure a measure of protection in some ways, as a group homosexual prisoners lacked the support network common to other groups. Without this help in mitigating brutality, homosexual prisoners were unlikely to survive long.

One avenue of survival available to some homosexuals was castration, which some criminal justice officials advocated as a way of “curing” sexual deviance. Homosexual defendants in criminal cases or concentration camps could agree to castration in exchange for lower sentences. Later, judges and SS camp officials could order castration without the consent of a homosexual prisoner.

Nazis interested in finding a “cure” for homosexuality expanded this program to include medical experimentation on homosexual inmates of concentration camps. These experiments caused illness, mutilation, and even death, and yielded no scientific knowledge.

At Buchenwald, Danish doctor Carl Værnetconducted hormonal experiments on twelve gay men. He made incisions in their groin and implanted a metal tube that released testosterone over a prolonged period, as he believed that a lack of testosterone was the cause of homosexuality.

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There are no known statistics for the number of homosexuals who died in the camps.

Memorial “Stolperstein” for Arnold Bastian, a homosexual victim of the Nazis. It is located at Große Straße 54 in Flensburg. The text reads: “Here lived Arnold Bastian, born 1908. Arrested 15 January 1944. Penitentiary at Celle. Dead on 17 February 1945 at the penitentiary in Hameln.

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