Monsters or Men: Homosexuals In Sachsenhausen

The reason I am posting this is because I believe that it does us all a great disservice to dismiss the perpetrators of great crimes as monsters and to deny their humanity. It allows us to put them in an entirely separate category which has no connection with us and over which we have no control. I think we need to meditate closely on why otherwise normal and decent people commit order or allow such appalling crimes to happen.

A brief background: Rudolf  Hoss was born in 1901 he grew up in a strict household and at the outbreak of world war i at the age of 14 he served briefly in a military hospital before being admitted to the same regiment his father and grandfather had served in, the German Army's 21st Regiment of Dragoons. At the age of fifteen, he fought with the Turkish Sixth Army at Bagdad, at Kut-el-Amara, and in Palestine. While stationed in Turkey, he rose to the rank of Sergeant and at the age of 17 was the youngest NCO in the army. Wounded three times and a victim of malaria, he was awarded the Gallipoli Star, the Iron Cross first and second class, and other decorations. Höss also briefly served as commander of a cavalry unit.

After Germany's surrender, Höss completed his secondary education, following which joined nationalist paramilitary groups that were forming in the post-war chaos, first the East Prussian Volunteer Corps and then the free corp Rossbach in the Baltic area, Silesia, and the Ruhr. Höss participated in guerrilla attacks against Polish people during the Silesian Uprisings, and against French occupation forces during the occupation of the Ruhr. Hoss joined the Nazi party in 1922 and the SS in 1934 in which he rose to become an SS Lieutenant Colonel.
From 4 May 1940 to November 1943 Hoss was the first commandant of Auschwitz.

The following is an extract from Extract From the Memoir Of Rudolf Hoss written in captivity after the war. 

From the beginning the homosexuals in Sachsenhausen were housed in a special block. Some of them were put to work in the clay pit of the Gross-Klinker brick factory, separated from the other prisoners. This was hard work and everyone had to produce a certain quota. They were exposed to all kinds of weather because there were a certain number of clay trains which had to be filled daily. The baking process could not be stopped just because of lack of material. So they had to work outdoors, summer or winter, regardless of the weather. Depending on the kind of person the homosexual was, the heavy work, which was supposed to make him "normal" again, had a varying effect on him. The purpose of this kind of work had visible results with the "Strichjunge." This was the Berlin slang word for the male prostitutes who wanted to earn their living in an easy way and absolutely avoid even the lightest work. They were not considered homosexuals, since this was only their trade. The strict camp life and the hard work quickly reeducated this type. Most of them worked very hard and took great care not to get into trouble so that they could be released as soon as possible. They also avoided associating with those afflicted with this depravity and wanted to make it known that they had nothing to do with homosexuals. In this way countless rehabilitated young men could be released without having a relapse.
One lesson was effective enough, since it dealt mostly with young boys. Some men were homosexual because they became weary of women through overindulgence or because they looked for new highs in their parasitic life. These men could also be reeducated and turned away from their vice.
But those who were inclined and had become addicted to their vice could not be reeducated. They were on the same level with those few who were genuine homosexuals. With those not even the hardest work and not even the strictest supervision were of any help. Whenever they found an opportunity they lay in each other's arms. Even when they were completely physically debilitated, they were slaves to their vice. They were easily recognizable. They exhibited a soft, female prudishness and affectation, expressed themselves in a sweet manner, and conducted themselves toward others of their kind with a charming behavior. Those who had turned away from this vice and who wanted to be free from it were different. Their recovery could be carefully observed step by step. Those who had a firm resolve to renounce this vice were able to withstand the hardest work while the others, depending on their inner strength, died. Since they could not or would not give up their vice, they knew that they would never be free again. This most effective mental pressure accelerated the physical decay in these sensitive characters. If in addition to that they lost a "friend" through sickness or perhaps through death, one could predict the future. Many committed suicide. In this situation the homosexual's friend meant everything. It happened several times that two friends decided to commit suicide together.
inrecovery1001 inrecovery1001
46-50, M
2 Responses Dec 4, 2012

Your extract of German history is good.

I recommend that you read Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt's account of the Eichmann trial in which she coined the phrase 'the banality of evil'.