Liam Hoare reflects on yesterday’s 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitiz:
Whether at the cement plant in Sachsenhausen, the underground V2 rocket factory in Buchenwald, or the stone quarry at Flossenbürg, homosexuals were subject to deadly assignments and a scarring, bone-shattering system of punishments. Sixty percent of gay internees died in the camps.
For those who remained alive, humiliation was an inevitable part of daily life. The Polish LGBTQ rights activist Robert Biedroń notes that homosexuals in the camps “were forced to sleep in nightshirts and to hold their hands outside the covers,” ostensibly in order to prevent masturbation. In Flossenbürg, homosexuals were required to visit female prostitutes—Jewish and Roma prisoners from a nearby camp—as a form of treatment. “The Nazis cut holes in the walls through which they could observe the ‘behavior’ of their homosexual prisoners,” Biedroń writes.
(Photo: Mug shot of homosexual Auschwitz prisoner August Pfeiffer, servant, born Aug. 8, 1895, in Weferlingen. He arrived to Auschwitz Nov. 1, 1941, and died there Dec. 28, 1941. From the State Museum of Auschwitz, Oswiecim, Poland)