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State persecution of homosexuals in Saxony 1933-1968

Research field:Dictatorship Research
Research focus: Rule and Society
Period: 04.2018–12.2020 (Project completed)
Coordination: Dr. Clemens Vollnhals


Der Tagungsbericht zum Workshop "Homosexuellenverfolgung im regionalen Vergleich" ist online


Im Rahmen des Forschungsprojektes zur Homosexuellenverfolgung in Sachsen 1933-1968 veranstaltete das Hannah-Arendt-Institut am 6. und 7. September 2019 einen Workshop. Thema waren die regionalen Unterschiede der Verfolgungspolitik während der NS- und der Nachkriegszeit und die Folgen für die Lebenssituation Homosexueller. Renommierte Wissenschaftler aus dem In- und Ausland präsentierten ihre Forschungsergebnisse und diskutierten aktuelle Forschungsfragen. Im Zentrum stand dabei der Vergleich von Verfolgung und Alltag in eher urban und eher ländlich geprägten Regionen. Dabei wurde deutlich, dass die Verfolgungsintensität in Großstädten tendenziell höher war als auf dem Land, was nicht nur mit dem mutmaßlich höheren Bevölkerungsanteil Homosexueller in urbanen Regionen zu erklären ist.
Den Tagungsbericht zum Workshop „Homosexuellenverfolgung im regionalen Vergleich“, der am 6. und 7. September am Hannah-Arendt-Institut abgehalten wurde, finden Sie hier.


State persecution of homosexuals in Saxony 1933-1968

The purpose of the research project is the academic analysis of the state persecution of homosexuals in Saxony in the years of the Nazi dictatorship and under the GDR regime up to the repeal of paragraph 175 of the Criminal Code in 1968. Analysis of the National Socialist persecution policy has so far been only sketchy, and no study exists for Saxony. Largely unexplored is the situation in the post-war period, where this study is performing ground-breaking work.
The focus lies on criminal prosecution. The treatment of Saxony highlights regional implementation in a territorial state: the differences between town and country, the role of the police, the judiciary and the public, and – not least – the role of the victims themselves. The first part concerns the National Socialist era: how enthusiastic were the prosecution authorities in enforcing paragraph 175, drastically tightened in 1935 and threatening men engaged in ‘fornication’ with prison? What was the significance of the newly created paragraph 175a? How many homosexuals were sentenced? What was the proportion of those sent to concentration camps and tortured to death there? How did the population react and what leeway existed – despite everything – for homosexual life?
The second part examines the situation from 1945 to 1968. An emphasis is placed on the lengthy debates on relaxing paragraph 175 and on the ultimately unsuccessful efforts to rehabilitate homosexual victims of National Socialism. In addition, the impact of paragraph 175 on the daily lives of homosexuals in the 1950s and 1960s is discussed. How did Saxon case law evolve following the decision by the Supreme Court of the GDR of 28 March 1950 that rejected the ‘new version’ of paragraph 175 from 1935 as ‘Nazi’ in character and reinstated the milder ‘Weimar version’? Did the persecution of homosexuality among adults actually cease, as is often supposed? The second part of the study addresses the continuities, ruptures and gradual liberalisation in the treatment of homosexuality and homosexuals since 1945, also in comparison with the Federal Republic.
Sought for the research project are witnesses who can report on homosexual life in Saxony during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Planned are longer interviews, to be recorded on tape. Desired interviewees include not only gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans-gender people, but also friends, relatives, colleagues, pub employees and members of the judiciary or police, who can give first-hand information about the atmosphere during these years. The interviews will of course be conducted anonymously on request.
Also of interest are photos and documents presenting the situations of homosexuals in the periods under investigation. Many an attic may contain items left behind by a homosexual member of the family. Such finds can be of great value for research.


Dr. Alexander Zinn
Affiliierter Forscher