Paragraph 175 (film)

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German title Section 175
Original title Section 175
Country of production UK , DE , USA
original language French , English , German
Publishing year 2000
length 81 minutes
Director Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
script Sharon Wood
camera Bernd Meiners

Paragraph 175 is a documentary from 2000 by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman , the narrator is Rupert Everett . The German historian and project manager for Western Europe at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum , Klaus Müller, was co-producer and consultant . The film tells the life stories of several men and women who by the Nazis because of their homosexuality because of § 175 , which since 1871 in the German Penal Code of sodomite persecution were persecuted served.

Between 1933 and 1945 , 100,000 people were sentenced on the basis of Section 175, the majority of them to prison or prison. 10,000 to 15,000 were imprisoned in concentration camps, of which 4,000 survived until the end of the war. Of these people, fewer than ten were found alive in 2000. In the documentation Paragraph 175, six of these former prisoners, many of them well over 90 years old, tell their life stories for the first time and thus close a historical gap.

Paragraph 175 examines the hitherto little-documented persecution of homosexuals in the Third Reich and the associated consequences in the then and later life of the victims on the basis of personal reports. The reports all begin in the Roaring Twenties , when there was a lively gay scene in major German cities like Berlin with countless gay and lesbian pubs, night clubs and cabarets and - despite the existing Section 175 - relative freedom. Many homosexual young people were active in the German youth movement. Even after Hitler came to power , the impending catastrophe was not recognized in the scene. It was supposed to be certain that Ernst Röhm, a leading National Socialist, lived his homosexuality relatively openly. After the murder of Röhm, the persecution of homosexuals by the National Socialists, which had not been so targeted up to that point, increased drastically. Paragraph 175 was tightened in 1935, and afterwards gay meeting places were closed, raids and spying took place in almost all large cities.

Interviewed persons

In the documentation, six people report on their persecution because of Section 175 in the Third Reich. Another person, Karl Gorath , no longer wants to talk about the past. In the documentation he is shown with his photo album, from which photos that he no longer wants to be reminded of have been torn out. Two other people, one in Poland and one in Germany, were tracked down by Müller, but declined to be interviewed.

Gad Beck

Gad Beck was born in 1923 into a Judeo-Christian family and had a happy childhood there. After 1933, he and his twin sister Miriam were considered half-Jews and experienced growing anti-Semitism. The hostility at school became so severe that Gad convinced his parents to send him to a Jewish school for boys in 1935. It was there that he had his first sexual experience with a man when he seduced his PE teacher in the shower after class. He proudly boasted to his mother about his conquest with his typical openness. His parents were not very surprised and accepted his homosexuality.

In 1941 Beck joined the Chug Chaluzi resistance group , which among other things procured quarters and food for Jews. More and more Jews were now being kidnapped from their homes and transported to the concentration camps, including a blond Jewish boy in whose house Beck slept and with whom he had spent the night. The Gestapo was only interested in the boy and his mother, Beck was not on the list. In 1942 Beck tried to free his first great love, Manfred Lewin, from a Gestapo camp by posing as a Hitler Youth. In fact, he was able to leave the camp with his friend, but Lewin did not want to leave his family behind and so Beck had to watch helplessly as Lewin voluntarily went back to the camp.

Heinz Dörmer

Heinz Dörmer was born in Berlin in 1912 and joined church groups in his early years. At 15 he took part in Berlin's wild life in the gay bars and discovered his passion for the theater. In 1929 he founded his own youth group in the scout movement , the so-called Wolfsring . Working in the group allowed Dörmer to combine many of his interests: sexual affairs, amateur theater and traveling. From 1932 Dörmer worked as a regional leader on the national level in the scout movement. Despite his resistance, Dörmer's scout group was then, like all other youth organizations, affiliated with the Hitler Youth in October 1933 .

In April 1935, Dörmer was charged with homosexual activities with members of the group. A series of imprisonments in prisons and concentration camps began on the basis of Section 175. He reports on the “singing forest” from which the inhuman roar and screams of the victims who were tortured and murdered by the concentration camp thugs sounded. Dörmer: “The singing forest, everyone got goose bumps. The singing forest, inexplicable, the human brain fails, and a lot remains unnamed. "

Pierre Seel

Pierre Seel was born in Haguenau in Alsace in 1923 . When the Germans annexed Alsace in 1940, they began to search systematically for "anti-social elements". They instructed the French police to create “ pink lists ” to monitor the homosexuals. Seel came on this list when he reported the theft of his watch to the police, which was stolen from him in a well-known gay hangout. He was first arrested by the Germans and finally transferred to the Vorbruck-Schirmeck security camp. There he was mistreated and tortured, for example by inserting a 25 centimeter long piece of wood into him. His worst experience there was that he had to watch as his friend Jo was torn alive and eaten up by the shepherds of the guard on the roll call square.

Heinz F.

Heinz F. was born near Hanover in 1905. In the 1920s and 30s he was part of the gay scene in Berlin, where he also met Magnus Hirschfeld . In 1935 one of his friends was arrested and under pressure he disclosed the names of other homosexuals. F. was arrested and taken to the Dachau concentration camp without charge or trial , where he was held for 1.5 years. A year or two after his release he was arrested again because of an affair with a male hustler and taken to the Buchenwald concentration camp . He stayed there until he was drafted into the Wehrmacht a few days after the end of the war. F. spent more than eight years in various concentration camps.

When the war ended, F. was 40 years old and went home to his parents' business, which was now run by his brother and mother. His father had since passed away. He found no one to talk to about his fate and the years of his imprisonment. Now at the age of 92, F. is telling his story for the first time in his life.

Albrecht Becker

Albrecht Becker was born in Thale in 1906 . The attractive and always well-dressed eighteen-year-old fell in love with a 45-year-old man with whom he lived for about ten years. Through him he met a number of artists and influential people who took him on trips around the world.

In 1935 he had affairs with three or four students. Since he was about ten years older than the students, he was believed to be the seducer. When he was first questioned, Becker replied to the question of whether he was homosexual: “Yes, everyone knows that.” In the subsequent conviction on the basis of Section 175, he was fortunate not to be sent to the Dachau concentration camp Years of serving in a normal prison. After his release he had to find out that there were almost only women in his home village, and so he volunteered for the Wehrmacht, because he "wanted to be among men."

Annette Eick

Annette Eick was born in Berlin in 1909 as the daughter of an adapted Jewish family. They called themselves Yom Kippur Jews because they were not very religious but still kept the holidays. Eick discovered she was a lesbian at the age of ten. At the end of the 1920s she visited a club in northern Berlin for the first time, which was mostly attended by proletarian girls. The many masculine lesbians, dressed in their best Sunday suit , a tuxedo , intimidated them at first. There she met Ditt, who reminded her of Marlene Dietrich and whom she initially turned down .

In 1938 she prepared for her departure from Germany on a farm near Berlin. After the November pogroms , she was taken from there to a police prison. The policeman's wife intentionally left the doors open so that Eick could escape and head back to the now-burned farm, where she found her passport in the rubble. She then wanted to go back to Berlin to see her parents on a bicycle. On the way she met the postman who had a letter from Ditt for her. Ditt had meanwhile emigrated to England and was now sending her the immigration papers. Her brother Horst Julius Eick emigrated to Denmark. Other relatives also emigrated: Berta Biermann to San Francisco, Charlotte Eick to Denmark, Lise Zimmermann to Palestine. However, Annette Eick's parents stayed in Berlin and were murdered in Auschwitz .

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