Rethinking Homosexuality under National Socialism
CHAPTER 3 The Politics of Gender Difference: Lesbian Existence under the Third Reich
The Politics of Gender Difference: Lesbian Existence under the Third Reich The racialization of (homo)sexuality under nazism left little room for erotic autonomy to the extent that the nazis were keenly obsessed with the production of genetically fit Aryans. It would be amiss, however, to presume that all forms of non-marital or non-procreative (hetero)sexuality were characterized as illicit; such was not the case if these sexual relations occurred among and between those deemed to be racially pure Aryans. But homosexuality, along with bestiality (Paragraph 175B under the revised penal code) and other forms of sexual “decadence,” given nazi population and racial politics, was largely represented and codified as a Semitic invention under tropes of sexual waywardness and excess. Nazi propaganda linked homosexuality to the weakening of the German state; its juridical code targeted same-sex relations between men as susceptible to criminal prosecution, and many thousands of gay men under National Socialism were incarcerated in prisons and in concentration camps, assigned labor, used for medical experimentation, and even exterminated. Lesbians, on the other hand, while not always persecuted for their sexuality alone, as was the case for many gay men, could be susceptible to persecution through the axis of gender, that is, through non-conformity to the norms of gender, including marriage and the institution of heterosexuality, as well as for their political beliefs, insofar as they challenged the gender/sexual politics of the nazi state or nazi ideology in general. Conventional wisdom in Holocaust research has stipulated quite consistently that...
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