"Protective custody" and "Preventive custody" for homosexuals

Homosexuals in the Third Reich were persecuted with particular vehemence and way beyond the existing provisions of the criminal law code. They were not only subject to "protective custody" but to "preventive custody" as well. Both led to imprisonment in a concentration camp. Male homosexuality was seen as a threat to the "people's community" (Volkgemeinschaft) and was incompatible with the principles of racial population policies. The widespread prejudices against homosexuality were also used by the National Socialist leadership for propaganda purposes: in 1934, when Röhm was murdered; in 1936/1937, during the staged "moral trials" of Catholic priests and members of the religious orders; and in 1938 when General von Fritsch was deprived of his high command of the Army.

In 1936, a "Central Reich Agency to fight Homosexuality and Abortion" was established in the Prussian State Office of the Criminal Police; and as early as 1934, a "Special Department for Homosexuality" had been created within the Secret State Police Office. From 1939 on, both institutions belonged to the Reich Security Main Office. In 1935, Article 175 of the criminal code was expanded, with more severe provisions added to it. Thousands of homosexuals -- there are no precise figures -- were imprisoned in concentration camps. These "men with the pink triangle" were subject to special harassment on the part of the guards; their death rate was markedly higher than that of other categories of prisoners.

A report of March 11, 1935 by SS First Lieutenant Carl Marks, pertaining to a raid made by Gestapo and SS on homosexuals in Berlin.

Carl Marks SS First Lieutenant Liebstandarte SS Adolf Hitler 11th Company [Sturm] Berlin-Lichterfelde, March 11, 1935 Report! On March 9, 1935 the company under my command provided 20 men for a commando to support officers of the Gestapo during a raid on homosexuals. The commando departed from the barracks in two trucks at 9:15 p.m and reported as ordered to Chief Inspector Kanthak at 10 p.m. In addition to our commando, 10 to 12 police officers had been assigned to participate in the raid. Some of them were appointed to make sure beforehand that the execution [of the raid] would proceed as planned. A few of them returned before our deployment began. Meanwhile Chief Inspector Kanthak briefed me on the operation. At 10:45 p.m. we departed from Gestapo headquarters and rode in several trucks to the restaurant "Weinmeister Klause" on Weinmeisterstrasse where many persons with homosexual tendencies were believed to hang out. According to prior arrangements, two of our men sealed off the exits of the restaurant; they had been given orders not to allow anybody to leave but to admit everybody who wanted to come in. Eight men, previously designated, blocked off the space in front the bar from the other part of the restaurant. Two men searched the toilets. Chief inspector K. and his officers removed all suspicious looking persons from the tables and ordered them to join those who had been previously told to line up in front of the bar. Then they were loaded onto the trucks and, guarded by our men, were taken to Gestapo headquarters. Among those arrested was also a woman who was said to in posession of inflammatory Soviet-Russian pamphlets. From the courtyard of the Gestapo headquarters those arrested were taken, again under guard, to the hallway on the fourth floor and to the sections that handled such cases. Here they had to line up in alphabetical order and guarded by our men, with their faces to the wall, wait for their interrogation. The interrogation began at once, conducted by most of the previously mentioned police officers. After these men had been interrogated they were moved to another part of the hallway where they had to wait for the decisions regarding their guilt or innocence. Once the interrogation of those first arrested had started, Chief Inspector K. and some of his men not immediately needed for interrogations resumed the raid, accompanied by the rest of our men.

Joseph Meisinger (1899-1947), around 1940. Joseph Meisinger, a Bavarian Criminal Police official, worked from 1934 on in the Secret State Police Office in Berlin. His special assignment was to monitor activities within the National Socialist Party and its various organizations (for example corruption). In addition, he was also in charge of Section II S, which handled homosexual matters, and from 1936 on headed the "Central Reich Agency to fight Homosexuality and Abortion". In 1939 he became Deputy Commander of Special Unit IV, and in April 1940 was appointed Commander of Security Police and Security Service in Warsaw. In October 1940 he was assigned in Tokyo as a police attaché. There he was arrested by the Americans in 1945, was extradited to Poland in 1946 and executed in Warsaw in 1947 because of crimes he committed while commanding the Security Police there.

The Secret State Police Office (Gestapo)

Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse 8, April 26, 1933, Prime Minister Hermann Göring set up the "Secret State Police Office". Separated from the general police force and re-established as an independent agency, the Secret State Police was soon removed from the Ministry for Home Affairs and made directly answerable to the Prime Minister. As of May 1933, the Secret State Police Office was located at Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse 8. The establishment of State Police branch offices throughout the Prussian government districts was directed from here. Having gradually taken charge of almost all of the political police forces in the non-Prussian states, in April 1934, Heinrich Himmler became "Inspector" and thus the de facto head of the Secret State Police. He appointed Reinhard Heydrich head of the Secret State Police in Berlin.

Following his appointment as "Chief of the German Police" on June 17, 1936, Himmler re-organised the entire police force. The Security Police Main Office now comprised the Gestapo and the Criminal Investigation Division (Head: Reinhard Heydrich); the Order Police comprised the municipal, rural and local police forces (Head: Kurt Daluege).

In 1933, between two and three hundred people worked for the Secret State Police Office; by 1942, the agency employed more than 1,100 people, 477 of whom were working directly on the Prinz Albrecht Terrain.

Source: Topography of Terror - Gestapo, SS and Reichssicherheithauptamt on the "Prinz-Albrecht-Terrain" - A documentation, edited by Reinhard Rürup, Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel, 1989. Translated from German by W.T. Angress.

Click here to visit the Website of the Prinz-Albrecht-Terrain Memorial in Berlin.

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