What was to become the Nazi Party began as an outgrowth of the Thule Society in late 1918. It started as a nationalist discussion group called the Political Worker's Circle whose goal was to ``extend the appeal of the Thule's nationalist ideology for the working classes'' (Goodrick-Clarke:150). The discussion group developed the idea of forming a political party in December of 1918, and did so on January 5, 1919, at the Furstenfelder Hof tavern in Munich. Adolf Hitler became a member of the German Worker's Party in September of that year. Shirer writes,
There were two members of this insignificant party who deserve mention at this point; both were to prove important in the rise of Hitler...Captain Ernst Roehm...had joined the party before Hitler...A tough, ruthless, driving man -- albeit, like so many of the early Nazis, a homosexual -- he helped organize the first Nazi strong-arm squads which grew into the SA...Dietrich Eckart...often called the spiritual founder of National Socialism...became a close advisor to [Hitler]...introducing him to...such future aides as Rudolf Hess (Shirer:64f).
In a very short time Hitler and Roehm began to wrest control of the small group from its founders. Within a few months they had forced the resignation of its Chairman, Karl Harrar, and begun to turn the group away from its origins as a secret society and toward a new identity as ``a mass party'' (Fest, 1975:120). On April 1, 1920, they changed the name of the party to the National Socialist German Worker's Party. Historian Joachim Fest describes the process Hitler and Roehm used in these earliest days of Nazism:
At the beginning [Hitler] went at things according to a sensible plan. His first task was a personal one, to break out of anonymity, to emerge from the welter of small-time nationalist-racist parties with an unmistakable image...making a name for himself -- by unceasing activity, by brawls, scandals, and riots, even by terrorism if that would bring him to the forefront...[but] Ernst Roehm did more for the NSDAP than anyone else. He held the rank of captain as a political advisor on the staff of Colonel Epp and was the real brain of the disguised military regime in Bavaria. Roehm provided the young National Socialist Party with followers, arms, and funds (Fest, 1975:126f).
By August of 1921, Hitler and Roehm had completed their takeover of the party. On the third of that month they founded the SA and began to assemble the cadre of sexual deviants who would form the core of Nazi leadership for years to come. A pamphlet circulated by disgruntled Nazi members prior to the Hitler takeover shows that the homosexuality of his supporters was no secret. Speaking of Hitler they said, ``It grows more and more clear that his purpose is simply to use the National Socialist Party as a springboard for his immoral purposes'' (Igra:70f). Former high Nazi functionary and Hitler confidant, Otto Strasser reports,
Hitler did three things to popularize the party and quiet the threatening clash of wounded vanities. He shortened the name from Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei to the letters NSDAP; he adopted the brown shirt of Lieutenant Rossbach's veteran organization for the entire party; and he assumed the all-too-familiar swastika from Erhardt's group (Strasser, 1943:34).
Hitler's Clique of Pederasts
As we will see, almost all of the new leadership of the party were sexual deviants. But this fact raises a question that is foundational to our understanding of the Nazis. Who chose these men as Nazi leaders? Roehm, with whose lifestyle we are now quite familiar, was to some historians the true power behind Hitler's throne. As noted above it was primarily Roehm who organized, funded and armed the terrorist military arm of the party, choosing only homosexuals as officers. And it is true that the party met frequently in the Bratwurstgloeckl (Fest, 1975:135f), a homosexual bar where Roehm kept a reserved table.
Yet, despite Roehm's importance to the party, Adolf Hitler himself was the central figure of Nazism and increasingly it was he who determined the fate of every member of the party. Despite suggestions to the contrary, Hitler was not anti-homosexual. In fact, like Roehm, Hitler seemed to prefer homosexual companions and co-workers. In addition to Roehm and Hess, two of his closest friends, Hitler apparently chose homosexuals and other sexual deviants to fill key positions nearest to himself. Rector attempts to dismiss sources that attribute homosexuality to leading Nazis, but nevertheless lists them in some detail:
Reportedly, Hitler Youth leader, Baldur von Schirach was bisexual; Hitler's private attorney, Reich Legal Director, Minister of Justice, butcher Governor-General of Poland, and public gay-hater Hans Frank was said to be a homosexual; Hitler's adjutant Wilhelm Bruckner was said to be bisexual;...Walther Funk, Reich Minister of Economics [and Hitler's personal financial advisor] has frequently been called a ``notorious'' homosexual...or as a jealous predecessor in Funk's post, Hjalmar Schacht, contemptuously claimed, Funk was a ``harmless homosexual and alcoholic;''...[Hitler's second in command] Hermann Goering liked to dress up in drag and wear campy make-up; and so on and so forth (Rector:57).
Igra, who confidently asserts that the above men were homosexuals, cites still other Hitler aides and close friends who were known homosexuals. He states that Hitler's chauffeur and one-time personal secretary, Emile Maurice, for example, was homosexual, as well as the pornographer, Julius Streicher, whom Hitler appointed Gauleiter of Nuremberg. Igra writes,
Julius Streicher, the notorious Jew-baiter, was originally a school teacher, but was dismissed by the Nuremberg School Authorities, following numerous charges of pederasty brought against him...His paper, Der Stuermer, was frequently confiscated by the police, even at the height of the Nazi regime, because of the sexual obscenities displayed in the drawings and described in the text'' (Igra:72f).
The evidence for homosexual leanings in another leading Nazi, Joseph Goebbels, is rather thin, but adds further insight to the inner workings of the group. Goebbels, Reich propaganda leader and close aide to the Fuehrer, is reported to have had a party in 1936 that degenerated into a violent homosexual orgy. The party featured ``torch-bearing page boys in tight fitting white breeches, white satin blouses with lace cuffs and powdered rococo wigs'' (Grunberger:70). Grunberger writes that Nazi roughnecks ``were so affected by the rococo setting that they hurled themselves upon the bewigged page boys and pulled them into the bushes. Tables collapsed, torches were dimmed, and in the ensuing fracas a number of Party old fighters and their comely victims had to be rescued from drowning'' (ibid:70). Goebbels may not have participated in the revelry himself, though Klaus Theweleit writes that ``there is a significant moment in Rossbach's account where he contests the right of Goebbels `of all people' to act as a `moral arbiter,''' apparently assuming that his meaning is ```common knowledge' on the internal grapevine'' (Theweleit, Vol 2:327).
Ralf George Reuth, in Goebbels (Harcourt Brace, New York, 1993), reports that Goebbels was accused by Roehm of pederasty. After Roehm's homosexuality was exposed in the German press, Goebbels [a longtime rival] tried to get him dismissed from the party. ``Roehm took revenge by spreading in return all sorts of rumors about Goebbe's relationship with Magda Quandt. He went so far as to suggest that Goebbels was interested less in Magda than in her young son. So along with Roehm's homosexual excesses, people were talking about the ``cloven foot's `impossible (and immoral) relationship''' (Reuth:138f). (Goebbels' club foot apparently gave rise to the epithet.). We also know that homosexual SA figure Wolf von Helldorf escaped assassination in the Roehm purge due only to intervention by Goebbels (Reuth:137).
Another close Hitler associate was Albert Speer. An October 30, 1995 book review in Newsweek, titled ``Inside a Third Reich Insider'' featured the book Albert Speer: His Battle With Truth by Gitta Sereny. The article speaks of a ``homo-erotic (not sexual) relationship'' between Speer and Hitler that was discussed in a previous book by a German psychoanalyst, Alexander Mitscherlich. Sereny writes that ``Speer himself acknowledged that Mitscherlich `came closest to the truth.''' Altough Sereny claims this relationship was non-sexual, he reports that Speer's secretary said Speer gave himself to Hitler ``body and soul.'' Sereny also observes that Speer never told Hitler he was married because of his ``romantic'' feelings for Hitler. (Sereny:109).
In Albert Speer:The End of a Myth, German historian Dr. Matthais Schmidt commented on an ``erotic'' element to Speer's relationship with Hitler. While Speer was remodelling Hitler's official residence, Hitler invited him to lunch. ``At lunch, Speer sat at Hitler's side. The conversation became personal -- and the two men `fell in love at first sight''' (Schmidt:41f). Aside from these insinuations we have no evidence of an actual homosexual relationship between Hitler and Speer.
Langer writes in the 1940s that ``[e]ven today Hitler derives sexual pleasure from looking at men's bodies and associating with homosexuals'' (Langer:179). He adds, quoting Strasser, that Hitler's personal body-guard was ``almost always 100% homosexuals'' (ibid.:179). It should be remembered that Hitler's greatest hero was Frederick the Great, a well known homosexual (Garde:44). Clearly, Adolf Hitler was not anti-homosexual, at least not in his personal lifestyle. Indeed, the evidence of Hitler's apparent preference for homosexuals is so overwhelming that, as have many historians before us, we naturally ask the question, ``Was Hitler a homosexual?''
Was Adolf Hitler a Homosexual?
If we ask whether Hitler was exclusively homosexual the short answer to this question is ``probably not.'' There are at least four women, including his own niece, with whom Hitler had sexual relationships, although these relationships were not normal. Both Waite and Langer write that Hitler was a coprophile (a person who is sexually aroused by human excrement) and suggest that his sexual encounters with women included expressions of this perversion as well as other extremely degrading forms of masochism. It is interesting to note that all of these women attempted suicide after becoming sexually involved with Hitler. Two succeeded (Langer:175f). Hitler contemporary Otto Strasser writes of an encounter he had with Hitler's niece Gely:
Next day Gely came to see me. She was red eyed, her round little face was wan, and she had the terrified look of a hunted beast. ``He locked me up,'' she sobbed. ``He locks me up every time I say no!'' She did not need much questioning. With anger, horror and disgust she told me of the strange propositions with which her uncle pestered her. I knew all about Hitler's abnormality. Like all the others in the know, I had heard all about the eccentric practices to which Fraulein Hofmann was alleged to have lent herself, but I had genuinely believed that the photographer's daughter was a little hysteric who told lies for the sheer fun of it. But Gely, who was completely ignorant of this other affair of her uncle's, confirmed point by point a story scarcely credible to a healthy-minded man (Strasser, 1940:72).
Langer suggests that Hitler may very well have engaged in homosexual behavior, saying ``persons suffering from his perversion sometimes do indulge in homosexual practices in the hope that they might find some sexual gratification. Even this perversion would be more acceptable to them than the one with which they are afflicted.'' He reports, for example on the testimony of Hermann Rauschning, a trusted Hitler confidante whom Hitler appointed President of the Danzig Senate in 1932 (Wistrich:240, Snyder:282). He later fell out of favor and fled Germany in 1936 (ibid.). Langer writes,
Rauschning reports that he has met two boys who claimed that they were Hitler's homosexual partners, but their testimony can hardly be taken at face value. More condemning would be the remarks dropped by [Albert] Foerster, the Danzig gauleiter, in conversation with Rauschning. Even here, however, the remarks deal only with Hitler's impotence as far as heterosexual relationships go without actually implying that he indulges in homosexuality. It is probably true that Hitler calls Foerster ``Bubi,'' which is a common nickname employed by homosexuals in addressing their partners. This alone is not adequate proof that he has actually indulged in homosexual practices with Foerster, who is known to be a homosexual (Langer:178).
There is insufficient evidence to warrant the conclusion that Hitler was an overt homosexual. But it seems clear that he had latent homosexual tendencies...It is true that Hitler was closely associated with Ernst Roehm and Rudolf Hess, two homosexuals who were among the very few people with whom he used the familiar du [``thou'']. But one cannot conclude that he therefore shared his friend's sexual tastes. Still, during the months he was with Hess in Landsberg, their relationship must have become very close. When Hitler left the prison he fretted about his friend who languished there, and spoke of him tenderly, using Austrian diminutives: ``Ach mein Rudy, mein Hesserl, isn't it appalling to think that he's still there.'' One of Hitler's valets, Schneider, made no explicit statement about the relationship, but he did find it strange that whenever Hitler got a present he liked or drew an architectural sketch that particularly pleased him, he would run to Hess -- who was known in homosexual circles as ``Fraulein Anna'' -- as a little boy would run to his mother to show his prize to her...Finally there is the nonconclusive but interesting fact that one of Hitler's prized possessions was a handwritten love letter which King Ludwig II had written to a manservant (Waite, 1977:283f). [Hess was known by other names in the German ``gay'' subculture. In recent years, long sealed Soviet archives have been opened to the West. In Deadly Illusions , authors John Costello and Oleg Tsarev report of seeing the ``so-called `Black Bertha' file, named from Hess's reported nickname in Berlin and Munich'' (Costello and Tsarev:xix).]
Adolf Hitler's close friendship with the family of composer Richard Wagner is well known. Only recently revealed is the accusation by Wagner family members ``that Hitler sexually abused the young Wieland [Wagner's grandson, now 75] during the `20s.'' These allegations came to light in a Time magazine interview with American author and former diplomat to Germany, Frederic Spotts, whose research for the book Bayreuth (about the Wagnerian opera festival of the same name) included interviews with the Wagner family (Time, August 15, 1995:56).
``Spotts says that his original source was one of Wieland's own children...Now a respected academic, Spotts says it was while he was researching ``Beyreuth'' that he interviewed his source -- who, he insists, is totally reliable and has no reason to lie. `This family member told me Hitler sexually abused Wieland in the 1920s when the boy was a preadolescent'...Hitler, who idolized Richard Wagner's supernationalistic operas (as well as his anti-semitism), had become a close friend of Wieland's mother's. Winifred Wagner gave him the run of the child's nursery. Far from being revolted by what allegedly happened to him, Wieland avidly collaborated with his right-wing family during World War II'' (Penthouse, undated:32).
Magnus Hirschfeld was, as we have stated, Director of the Sex Research Institute of Berlin (destroyed by Hitler in 1934) in the 1920s. Writer Charlotte Wolff, M.D. quotes Hirschfeld about Hitler in her book Magnus Hirschfeld. ``About three years before the Nazis came to power we had a patient at the Institute who had a liason with Roehm. We were on good terms with him, and he told us a good deal of what happened in his circle...He also referred to Adolf Hitler in the oddest possible manner. `Afi is the most perverted of us all. He is very much like a soft woman, but now he makes great propaganda in the heroic morale''' (Wolff:438). Desmond Seward, in Napoleon and Hitler, quotes Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, who referred to Hitler as ``that horrible sexual degenerate'' (Seward:148).
According to Igra there exists documentary evidence that as a young man Hitler ``had been a male prostitute in Vienna and Munich'' (Igra:67). Seward reports that ``the files of the Viennese police list him [Hitler] as a homosexual'' (Seward:299). Lending credence to this is the fact that during several of those years Hitler ``chose to live in a Vienna flophouse known to be inhabited by many homosexuals'' (Langer:192). Rector writes that, as a young man, Hitler was often called ``Der Schoen Adolf'' (``the handsome Adolf'') and that later his looks ``were also to some extent helpful in gaining big-money support from Ernst Roehm's circle of wealthy gay friends'' (Rector:52).
Whether or not Hitler was personally involved in homosexual relationships, the evidence is clear that he knowingly and intentionally surrounded himself with practicing homosexuals from the time he was a teenager. His later public pronouncements against homosexuality never quite fit with the life-long intimacy -- sexual or otherwise -- which he maintained with men he knew and accepted as homosexuals. Those who would suggest that Hitler remained wholly or partly ignorant of the fact that the Nazi Party was filled with homosexuals may themselves be blind to an essential character quality of Adolf Hitler. Hitler not only knew that the Nazi Party was a virtual homosexual social club, it seems that this was the way he wanted it.
Finally, in our look at Adolf Hitler, the man, we turn to Samuel Igra, a Jew who fled Germany in 1939 after twenty years of observing Hitler and the Nazis:
For the purposes of the present investigations Hitler is important for what he has represented...when he embarked the German people on the policy that brought about the world catastrophe. He was the central figure around which a number of men grouped themselves, from the 1920's onwards, in a movement to gain supreme control of the German people. As the movement developed they were aided and abetted and supported financially as well as politically by the industrial capitalists of the Rhineland; but the initiative did not come from the latter. It came from Hitler as the condottiere [leader] of a band of evil men who were united together by a common vice [homosexuality] (Igra:26).
The Nazi Rise to Power
Hitler continued to capitalize on the political unrest of the people to build the Nazi organization. The party's public image was greatly enhanced by the recruitment of Hermann Goering, a former World War I fighter ace who was revered as a war hero. Goering was probably not a homosexual though he was said to have been very fond of ``painting his nails and putting rouge on his cheeks'' (Fuchs:160). He joined the party after hearing a speech by Hitler in which he vowed to rebuild Germany's military and throw off the yoke of the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler immediately set him to the task of training the SA as a military organization (Toland:123), an accomplishment that further increased Nazi power.
By the fall of 1922 Hitler had become the symbol of renewed German nationalism to many in Germany, although the average citizen had little knowledge of Hitler's personal life or the lives of the Nazi leaders. At this point Hitler believed he would ultimately assume power in Germany through military strength, and he was not terribly concerned with portraying an image of morality. ``The Party newspaper,'' writes Edouard Calic, ``explained that Hitler wanted to organize the movement on a military basis to achieve power, and that if it was necessary he would lead an uprising to renounce the Versailles Treaty'' (Calic:33). However, his attempt to implement his plan in the infamous Beer Hall Putsch proved so disastrous Hitler was forced to develop a different strategy.
On November 8, 1923, Hitler attempted to take advantage of a period of political turmoil to seize control of the government of Bavaria. This ill-fated maneuver (later dubbed the Beer Hall Putsch) not only failed militarily, it put Hitler in prison for nine months, thus nearly ending the party. When he was finally released from Landsberg prison on December 20, 1924, he announced that thereafter the Nazi Party would seek power through legitimate political means (ibid:64). This decision put the actions and goals of the party to the test of public opinion. Immediately, Hitler was confronted with this challenge. Shirer describes the internal condition of the party:
...in those years when Hitler was shaping his party to take over Germany's destiny he had his fill of troubles with his chief lieutenants who constantly quarreled not only among themselves but with him. He, who was so monumentally intolerant by his very nature, was strangely tolerant of one human condition -- a man's morals. No other party in Germany came near to attracting so many shady characters...pimps, murderers, homosexuals... Hitler did not care, as long as they were useful to him. When he emerged from prison he found not only that they were at each other's throats but there was a demand from the more prim and respectable leaders such as Rosenberg and Ludendorf that the criminals and especially the perverts be expelled from the movement. This Hitler frankly refused to do. (Shirer:173).
Hitler learned that public opinion was not with him in the matter of homosexuality, despite Germany's international reputation as a haven for homosexuals. Incriminating letters which had been stolen from Roehm by a male prostitute (Plant:60) became a public matter when Roehm took the matter to court (Hohne:81). This, of course, exacerbated the conflict between Hitler's lieutenants, and led Hitler to initialize the first in a series of public relations efforts to hide Nazi perversions from the German people. The greater part of these conflicts, interestingly, were between the homosexuals themselves who, according to Shirer ``quarreled and feuded as only men of unnatural sexual inclinations, with their peculiar jealousies, can'' (Shirer:172). He writes,
By 1926...the charges and countercharges hurled by the Nazi Chieftains at one another became so embarrassing that Hitler set up a party court to settle them and prevent his comrades from washing their dirty linen in public. This was known as the USCHLA from Untersuchung-und-Schlichtungs-Ausschuss -- Committee for Investigation and Settlement. Its first head was a former general, Heinemann, but he was unable to grasp the real purpose of the court, which was not to pronounce judgment on those accused of common crimes but to hush them up and see that they did not disturb party discipline or the authority of the Leader. So the general was replaced by...Major Walther Buch, who was given two assistants. One was Ulrichs Graf, the former butcher who had been Hitler's bodyguard; the other was Hans Frank, a young Nazi lawyer...This fine judicial triumvirate performed to the complete satisfaction of the Fuehrer. A party leader might be accused of the most nefarious crime. Buch's answer was, ``Well, what of it?'' (ibid.:174).
Obviously, the act of assigning Graf and Frank to this intra-party ``court'' rendered it a complete sham (at least in regard to homosexual crimes), since both were homosexuals. Buch may have been homosexual himself. The only purpose of this and later efforts ostensibly designed to address charges of sexual perversion among the Nazis was to hide the truth from the public. Here is the root of Nazi ``anti-homosexual'' policies.
As Nazi power grew, Hitler became increasingly dependent on the support of the German population. And, understandably enough, the German people were at the same time growing increasingly disgusted with the debaucheries taking place in German cities. This twofold influence on Hitler led him to take ever more hard-line public stands against homosexuality in order to cover up the truth about the party. The severity of his public reactions to each new scandal (especially the later ones) mitigated the impact of rumors which constantly circulated in German society about Nazi leaders. Hitler's strategy regarding all moral issues was to craft his rhetoric carefully ``in order not to offend the sensibilities of the people'' (Mosse:159).
Roehm, of course, presented a particularly difficult problem for the Nazis because of his militant support for what we know today as ``gay rights.'' His SA men began to be referred to by the anti-Nazis as the ``Brown Fairies'' (Rector:56). Some time after Roehm's exposure as a homosexual (in his 1925 trial against the male prostitute, Herman Siegeseites,) he left Germany to take a post in the Bolivian Army. It is unclear whether he made this move in response to a personal sense of disgrace about the publicizing of his pederastic activities, or whether Hitler had convinced him to get out of the public eye for the good of the party. In any case, Roehm's absence was only temporary. Plant writes,
In 1929 a party squabble threatened to tear the SA apart; a rebel group under Captain Walter Stennes had started a mutiny. Stennes taunted Roehm's stalwarts at a rally, dismissing them as ``sissies in frilly underwear who couldn't order their boys around.'' As the rebellion grew more serious, Hitler ordered his old friend to return to Germany. Roehm did not hesitate to heed his Fuehrer's call and his armed squads quickly and ruthlessly suppressed the mutineers (Plant:60f).
While Roehm was away, the Nazis had been fairly successful at keeping their perversions out of sight. Most of the Nazis remained ``in the closet,'' or at least out of situations that their political enemies could use against them. This, of course, changed when Roehm returned. Once again, stories of Roehm's exploits were passed along the grapevine. It would be old news, however, that hurt the Nazis again when Roehm's damaging letters were published by the newspapers belonging to the Social Democrats. These, along with articles on the homosexual practices of subordinate SA leaders, were published on the occasion of Roehm's appointment to head the SA (Osterhuis and Kennedy:239n). ``Social Democrats and Communists,'' write Oosterhuis and Kennedy, ``suggested [in their newspapers] that nepotism and abuse of power in the SA and the Hitler Youth had contributed to making homosexuality an essential characteristic of the fascist system'' (ibid.:251). Herzer comments that the press campaign against Roehm ``invoked the possibility that `large segments of German youth' could be led to homosexuality through abuse of military authority by SA members, most of whom were teenagers'' (Herzer:225n). He writes:
The prospect of Roehm's exploiting his military authority over young Nazis for his ``private'' interests was the target of such headlines in the leftist press as ``Captain Roehm Abuses Unemployed Young Workers,'' ``Fox Guards Chicken Coop,'' or Physical and Moral Health of German Youth at Stake.'' It could scarcely go unremarked...that regulations otherwise rigorously implemented were suspended precisely in the Nazis private army, that the professional proscription of homosexuality that applied to every teacher, every officer, and every church functionary did not apply among the Nazis (Herzer:214).
Hitler, confronted with this threat to the Nazi image, responded with a dual strategy. He first offered a limited defense of Roehm, saying, ``His private life cannot be an object of scrutiny unless it conflicts with basic principles of National Socialist ideology'' (Bluel:98). Hitler also attempted to draw a distinction between the party and the SA by portraying Roehm's proclivities as an aspect of military society. ``[The SA] is not an institute for the moral education of genteel young ladies, ``said Hitler, ``but a formation of seasoned fighters'' (Bluel:98). The implication seems to have been that homosexuality was an odd quirk of military life that should be overlooked in light of the value of these soldiers' mission and experience. Furthermore, he promised expulsion from the party for anyone who continued to engage in ``tongue-wagging'' and ``letter-writing'' (Koehl: 43).
Secondly, Hitler strengthened his rhetoric against homosexuality in German society at large. An article that appeared in the official Nazi newspaper went so far as to threaten homosexuals with extermination. Once again this was empty rhetoric. Adolf Brand, whose openly homosexual magazine, Der Eigene, was by this time widely read in Germany, responded to the Nazi article with one of his own. Brand writes,
Men such as Captain Roehm, are, to our knowledge, no rarity at all in the National Socialist Party. It rather teems there with homosexuals of all kinds. And the joy of man in man, which has been slandered in their papers so often as an oriental vice although the Edda frankly extols it as the highest virtue of the Teutons, blossoms around their campfires and is cultivated and fostered by them in a way done in no other male union that is reared on party politics. The threatened hanging on the gallows, with which they allege they want to exterminate homosexuals, is therefore only a horrible gesture that is supposed to make stupid people believe that the Hitler people, in the matter of male-to-male inclinations, are all as innocent as pigeons and pure as angels, just like the pious members of the Christian Society of the Virgin...The public threat against the homosexuals has in the meantime not frightened any youth-friend or man-friend into deserting this party. One knows perfectly well that all those public threats are only paper masks (Brand in Oosterhuis and Kennedy:236f).
Power and Abuse
Despite Brand's protestations Hitler's ruse was quite successful in regard to the Nazis' political fortunes. The party fared well in the elections of 1932, and on January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. The Nazi Party had finally come to power. However, the elections following Hitler's appointment, called by Hitler himself, were even more critical to the Nazis.
Hitler was demanding the power of authoritarian rule over Germany, but public support for his plan was ambiguous (Toland:288). The greatest threat came from the Communists who had significant power and support of their own. The Nazis' diabolical solution to this problem involved the burning of the German Reichstag (another famous incident in Nazi history which is tied to the homosexuals in the party). Carroll Quigley, in Tragedy and Hope writes,
[I]t was evident a week before the election that the German people were not convinced [that the Nazis should gain the increased power they sought]. Accordingly...a plot was worked out to burn the Reichstag building and blame the Communists. Most of the plotters were homosexuals and were able to persuade a degenerate moron from Holland named Van der Lubbe to go with them...Most of the Nazis who were in on the plot were murdered by Goring during the `blood purge' of June 30, 1934'' (Quigley:437f). Van der Lubbe was executed for the crime.
Van Der Lubbe was homosexual as well. Oosterhuis quotes a 1933 book prepared by the World Committee for the Victims of German Fascism:
Enquiries in Leyden have definitely established the fact that he [Van Der Lubbe] was homosexual. This is of great importance for his later history....Van Der Lubbe's homosexual connections with the National Socialist leaders and his material dependence on them made him obedient and willing to carry out the incendiary's part (Oosterhuis:253).
In The Life and Death of Hermann Goering, authors Ewan Butler and Gordon Young list the Reichstag fire conspirators. ``The camarilla which finally drew up plans for the `frame-up' against the Communists consisted, besides Captain Goering, its originator, of Goebbels, Roehm, Heines, Count Helldorf, leader of the Berlin S.A., Karl Ernst, a certain StandartenFuehrer (regimental commander) of the S.A. named Sander and two other members of the S.A., Fiedler and von Mohrenschild'' (Butler and Young:111).
The strategy succeeded. The people, perceiving the Nazis as saviors in a time of crisis, gave the party complete control of German government. Not everyone in Germany, however, was pleased with Hitler's ascension to power. Former Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher gave voice to an inner fear that foreshadowed his own death: ``This pack of scoundrels, these criminals, these filthy boy streetwalkers! Well, they better not come near me'' (Rector:64). Schleicher was killed in Munich by Hitler's murder gang during the Roehm Purge (Fest, 1975:465).
Once the party had come to power several homosexuals in the Nazi leadership believed they could act with impunity in regards to their homosexual exploits. This attitude would lead to severe consequences for these few men and indirectly dictate Hitler's official policy regarding homosexuality.
By the spring of 1934, Ernst Roehm's homosexual activities had become more flagrant than ever, to the point that Himmler himself made a special trip to plead with Roehm to be more discrete. Roehm pretended to accede but, as Gallo reports
The next morning Himmler's agents report that one of the most fantastic orgies they had ever seen took place the night before at Roehm's headquarters. Bottles thrown from the windows smashed on the pavements below, and the sound of raucous laughter echoed in the street. Roehm himself had been an all-night participant, with his Lustknaben, his male prostitutes. Himmler is furious. (Gallo:68).
Roehm's exploits also began implicating the more genteel homosexuals in the party. Roehms entourage now included ``young sons of the nobility, who form a brilliant staff with the faces of perverse angels: Baron von Falkenhausen, Count von Spreti, the Prince von Waldeck: all aides-de-camp to Captain Roehm'' (Gallo:46).
At this same time Edmund Heines was appointed Chief of Police of Breslau. Gallo writes,
His staff resembles Roehm's -- they are the objects of its chief's amorous passion. The homosexual Engels is ObersturmbannFuehrer (Lieutenant Colonel), and the young Schmidt is aide-de-camp. This twenty-year-old is Heines' latest folly. Whatever that handsome young blonde does, he is protected by his lover. Once, in a moment of drunkenness, he publicly kills a drinking companion with his sword, but the Chief of Police forbids the public prosecutor to intervene....Beside this couple, the depraved Engels, a watchful intriguer, plays the part of Heines' evil genius. He is one of those who use the SA organization and the Hitler Youth to recruit participants for his erotic games (ibid.:70).
Samuel Igra also noted the increasingly public nature of the Nazi leaders' activities:
It was not merely that these men practiced their vices in private and among their own clique; but they made a system, almost a cult, of their moral corruption, and used their positions of power to molest with impunity innocent boys and girls whose features and physique they fancied. When Kube and his staff visited the villages of his district, Kube ist da was the warning passed from mouth to mouth among the people, whereupon parents hid their boys and girls in the cellars or in the back kitchens. The scoundrel needed so much money for his filthy orgies that he had his accomplices appointed to positions in the local savings banks and borough treasurers' offices, where they systematically robbed the tills. In Frankfort-on-Oder, for instance, Kube's accomplices robbed the Post Office Savings Bank of 180,000 marks (about £15,000), and though the case was proved against him in court, he was dismissed only for a while and reinstated in the Party again.
These incidents divided the Nazi elite as no other issue had. Amoral scoundrels all, the majority were nevertheless practical men who knew the importance of discretion, even for dictatorial tyrants. The unquenchable arrogance of these SA leaders forced Hitler into an untenable position -- one which Roehm's enemies within the party would soon exploit. Hitler first would soon be compelled by Roehm's powerful enemies to assassinate the worst offenders in his ranks. Second, to counter the public impression that his party was rife with homosexuality, Hitler would be forced to publicly take a hard line against sexual deviance.