Lesbians in the Nazi Era
I am presently gathering information for my thesis paper and my
topic is "Lesbians in the Nazi-Era." I found your Website while surfing
and looking for information that might lead me to learning the histories
of these women.
I have many questions I could pose to you, but here are only a few.
First, were Lesbians kept only at Ravensbrück, or were they kept at
other camps? And what was their fate?
I am also looking for any contacts you might be able to provide. I
also speak German, so I am not limited to English-speaking info-sites.
I shall be in Berlin for the summer in order to work more closely with
the men and women who have researched this topic more widely, so if you
have also any Berlin, or for that matter German contacts you could tell
me about, I would appreciate that as well.
Harry W. Mazal OBE answers:
I am one of the persons who responds to the questions that are sent to
The Holocaust History Project. I will try to offer some guidance on the
One excellent place to begin is,
The Holocaust and History: The Known, The Unknown, the Disputed And The Reexamined
Berenbaum, Michael and Peck, Abraham J. (editors)
c. 1998, Indiana University Press
This massive book (836 pages) contains a number of excellent essays
on the Holocaust. Of interest to you would be: "The Pink Triangle:
Homosexuals as 'Enemies of the State'" by Ru¨diger Lautmann.
Although this essay deals principally with male homosexuals, Professor
Lautmann would probably be an excellent contact for you in Germany as
he has written a number of important papers on the subject:
Rüdiger Lautmann is Professor of General Sociology
and the Sociology of Law at the University of Bremen, Germany.
Among his many books are The Study of Society and Homosexuality;
Equalizing Gender and Legal Reality; Constraints to Virtue: The
Social Control of the Sexualities; Homosexuality: Handbook of the
History of Research; and The Homosexual and His Audience
(all in German).
Another book that might be useful is:
Aimee & Jaguar: A Love Story, Berlin 1943
Fischer, Erica (translated from the German by Edna McCown)
English translation 1994, HarperCollins Publishers
(From the dust cover)
Out of the vacuum created by history's scant attention to Nazi
persecution of homosexuals comes a unique and maddeningly
tragic story of love between two women of startling contrast.
Aimee & Jaguar is the first book of its kind: it tells through
Rashomon-like firsthand accounts, of the horrors - and the
joys - shared by Felice Schragenheim, who did not survive the
war - and Elisabeth Wust, who lived to finally tell their story
after more than fifty years of silence. Aimee & Jaguar is set
against a compelling historical backdrop of increasing pressure
placed on Jews, homosexuals, and non-Aryans in Nazi Germany
beginning in the early 1930's.
In 1943, as Allied bombs rained down on her home city of Berlin,
Elisabeth Wust, Gentile mother of four and wife of a Nazi
officer stationed at the front, met Felice Schragenheim in a
Berlin coffee shop. And what began as a polite, hesitant
curiosity about each other sooin developed into a passionate
love that would last a lifetime. What Elisabeth would not
know during the early part of their relationship was that Felice
was a submarine -- a Jew living underground. Upon learning
the truth behind the mystery surrounding Felice's identity,
Elisabeth was forced to confront and come to terms with her
own ingrained anti-Semitism.
The two women lived together in Elisabeth's home in what they
believed was a blissful safe haven in a world gone awry. Ultimately
Felice was revealed to the Gestapo and deported to the Czecho-
slovakian ghetto of Thereseinstadt. Devastated yet determined,
Elisabeth - putting her own life in danger - tried in vain to join
Felice in the ghetto, and it was only several years after the war's
end that she learned of Felice's fate: she had been sent to
Bergen-Belsen. where she died in 1945.
Felice, of course, was imprisoned and died not because she
was a Lesbian, but because she was a Jew. In general, Lesbians do not
appear to have fared as badly as did homosexual males. From The
Other Victims: First Person Stories of Non-Jews Persecuted by the
Ina R. Friedman, 1990, Part I, Chapter 2 "The Pink
Triangle," p. 28:
While some lesbians were sent to concentration camps, there
were no laws against lesbianism. The Nazis could not believe that
German women would be interested in anything other than the=20
production of children.
I will continue to look for additional information in my library.In
the meantime, you have a few references which may be of some
Harry W. Mazal OBE
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