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Prosecution of Homosexuals in Hamburg 1919-1969

7. December 2009 – 15. March 2010

The theme of the exhibition is the prosecution of homosexual women and men from Hamburg during the era of the Weimar Republic, during the reign of National Socialism and during the first decades of the Federal Republic – both a comprehensive and a multi faceted view into the lives of gays, lesbians and transsexuals in a time marked by suppression.

The creators of the exhibition and simultaneously the authors of the book are the same people – Bernhard Rosenkranz, Ulf Bollmann and co-author Gottfried Lorenz –  have attractively visualised  the results of their extensive research in Hamburg archives on 48 large sized charts. By means of many criminal justice files, notes of Hamburg authorities and interviews of  witnesses, which were not published until now, the creators of the exhibition succeeded in  assembling their research results into  an informative overall view on the prosecution of homosexuals in Hamburg. Although the Hamburg region is geographically limited, the facts and destinies shown are generally representative of the situations of prosecution in other German towns. Thus the themes reach from the denunciation of homosexuals by the population, the so-called “voluntary castration” via  the destruction of  the economic existence (withdrawal of  the approbation for physicians, denial of academic titles) up to the deportation  and murder in concentration camps. The exhibition re-narrates many individual ways of life and demonstrates directly the omnipresent situation of suppression and menace. The destiny of Prof. Dr. Andreas Knack, the former director of the Barmbeck Hospital and co-founder of the homosexual movement of the Weimar Era, is an example of the prosecution until 1945. After he was released from his post in 1933, he established a practice as a physician in Hamburg-Emsbüttel. In 1934 his approbation was withdrawn. He experienced the end of the NS-regime as an emigrant in Mukden/China.

The “pink lists” as well as the “prohibition to dance” and the “toilet prohibition” were inglorious aspects of the suppression of homosexual men in the Post War Period.  While castrated homosexual men and survivors of the concentration camps didn’t get any compensation, the perpetrators were able to continue their carriers. State attorney Nicolaus Siemssen, one of the principal accusers  against homosexuals was promoted as a senior prosecutor and he was in charge of a Chief Accuser in a denazification lawsuit at the denazification trial tribunal at Bergdorf.

A central theme is also the life situation of lesbian women. Although there was no paragraph relating to the lesbian actions in the penal code, they were also a target of NS policy. They were marked as “morally insane” and so they didn’t have any chance for social recognition and for a bourgeois life. During the Adenauer Era lesbian women remained invisible as before, officially they were not present and thus they experienced discriminating ignorance.

Both the book and the exhibition are based on the working results of the initiative Together against oblivion – stumble stones for homosexual NS-victims. The realisation of the exhibition was possible by means of numerous donations as well as the support of the national central for political education in Hamburg.

Curators: Bernhard Rosenkranz, Ulf Bollmann

Co-autor: Gottfried Lorenz