“A huge step forward“
Author Rainer Hoffschildt has dealt with the topic of Nazi persecution of gays for over 20 years. Now he wants to round out his extensive collection with the help of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. “There has not been much research done on the group with the pink triangle,” the Hanover resident explained.
Gays were systematically persecuted by the Nazis. Over 100,000 men were apprehended by police, and 50,000 decrees were enacted based on Section 175 of the 1935 German Criminal Code, which had been significantly broadened. The Nazis are estimated to have deported 10,000-15,000 gays to concentration camps, where 53 percent died. They were forced to wear a pink triangle on their prison uniform.
Hoffschildt himself has collected more than 10,000 individual stories over the years using various archives, including the one at Yad Vashem. “Among the cases I investigated, 3,000 were imprisoned in concentration camps,” reported the researcher. “I am still trying to find out what became of approximately 1,000 men.” Hoffschildt hopes to fill in the blanks with the help of ITS documents.
Hobby researcher Wilhelm Grimm and Christian Alexander Wäldner, who has a Bachelor´s degree in history, will assist the 60-year-old with his research. “We have already been very successful, having found information on roughly one-third of the thousand prisoners,” enthuses Hoffschildt. One example is the case of Georg Behrens of Hanover, who was arrested in 1938. “At the ITS, I discovered that he died at the Gross-Rosen concentration camp in 1942. We hadn´t known this before.” Wäldner reports on another case: “Johann Kurz from Schnäpfenreuth was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen. I just found information that he was also in Natzweiler and Dachau.” Kurz survived the Nazi terror and was released from the concentration camp on May 23, 1944.
The three researchers have taken copious notes and printed out documents, which they plan to analyze in Hanover. Hoffschildt founded the “Association for the Study of the History of Gays in Lower Saxony” in his hometown, which is being financially supported by the foundation of memorials in Lower Saxony. “We are receiving requests from memorials and are working to have stumbling stones laid. I have already published a book about my research,” said the author. “I am currently gathering special information on those persecuted who were from Hanover for an exhibition in the history museum there.”
Hoffschildt is planning further visits to the ITS due to the quantity of names which still need to be checked. “Thanks to the documents here, I have been able to take a huge step forward in my research. That´s why I will definitely visit Arolsen more often,” he announced.