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Homosexuals & the Holocaust: Himmler Speech on the “Question of Homosexuality”

(February 18, 1937)

The following is excerpted from Heinrich Himmler's speech to SS Gruppenfuehrer in February 1937:

If you further tale into account the facts I have not yet mentioned, namely that with a static number of women, we have two million men too few on account of those who fell in the war, then you can well imagine how this imbalance of two million homosexuals and two million war dead, or in other words a lack of about four million men capable of having sex, has upset the sexual balance sheet of Germany, and will result in a catastrophe.

I would like to develop a couple of ideas for you on the question of homosexuality. There are those homosexuals who take the view: what I do is my business, a purely private matter. However, all things which take place in the sexual sphere are not the private affair of the individual, but signify the life and death of the nation, signify world power or 'swissification'. The people which has many children has the candidature for world power and world domination. A people of good race which has too few children has a one-way ticket to the grave, for insignificance in fifty or a hundred years, for burial in two hundred and fifty years ...

Therefore we must be absolutely clear that if we continue to have this burden in Germany, without being able to fight it, then that is the end of Germany, and the end of the Germanic world. Unfortunately, we don't have it as easy as our forefathers. The homosexual, whom one called 'Urning', was drowned in a swamp. The professorial gentlemen who find these corpses in the peat-bogs are certainly unaware that in ninety out of a hundred cases, they have a homosexual before them, who was drowned in a swamp, clothes and all. That wasn't a punishment, but simply the extinguishment of abnormal life. It had to be got rid of, just as we pull out weeds, throw them on a heap, and burn them. It was not a feeling of revenge, simply that those affected had to go ... In the SS today, we still have about one case of homosexuality a month. In a whole year, about eight to ten cases occur in the entire SS. I have now decided upon the following: in each case, these people will naturally be publicly degraded, expelled, and handed over to the courts. Following completion of the punishment imposed by the courts, they will be sent, by my order, to a concentration camp, and they will be shot in the concentration camp, while attempting to escape. I will make that known by order to the unit to which the person so affected belonged. Thereby, I hope finally to have done with persons of this type in the SS, so that at least the good blood, which we have in the SS, and the increasingly healthy blood which we are cultivating for Germany, will be kept pure.

However, this does not represent a solution to the problem for the whole Germany. One must not have illusions about the following. When I bring a homosexual before the courts and have him locked up, the matter is not settled, because the homosexual comes out of prison just as homosexual as before he went in. Therefore the whole question is not clarified in the sense that this burden has been identified, in contrast to the years before the seizure of power.

Sources: Yad Vashem; M. Burleigh & W. Wippermann, "The Racial State: Germany 1933-1945," Cambridge, 1991, pp.136-138.