The Nazis Tolerated Gays. Then Everything Changed

With an openly gay man at the helm of the SA, homosexuals saw a period of relative tolerance before being persecuted in the Third Reich. Sex workers experienced the opposite process. Here's how the two are linked

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Auschwitz prisoner No. 22375, a homosexual, photographed in 1942.
Auschwitz prisoner No. 22375, a homosexual, photographed in 1942. Credit: Galerie Bilderwelt / Getty Images
Boaz Neumann
Boaz Neumann

“One can organize the question of female prostitution, which by comparison with this question [of male homosexuality] in principle is completely harmless, in a way that is acceptable for a civilized people. In this area, we will be generous beyond bounds.”

– Heinrich Himmler, speech to SS commanders, Feb. 1937

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