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FTR #979 Nazism, Anti-Gay and Anti-Feminist Propaganda and the Fritz Haarmann Incident

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Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld

[7]Introduction: With the Trump administration moving against gay rights and reproductive rights, and with the public attention largely focused on yet another mass murder in Las Vegas, we delve back into the archives for the benefit of newer and younger listeners.

On 2/28/1988, we recorded Miscellaneous Archive Show M13: Gay Rights, Reproductive Rights and the Third Reich [8], highlighting how the nascent, vigorous gay rights movement in Weimar Germany was a focal point for Nazi propaganda and political action. Furthermore, a mass killing by homosexual Fritz Haarmann terrorized Weimar Germany, fueled Nazi anti-gay propaganda and reinforced the public perception in the German populace that the situation was “out of control.”

Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld was the lynchpin of the strong gay liberation movement in Weimar Germany and, as a result, was a focal point of Nazi Party propaganda, fueled with the additional fodder of the fact that Hirschfeld was Jewish.

(We note, in passing, that the gay rights movement in Weimar Germany received considerable support from a segment of the country’s feminist community grouped around Dr. Helena Stoecker.)

Historically, German attitudes toward homosexuality were mixed, with some regions manifesting a relatively liberal attitude and enforcement posture and others, an extremely reactionary position in both respects. Paragraph 175 was the official German statute making sex between adults of the same gender illegal. Again, the enforcement of Paragraph 175 was highly selective from a regional standpoint.)

In a manner directly foreshadowing U.S. right-wing propaganda in recent decades, the Nazi Party denounced Hirschfeld and homophile sexual activity as a product of, and a contributor to, the moral decay of the Weimar Republic and democracy in general.

A major contributing factor to the impact of this Nazi propaganda was the Fritz Haarman incident.

[9]In the city of Cologne, Germany, a mass murderer/serial killer named Fritz Haarmann terrorized the city with a gruesome series of killings in which youngsters were lured to his dwelling, killed and their corpses butchered, packaged and sold as “horse meat.” The fact that Haarmann was homosexual contributed to the outrage of many citizens. The gruesome kilings and lurid headlines they generated helped fuel the perception that “something was wrong with society.” (Although there appear to have been many differences, we wonder about the Las Vegas shooting and its effect on the American populace in the context of the Haarmann incident.)

This reinforced the Nazi anti-gay propaganda.

Adding another dimension to the case were the facts that:

  1. Haarmann was an informant for the Cologne police department.
  2. Haarmann carried a Cologne p.d. badge.
  3. The head of the Cologne police department was Gustav Noske, who, as the defense minister of the fledgling Weimar Republic, had formed the military formations that crushed the socialist uprisings that occurred in Germany after the First World War. Those formations, the Freikorps, the Einwohnerwehren and the Zeit Freiwilligen Verbande crushed the uprisings and laid the foundation for what became known as “The Black Reichswehr.” Those “underground” [10] military formations assassinated key political figures in Germany (such as Walther Rathenau), laying the groundwork for the rise of the Nazis [11].

The Nazi anti-gay propaganda fused with the party’s anti-abortion stance, as gays, advocates for gay rights, women seeking abortions and abortion-rights advocates were tarred with the same ideological brush as being “anti-German” by virtue of the ideological concept that more births of “German stock” strengthened the German nation.

Furthermore, pro-gay rights and pro-abortion positions were lumped into a larger, negative ideological stance grouping both viewpoints in with “Jewish” and “communist” ‘enemies of the state.”