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Friedrich-Paul was born in the old trading city of Luebeck in northern Germany. He was 11 when his father was killed in World War I. After his mother died, he and his sister Ina were raised by two elderly aunts. After graduating from school, Friedrich-Paul trained to be a merchant.
1933-39: In January 1937 the SS arrested 230 men in Luebeck under the Nazi-revised criminal code's paragraph 175, which outlawed homosexuality, and I was imprisoned for 10 months. The Nazis had been using paragraph 175 as grounds for making mass arrests of homosexuals. In 1938 I was re-arrested, humiliated, and tortured. The Nazis finally released me, but only on the condition that I agree to be castrated. I submitted to the operation.
1940-44: Because of the nature of my operation, I was rejected as "physically unfit" when I came up for military service in 1940. In 1943 I was arrested again, this time for being a monarchist, a supporter of the former Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Nazis imprisoned me as a political prisoner in an annex of the Neuengamme concentration camp at Luebeck.
After the war, Friedrich-Paul settled in Hamburg.
Born Martin Hoyer, Robert took Robert T. Odeman as his stage name when he began a professional career as an actor and musician. A classical pianist, Robert gave concerts throughout Europe, but a hand injury tragically ended his concert career.
1933-39: In 1935 Robert opened a cabaret in Hamburg. One year later the Nazis shut it down, charging that it was politically subversive. Robert then moved to Berlin where he developed a close relationship with a male friend who was pressured to denounce Robert to the Gestapo. In November 1937 Robert was arrested under paragraph 175 of the Nazi-revised criminal code, which outlawed homosexuality. He was sentenced to 27 months in prison.
1940-44: Robert was released from prison in 1940 but remained under police surveillance. They monitored his correspondence with a half-Jewish friend in Munich and with friends abroad. In 1942 Robert was arrested again under paragraph 175 and deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. There he was assigned an office job. On a forced march from the camp towards the Baltic in April 1945, 40-year-old Robert escaped with two other "175ers."
After the war, Robert returned to Berlin, where he worked as a writer and composer. He died in 1985.
In 1919 Robert and his brother Karl founded the Nerother Bund youth group in the Cologne region. Like other German youth groups, it aimed to bring youth closer to nature through camping and hiking. Homosexual relationships sometimes developed from the intense adolescent male camaraderie, and the Nerother Bund accepted these friendships, as did a number of German youth groups at the time.
1933-39: Soon after the Nazis took power in 1933, they dissolved all independent youth groups and urged the members to join the Hitler Youth movement. Robert refused and secretly continued his connection with the Nerother Bund. In 1936 he was convicted under the Nazi-revised criminal code's paragraph 175 which outlawed homosexuality. Robert was imprisoned with 13 other members of the Nerother Bund.
1940-41: Robert was one of more than 50,000 men sentenced under paragraph 175 during the Nazi regime. By 1941 he had been transferred to the Dachau concentration camp. Like many "175ers" in the camps, Robert was required to wear an identifying pink triangle. The "175ers" were commonly segregated in separate barracks, subjected to particularly harsh treatment, and often ostracized by other prisoner groups.
Forty-four-year-old Robert died at Dachau in 1941. Details of his death are unknown.
As a young boy growing up in Berlin, Harry developed a love for the theater. At 15 he began acting in minor roles at a theater at the Nollendorfplatz. He was also apprenticed to a hairdresser but disliked the work. He spent most of his time with other actors, both at the theater and in nightclubs where homosexuals gathered.
1933-39: When the Nazis came to power, they closed the gay bars. Some homosexuals, especially those who were Jewish, were killed by Nazi hooligans; my friend "Susi," a drag queen, was stabbed to death. In 1936 I was arrested under the Nazi-revised paragraph 175 of the criminal code, which outlawed homosexuality. I was imprisoned in a camp at Neusustrum, where I worked in the marshes 12 hours a day. After 15 months I was released.
1940-44: In 1943 I was turned in by two boys pressured by the Gestapo to denounce homosexuals. Again I was sentenced under paragraph 175. Again I was released, this time after only eight months because friends in the theater intervened on my behalf. I was then drafted into the army but wherever I went, people knew of my 175 conviction and called me a "dirty faggot." I couldn't stand it and deserted twice. Finally, as punishment, I was sent to a special combat unit in which almost everyone was killed. Somehow I managed to survive.
After the war, Harry started his own small theater.
Karl was born in the north German port of Hamburg. His father was American, and his mother was German. Soon after Karl was born, his father returned to the United States and a little later, his parents were divorced. Karl left school when he was 14 and worked as a shop apprentice.
1933-39: In 1935 an informer told the police about my secret meetings with a 15-year-old youth, and I was arrested under the criminal code's paragraph 175, which defined homosexuality as an "unnatural" act. Though this law had been on the books for years, the Nazis broadened its scope and used it as grounds for mass arrests of homosexuals. I was released after 15 months but was arrested again in 1937 and imprisoned.
1940-44: In 1943 Hamburg was the target of heavy Allied bombing but the Fuhlsbuettel prison, where I had been held for six years for "security reasons," was not hit. During that period many prisoners were transferred to the Neuengamme concentration camp, but I was in the group sent to the Waldheim prison in Sachsen. I had a nervous breakdown there and entered the prison hospital. I was lucky because as the Allies moved closer, many of the other prisoners were released for combat and died on the front lines.
After the war, Karl found a position in a bank in Hamburg, but he was fired after 18 months when his employer learned that he had been imprisoned under paragraph 175.
Karl was born in the small town of Bad Zwishenahn in northern Germany. When he was 2, his family moved to the port of Bremerhaven. His father was a sailor and his mother became a nurse in a local hospital. After his father died, Karl continued to live with his mother. Karl was 20 when he began training as a deacon at his parish church.
1933-39: I was 26 when my jealous lover denounced me and I was arrested at my house under paragraph 175 of the criminal code, which defined homosexuality as an "unnatural" act. Though this law had been on the books for years, the Nazis had broadened its scope and used it as grounds to make mass arrests of homosexuals. I was imprisoned at Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg where the "175ers" had to wear a pink triangle.
1940-44: Because I'd had some training as a nurse, I was transferred to work at the prisoner hospital at the Wittenberg subcamp. One day, a guard ordered me to decrease the bread ration for the patients who were Polish war prisoners, but I refused, telling him that it was inhuman to treat the Poles in this way. As punishment, I was sent to Auschwitz, and this time, rather than being marked as a "175er," I wore the red triangle of a political prisoner. At Auschwitz I had a lover who was Polish; his name was Zbigniew.
Karl was liberated in Auschwitz in 1945. After the war he had difficulty because of his record of having been convicted under paragraph 175.