Harry Pauly

Harry Pauly

Born: 1914

Germany

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.