The Nazi regime carried out a campaign against male homosexuality and persecuted gay men between 1933 and 1945. As part of this campaign, the Nazi regime closed gay bars and meeting places, dissolved gay associations, and shuttered gay presses. The Nazi regime also arrested and tried tens of thousands of gay men using Paragraph 175 of the German criminal code. Uncovering the histories of gay men during the Nazi era was difficult for much of the twentieth century because of continued prejudice against same-sex sexuality and the postwar German enforcement of Paragraph 175.
Under the Nazi regime, there was no official law or policy prohibiting sexual relations between women. Nonetheless, beginning in 1933, the Nazi regime harassed and destroyed lesbian communities and networks that had developed during the Weimar Republic (1918–1933). This created a climate of restriction and fear for many lesbians.
The Röhm Purge was the murder of the leadership of the SA (Storm Troopers), the Nazi paramilitary formation led by Ernst Röhm. The murders took place between June 30 and July 2, 1934. The ruling elites and ultimately Hitler saw the SA as a threat to their hold on power. The purge demonstrated the Nazi regime’s willingness to go outside of the law to commit murder as an act of state for the perceived survival of the nation.
Paragraph 175 was a German statute that criminalized sexual relations between men. It did not criminalize sexual relations between women. Paragraph 175 predated the Nazi regime. However, the Nazis revised Paragraph 175 in 1935 to make it broader and harsher. It was one of the main tools that the Nazis used to persecute gay men and men accused of sexual relations with other men.
Gerhard and Margot's mother came from a Protestant family. She met her future husband when she went to work in the telephone exchange at his company. She converted to Judaism in 1920. The couple married in 1920, and in 1923 had their twins Gerhard and Margot. Both Gerhard and Margot would become active in Jewish youth movements, and took on Hebrew names (Gad and Miriam).
On February 17, 1943, Gad was ordered to report to the temporary internment camp established at a former Jewish community building on the Rosenstrasse. He was detained there until March 6, when the group was released following a demonstration.
Later, in the spring of 1943 Gad joined the Chug Halutzi, a clandestine group of Jewish youth in Berlin, most of whom were living in hiding. Because Gad had contacts among both Christians and homosexuals, he was able to arrange hiding places for members of his group.
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