The USF Libraries LGBT Studies and Holocaust Studies Initiatives came together in 2015 to present an event that shed light on a little-understood area of World War II history. On October 27th, 2015, Dr. Geoffrey Giles spoke to a large USF crowd, sharing his original research on this subject in “Persecution but No Homocaust: The Homosexual Problem in Nazi Germany.”
Beginning with the legacy of the German states that had done away with the criminalization of sodomy, Giles traced the specific-yet-evadable penal code passed after German Unification through to the height of gay culture in Berlin in the late 1920s, and on to probable causes for increasingly virulent Nazi attitudes toward homosexuals.
Despite ideas promulgated by gay victims of the Nazis in the 1970s, the Nazis were not focused on eliminating all homosexuals from Germany. Hitler had only an apparent mild dislike for the homosexual community — at least initially. In fact, one of his closer advisors was Ernst Röhm, commander of the Nazi Storm Battalion (also known as the ‘SA’ or ‘Brownshirts’), who was gay.
However, the tide began to turn when the opposition Social Democrats began to incite public concern about Röhm’s involvement with the Hitler Youth. He was ultimately killed in the “Night of the Long Knives” purge.
In June 1935, the law changed. Prosecutors and judges, frustrated with acquittals, developed new language that began to include victims of assault. This had devastating implications at all levels of society. Watch the video for the fascinating full story:
While at USF, Dr. Giles remarked on the depth of USF Tampa Libraries LGBT and Holocaust Studies collections:
“You have some really remarkable and extremely rare material here. Wonderful materials for potential graduate students to work on. I think I will be coming down again myself.”
Dr. Geoffrey Giles is Associate Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at the University of Florida. His extensive research in this area has included study seminars for college faculty at the death camps in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Germany on behalf of the Holocaust Education Foundation, and he served for many years on the State of Florida Education Commissioner’s task force on Holocaust education. A highly sought-after speaker, he planned to follow our October event at USF with a keynote address at the Sorbonne in Paris, speaking on Nazi concepts of masculinity and attitudes toward homosexuality.
“Persecution But No Homocaust” was sponsored by the USF Libraries Holocaust and Genocide Studies and LGBT Studies Initiatives in partnership with the Florida Holocaust Museum.
Events like these make USF Libraries collections come alive. You can be a part of it. Contact the USF Libraries Office of Development to make a cash or in-kind contribution today: (813) 974-4433.