By the 1920's, Berlin had become known as a homosexual eden, where gay men and lesbians lived relatively open lives amidst an exciting subculture of artists and intellectuals. With the coming to power of the Nazis, all this changed. Between 1933 and 1945 100,000 men were arrested for homosexuality under Paragraph 175, the sodomy provision of the German penal code dating back to 1871. Some were imprisoned, others were sent to concentration camps. Of the latter, only about 4,000 survived. Today, fewer than ten of these men are known to be living. Five of them have now come forward to tell their stories for the first time in this powerful new film. The Nazi persecution of homosexuals may be the last untold story of the Third Reich. Paragraph 175 fills a crucial gap in the historical record, and reveals the lasting consequences of this hidden chapter of 20th century history, as told through personal stories of men and women who lived through it: the half Jewish gay resistance fighter who ... Written by
The statute of Paragraph 175 was amended several times. The Nazis broadened the law in 1935 and increased its prosecutions by an order of magnitude; thousands died in concentration camps, regardless of guilt or innocence. East Germany reverted to the old version of the law in 1950, limited its scope to sex with youths under 18 in 1968, and abolished it entirely in 1988. West Germany retained the Nazi-era statute until 1969, when it was limited to "qualified cases"; it was further attenuated in 1973 and finally revoked entirely in 1994 after German reunification. See more »
This film is an excellent example of letting people tell their story without embellishing the contextual situation. The extra material added to the interviews is perfectly balanced to put the interviews in their historical and personal context, without unduly expanding the context to overshadow what the (very few) survivors had to tell. Enough information is given about paragraph 175 and it's application during Hitler's reign and after for us to get an insight of its consequences, and the situation of denial of our 'civilised' western countries even today regarding the gay victims of this horror. But the focus is on the survivors' tale, not the context. This technique (too rarely applied) produced an extremely powerful documentary. I have seldom seen such a well balanced work.
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