Paragraph 175 (Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman) 2000

Paragraph 175 is about a German law used during WWII to imprison homosexuals into concentration camps.  About 100,000 homosexuals were imprisoned and only about 4,000 survived.  And of those survivors, less than 10 were still alive during the time of the documentary to give interviews.

I know, yet another WWII movie.  But as I have said before, I don’t mind going over old territory as long as they find a new angle to explore.  In this case I have heard absolutely nothing in the past about the problems homosexuals faced during this dark period in history.   I realize the documentary doesn’t have all the information you would like to have seeing as how there are only five survivors that are still alive and willing to talk about what happened, but there actually is a fair amount of info.  Its kind of sad that the some of the only info about homosexual prisoners in the Holocaust library is provided by the very director of this movie.

About 8% of Germany’s population in the 1930’s was gay/lesbian and the public reaction toward the gay community was surprisingly tolerant.  It was when Hitler came to power and started preaching genetic purity views changed.  Homosexuals thought the prosecution would not be that bad because Hitler’s head of the SA (later changed to the SS) was a well known homosexual.  But when he was executed and replaced by Himmler, persecution was ramped up.

While homosexuals were spared the incinerators, they were “experimented” on by scientists during the war and might be an equally reprehensible action.  One of the more odd events is when a few gay prisoners were granted a release from prison only to be recruited to the army during WWII’s last days.  One of the films more heartbreaking moments is when one survivor explodes at the director and reveals a horrible tragedy that happened to him at the concentration camps.  What is truly sad is that homosexual survivors really came out with less than nothing unlike say Jewish survivors.  Homosexuals were still labeled criminals on their permanent records, some were imprisoned multiple times under the same law in the 50’s and 60’s (yes, they didn’t even repeal the law until about 1969), none have received any form of reparation and absolutely NO ONE has received any form apology from the German government.  Their livelihoods were crushed by the imprisonment and they have been emotionally scarred for life by the events inside prison.  One survivor tearfully recounts how he has not confided in anyone (not even his family) of the events that happened in prison due to unbelievable shame.  Of course, I am not even going into the many people imprisoned because of pure hearsay or false evidence used to capture say political prisoners.

The movie moves at a blistering 70 minutes and because of that doesn’t really lag at any point.  You can probably only find this movie on an online rental company like Netflix or Blockbuster Online, but I think it is worth it.  It is very short and is about a practically unknown subject.


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