Review: This was a long-awaited read for me. It was a read I had to prepare myself for, before I could actually read it. I’m a scholar of WW2 and Holocaust literature and have a large collection of material, but for a topic dealing even more closely with myself and being, I had to take time to ground myself.
Whether you are just a passing person who might wish to learn about what homosexuals suffered in concentration camps (and there were fewer comparatively and earlier in the Nazi regime directly), or someone who is looking for a wider view of all inmates who were interred or murdered, this memoir can provide views into life in the camps, especially for certain populations. What is does beyond that is provide a glimpse into the ugly aspects of “male” life, and the unique, sexual brutality so-called “straight” men have perpetrated against homosexuals who’ve expressed or more openly or innocently (depending on your perspective) their attraction and love of those of their own gender.
I don’t even know quite how to express it, but I literally was brought to the floor, unable to move, weeping, remembering how one can be forced to do things just to survive, and knowing the ones who forced you to debase yourself so horribly were so-called “straight” men who went/go home to their wives or girlfriends, who don’t think twice about using someone. That is the perspective Heinz Heger lived and endured on top of the diabolical, sickly human mechanisms of the Nazis and those who benefited from their regime.
I wanted to know more of his personal feelings when he described seeing thousands of prisoners of all kinds not just be “liquidated”, but when he directly saw the evidence: the coursing of blood from trenches full of recently shot bodies instead of his only stating how the villagers near the camp complained of the local streams being tainted with blood, but I understand why his account involved only that. Sometimes you can only recount abstracts like that, because looking too directly into the memory will take you back, and you know, in your present life that you couldn’t endure that.
Not a “speciality” book. Not just for gays or other LTIIQ people. If you are going to read Holocaust books, include this one as well. Be aware and outraged that homosexuals were targeted and murdered just like other groups, just because they believed and lived a certain way….BUT the vast majority were never compensated as were other survivors. They were pushed aside and discriminated against, and even had officials discount their memories, an even more debilitating experience than survivors whose stories were commiserated with. So in effect, these men were violated over and over, not just by perpetrators, but by those who supposedly were there to liberate and help them as they did other concentration camp inmates. They were discriminated against just like what continues against gays today in a variety of countries across the world.
The full title is : ” The Men with the Pink Triangle: The True Life-and-Death Story of Homosexuals in the Nazi Death Camps.” It was written by survivor Josef Kohout, who used the penname Heinz Heger. To learn more about the Nazi concentration camp survivor who died in 1994, please read the article by Kurt Krickler found at Wikipedia (In German).