The Same-Sex marriage and LGBTI special-rights lobby has made a major strategic mistake: it has publicly linked homosexuality and Nazism. This occurred in an attempted ‘gotcha moment’ in Q&A on the ABC last Monday night (25/4), when the panel included conservative and progressive Christian representatives. Seeking to embarrass a conservative Christian, an LGBTI sympathizer in the audience asked the Australian Christian Lobby’s managing director, Lyle Shelton, a prepared question about comments made by American author Eric Metaxas, a keynote speaker at the ACL’s national conference the previous Saturday. The comments allegedly suggested a link between homosexuality and Nazism.
(Trigger warning: this article contains material that may disturb some readers)
The notion that there is a link between homosexuality and Nazism had already been planted in popular consciousness by the authoritarian, even fascist, behaviour of some of the militant proponents of LGBTI interests. This has attracted criticism from various commentators, most notably Miranda Devine, whose Daily Telegraph article “Totalitarian Tolerance” focused on the ‘bully-boy’ tactics of corporate LGBTI sponsors such as Qantas, whose CEO, Alan Joyce, announced that anyone who has a problem with LGBTI demands will find themselves denied banking facilities and airline services. As Devine explained:
“So, whether it’s Qantas or Virgin you want to fly with, whether it’s Westpac, or the Commonwealth Bank, or Bankwest, or St George, or ANZ you bank with, whether it’s Telstra or Optus’s brand on your phone, no dissent is allowed. Everyone has to be seen to be marching merrily in lock-step towards the mandated redefinition of our foundational social institution.”
The article was accompanied by a striking image of a smirking fascist Stormtrooper holding a very large truncheon in a threatening pose. Notably, instead of a black shirt like Mussolini’s fascists or a brown shirt like Hitler’s SA, the thug in the image wears a rainbow shirt with the sleeves rolled up, ready for business. He was also drawn with a very Aryan appearance, typical of Heinrich Himmler’s ideal of the merciless ‘blond beasts’ that made up the racist SS. The image is also an obvious homage to Tom of Finland, the artist famous for his sadomasochistic homoerotic art, and “the most influential creator of gay pornographic images.”
One wonders if the more moderate and conservative members of the gay community appreciate the fact that the campaign for gay rights has over-reached to the point that such damning commentary and imagery is being provoked in the mainstream media.
At any rate, the Q&A question about Nazism and homosexuality opened up a can of worms. As the response of the ignorant local media made clear, it was meant to slander Metaxas, who was duly dismissed as “a far-right American Christian” (which places him out beyond Neptune), and, by extension, Shelton (a “fundamentalist” and “Bible-basher”) and the ACL What it actually did was draw attention to a long-term controversy about the relationship between Nazism and homosexuality, as I will outline below.
As far as Metaxas is concerned, he is a very reputable scholar who has written an extremely well-received biography of the German Lutheran minister and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was one of the iconic intellectuals of the 20th century and part of a theological revolution in Protestantism that is a quantum leap beyond the far-right and fundamentalism. Indeed, it opened the path to the type of liberal theology espoused by the radical Christians on the Q&A panel and those who demonstrated against Metaxas outside the ACL conference.
Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis in 1945 for his anti-Nazi activities and suspected involvement in the plot to assassinate Hitler. This followed years of struggle by Bonhoeffer and allies such as Karl Barth (usually regarded the greatest theologian in several centuries) against the takeover of German society by the Nazis and the monstrous ideology that they sought to impose on the entire world. Reflecting on this experience, Metaxas has made the point that the German churches were not sufficiently prepared to speak out about Hitler and the rise of the Nazis in the early years of the movement during Germany’s Weimar republic. Unwilling to be seen opposing a radical movement enjoying significant public support, they kept quiet, allowed themselves to be intimidated and co-opted, and were ultimately subordinated to the Nazi regime once it came to power. Only a minority of church leaders, including Bonhoeffer and Barth, were prepared to take a stand, to their considerable personal cost.
Metaxas had suggested there was a lesson to be learnt from that early period of timidity (or perhaps cowardice), and that Christian churches, then and now, have a responsibility to take a stand on issues that relate directly to their beliefs, even if this attracts strong criticism:
“I’m talking about the theological liberals in the mainstream church that is just getting off in a whole other direction where they are just failing to teach biblical orthodoxy, failing to teach the Bible as the word of God and yet they still think of themselves as the church.
We see that obviously happening in issues of sexuality, but how can you say that most mainline denominations in America today are profoundly Christian when they have given up the ghost on all of these fundamentals of the faith? You had the exact same thing happening in Germany. It’s just setting things up so that when evil comes, where do people turn?”
Unfortunately, it presently appears that churches are not being vocal enough about the traditional Christian position on LGBTI issues.
Asserting that Metaxas had compared the proliferation of LGBTI activism to the rise of the Nazis, the audience member asked Shelton his ‘gotcha’ question:
“Do you personally think these comments are acceptable in a tolerant society such as ours, and are similar comments what we have to look forward to in an upcoming plebiscite debate on same-sex marriage?”
In response, Shelton said that Metaxas did not have an anti-gay bone in his body, had not made the alleged comments, and that his observations had been taken out of context. He claimed Metaxas was simply trying to make the point that the church was silent 90 years ago about cultural trends contrary to its teachings and the same thing may be happening now with respect to SSM:
“I think it’s a good point because I’m very concerned the church isn’t speaking up enough on this issue, because it’s a big social justice issue, it’s a big public policy issue and it has implications on the future of society, freedom of speech, freedom of children to be allowed wherever possible to know their mother and father and this is the sort of public policy that will change that.”
Shelton observed that after reading Metaxas’ book he also saw the similarities of the churches’ reticent positions on the promotion of homosexuality and the rise of the Nazis. “It’s easy for the church to compromise its teaching and it did in Germany and it woke up and it was too late,” he said. The principal concern of Metaxas and Shelton is not with LGBTI rights but with the churches’ capitulation to popular sentiment and failure to enunciate its religious beliefs on that and other controversial matters.
Nevertheless, the LGBTI criticism of the churches was pressed home by another panel member, introduced as a church elder, recently married lesbian, and comedian. She said she was concerned homosexuality was even being talked about alongside Nazi Germany:
“Even if the intent is to criticise churches for not speaking up on something that you consider important, inevitably there’s a sense that the possibility of homosexuals having the opportunity to marry is in some way comparable to the threat of Nazism … it’s disrespectful to make that sort of analogy.”
This is where the LGBTI cadre made their mistake. The problem with the entire exchange, initiated by the audience question, is that it wasn’t Metaxas that associated homosexuality and Nazism; it was the audience member who asked the ‘gotcha’ question in the first place, in an attempt to embarrass and discredit Shelton and the ACL. Moreover, any relevant comments that Metaxas may have made that previous weekend were to a conference attended by a comparatively small number of Christian folk. In stark contrast, the Q&A questioner was raising the issue on national television, making the issue of homosexuality and Nazism central to a controversial discussion on a widely viewed and very influential national program. In an attempt to intimidate and silence Christians, the SSM and LGBTI team scored an own goal.
In fact, their own goal was truly spectacular, because the question of homosexuality and Nazism has long been an extremely controversial issue. It was a live topic from the early days of the Nazi Party, as its enemies sought to gather intelligence on Hitler and other leaders. According to Ludwig Lenz, a researcher at the Sex Research Institute in Berlin, “not ten percent of the men who, in 1933, took the fate of Germany into their hands, were sexually normal.” The Institute was itself destroyed by Hitler’s SA Brown Shirts in 1933, apparently because of its massive documentary collection. This included records of court-referred Nazi sex offenders, rapists, child molesters and pederasts, along with some 40,000 intimate interviews with members of the Nazi Party about their sexuality. Obviously, if divulged, this material may have exposed the alarming range of homosexual and other sexual proclivities of the Nazi leadership.
The matter inevitably concerned historians on many levels during the decades up until the onset of political correctness in the 1970s, when a veil was drawn across the topic by an increasingly powerful gay rights lobby. This imposed a revisionist interpretation of the history of the Third Reich that portrayed homosexuals only as victims not perpetrators. The aim was to promote the notion of a ‘Gay Holocaust’ parallel to that suffered by the Jews, elevating the victimhood of gays into the stratosphere. In fact, it was only after The Night of the Long Knives in 1934 (discussed below) that the Nazis reversed a previously implicit tolerance of homosexuality and came to target male homosexuals along with Jews and other minorities, tragically killing some 10,000 homosexuals. However, anti-Semitism was always the absolutely fundamental core obsession in Nazi ideology (indeed, for Hitler, it’s importance was cosmic and metaphysical!) and this campaign consumed some 6 million Jews amongst the 15 million to 20 million murdered in total under the Third Reich, according to Washington’s Holocaust Memorial Museum. In comparison, the Nazis’ anti-homosexual drive was opportunistic and selective and, basically, an attempt to cover-up or over-compensate for the homosexual proclivities of some in the Nazi leadership as these became more widely known.
The claim that gays were only victims of the Nazis and not perpetrators is patently false, and now this extremely sensitive topic has been opened up again on Q&A.
Aside from the ill-judged question on Q&A, this exposé was largely the achievement of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party by Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams. One of the most controversial accounts of the subject, it was first published in 1995, is now in its fiftth edition and available as an eBook. It is a polarizing work, attracting both excellent reviews and bitter condemnation. Out of some 110 reviews on Amazon.com, 45% give it a maximum five-star rating, while 42% give it the minimum 1 star. The negative reviews include comments like:
“Disgusting hate mongering with outrageous historical inaccuracies. Revisionist history like this should be banned from amazon and openly mocked.”
“The real Nazi here are the authors and their pack of homophobic lies”.
“Biggest bunch of hogwash I have ever read. Truly made me ill.”
Positive reviews include comments like:
“The Pink Swastika is a powerful exposure of pre-World War II Germany and its quest for reviving and imitating a Hellenistic-Paganistic idea of homo-eroticism and militarism.”
“A stellar read. The author goes to places most PC historians will not tread.”
“This will be the second book they will burn after the Bible, when the power is in their hands to do so.”
The book is readily available for readers to make up their own mind.
Quite apart from The Pink Swastika, Hitler’s sexuality has always been something of a mystery to contemporaries and historians alike. Indeed, a massive wartime research project undertaken by the American OSS reported in 1943 that the Führer enjoyed a range of perversions. Although mountains of lurid material were subsequently unearthed by historians, much of it is regarded as unreliable and no consensus has been reached except that he suffered from paranoia, self-loathing, and didn’t enjoy conventional heterosexual relationships. He may have simply been ‘asexual’, or a repressed passive homosexual who went (or tried to go) through the motions of heterosexuality. He may also have been a male prostitute in Vienna as he struggled to make a living as a talentless artist. Certainly he had more money than he could ever have earned selling mediocre watercolours, and he was a denizen of the overnight shelters and men’s hostels that were described as “hotbeds of male prostitution” by the father of the gay rights movement, Magnus Hirschfeld.
According to some scholars (e.g., The Hidden Hitler by Lothar Machtan (2001), Hitler was undoubtedly gay, while others (e.g., The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler, by Robert G. L. Waite (1993) believe he was addicted to extreme forms of what used to be regarded (prior to the Safe Schools takeover of sexual morality in our society) as sexual perversion, including sadomasochism, self-flagellation, and especially coprophilia, the regular practice of which may have been the reason for the apparent suicide of one of his reluctant sexual partners, his niece, Geli Raubal, at age 23 in 1931. The left-wing Nazi leader, Otto Strasser, recorded and circulated Raubal’s truly lurid account of this activity, emphasizing her disgust. Unfortunately, Hitler had also written a very compromising letter to her detailing his masochistic and coprophilic inclinations, and extreme steps were taken to retrieve it, with one of the parties being murdered on the Night of the Long Knives. Geli herself was found with an apparently self-administered bullet wound from Hitler’s handgun and apparently died a virgin (for those interested a disturbing discussion of all this is provided in The Psychopathic God, especially pp.237-243).
Apart from Hitler, there is no question that key members of the Nazi Party were homosexual. These, included the leader of the SA Brown Shirts, Ernst Röhm, and the Deputy Führer, Rudolf Hess, and it was noticed at the time that it was only Röhm and Hess who were allowed by Hitler to address him in a familiar du fashion. Others cited by historians include Baldur von Schirach, the anti-Semitic and anti-Christian head of the Hitler Youth, who was later Reich Governor of Vienna and responsible for the deaths of thousands of Viennese Jews sent to the death camps; Hans Frank, the Nazi Minister of Justice; Walther Funk, the Minister of Economics; and Hermann Goering, the president of the Reichstag and chief of the Luftwaffe, amongst many others.
Hess was well known as an habitué of the gay subculture of Berlin in the Weimar era, and was famous in the city’s gay bars for his dress-up attire as ‘Black Bertha’. Röhm, on the other hand, was the archetypal Nazi from central casting — a scar-faced ex-soldier and fanatical militarist. However, despite his later transformation (à la Goering) into a bloated, dissolute thug, he was very cultured and gay in a flamboyantly masculinist style that reflected his military background and the intimate, male-only ‘life in the trenches’ during the war. After the war he had been Hitler’s mentor at the start of his rise to power, employing a destitute Hitler as an informer for the far-right paramilitary force, the Freikorps, in 1919, and may also have been his lover. Subsequently, Röhm remained a key confidante and right-hand man, shaping the SA into a massive and ultraviolent paramilitary force designed to attack and intimidate rival political groups and generally do Hitler’s dirty work. Its leadership and a great deal of its membership were gay and committed to Röhm’s ideology of homosexual supremacism. A similar situation initially existed within Heinrich Himmler’s even more malevolent SS, where it was however inextricably combined with an ideology of racial purity, a grotesque idealization of ‘Aryan manhood’, and Himmler’s Lebensborn (‘fountain of life’) breeding program, designed to produce a ‘master-race’ of blond haired Aryans. (One of the children born in that program was Frida, from ABBA, ironically a brunette. A victim of radical sexual ideology, she has suffered from the effects all her life.) A chicken farmer obsessed with breeding, Himmler eventually made it a capital offence for SS members to be homosexual, an extreme measure whose necessity is a measure of the scale of the homosexual presence in the SS.
Röhm was an articulate anti-bourgeois sexual radical of the type that proliferated amongst the extreme decadence of Berlin in the post-war Weimar years. (Indeed, he would find a place now in the Safe Schools program, especially in Victoria – which is becoming the Weimar of the south.) Berlin was famous for its Bohemian artists, sexual sadomasochism, transvestites, and lesbian and male-homosexual nightclubs, bars and baths. Pornography, organized crime and drugs were rampant, as was child and homosexual prostitution. In this milieu, according to Robert Elson in Prelude to War (1976), thousands of prostitutes walked Berlin’s city streets half nude, dressed as dominatrixes and school girls, while transvestites and powdered and rouged young men everywhere sold their services. As Havelock Ellis reported in The Psychology of Sex (1934), some 20,000 boy prostitutes serviced Germany’s flourishing gay population. And as gay British novelist Christopher Isherwood rejoiced, “Berlin is for boys …The German Boy … the Blond”.
Flourishing in such a context, Röhm championed aggressive male homosexuality, talked openly about his fondness for gay bars and bath houses, boasted of his virility, and wrote pamphlets and articles calling for the repeal of laws against homosexuality. As one gay journalist reports, Röhm was a homosexual supremacist who “believed that gay people were superior to straights, and saw homosexuality as a key principle of his proposed Brave New Fascist Order.” In the words of the historian, Louis Snyder, Röhm
“projected a social order in which homosexuality would be regarded as a human behaviour pattern of high repute… He flaunted his homosexuality in public and insisted his cronies do the same. He believed straight people weren’t as adept at bullying and aggression as homosexuals, so homosexuality was given a high premium in the SA.”
In this gay, ultra-masculinist, militarist society, effeminate passive homosexuals were conflated with women as inferior beings to be ridiculed and marginalized.
Although Röhm promoted these ideas within the SA and the Party with Hitler’s implicit consent, he finally became surplus to requirements when Hitler seized power and the army made it clear they wouldn’t tolerate the rival SA. Consequently, Röhm and his intimate circle and many other potential troublemakers were murdered on The Night of the Long Knives, June 30, 1934. Afterwards, in a typically cynical cover-up, Hitler justified the purge on the basis that Röhm was a homosexual and had to be liquidated as he was discrediting the Party. It was only then that the Nazis began their concerted campaign against male homosexuals. This focused on the Nazi Party and largely consumed men who were in the SA, the SS, and other parts of the party apparatus. In other words, while many innocent homosexuals were killed, many were dedicated Nazis who became victims of the monstrous movement to which they had committed themselves.
As this brief discussion illustrates, the question of homosexuality and the Nazis is one fraught with difficulty and controversy. It has been an achievement of the gay rights movement to suppress knowledge of the role that male homosexuals played in the Nazi Party and the nature of the homosexual supremacism promoted by Nazi leaders like Röhm. One wonders therefore about the wisdom of bringing it all back to the surface of popular consciousness with ill-informed attacks on the Christian church.