Our Rating: ★★★★☆
L Factor: Major lesbian content
Short Take: Somber documentary focusing on the persecution of gays and lesbians by the Nazis, including interviews with survivors.
Alternate Titles:
Year: 2000
Duration: 75 min
Language: UK, Germany, USA/English
MPAA: Not Rated
Director: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
Writer: Sharon Wood
Starring: Rupert Everett, Klaus Muller, Karl Gorath, Pierre Seel, Heinz F., Annette Eick, Albrecht Becker, Gad Beck, Heinz Dormer

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Paragraph 175Did you know … 100,000 gay men were arrested during Nazi rule in Germany? Ten to 15,000 of them were sent to concentration camps, two-thirds of whom died there, marked with the pink triangle? Only five lesbians were known to have been sent to the camps?

This is a somber documentary focusing on the persecution of gays using Paragraph 175 of the German Penal Code. The act had existed since the late 1800s, but the Nazis viewed gay men as a disease and a threat to German society, like Jews or Gypsies.

Ten gay men who survived Dachau, Buchenwald, Schirmeck and other camps were known to still be alive, and several are interviewed here. Listening to the men describe having wood shoved up his rectum or watching others eaten by dogs is extremely difficult, but it is this film and the research of directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman that resulted in some recent recognition of gays in the Holocaust Memorial in the US (although not in Germany).

One lesbian who escaped with the help of papers from another woman in England talks about the anything goes atmosphere of pre-Nazi Berlin. That social world was destroyed. Lesbianism was viewed as curable by the Nazis, and women mainly vessels of reproduction, so lesbians often quietly blended in to the rest of society, sometimes marrying gay men, or fled abroad. Narrated by Rupert Everett. Winner of the Sundance Director’s Award. (AB)