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Germany compensates 249 people convicted under Nazi-era anti-gay law

The law, brought in in the 19th Century was more strictly enforced by the Nazis and continued after the Second World War.

2021-09-15

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki

Germany has compensated almost 250 people after they were either investigated or persecuted under a law criminalising homosexuality that ran under the Nazis and after the Second World War.

On Monday (13 September) Germany’s Federal Office of Justice said that out of 317 applications for compensation, 249 had been granted up until the end of August. In total, €860,000 (£732,000) has been paid out.

Paragraph 175, which criminalised homosexuality was created in 1871 and repealed in 1994. It was enforced more strictly under the Nazis and retained in West and East Germany after the war.

"A very, very long fight"

As reported by the Independent, The German office says 14 applications are being processed, 18 have been rejected, and 36 withdrawn.

Up to 15,000 gay men were sent to camps by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945 where as many as 60 percent of them died. SS leader Heinrich Himmler described gay men as a plague that had to be exterminated. Gay men were subsequently beaten and tortured for even looking at another man in an “immodest” way and suffered cruel treatments.

Up to 50,000 men were convicted in West Germany between 1949 and 1969 with convictions under the Nazi-era being annulled in 2002. Those convicted after the war had their convictions annulled in 2017. 68,300 were convicted between both post-war German states. Homosexuality was decriminalised in both by 1969.

At the time, Axel Hochrein, of Germany’s Lesbian and Gay Federation said: “This has been a very, very long fight for the rehabilitation of gay men who were convicted in this democratic German state — not in the National Socialist state, but in the democratic German state.”

Compensation was offered with €3,000 per conviction and €1,500 for every year someone spent in prison. In 2019 the scheme was expanded to include those who had been investigated but not convicted.

Those people could claim €500 for every claim opened, €1,500 for every year in pre-trial custody, and €1,500 for other impacts of the law.

In 2018 Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier asked for forgiveness from the country’s LGBTQ community following decades of persecution.

A deadline of 22 July 2022 has been set for people to apply for compensation.

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