The Nazi state, in Adolf Hitler's words, intended "to promote the victory of the better and the stronger and demand the subordination of the inferior and weaker." Drawing on the "science" of eugenics—the study of improving heredity through selective breeding—Nazi authorities claimed a legitimate right to take action against those they believed to debilitate the "Aryan" Volk.

Homosexuality, the Nazis charged, weakened Germany in several ways. It was accused of being a factor in the declining birthrate that threatened to leave the nation unable to sustain itself. It was also feared as an "infection" that could become an "epidemic," particularly among the nation's vulnerable youth. It was thought that it could give rise to a dangerous state–within–the–state since homosexuals were believed to form self–serving groups. It endangered public morality and contributed to the decline of the community. For the good of the state, the Nazis asserted, homosexuality had to be eradicated.

The state encouraged large families through financial incentives and awards. This Nazi Party member fathered eight children, thereby helping his wife earn the gold Mother's Cross worn around her neck.

The genealogical chart of the "soldier-family Richter" is headlined "The military power of the nation is secured by hereditarily healthy families with many children," and adds (below, center) "National Socialism very consciously places the care and preservation of our nation's hereditarily exceptional families in the center of its population policy."

The regime's eugenic rationale for attacking homosexuality sought to capitalize on prejudices and stereotypes about homosexuals shared by many in German society. The Nazi ideology of persecuting the society's "inferior and weaker" elements fostered public acceptance of state–sponsored intolerance and brutality.

Just as desirable characteristics were viewed as hereditary, so too were the undesirable. This chart aimed to demonstrate alleged hereditary criminality and alcoholism, traits viewed by Nazi eugenicists as comparable to a "predisposition" for homosexuality.

Diagram of the spreading "contagion" of homosexuality from individual number 1 to 28 others. The Nazis believed that the agent of "infection" was the "seduction" by one man of another.

Related Articles