Germany's homosexuals felt the impact of the new regime within weeks of Adolf Hitler's appointment as chancellor. In February 1933 police and Storm Troopers began enforcing February orders to shut samesex bars and clubs and to stop the sale of all publications with sexual content. During the next several months, most gathering places for homosexual men and women closed, fundamentally disrupting their public lives.
On May 6, 1933, Nazi student groups and sympathizers ransacked Magnus Hirschfeld's Institute for Sexual Science, Berlin's most visible symbol of sexual reform. Four days later, much of the institute's unique library was destroyed as part of a public book burning to destroy the "unGerman spirit." Hirschfeld, then in Paris at the end of a threeyear world tour, became an exile. His ScientificHumanitarian Committee and other sexual rights organizations stopped their work in Germany.
The state's initial steps to restore law and order focused on professional criminals and "habitual sex offenders." The second category included not only men with two convictions under Paragraph 175, but also men expected "with a high degree of probability" to violate that law. Regulations issued in February 1934 ordered police surveillance of these individuals and authorized restrictions on their activities.
In October 1934, the Gestapo moved to gather information about homosexual men. Telegrams to all local police departments ordered that new or existing lists of men suspected of being homosexually active in their districts be forwarded to Gestapo Special Section II1 in Berlin. A subsequent telegram requested that the lists indicate political affiliation, particularly membership in the Nazi Party.
The increasing police interest in the lives of homosexual men drove a few to emigrate where they could. The vast majority, however, began to conceal their homosexuality; many married. Others committed suicide.
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