Friedrich-Paul von
Karl Lange
Henny Schermann
Robert T. Odeman
Harry Pauly
Richard Grune
Robert Oelbermann
Paul O'Montis
Personal Histories
Introduction The New Order, 1933-1939 Nazi Ideology of Persecution
Crackdown, Surveillance, and Police Lists Paragraph 175
Denunciations, Arrests, Convictions "Protective Custody" in Concentration Camps Persecution and the War
Persecution in Nazi-Occupied Territories The War and the Camps
Extermination through Work Aftermath Online Resources
On Exhibit Public Programs Library Bibliography Curator's comments
PDF activities for teachers

Artist Richard Grune, who trained at the Bauhaus school in Weimar under teachers including Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, moved to Berlin in February 1933.

Richard Grune, ca. 1922.
Richard Grune, ca. 1922.

Walter Gropius, <i>Bauhaus Dessau,</i> 1925–26. View from the Northwest.
Walter Gropius, Bauhaus Dessau, 1925–26. View from the Northwest. Photo Lucia Moholy, 1926. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin. © 2002 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Headquarters of the Nazi Gestapo (secret state police) and of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA). Berlin, Germany, date uncertain.

Between 1933 and 1945, Germany's Nazi government under Adolf Hitler attempted to rid German territory of people who did not fit its vision of a "master Aryan race." Grune and other homosexuals in Germany felt the impact of the new regime within weeks of Adolf Hitler's appointment as chancellor in January 1933.

German students marching toward the Institute for Sexual Science during a raid. The Institute, founded by Magnus Hirschfeld, housed a collection of rare anthropological, medical, legal, and social documents on questions of sexuality; its library was burned four days later. Berlin, Germany, May 6, 1933.

Germans cheer Adolf Hitler as he leaves the Hotel Kaiserhof just after being sworn in as chancellor. Berlin, Germany, January 30, 1933.

Jewish lawyers line up to apply for permission to appear before the Berlin courts. New regulations set forth in the Aryan Paragraph (a series of laws enacted in April 1933 to purge Jews from various spheres of state and society) allowed only 35 to appear before the court. Berlin, Germany, April 11, 1933.

German women salute Hitler's motorcade as it passes through their small village in northern Bavaria. Hitler enjoyed immense popularity among the German people. Franconia, Germany, date uncertain.

Friends at an outing in Berlin. Germany, 1930.

In February, police and Storm Troopers began enforcing orders to shut same–sex bars and clubs. During a crackdown over the next several months, most gathering places for homosexual men and women were closed down, fundamentally disrupting their public lives. Grune was arrested in December 1934, one of 70 men caught in a wave of related denunciations.

Collage on the closing of gay and lesbian bars in Berlin, from Vienna newspaper Der Notschrei (The Cry for Help), March 4, 1933.

Police maintain watch outside the

Under interrogation, Grune admitted to being homosexual. He was held in "protective custody" for five months, then returned to his childhood home on the German–Danish border to stand trial for violating Paragraph 175. In September 1936, Grune was convicted and sentenced to prison for one year and three months, minus time already served in protective custody. It is estimated that some 50,000 men served prison terms as convicted homosexuals.

Reichgesetzblatt¸ Teil 1, Jahrgang 1935, p. 841: Article 6 "Unzucht [indecency] zwischen Männer," §175 and 175a (28 June 1935).

Police file photographs of a man arrested for violating Paragraph 175, 1936-1939.

Police file photographs of a man arrested for violating Paragraph 175, 1936-1939.

At his release, the Gestapo returned Grune to protective custody, asserting that the sentence had been too lenient. In early October 1937, Grune was sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he remained until being transferred to the Flossenbürg camp in early April 1940.

The pink triangle (second column from right) was the designated camp badge for male homosexual prisoners, as shown on this undated chart titled "Distinguishing Marks for Protective Custody Prisoners." In addition to the basic badge (top), variations marked repeat offenders, prisoners in punishment battalions, and homosexual Jews. Other colors identified political prisoners, previously convicted criminals, emigrants, Jehovah's Witnesses, and so-called asocials.

The brickworks near the Sachsenhausen concentration camp outside Berlin. At least 1,000 homosexual men are known to have been held at Sachsenhausen between its opening in 1936 and the end of the war. Many perished from the exertions of grueling labor in the brickworks.

World War II helped to conceal the Nazis' radicalized persecution at home. Thousands of homosexuals were sent to forced labor camps. There, in an explicit campaign of "extermination through work," homosexuals and other so-called security suspects were assigned to grueling work in ceaselessly dangerous conditions.

Prisoners standing for roll call at the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany, circa 1938. This twice-daily ordeal of several hours in all weather was so the SS guards could account for every single prisoner. Roll calls of many hours' duration were used also as camp-wide punishment, often ending in death for the weakest. The prisoners' uniforms bear classifying triangular badges and identification numbers. Homosexual prisoners were identified by pink triangle badges.

Hanging from a Column.

Quarry at the Flossenbrg concentration camp, established in 1938. A survey of the camp population in early 1943 listed 105 homosexuals among the camp's 4,000 prisoners.

Forced laborers in the quarry at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria.

Saxon Greeting.

Four Kapos Beating a Prisoner.

Grune himself remained in the Flossenbürg camp until 1945. As American forces approached, he escaped the evacuation of Flossenbürg and joined his sister in Kiel. He spent much of the rest of his life in Spain, but later returned to Kiel, where he died in 1983.

Prisoners Incapable of Work on the Way to the Crematorium.

Richard Grune's desire to bring attention to the terror of the concentration camps led to the 1947 publication of a limited–edition portfolio of his lithographs. His work generally reflects what he experienced at the Sachsenhausen and Flossenbürg concentration camps; some images are based on information from other survivors. The portfolio is among the most important visual recordings of the daily nightmare of the Nazi concentration camps to appear in the immediate postwar years.

Dormitory in the Concentration Camp.


Prisoner in the Electric Fence.