One man recounts how the Nazis' assumption of power in 1933 limited homosexuals' freedom and created an atmosphere of fear.
Then came the thunderbolt of the 30 January 1933, and we knew that a change of political climate had taken place. What we had tried to prevent, had taken place.
Over the years, more and more of my political friends disappeared, of my Jewish and of my homosexual friends. Fear came over us with the increasingly coordinated pressure of the Nazis. For heaven's sake not to attract attention, to exercise restraint. 1933 was the starting-point for the persecution of homosexuals. Already in this year we heard of raids on homosexual pubs and meeting places. Maybe individual, politically uneducated homosexuals who were only interested in immediate gratification did not recognize the significance of the year 1933, but for us homosexuals who were also politically active, who had defended the Weimar Republic, and who had tried to forestall the Nazi threat, 1933 initially signified a reinforcing of our resistance.
In order not to mutually incriminate ourselves, we decided to no longer recognize each other. When we came across each other in the street, we passed by, without looking at one another. There were certain possibilities for us to meet, but that never happened in public.
For a politicized homosexual, visiting places which were part of the homosexual subculture was too dangerous. Friends told me that raids on bars were becoming more frequent. And someone had written on the wall of the subway tunnel of the Hamburg S-Bahn between Dammtor station and the main station, "Street of the Lost." That was some sort of film or book title. We found this graffiti very amusing, for most of us tried to cope with the thing by developing a sort of gallows humor.
From Hans-Georg Stumke and Rudi Finkler, Rosa Winkel, Rosa Listen, Homosexuelle und 'Gesunded Volksempfinden' von Auschwitz bis heute (Hamburg, 1981), trans. in Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wipperman, The Racial State: Germany 1933-1945 (New York, 1991), pp. 182-83.