Holocaust

Queer Remembrance Day 1999

Crowds lining Whitehall for the official Remembrance Sunday Parade applauded as gay military veterans, OutRage!, and representatives from seven other queer organisations marched to the Cenotaph for a special Queer Remembrance ceremony today, Sunday, 14th November 1999, just after 12 noon.

The applause and cheers outnumbered a few isolated incidents of abuse, when some straight veterans and onlookers shouted “queer bastards”, “faggots”, and “you poofs should be ashamed of yourselves”.

Following immediately after the official Remembrance Day ceremony and war veterans’ march-past, the OutRage!-organised commemoration in Whitehall took some of the thronged on-lookers packed against the barriers by surprise.

Letter to President Menen of Argentina

Barbaric ‘Experiments’ by Nazi Dr. Værnet, War Criminal

The President,
Republic of Argentina,
Balcarce 50,
1064 Buenos Aires,
Argentina.

12th March, 1998

Dear President Carlos Menen,

We are writing to request the help of your government to discover the fate of the Nazi doctor, Carl Værnet, who fled to Argentina after the war and was last known to be working in the Buenos Aires public health department in late 1947.

Dr. Værnet was a pro-Nazi Danish citizen who served in the SS, conducting barbaric medical experiments –including castration and forced hormonal implants– on gay concentration camp prisoners at Buchenwald and Neuengamme.

Unlike other Nazi doctors, he was never put on trial at Nuremberg, and was allowed to flee to Argentina soon after the war was over.

Dr. Værnet’s role in the medical abuse of gay prisoners is documented in the archives at the International Tracing Service at Arolsen (example: ITS Arolsen, book 36, folder 405). It is also cited in the books The Pink Triangle by Richard Plant (Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh 1987) and Hidden Holocaust? by Dr. Günter Grau (Cassell, London 1995).

It is our formal request that the Argentine government conduct an investigation to determine what happened to Dr. Værnet. Is he dead or alive? Could you please furnish us with this information? A good place to start looking would be the records of his employers, the Buenos Aires health service.

OutRage! is an organisation dedicated to the promotion of lesbian, gay and bisexual human rights worldwide.

Dr. Værnet committed acts which are, according to our understanding of international law, crimes against humanity.

We would greatly appreciate your government’s assistance in discovering Dr. Værnet’s fate. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell

Letter to Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark

Barbaric ‘Experiments’ by Nazi Dr. Værnet, War Criminal

The Prime Minister,
Statsministeriet,
Christinsborg,
Prins Jorgens Gaard 11,
Copenhagen 1218,
Denmark.

16th March, 1998

Dear Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen,

We are writing to request the help of your government to discover the fate of the Nazi doctor, Carl Værnet, who fled to Argentina after the war and was last known to be working in the Buenos Aires public health department in late 1947.

Dr. Værnet was a pro-Nazi Danish citizen who served in the SS, conducting barbaric medical experiments –including castration and forced hormonal implants– on gay concentration camp prisoners at Buchenwald and Neuengamme.

Unlike other Nazi doctors, he was never put on trial at Nuremberg (Nürnberg), and was allowed to flee to Argentina soon after the war was over.

Dr. Værnet’s role in the medical abuse of gay prisoners is documented in the archives at the International Tracing Service at Arolsen (example: ITS Arolsen, book 36, folder 405). It is also cited in the books The Pink Triangle by Richard Plant (Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh 1987) and Hidden Holocaust? by Dr. Günter Grau (Cassell, London 1995).

Dr. Værnet’s gruesome experiments on gay internees are also cited in the German documentary film Wir hatten ein grosses ‘A’ am Bein (We Were Marked With A Big ‘A’), directed by Elke Jeonrond and Joseph Weishaupt, and made for NDR. in 1991 by Mediengruppe Schwabing Filmproduktion.

According to our information, which remains incomplete, at the end of the war Dr. Værnet was interned in the British-run Alsgade Skole prisoner-of-war camp in Copenhagen.

On 29th May 1945, the chairman of the Danish Medical Association sent the Ministry of Justice an affidavit signed by a Danish police officer who had been incarcerated in Buchenwald. This affidavit identified Værnet as having been a serving SS officer. The report from the chairman of the Danish Medical Association was, apparently, ignored by the Justice Ministry in Copenhagen.

In the autumn of 1945, the British handed over Dr. Værnet to the Danish authorities. What these authorities did with him at this stage remains unknown. Was he placed in a Danish prison? Or was he moved to hospital for the treatment of his alleged heart problem? This, too, demands an investigation and an answer.

On 2nd January 1946, the Danish Medical Association received a letter from Dr. Værnet’s lawyer, informing them that he had resigned — apparently in a bid to preempt the Association’s plan to have him struck off for his wartime activities,

It is known that Dr. Værnet was eventually transferred to hospital, on the grounds that he was allegedly suffering from a heart complaint, (which may well have been fictional in order to facilitate his release from detention). When did this transfer take place? Who authorised it? What independent medical report, if any, confirmed his heart condition?

Dr. Værnet is said to have told fellow doctors that his heart trouble could only be treated in Sweden. Astonishingly, despite being accused of perpetrating war crimes, Dr. Værnet was allowed by the Danish authorities to travel to Sweden.

In Sweden, he made contact with the Nazi escape network, which spirited him away to Argentina, probably in late 1946 or early 1947.

On 19th November 1947, the Copenhagen newspaper, Berlingske Tidende, carried a letter from a Danish exile living in Argentina which reported that Dr. Værnet was working in the Buenos Aires health department.

It is our formal request that the Danish government explain:

  • Why was Dr. Værnet never put on trial on charges of war crimes, alongside other Nazi doctors?
  • What explanation is there for the way the Ministry of Justice ignored the serious allegations made by the Danish Medical Association concerning Dr. Værnet’s wartime activities?
  • Who authorised him to leave prison unguarded and attend hospital for treatment without supervision?
  • How did Dr. Værnet –a former Nazi SS officer accused of war crimes– get official permission to travel to Sweden for medical treatment?
  • Was there any disciplinary action taken against those who allowed him to leave prison and go to hospital and, later, to leave Denmark for Sweden?
  • What action has been taken by the Danish government over the last 50 years to track down Dr. Værnet and bring him to trial on charges of crimes against humanity?
  • Is he now dead or alive? If he is still living, what action does the Danish government propose to take to put him on trial?

OutRage! is an organisation dedicated to the promotion of lesbian, gay and bisexual human rights in Britain and worldwide.

Dr. Værnet committed acts which are, according to our understanding of international law, crimes against humanity.

We would greatly appreciate your government’s assistance in discovering Dr. Værnet’s fate. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell

German Embassy pursues redress for gay holocaust victims

Meeting between OutRage! and German Embassy

The German Embassy in London has forwarded a report to the office of Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Bonn, setting out proposals to remedy the injustices suffered by gay holocaust victims.

The proposals were made by OutRage! during a meeting at the German Embassy with the First Counsellor for Legal and Consular Affairs, Herr Rainer Dobbelstein.

The Embassy has also forwarded to Bonn details from OutRage! of the Nazi doctors, Gerhard Schiedlausky and Carl Værnet, who medically abused gay prisoners at Buchenwald. (Dr. Værnet’s ‘experiments’ included castration and hormone implants.)

OutRage! has formally asked the German Government to track down these doctors and, if they are still alive, to bring them to trial on charges of ‘crimes against humanity’.

The OutRage! proposals in full are that the German Government should:

  • Apologise for the Nazi persecution of gay people (successive German governments have always refused to apologise).
  • Compensate gay holocaust survivors (gays are denied compensation on the grounds that they were ‘common criminals’).
  • Remedy the deficit in gay survivors’ pensions (the work of SS guards is added to their pension entitlement; but the years spent in the camps by gays are deducted from their pensions).
  • Put on trial the Nazi doctors involved in barbaric medical ‘experiments’ on gay concentration camp prisoners (none of the doctors were indicted at Nuremberg (Nürnberg) — or since).
  • Fund educational programmes in schools, and public memorials to commemorate gay people murdered by the Nazis (most public records of the holocaust obscure the antigay terror).

“Herr Dobbelstein seemed sympathetic to the idea of redress for gays who suffered in the holocaust”, said Huw Williams, who was part of the OutRage! delegation to the Embassy. “But he was defensive on the issues of educational programmes and pension rights, arguing that the climate of economic austerity made it difficult for the German Government to be as generous as it would like. He also claimed that holocaust memorials already mention the Nazi witch-hunts of gay people. Some do: but others don’t. Often the acknowledgement is a tiny, obscure reference that many visitors would never notice”.

Gays demand share of looted Nazi gold

Bid to win Compensation for Homosexuals persecuted by Hitler

Members of OutRage! picketed the London conference on looted Nazi gold at Lancaster House today, Tuesday, 2nd December.

The protesters held placards demanding “Compensate gay victims of Nazism”.

They were greeted with a friendly smile and a wave from British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, as he entered Lancaster House.

Robin Cook’s friendliness was surprising because the Foreign Office has opposed gay participation in the conference. Invitations were refused to the World Congress of Gay and Lesbian Jewish Organisations and to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

In contrast, Jewish and Gypsy groups were officially encouraged to participate, and are attending.

We are angry that gay organisations have been excluded. Any decisions taken by this conference should reflect the just claims of everyone persecuted by the Nazis, including gay people.

Where the owners of looted gold cannot be traced, it should be used to compensate holocaust victims who have been refused reparations by the German government, including East European Jews, slave labourers, and gay people.

Some of the gold should be set aside to finance memorials, educational programmes, and museums in honour of the forgotten victims of Nazism, such as Gypsies, the disabled, homosexuals, and black people.

OutRage! is proposing that gay community groups should receive a share of the looted gold, to help finance:

  • a gay holocaust memorial and museum in Berlin;
  • educational films about the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany, for distribution to schools;
  • a hardship fund, to support elderly gay holocaust survivors.

Queer Remembrance Day

Nearly 300 lesbians and gay men attended a Ceremony of Remembance at the national war memorial, the Cenotaph, in London, on Sunday, 2nd. November. They were commemorating lesbian, gay, and bisexual people who died fighting Nazism and who perished in the concentration camps.

The ceremony was organised by OutRage!, who declared Sunday, 2nd. November “Queer Remembrance Day”.

The keynote speaker was 74-year-old Sharley McLean, a lesbian who fled to Britain as a refugee from Nazi Germany in 1939. Her gay uncle, Kurt Bach, was arrested by the Gestapo in a gay bar in Berlin in 1937, and died in Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

After the speeches, there was a minute’s silence. Then dozens of pink wreaths and bouquets were laid on the Cenotaph.

The commemoration was denounced by the ex-services association, the British Legion, as “distasteful” and “offensive”, and “bound to offend many former soldiers”.

Gay war veterans are never acknowledged by the ex-services association or by the official state-sponsored Remembrance Day ceremony. At least 250,000 gay people served in the British Armed Forces during 1939-45. The current ban on homosexuals in the military is an insult to their service and sacrifice.

The huge media coverage of Queer Remembrance Day has raised awareness about the contribution of lesbian and gay service personnel to the defeat of Nazism, and about the queer holocaust that has been suppressed by revisionist historians.

Coinciding with a campaign by the German SPD and Green parties, OutRage! has written to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, urging him to:

  • Apologise for the Nazi persecution of gay people
    – successive German governments have always refused to apologise
  • Compensate gay holocaust survivors
    – gays are denied compensation on the grounds that they were ‘common criminals’
  • Remedy the deficit in gay survivors’ pensions
    – the service of SS guards is added to their pension entitlement; but the years spent in the camps by gays is dededucted from their pensions
  • Put on trial the Nazi doctors who were involved in barbaric experiments on gay concentration-camp prisoners
    – none of the doctors was indicted at Nuremberg (Nürnberg), or has been since

Letter to Bundeskanzler Helmut Kohl

The Chancellor,
Bundeskanzleramt,
D-53106 Bonn,
Germany.

20-October-1997

I am writing on behalf of OutRage! –the campaign for lesbian, gay and bisexual human rights– concerning the persecution of homosexuals during the Nazi era and the subsequent mistreatment of gay holocaust survivors by the German authorities.

We are shocked that the German government still refuses to compensate most gay holocaust survivors for their suffering, on the grounds that the Supreme Court ruled in 1957 that they were common criminals and were therefore legitimately incarcerated.

Furthermore, it cannot be morally right that the work of SS concentration camp guards is counted towards their pension entitlement, wheareas the years spent in the camps by gay prisoners are deducted from their pensions.

We would like to know why no Nazi doctors were ever prosecuted at the Nuremberg (Nürnberg) Trials –or since– for abusing gay concentration camp inmates in gruesome ‘medical’ experiments that, at Buchenwald, included forcible castration and hormone implants.

It is long overdue that the injustices suffered by the lesbian and gay victims of Hitlerism were remedied. We ask you, as Chancellor of democratic Germany, to:

  • apologise for the terrorisation of gay men and lesbians during the Third Reich;
  • authorise the payment of compensation to homosexual holocaust survivors, on a par with compensation to Jewish survivors;
  • recalculate the pensions of gay survivors to ensure that their period of detention in the camps is counted towards their pension entitlement;
  • bring to trial, on charges of crimes against humanity, the Nazi doctors involved in the medical abuse of gay prisoners.
    We look forward to receiving your assurance of prompt action to rectify these past injustices.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell.

Queer Remembrance Day – Invitation

OutRage! invite you to join us in commemorating

QUEER REMEMBRANCE DAY

on Sunday, 2-November-1997, London
(the Sunday before official Remembrance Sunday).

QUEER REMEMBRANCE DAY is organised by OutRage! in conjunction with other lesbian and gay groups, including Rank Outsiders.

2:00 p.m., at the Cenotaph, Whitehall, SW1
Ceremony of Remembrance to commemorate the lesbians, gays, and bisexuals who died fighting Nazism and who perished in the concentration camps.

Please bring pink wreaths or bouquets to lay at the Cenotaph, with any message of remembrance attached.

We want to cover the Cenotaph with pink flowers, as a public statement of lesbian and gay visibility and commemoration.

Keynote speakers at the Cenotaph ceremony include a gay World War 2 veteran and a lesbian refugee from Nazi Germany.

3:30 p.m., in the Freedom Bar, 60-66, Wardour Street, W1.
British premiere of the gay holocaust survivors’ film, We Were Marked with a Big ‘A’. Never before shown in Britain, this extraordinarily moving film features personal testimonies from gay men who were deported to concentration camps by the Nazis.

Friedrich-Paul von Groszheim was arrested during a police raid on private homes in Lübeck in 1937, as were 230 other gay men that same night. He was given the “alternative” of castration in Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

Kurt von Ruffin was interned in Lichtenburg concentration camp, and Paul Gerhard Vogel was incarcerated in Emsland. The “Big ‘A’” of the film’s title stood for ‘Arschficker’, (arse-fucker): the symbol the first gay prisoners were forced to wear, before the subsequent introduction of the pink triangle.

Gay holocaust survivors were never compensated for their suffering. Their former SS guards, however, receive full pensions.

Free admission. All welcome.

QUEER REMEMBRANCE DAY will help raise public awareness about the contribution of lesbian and gay service personnel to the defeat of Nazism, and about the “hidden queer holocaust” that has been written out of the history books by revisionist historians.

It is vital for the success of QUEER REMEMBRANCE DAY that we get a large attendance at the Cenotaph. Please publicise this commemoration among your friends. If you belong to a gay group, organise a delegation to attend with flowers.

We are delighted to acknowledge the support of

the Freedom Bar, 60-66, Wardour Street, W1
Tel. 020-77.34.00.71

who are sponsoring the showing of the film We Were Marked with a Big ‘A’;
and of the florists David Armstrong Designs, 152, Gray’s Inn Road, WC1X 8AX,
Tel. 020-78.37.26.67; Fax 020-78.37.30.66 who are sponsoring a floral tribute.