Last edited: July 11, 2004

Holocaust’s Gay Victims

Philadelphia Inquirer, July 14, 2000
PO Box 8263, Philadelphia, PA 19101
Fax 215-854-4483

By Desmond Ryan, Inquirer Movie Critic

The enormity of Hitler’s crimes against the Jews was on such an unspeakable scale that it’s easy to forget there were other victims.

Paragraph 175 is a thoughtful measure of redress for the homosexuals who suffered under the Nazi campaign of persecution and extermination. The documentary, jointly directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman and taking its title from the law that outlawed homosexuality in Germany, consists mostly of interviews with survivors.

Between 1933 and 1945, 100,000 homosexuals were arrested. Half went to prison and about 15,000 went to an even grimmer fate in the concentration camps.

The irony, and it is certainly not lost on the filmmakers, is that a strong current of homoeroticism runs through Nazi ideals of Aryan manhood.

The survivors’ recollections reach to the ‘20s, when Berlin was the gay capital of Europe. Everything changed in the following decade, and the stories told are full of bitterness, pain and, amazingly, the occasional touch of bleak humor.

Most moving of all are the memories of those who made it through the double jeopardy of being both gay and Jewish. As one remembers, "There was an incredible atmosphere of fear." It is powerfully evoked in Paragraph 175, a work that is as much a memorial as a movie.

Paragraph 175 ***
Produced and directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, narrated by Rupert Everett.
Running time: 1 hour, 26 mins.
Parent’s guide: No MPAA rating (adult themes).
Showing at: 7:30 tonight, Ritz East.
Desmond Ryan’s e-mail address is

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