MiniReview: "Paragraph 175" (film)

Classification of concentration camp inmates in Nazi Germany. Homosexuals received the pink triangle.  

What is it?

A German-British-American documentary from 2000, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.


What’s Paragraph 175?

It was the part of the German Criminal Code that made homosexuality a crime. It was in place from 1871 until it was completely abolished in 1994.


That’s 123 years. Does the documentary cover all that time?

No, it’s essentially the story of the application of Paragraph 175 during the Nazi period, when the number of arrests skyrocketed and the punishments were toughened—to the point of sending homosexual men to concentration camps.


An important story to tell.

And thank goodness these filmmakers made the film when they did, as there were still a handful of survivors of the Nazi persecution of LGBT folk who were alive to tell their stories, which are preserved here in this gut-wrenching documentary. This film stands as a warning to the queer community never to take anything for granted. The speed with which the general acceptance of homosexuality in Weimar Germany gave way to bitter persecution and punishment is mind-blowing, and it is unforgettably depicted here by some of the men who experienced it. There are moments in this documentary that I don’t think I will ever forget.


Is there more to say?

Just see it. This is such an important documentary, and one that can never really be revisited or updated because the people who were there are all dead now. What a wonderful gift the German LGBT activist Klaus Müller gave us by searching out these victims of Nazi persecution before they all disappeared. The documentary is largely a record of, and result of, Müller’s work.



Three. Everyone just needs to see this. 

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