The Holocaust is perceived as indiscriminate in its systematic persecution against members of minority groups. Millions of fatalities of innocent civilians across Nazi conquest territory of WWII alludes to its unwavering hatred of those that did not fit social norms of that era. However, modern intersectionality has caused dissonance within the public and scholarly reaction to the LGBTQ+ population in relation to sociocultural values of the Nazi era. A German mural paying homage to the deaths of gay men has been criticized for its exclusion of lesbian women, who faced violence from the Nazi party. Academia is divided – many scholars suggest that Nazis had far stricter laws for gay men than lesbian women and therefore they should be excluded as their plight was far less brutal. Other academics find it absurd that they are excluded, for they faced persecuted as a full stop. These scholars choose to not look at persecution as a gradient or by levels, but by acknowledging that persecution is unsavoury regardless of the volume.
For this response, the language used is now observed to be obviously incorrect and offensive. With ease, this response denounces the derogatory connotations used, especially concerning “transvestite” and “masculine presenting women.”
The author focuses on one particular case study of Ilse Totzke, a German lesbian woman. Not only was she a more “masculine” presenting woman, but scrutinized for her fraternization with Jewish people. This one facet of her life is drawn upon immensely – the author suggests that because she was a “masculine” female, she was already under scrutiny but it was her willingness to interact with Jews that solidified suspicion. The position the author takes on this matter is that while lesbianism was illegal, it was not as rigorously enforced under the stipulation that the lesbian person in question was not deviating away from other norms. The dichotomy of what constituted a “proper” German during the Holocaust is rife with dissonance, especially towards members of the LGBTQ+ community. Being a gay man was unchallengedly illegal, however lesbian women and “transvestites (those who presented as male but were female)” had fewer systematic barriers and law. For this reason, the author suggests Totzke could have lived a quite existence during the Holocaust even though she was in the company of Jewish peoples assuming she did not present physically how she did. The author continued passed the Totzke case study to examine the flippant laws between countries under the same jurisdiction – Austria had specific anti-lesbian laws, however Germany did not; “moral endangerment” of a minor under 16 was illegal as well as being “asocial (however there is no rigorous definition of asocial that the author provides).” The Gestapo could put anyone under protective custody en route to a concentration camp for seemingly no proper reason. The Nazi regime operated, seemingly, under arbitrary law that suited particular cases instead of particular people.
The author makes compelling arguments, however, employs few statistics but opts more for anecdotes and witness testimony. While these insights are valuable in formulating a robust understanding of the moral hierarchy and dichotomy of the Nazi era, it does not provide an entire scope about lesbianism and perception of lesbian women of this time.