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The Men with the Pink Triangle: The True Life-and-Death Story of Homosexuals in the Nazi Death Camps

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  2,006 ratings  ·  169 reviews
It has only been since the mid-1970s that any attention has been paid to the persecution and interment of gay men by the Nazis during the Third Reich. Since that time, books such as Richard Plant's The Pink Triangle (and Martin Sherman's play Bent) have illuminated this nearly lost history. Heinz Heger's first-person account, The Men with the Pink Triangle, was one of the ...more
Paperback, 120 pages
Published October 1st 1994 by Alyson Books (first published 1972)
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Leah Rachel von Essen I'm not sure it has an explicit age group—the introduction is dense, but the actual story is easy to read and comprehend.

Based on style and content, …more
I'm not sure it has an explicit age group—the introduction is dense, but the actual story is easy to read and comprehend.

Based on style and content, I would say 16 and up and be prepared to have some conversation. It is about harsh realities of the persecution of gay men in the Holocaust. There is sexual assault and a man who gets off on violence. (less)

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Jack Jordan
This is a tremendously important book.
When people think of concentration camps, they think of millions of Jews being tortured and gassed. However, not many people think of the other victims of Hitler's sickening Führerland. This book tells the story of one of the other most loathed 'blemishes' of Hitler's Aryan race: homosexuals.

Homosexuals, branded with the pink triangle, were seen as 'the scum of the scum', hated more than the Jews and the Romani - not just by the Nazis, but by their fellow
Red Haircrow
Feb 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a long-awaited read for me. It was a read I had to prepare myself for, before I could actually read it. I'm a scholar of WW2 and Holocaust literature and have a large collection of material, but for a topic dealing even more closely with myself and being, I had to take time to ground myself.

Whether you are just a passing person who might wish to learn about what homosexuals suffered in concentration camps (and there were fewer comparatively and earlier in the Nazi regime directly), or
Horrifying. Simply horrifying is the best way to describe this book. Told by one of the few known homosexual surviors of Nazi concentration camps, and one of the even fewer brave enough to tell his story, this book details Heger's six years in a concentration camp. The abuse--physical, mental, and sexual--is unbelievable. It's traumatic to simply read about his experience and the things that he witnessed. What I found most jaw-dropping is the constant abuse heaped upon the prisoners for being ga ...more
Sep 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
This book opened my eyes in so many ways. I'll be forever thankful to the girl that recommended it. I've read a lot of holocaust memoirs over the years, but none had ever so much as mentioned the atrocities committed against homosexuals.

Like any book dealing with the holocaust, this book is a tough read, and the questions it asks have no easy answers, other than the world is sometimes very, very wrong.
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent and horrifying.
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We're all familiar with the extermination of more than six million Jews throughout Europe by the Nazi regime, with the goal of creating some sort of "master race" of blond, blue-eyed Aryans. This is a fact that should be taught to every generation with the goal of never repeating this sort of horrific genocide. What is less known, however, is that the Jews were not the only ones to suffer at the hands of Hitler and his megalomania. Political dissidents, the Roma, and homosexuals were also trucke ...more
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: holocaust-war
This is an account of one young gay man's experiences at the hands of the Nazis. It is quite factual but if you read between the lines the horror jumps out at you. There is an appalling account of the murder of one young gay man at the hands of 2 Nazi officers which will remain with me forever.

Much of the book is devoted to the methods he used to stay alive - mainly by becoming the 'companion' of various 'dignitary prisoners' in the camp. He managed to survive for YEARS - an unbelievable feat -
I feel like it would be unfair to give this book any sort of rating. It is a raw, blunt and harrowing account of the treatment of homosexuals under the Nazi regime. I am also hesitant to put this under my read-for-univeristy shelf, because I did not have to read this book in its entirety, but I found once I had started I wanted to follow the author through their journey until the end - no matter how horrific it may get. It was horrifying, and often there is no closure, as 'characters' disappear, ...more
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“What car driver today, hurtling along the German motorways, knows that each block of granite has the blood of innocent men on it? Men who did nothing wrong, but who were hounded to death in concentration camps solely for reason of their religion, their origin, their political views or their feeling for their own sex. Each of the granite pillars that hold up the motorway bridges cost the lives of untold victims - a sea of blood and a mountain of human corpses. Today people only too willing to th ...more
Mar 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tragic story to add into the mix when discussing WW2 and the Holocaust.
Jill Mackin
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Kylee Ehmann
It never ceases to amaze me how matter-of-fact Holocaust survivors were in reporting the atrocities they suffered. Heger's account of his and other gay men's experiences in the camps is brutal, but in a way that's different than narratives about the predominate Jewish experience in the camps. What I appreciated most is that Heger, while he really hammers home how much gay men were tortured and often forced into prostitution to survive, he never minimizes the suffering of other prisoners. He repe ...more
I am struggling to find the right words. This was truly the most horrific thing I have ever read. To think that this was the reality for thousands and thousands of gay people not so long ago is just unimaginable... I can't help but think of my friends in the LGBTQ+ community and that it could have been them. We live in the same country Josef Kohout lived. Our grandparents can remeber this time. The thought is almost surreal. May we never forget about these horrors and make sure that something li ...more
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read two books on this subject with similar titles. The first book is "The Pink Triangle: The Nazi war Against Homosexuals by Richard Plant"

I gave that prior book 3 stars because although it was written well it was more of the facts and not personal account. THIS book that I am reviewing now is "The Men with the Pink Triangle: The True Life-and-Death Story of Homosexuals in the Nazi Death Camps by Heinz Heger" (which I found out is his pen name) and is HIS personal account of his years as a ga
Michelle Webber
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A collection of stories about homosexual people rounded up and tortured in death camps during WWII, this is absolutely not light reading and not for the faint of heart. While the extermination of millions of Jews is the main topic of discussion when covering the Holocaust (as well it should be), it is equally as important to call out and memorialize the others who were marginalized, targeted, and killed for openly being themselves. The stories are real, horrific, and depressing. However, occasio ...more
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: gay men, holocaust researchers, historians,
Recommended to Cassie by:
Shelves: biography, lgbt
Sometimes there are books that as you read them that you can't stop yourself from crying because they are a truth that one can't fathom within themselves. This was one of those books. A gay survivor of a concentration camp tells his story to Heinz Heger, but only under the pretenses that he remains anonymous. Through this story we discover the life of a pink triangle (gay male) in the concentration camp. We are drawn into this story in a profound way because we see the survival techniques that t ...more
Thank you goes to Josef Kohout for sharing us his experiences. This kind of perspective is completely new for most, but it really shouldn't be. Whenever fear surfaces as differentiating people by some quality they have, alarm bells should be ringing in the heads of each of us. A family member once asked (someone who seems to be doing that differentiating thing quite a lot) why I always keep reading about horrific stuff like this. Well, you don't have to surround yourself with this kind of materi ...more
Niklas Pivic
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all
This is a recent translation of a book which is a statement of a homosexual man who was sent to the concentration camps during the Second World War, as told to another person.

It is very well written, contains much information on the day-to-day life of "the men wearing pink triangles" - the pink triangle symbolising that the wearer is homosexual - in a concentration camp.

Being homosexual, they were considered as bad as Jews and Romani people, and even worse than the pedofiles and convicted crimin
Gary Smith
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a good book, terribly sad and depressing yet a good book. Man kind and their ability to harm others still baffles me. Many tactics I was unaware of are discussed in this book and I feel it would be beneficial for more people to know about the homosexuals who were murdered during the holocaust (in fact they were above Jews, Jehovah's witnesses, gypsies and political prisoners in the Nazi scheme). On the basis of human nature I truly love the quote in this book by a beaten homosexual prie ...more
Jul 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was perhaps the most difficult read of my life, not because it wasn't interesting, but because it was so difficult to imagine the horror of it all. As a gay man, I can only think that it could have been me, a different region, a different time, and it could have been me.

Heinz Heger tells the story in such a way that the reader gets tiny glimmers of light when the darkness is almost too much. There is very little in this book that is good or positive, but his determined spirit carries you th
Jay Kovach
Aug 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone, young adult and older.
Shelves: death, crime
I love this book. I like personal accounts of major events both tragic and triumphant. I would have liked to have had it been longer considering how few of these particular accounts exist involving the Holocaust. A must read regardless of the writing quality. Good or bad. As I don't think many know about what homosexuals went through during this or the true origin of the pink triangle. It is an easy read and a quick book to make your way through. Very to the point. ...more
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an essential, and well-written primary source for writing on the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany. I'm currently researching this topic for an upcoming assignment, so if anyone has any recommendations, please let me know! ...more
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
This is an absoutely horrifying book. It goes into detail about all the atrocities committed by the Nazis. In learning about concentration camps, you hear about what was done to Jewish people, but gloss over the fact that criminals, Romani people, political prisoners, Jehovah's Witnesses, and homosexuals were there, too. Homosexuals were especially singled out for hatred, harassment, and torture, although the German ones were treated slightly better than Jewish people by virtue of being German, ...more
Kaia Landelius
The topic is so important, but the way this book was written was, while a very quick read, more like a written report. At the very end that is explained: this is the story as told by Josef Kohout to his acquaintance Hans Neumann, who published it under the pen name Heinz Hegel. Kohout never actually read the finished version, and when he was told there were some factual errors (his age, among other things) he just waved it away.

But yes: Kohout survived his time in the camp by becoming the (extre
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I came across this book in a library book sale and I couldn’t not pick it up. While I had read books like Primo Levi’s “The Periodic Table” that recounted his time in Auschwitz, I had not read a book that centered on the brutality of concentration camp life. Heger shares the story of a 22-year old Austrian man who was sent to a concentration camp for being gay. The unnamed Austrian spent 6 years in two different concentration camps, Sachsenhausen and Flossenbürg, and narrates with heart-wrenchin ...more
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A profound and chilling tale of the treatment of homosexual men in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. Although the narrative is not eloquently written, it is forgiven because of its subject and its purpose. For me, the Holocaust has always been the systematic slaughter of Jews in WWII and no other groups; I had not - perhaps in my naivete - given thought to the fact that any other groups had been similarly persecuted. A unique piece of history that is as relevant today as on the day of its ...more
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay-non-fiction
A hugely important but incredibly difficult read, not only because of the appalling experiences related by the subject, but due the knowledge that he had to remain anonymous when it was published in 1970. Homosexuality was still illegal in his native Austria at the tome, and gay men who had survived the camps had continued to persecuted in the postwar period. Perhaps one of the most significant documents in LGBT history.
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia
Necessary to know and painful to read. No matter how much historical truth one may know about the horrors of the holocaust prior to the reading, it is still an utterly painful experience to read a first-person account. And yet, it is necessary to give voice and understanding to a minority often forgotten in historic accounts of the Nazi Death Camps.
May 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is certainly an important book. Important and sad. Not because the persecution of homosexual people in Nazi Germany was worse than that of the Jews' - both were horrifying and inhumanly cruel - but because the suffering of gay people has been buried in history. This book gives voice to those who had been silenced for so long. ...more
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Heinz Heger was the penname of Josef Kohout, the gay Austrian survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, who later wrote the account "The Men with the Pink Triangle: The True Life-and-Death Story of Homosexuals in the Nazi Death Camps." The original title is "Der Mann mit dem rosa Winkel."

To learn more about the Nazi concentration camp survivor who died in 1994, please read the article by Kurt Krickle

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37 likes · 8 comments
“[From 1994 introduction by Dr. Klaus Müller.] The postwar German government did not simply forget about homosexuals; on the contrary, it actively continued to persecute them, and to justify the efforts of the Nazis in this respect… The Nazi version of Paragraph 175 was, in fact, explicitly upheld in 1957 by the West German supreme court.” 2 likes
“Jews, homosexuals, and Gypsies, the yellow, pink and brown triangles, were the prisoners who suffered most frequently and most severely from the tortures and blows of the SS and the Capos. They were described as the scum of humanity, who had no right to live on German soil and should be exterminated… but the lowest of the low in this "scum" were we, the men with the pink triangle.” 2 likes
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