The "gay rights" movement often portrays itself as an American phenomenon which arose from the civil rights movement of the 1950s. It is not uncommon to hear homosexualists (those both "gay" and "straight" who promote the legitimization of homosexuality) characterize "gay rights" as the natural third wave of civil rights activism (following blacks and women). In reality, however, Germany was the birthplace of "gay rights," and its legacy in that nation is truly alarming.
The "grandfather of gay rights" was a homosexual German lawyer named Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. Ulrichs had been molested at age 14 by his male riding instructor. Instead of attributing his adult homosexuality to the molestation, however, Ulrich devised in the 1860s what became known as the "third sex" theory of homosexuality. Ulrichs' model holds that male homosexuals are actually female souls trapped within male bodies. The reverse phenomenon supposedly explains lesbianism. Since homosexuality was an innate condition, reasoned Ulrichs, homosexual behavior should be decriminalized. An early follower of Ulrichs coined the term "homosexual" in an open letter to the Prussian Minister of Justice in 1869.
By the time Ulrichs died in 1895, the "gay rights" movement in Germany had gained considerable strength. Frederich Engels noted this in a letter to Karl Marx regarding Ulrich's efforts: "The pederasts start counting their numbers and discover they are a powerful group in our state. The only thing missing is an organization, but it seems to exist already, but it is hidden." After Ulrichs' death, the movement split into two separate and opposed factions. One faction followed Ulrichs' successor, Magnus Hirschfeld, who formed the Scientific Humanitarian Committee in 1897 and later opened the Institute for Sex Research in Berlin. The other faction was organized by Adolf Brand, publisher of the first homosexual magazine, Der Eigene (The Special). Brand, Benedict Friedlander and Wilhelm Janzen formed the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen (The Community of the Special) in 1902. What divided these groups was their concepts of masculinity. Ulrichs' theory embraced a feminine identity. His, and later Hirschfeld's, followers literally believed they were women trapped in men's bodies.
The followers of Brand, however, were deeply insulted by Ulrichs' theory. They perceived themselves not merely as masculine, but as a breed of men superior in masculine qualities even to heterosexuals. The Community of the Special (CS) asserted that male homosexuality was the foundation of all nation-states and that male homosexuals represented an elite strata of human society. The CS fashioned itself as a modern incarnation of the warrior cults of ancient Greece. Modeling themselves after the military heroes of Sparta, Thebes and Crete, the members of the CS were ultra-masculine, male-supremacist and pederastic (devoted to man/boy sex). Brand said in Der Eigene that he wanted men who "thirst for a revival of Greek times and Hellenic standards of beauty after centuries of Christian barbarism."
One of the keys to understanding both the rise of Nazism and the later persecution of some homosexuals by the Nazis is found in this early history of the German "gay rights" movement. For it was the CS which created and shaped what would become the Nazi persona, and it was the loathing which these "Butches" held for effeminate homosexuals ("Femmes") which led to the internment of some of the latter in slave labor camps in the Third Reich.
The "Butch" homosexuals of the CS transformed Germany. Their primary vehicle was the German youth movement, known as the Wandervogel (Rovers or Wandering Youth). "In Central Europe," writes homosexual historian Parker Rossman, "there was another effort to revive the Greek ideal of pedagogic pederasty in the movement of 'Wandering Youth'... Ultimately, Hitler used and transformed the movement...expanding and building upon its romanticism as a basis for the Nazi Party" (Rossman:103).
Rising spontaneously in the 1890s as an informal hiking and camping society, the Wandervogel became an official organization at the turn of the century, similar to the Boy Scouts. From early on, however, the Wandervogel was dominated and controlled by the pederasts of the CS. CS co-founder Wilhelm Janzen was its chief benefactor, and its leadership was rife with homosexuality. In 1912, CS theorist Hans Blueher wrote The German Wandervogel Movement as an Erotic Phenomenon which told how the organization was used to recruit young boys into homosexuality . . . .