A visiting fellow with the University of North Dakota Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies will discuss “Nazi Persecution (1933-1945)” as part of a keynote address Monday night for an event associated with a U.S. Holocaust Museum’s traveling exhibition making its first stop in North Dakota.
Dr. Steven B. Rogers, who spent more than 30 years as a senior historian for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Special Investigations, war crimes and human rights office; will present the topic at 7 p.m., in the UND Memorial Union Lecture Bowl. Rogers retired from the justice department in 2010.
Rogers’ presentation and other events throughout March are part of a holocaust museum’s exhibition that uncovers and explores Nazi persecution of Homosexuals (1933-1945). The exhibition will be featured at the Memorial Union ballroom until March 25. It is being co-sponsored by the UND Office of the President, the College of Arts & Sciences and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota &The Dakotas.
The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, opened on Thursday, March 1. Exhibition hours for the public generally will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, with extended evening hours until 8 p.m., on Thursdays. Weekend hours are 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Until March 25.
In 1978-1979, Dr. Rogers served as a research analyst for the Special Litigation Unit of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, a task force established to look into the allegations that individuals who assisted in Nazi-sponsored persecution had entered the United States after World War II.
In 1979, he was hired as the first historian for the newly-created Office of Special Investigations (OSI) in the Criminal Division of the US Department of Justice which assumed full jurisdiction for the investigation and prosecution of Nazi persecutors residing in the United States.
During his tenure at OSI, Dr. Rogers served as case historian on several cases involving Nazi atrocities in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. He also served as acting director for Research and Case Development, and later as Senior Historian for Special Projects. It was in this latter capacity he monitored the various U.S. border lookout systems attempting to interdict Nazi persecutors attempting to enter the USA. He served on special task forces investigating the post war fugitives Klaus Barbie and Josef Mengele, Nazi Gold and other Holocaust era assets (for which he received the Deputy Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Special Initiative), and finally he was OSI’s point man on the review of millions of pages of declassified records released by federal agencies to the National Archives and Records Administration.
Today, Dr. Rogers works as a freelance historian consulting on a variety of projects.
In 1933, the year Adolf Hitler assumed power, an estimated 1 million homosexual men lived in Germany. Nazi policy asserted that homosexual men carried a “degeneracy” that threatened the “disciplined masculinity” of Germany. As homosexuals were believed to form self-serving groups, the emergence of a state-within-the state that could disrupt social harmony was also feared. Additionally, the Nazis charged that homosexuals’ failure to father children was a factor in Germany’s declining birth rate, thus robbing the nation of future sons and daughters who could fight for and work toward a greater Reich.
“The exhibition explores why homosexual behavior was identified as a danger to Nazi society and how the Nazi regime attempted to eliminate it,” says exhibition curator Edward Phillips. “The Nazis believed it was possible to ‘cure’ homosexual behavior through labor and ‘re-education.’”
As Nazi efforts to eradicate homosexuality grew more draconian, gay men became subject to castration, institutionalization, and deportation to concentration camps.
Between 1933 and 1945, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested for homosexuality, and of these, approximately 50,000 were sentenced for the crime. Most of these men spent time in regular prisons. An estimated 5,000 – 15,000 were sent to concentration camps where an unknown number of them perished.
In addition to the Holocaust museum’s exhibition, throughout March, UND will be hosting a series of special events and speakers on Nazi persecution, GLBT issues and human rights.
Here is a list of CHRGS-sponsored events set to take place at UND this month:
- 7 p.m., Monday, March 5, keynote speaker Dr. Steve Rogers, a UND visiting fellow with the CHRGS, will discuss “Nazi Persecution (1933-1945).” Memorial Union Lecture Bowl.
- 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 6, screening of the documentary film “Paragraph 175,” which delves into the provision of the German Criminal Code that made homosexual acts between males a crime and that was broadened and strengthened under Nazi rule. Q & A follows. Memorial Union Lecture Bowl.
- Noon, Wednesday, March 7, a student lunch, and discussion on “Approaches to Nazi Persecution Past and Present.” River Valley Room.
- 7 p.m., Monday, March 19, keynote address by Dr. Jeffrey Langstraat, UND assistant professor of sociology and an expert on sexual politics, and LBGT studies. Memorial Union Lecture Bowl.
- Noon, Tuesday, March 20, dramatic theater reading of “Angels in America,” Loading Dock in the Memorial Union.
- 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 21, showing of the feature film “Question One,” as part of the Global Visions Film Series, in the UND Memorial Union Lecture Bowl.
Guests without University parking permits for this or any other on-campus event may use the “pay-as-you-go” option in the Parking Ramp (corner of Second Avenue North and Columbia Road), the UND Visitor pay Lot (off Centennial Drive) or a Parking Meter. There are also several 30-minute free parking spots on the north side of the Memorial Union. Parking in any other parking lot on-campus requires a parking pass, which can be purchased directly through UND Parking Services, Twamley Hall, Room 204 (Monday, Wednesday -Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., and Tuesday 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.).
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum: http://www.ushmm.org/museum/press/kits/details.php?content=nazi_persecution_of_homosexuals
UND Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies: http://und.edu/centers/human-rights-and-genocide-studies/
UND School of Law—Gregory S. Gordon bio http://law.und.edu/faculty/profile/gordon.cfm
Faculty Lecture Series with Gregory S. Gordon: http://und.edu/provost/faculty-lecture-series/gordon.cfm
Gregory S. Gordon, associate professor of law and director of the Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies, 701.777.2104, or at Gordon@law.und.edu