UND to show documentary ‘Paragraph 175’ about survivors’ stories of Nazi persecution of homosexuals

In conjunction with an exhibit at the University of North Dakota on the Nazi persecution of homosexuals before and during World War II, the documentary “Paragraph 175” will be shown at 7 p.m., Tuesday in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl.

The film 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. A question and answer session will be held after the movie.

The New York Times review of “Paragraph 175” says, “At once admirable and deeply unsettling, this film draws upon the testimony of little more than a handful of the all-but-vanished ranks of survivors to relate the horror of the Nazi purge of homosexuals from the life of Germany and the aftereffects that scar and roil these men as the 21st century begins.”

The UND Center for Human Right and Genocide Studies, along with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, are sponsoring a traveling exhibition that uncovers and explores Nazi persecution of Homosexuals (1933-1945). It is on display at the Memorial Union through March 25

The exhibition is free and open to the public. 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.

Exhibition background:
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.

Other events:
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:

  • 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.

Parking:
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.).

Useful links:
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

Contact:
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

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