A researcher has examined how lesbians lived in the Nazi regime in Germany – and his findings are rather surprising.
Samuel Clowes Huneke, a doctoral candidate at Stanford University, looked at four previously unanalysed police files from the 1940s involving alleged violations of historic same-sex relations laws – which criminalised homosexual acts between men.
The German police investigated eight women as part of four cases in the early 1940s. But none of the women were prosecuted for same-sex relations, and there’s no evidence they were punished.
Huneke concluded that the regime had a “startling lack of interest” in female homosexuality.
He said of the police:
The fact that they were so persnickety in following every detail of the law in these cases - it suggests a level of toleration
Huneke found that many lesbians lived fairly open lives, some for several years, before anyone told the police. He concluded that this might be because of how gender was perceived:
Gender is perhaps why lesbians weren't persecuted in the same ways. But simply because there was a tolerance for female homosexuality doesn't mean that these women led enviable lives.