This 99-year-old Holocaust survivor who was imprisoned for being gay ‘doesn’t deserve compensation’
He survived the Holocaust, only to spend months in prison for being gay when he returned home.
And now, 99-year-old Wolfgang Lauinger has been denied compensation by Germany.
Lauinger was forced to spend at least five months of 1950 in prison, detained because of a homophobic 1871 law which became strictly enforced under the Nazis.
Paragraph 175 was part of Germany’s criminal code until 1994, and made sex between men illegal.
Over 140,000 men were convicted under the law, with around 50,000 prosecuted.
This year, decades after most of the victims were arrested and imprisoned, Germany announced that it would compensate the men.
The country set aside 30 million euros to right this historical wrong.
But despite the pain and suffering he was forced to endure by his country, Lauinger has not seen one cent of this fund, according to BuzzFeed Germany.
He grew up gay in early-20th century Germany, spent time in prison for his sexuality, fought to overturn the country’s hateful law and campaigned for compensation.
But when he submitted a claim shortly after the government passed its law, he was rejected.
“I regret that I can not give you a more favourable answer,” reads the response from Germany’s Ministry of Justice.
“I laughed when I got a rejection,” said Lauinger, whose Jewish father was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, leading his son to flee Germany.
“The sense of the thing is wonderful, but the law is not a real rehabilitation of the people who suffered from the system,” he added.
“I’m 99 now. I saw the law as a way to make amends. And I have made an application like any good citizen of this country.
“But the law has been made a farce. What is the difference for a normal person if you are in prison for five months, whether you are released or are acquitted?
Of the 63 requests for compensation which the government has received, only 31 have so far been approved, according to BuzzFeed.
Three have been rejected, including Lauinger’s.
“Is that justice?” the 99-year-old asked.
“For a long time in my life, I thought my homosexuality was my personal affair – just as the sexuality of every heterosexual is his personal matter,” he continued.
“At a ripe age, I had to revise this view.
“Unfortunately, as long as people are persecuted for this most personal thing in the world, it is not a purely private matter.”
But despite his suffering and rejection by the German government, Lauinger remains upbeat.
“I am an optimist,” he said.
“I pretend I will live for another 100 years. Sometimes I wake up at night and imagine things that I will do. Then I think: you’re crazy!
“I am now 99 years old, and I hope to be 100. But all my work has nothing to do with hope.
“For me, the game continues, until I am no longer there. And I hope it’s over before I die.”
When asked about Lauinger’s predicament, Justice Minister Heiko Maas said: “It concerns me that the law can not be applied in this case.”
When he was questioned about how he would change the outcome, Maas responded: “I cannot tell you.”