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99-year-old Holocaust survivor who was imprisoned for being gay dies without compensation

Meka Beresford December 23, 2017

Wolfgang Lauinger was denied compensation (Creative Commons)

A 99-year-old gay man who was persecuted by the Nazi regime for being gay has died without receiving compensation.

Wolfgang Lauinger passed away on Tuesday night after a lifetime of activism against the wrongdoings in Germany against the LGBTQ+ community.

BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 24: Opponents of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) protest against the result of the AfD after reaching a better-than-expected 13% and third place finish in German federal elections on September 24, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The results will qualify the AfD to have its own parliamentarians in the Bundestag. The party will likely pursue an opposition political discourse focused on immigration restrictions, anti-Islam rhetoric, security and conservative values. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
Protesters with a sign reading: “Hate is no alternative” (Getty)

Lauinger was imprisoned in Nazi Germany and post-war West Germany for being gay.

He spent eight months in prison from 1941 to 1942 because of his connections to the “Swingkids”, a youth movement who opposed the Hitler Youth and celebrated American swing music and culture.

After his release from prison, Lauinger went into hiding in order to survive the regime.

The activist was one of the leading campaigners against Paragraph 175, a piece of legislation that criminalised sex between men until it’s abolition in 1994.

The 1871 law was utilised by the Nazis to convict around 50,000 men between 1933 and 1945.

After the war, Lauinger was arrested once more in 1950 after police raids on local gay spaces.

Adolf Hitler, German dictator, ascending the steps at Buckeberg flanked by banner-carrying storm troopers who display the Nazi swastika. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

He was kept for five months under violation of Paragraph 175.

The time of his arrest is now commonly known as the “Frankfurt Homosexual Trials” in which over 200 people were arrested.

Many of those arrested committed suicide out of fear of the alternative punishment they would receive.

Lauinger was thought to be the last survivor of the trials and was released as the witness would not testify against him.

Despite Paragraph 175 being rescinded from the legislature in 1994, those who were convicted under the code were not granted rehabilitation or compensation until this year.

Germany set aside 30 million euros to right the historical wrong.

BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 14: German Chancellor and Chairwoman of the German Christian Democrats (CDU) Angela Merkel prepares to speak to the media following elections in three German states on March 14, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. Voters went to the polls yesterday in Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony-Anhalt and Baden-Wuerttemberg and the right-leaning populist Alternative fuer Deutschland (Alternative for Germany,AfD) scored double-digit results in all three, dealing a blow to Germany's established parties, especially to the CDU. Merkel's liberal immigration policy towards migrants and refugees was a major issue in the elections and the AfD aimed its campaign at Germans who are uneasy with so many newcomers. (Photo by Axel Schmidt/Getty Images)
(Getty)

However, Lauinger was not granted compensation despite being one of the first hearings of the law.

His application was turned down by the justice ministry because he had been acquitted in 1950.

“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.

“They made the law into a farce.

“What is the difference to a normal person who has been in prison for five months, whether they were released or acquitted?”

The activist told Buzzfeed that for him “the game” continued but that “I hope it’s over before I die”.

(FILES) Thhe Nazi Auschwitz death camp. (Photo by JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

LGBTQ+ activists have condemned the government for not granting Lauinger’s wishes before his death.

“What a happy, optimistic, and clever person. He wanted his dignity to be recognized by the state, and the law by [Justice Minister] Heiko Maas, and the CDU, CSU, and the SPD refused him,” wrote Volker Beck. “He’ll be swinging on in heaven. I’m sure of it.”

“We bow before a wonderful person, who fought to the end for the rehabilitation of persecuted gay people and the compensation for all consequences of imprisonment and conviction as a result of paragraph 175,” the LGBTQ organization Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation tweeted.

More: compensation, death, Europe, Germany, Germany, Holocaust, Wolfgang Lauinger

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