Date of Award
Master of Arts
Like many German men that were raised in the late Wilhelmine period, Heinrich Himmler was too young to enter the German Imperial Army, and thus unable to fight in the Great War. Therefore, he was unable to prove his own masculinity through a soldierly experience at a time when there were ongoing debates about gender and sexuality in Germany. The repercussions of Himmler's inability to serve his nation left him to question his own masculinity, which triggered fears of homosexuality. Since he had grown up in a traditional conservative middle-class family his understanding of sexuality highlighted views of a brave, strong, and masculine man, which his personal diary entries at the time exemplified. Furthermore, his understanding of homosexuality and homosexuals was in stark contrast to his ideals and therefore emphasized a stereotype homosexual that was characterized as a cowardly, weak, effeminate man. The result of this homosexual stereotype in addition to his perceived heteronormative expectations for men led him to disregard any possibility that homosexuals could maintain masculine attributes. However, by the early 1930s his once close mentor, Ernst Röhm, had disproved Himmler's understanding that homosexuality was effeminate in nature. Röhm's masculine homosexual stereotype jeopardized Himmler's understanding of homosexuality and masculinity, which forced Himmler to maneuver his own understanding of sexuality to avoid both the masculine and effeminate stereotypes. Himmler's dilemma was a result of his early belief that homosexuals could not be masculine in nature, which he had contrasted against to help prove his own masculinity. Therefore, once he realized and accepted Röhm's "masculine" stereotype he had to distance himself from being connected to either stereotype. Himmler's famous Bad Tölz speech of 1937, a landmark in the history of Nazi persecution of homosexual men, represents his effort to deal with this issue. Analyzing it therefore sheds new light on Nazi attitudes toward gender and sexuality.
Adam B. Grimm
Grimm, Adam B., "Heinrich Himmler's solution to his homosexual question: Guiding the youth to resist temptation" (2020). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 18060.