After The Celluloid Closet, Epstein and Friedman continue their survey of 20th century homophobia with this unadorned account of the impact of the Holocaust on Germany's once thriving gay culture. Paragraph 175 was the clause in the 1871 German Penal Code criminalising 'unnatural sex acts' between persons of the male sex (or with animals). Though it remained unrepealed by both post-war German states for some 25 years, there was a period, amidst the determined gaiety and hedonism of the Weimar Republic, when gay and lesbian culture blossomed. Then came the Brown Shirts, and the pink stars, and the camps. Fewer than ten people are still known to be alive - and they've gone on suppressing their experiences for 50 years afterwards, silenced by a society that didn't wanted to know. Now the film-makers and their researcher/interviewer Klaus Müller have persuaded most of them to open up, and their individual testimonies here colour the broad historical overview with discretion and sensitivity. The film's lack of technical finesse works to its advantage.
Jeffrey Friedman, Rob Epstein