Heinz Heger’s The Men with the Pink Triangle is a short survivor memoir recording the experiences of a concentration camp suvivor from his arrest as a homosexual to his liberation form the camps. As a first-hand account, this book contributes to the documentary evidence of the Nazi crimes at a time when rightist groups see to erase the memory of those crimes. As the memoir of a man imprisoned specifically as a homosexual, it presents a rare first-hand account of the mistreatment of gay men by the Nazia. These particulars will contribute to the understanding of gay oppression historically, and to the understanding of sexuality in Nazi ideology as it affected Jews and all victims of Nazi terror.
Heger, a German author, repeats the story in the first person, as told to him by the actual suvivor, whose identity he does not reveal. The reader is meant to feel as though in the presence of a man, now in his sixties, describing the six years of his youth spent in concentration camps. The Men With the Pink Triangles is not a history of the camps, or even a history of gay men in the camps, but an account of how one man reacted to survived the Nazi program of atrocities intended to starve, torture, or work him to death.
In addition to providing the details of this experience, the book is concerned with tthe anonymous victem’s developing thoughts on why this was happening to someone like him. During each stage of his imprisonment the describes him impressions of himself and the world around him, impressions that provide as much insight into the brutality of his experience as do his factual descriptions. When he is first questioned by the SS, still unaware of what he is to face, he nearly cries when asked if he is homosexual. however, as his ordeal extends into years, he shows its psychological effect by no longer expressing much shock or emotion. When a few months before his liberation the camp commander askes him if he has been castrated yet, he tells us without much comment that he replied no, making the commander angry.