Life and work
Early life and studies (1919 to 1924)
Karl-Günther Heimsoth was born in Charlottenburg, the son of a court clerk and bank director. His youth was spent in Dortmund, where in June 1917 he passed his abitur, a test of maturity which was simplified temporarily because of the First World War. He then enlisted in the Prussian Army and until the end of 1918 participated in World War I, being deployed on the Western Front - finishing with the rank of lieutenant.
In the summer semester of 1919, Heimsoth began studying medicine at the University of Tübingen. Heimsoth continued his clinical training at the Universities of Munich, Kiel and Rostock. At Rostock he passed his state examination to practice medicine in the spring of 1924. During his studies, in 1920 and 1921 he participated in the Ruhr Uprising, the fights in Thuringia, and the Silesian Uprisings as a member of the Freikorps.
Between August and November 1924 Heimsoth wrote at Rostock his dissertation entitled Hetero- und Homophilie ("Heterophile and Homophile"), which was devoted to homosexuality. With this work, Heimsoth was probably the first to introduce the term "homophilia" in sexology.
The thesis argued that in certain erotic and friendly relationships there are certain norms looked for and desired which are "the same". This homophilia can occur both in relationships between men and between women. In contrast, Heimsoth saw heterophilia as a relationship characterized by "the opposite"; considered well within the range of heterophilia are platonic relationships between an effeminate man and a masculine man. His interpretations of homosexuality and male friendship were based upon previous ideas, as developed in 1903 by Otto Weininger in Geschlecht und Charakter ("Sex and Character") and in 1919 by Hans Blüher in Die Rolle der Erotik in der männlichen Gesellschaft ("The Role of Eroticism in Male Society"). Heimsoth's reflections start with Blüher's theory on the central meaning of eroticism between men to society.
From Weininger, Heimsoth took the "law of the polar union" as an impulse of the sexual union and completed it with a second "law of the homopolar union". He basically tried to prove that a masculine man could want another masculine man, because there were esoteric and friendly connections in such a relationship which were not wanted nor looked for in the other sex, but rather in the same sex, as an opposite pole.
Activist and Publicist in the Weimar Republic (1924 to 1928)
After obtaining his doctorate, Heimsoth worked at practices in the Gynecologic University Clinic of Kiel. At the same time, he became an "activist of the first homosexual emancipation movement", but distanced himself from the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee that had formed around Magnus Hirschfeld, because he considered that the theories advocated by the Committee concerning the "third sex" were wrong. In his writing Freundesliebe oder Homosexualität ("Love Between Friends or Homosexuality"), published in the magazine Der Eigene by Adolf Brand in 1925, Heimsoth showed his antisemitism: "All heroic and masculine love between friends" remains, "in his idea and possibilities of understanding[,] foreign to the Jewish spirit". Heimsoth's ideal was that of a whole man, virile and Aryan. Homoerotic friendships between men were to serve as a nexus of "obersten Machtaufgebot" (called higher power). Heimsoth thought that he could find examples of such heroes among the soldiers of World War I and among the Freikorps environment, as can be gathered from his 1925 publication in the magazine Der Eigene: in it he asked to be sent documentation to demonstrate the "circumstances and homoerotic relations in the Kampfwagen formations and secret societies" and wanted to obtain material "about heroism, the heroic leader problem and the psyche of the volunteers, the desperate, Landsknechte, Freikorps members, and secret societies".
From 1925 to 1928 Heimsoth learned astrology from the frigate captain Friedrich Schwickert in Vienna. Heimsoth's publication Charakter-Konstellation: Mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Gleichgeschlechtlichkeit (1929; "Character Constellation: With Particular Reference to Homosexuality") is dedicated to Schwickert. This work attempts to unite psychology and astrology and create a framework for determining the degree of homosexuality of a person based upon the constellation of stars at the time of his birth.
Relationship with Röhm (1928 to 1934)
In 1928 Heimsoth wrote by letter to Ernst Röhm. Röhm, convicted of treason following his participation in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, had quarreled with Hitler. Excerpts from Röhm's book Geschichte eines Hochverräters, published in 1928, were read "between the lines" by Heimsoth as recognition of the author's homosexuality. At that time a reform of Paragraph 175 was being discussed in the Reichstag, in which the Nazi Party demanded a sharper persecution of homosexuals, and apparently Heimsoth wanted to convince Röhm, a known Nazi, who would be positioned clearly against §175. Röhm confirmed Heimsoth's assumptions:
I fully understand! Of course I struggle with the paragraph on morale, especially with §175. But do you mean that I do not make it clear enough? In the first draft I had introduced a more detailed explanation on the subject, but I modified it to its present form after hearing the advice of friends, who believe that this kind of writing is more effective.
— Röhm's Letter to Heimsoth of 3 December 1928
Röhm and Heimsoth met in person in 1928. In subsequent letters from Röhm, it can be deduced that they had conversations about very personal issues and were together at gay meeting places in Berlin. Heimsoth subsequently deposited Röhm's letters in the safe of a lawyer. In 1930 Röhm became head of the SA. From April 1930, Munich prosecutors investigated Röhm for "unnatural fornication". On 10 July 1931 the Berlin Police requisitioned Röhm's letters in a search of his house; Heimsoth was interrogated. Towards late 1931 and early 1932, the Secretary of State for the Interior of Prussia, Wilhelm Abegg, informed the social democrat publicist Helmuth Klotz of the existence of the letters. Along with an extensive press report, Klotz published the letters in March 1932.
At the time of the correspondence with Röhm, it appears that Heimsoth became a member of the NSDAP. According to Otto Strasser, Heimsoth was not only an active member of the Nazi Party in the following years, but a "burning National Socialist". In 1930 Heimsoth joined the Kampfgemeinschaft Revolutionärer Nationalsozialisten (KGRNS), a group led by Strasser who had left the NSDAP, and that same year he went on to take the "Office for the Study of Foreign Policy", besides becoming a member of the Reichsführerrat ("Council of Leaders of the Reich") of the KGRNS. Between Strasser, who belonged to the "left" wing of the NSDAP, and Hitler there had previously been differences in the policy pursued by the latter in matters of legality. In June 1931 Strasser warned the police about the existence of Röhm's letters. Heimsoth dropped out of the KGRNS in August 1931; in September he called the KGRNS a "fascist government reserve" and told them that his decision was not the result of a political discussion, but was for personal reasons.
Heimsoth joined the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), led by Beppo Römer. Heimsoth was a member of the Executive Committee (Leiko) of the Aufbruch-Arbeitskreise (AAK) focused around the magazine Aufbruch published by Römer. The AAK was an attempt by the KPD to win over circles of intellectuals and military officers as allies in their fight against Nazism. Heimsoth was also an informer of the political-military apparatus of the KPD, part of the party's secret service under the command of Hans Kippenberger.
After the Machtergreifung, the Nazi Seizure of Power, Heimsoth continued giving information to the KPD secret service. A September 1933 Gestapo report indicates continued contact with Beppo Römer. In early July 1934, Heimsoth was shot dead by an SS command in Berlin, as part of the purge carried out during the so-called Night of the Long Knives, in which Hitler got rid of political enemies both real and imagined. Ernst Jünger, a writer close to Nazism, later said of the murder that Heimsoth "kept a dubious practice in the Wittenbergplatz, a real pitfall. Just like the clairvoyant Hanussen, he was full of dangerous secrets and was one of the first to be killed."
The writer Hanns Heinz Ewers used information from Heimsoth in his 1931 novel Reiter in deutscher Nacht ("Knights of the German Night"), about the Freikorps. The character of homosexual lieutenant Detlev Hinrichsen is a tribute to Heimsoth.
- Hetero- und Homophilie. Eine neuorientierende An- und Einordnung der Erscheinungsbilder, der „Homosexualität“ und der „Inversion“ in Berücksichtigung der sogenannten "normalen Freundschaft" auf Grund der zwei verschiedenen erotischen Anziehungsgesetze und der bisexuellen Grundeinstellung des Mannes, Dortmund 1924. (Dissertation)
- Charakter-Konstellation. Mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Gleichgeschlechtlichkeit, Munich 1928.
- Freikorps greift an! Militärpolitische Geschichte und Kritik der Angriffs-Unternehmen in Oberschlesien 1921, Berlin 1930.
- Burkhard Jellonnek: Homosexuelle unter dem Hakenkreuz. Die Verfolgung von Homosexuellen im Dritten Reich. Schöningh, Paderborn 1990, ISBN 3-506-77482-4, p. 64. In Hergemöller, Mann, p. 332, the entry date of 1 May 1933 is most likely incorrect.
- The biographical dates are derived from: Bernd-Ulrich Hergemöller: Mann für Mann. Biographisches Lexikon zur Geschichte von Freundesliebe und mannmännlicher Sexualität im deutschen Sprachraum. MännerschwarmSkript Verlag, Hamburg 1998, ISBN 3-928983-65-2, p. 331 s.
- See the entry of Karl-Günther Heimsoth in Rostock Matrikelportal
- About the content of the dissertation: Nieden: Freundesliebe, p. 329 ss.
- Moritz Pirol: Hahnenschreie, Vol. 2, 2000, p. 285.
- Susanne zur Nieden: „Aufstieg und Fall des virilen Männerhelden. Der Skandal um Ernst Röhm und seine Ermordung“, in: Susanne zur Nieden (Ed.): Homosexualität und Staatsräson. Männlichkeit, Homophobie und Politik in Deutschland 1900−1945, Campus Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 3-593-37749-7, p. 147−192, here p. 149.
- Karl Günther Heimsoth: „Freundesliebe oder Homosexualität. Ein Versuch einer anregenden und scheidenden Klarstellung“, in: Der Eigene, 1925, p. 415-425. Op.cit. Nieden: Freundesliebe, p. 332.
- Nieden: Freundesliebe, p. 333.
- Karl Günther Heimsoth: „Von Kampf und Ziel“, in: Der Eigene, 1925, p. 527. Op.cit. Nieden: Freundesliebe, p. 335.
- The speech in the Reichstag of Wilhelm Frick of 22 June 1927, which can be read at Reichstagsprotokoll
- The assumption is from Nieden, Aufstieg, p. 154.
- Nieden, Aufstieg, p. 154.
- Nieden, Aufstieg, p. 155.
- Nieden, Aufstieg, p. 170 ss. See also: Herbert Linder: Von der NSDAP zur SPD. Der politische Lebensweg des Dr. Helmuth Klotz (1894-1943). (= Karlsruher Beiträge zur Geschichte des Nationalsozialismus. Vol. 3) Universitätsverlag Konstanz, Konstanz 1998, ISBN 3-87940-607-3, p. 168 ss.
- Burkhard Jellonnek: Homosexuelle unter dem Hakenkreuz. Die Verfolgung von Homosexuellen im Dritten Reich. Schöningh, Paderborn 1990, ISBN 3-506-77482-4, p. 64. In Hergemöller, Mann, p. 332, however the entry date is 1 May 1933.
- Otto Strasser: Flight from Terror, 1943, p. 189.
- Patrick Moreau: Nationalsozialismus von links. Die »Kampfgemeinschaft Revolutionärer Nationalsozialisten« und die »Schwarze Front« Otto Straßers 1930-1935. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1985, ISBN 3-421-06192-0, p. 60.
- Jellonnek, Homosexuelle, p. 66.
- Moreau, Nationalsozialismus, p. 103.
- Bernhard Kaufmann, Eckhard Reisener, Dieter Schwips, Henri Walther: Der Nachrichtendienst der KPD 1919−1937. Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-320-01817-5, p. 234 s.
- Kaufmann, Nachrichtendienst, p. 230.
- Kaufmann, Nachrichtendienst, p. 291.
- Gestapo report about Römer's contacts from 25 September 1933, see Oswald Bindrich, Susanne Römer: Beppo Römer - Ein Leben zwischen Revolution und Nation. Edition Hentrich, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-926175-97-4, p. 156.
- In connection with a note on an index of the NSDAP: Hergemöller, Mann, p. 332.
- Ernst Jünger: Jahre der Okkupation. April 1945-Dezember 1948, 1958, p. 39.
- Hergemöller, Mann, p. 331.
- This article incorporates information from the corresponding article in the Spanish Wikipedia
- Claudia Bruns, Susanne zur Nieden: «"Und unsere germanische Art beruht bekanntlich zentnerschwer auf unserem Triebleben …" - der arische Körper als Schauplatz von Deutungskämpfen bei Blüher, Heimsoth und Röhm.»' En: Paula Diehl (Ed.): Verkörperung – Entkörperung. Körperbilder und Körperpraxen im Nationalsozialismus. Fink, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-7705-4256-8, p. 111-128.
- Susanne zur Nieden: Die „männerheldische heroische Freundesliebe“ bleibt „dem Judengeiste fremd“. Antisemitismus und Maskulinismus (pdf, 147 kB, (German))