Heinz Rutha

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Heinz Rutha (born Heinrich Rutha; 20 April 1897 Liberec - 4 November 1937 Česká Lípa) was a Sudeten German interior decorator and politician for the Sudeten German Party. He committed suicide in prison after having been publicly accused of homosexual practices and the "corruption of youth."

Active in the Wandervogel, an early German-nationalist youth movement, Rutha came to envision his own ideas of a "Männerbund," influenced in part by the rise of national self-awareness on the part of the Sudeten Germans after the collapse of Austria-Hungary. In 1921, inspired by the "male bonding" notions of the gay German poet Stefan George, he created the Jungenschaft, his own section within the Wandervogel. In 1926, Rutha and his group left the Wandervogel and joined the Sudeten Turnverbund, where Konrad Henlein was one of his disciples. Rutha was also active in the elitist and covert Kameradschaftsbund organization. Later he joined the Sudeten German Party (SdP), as did many other members of the Kameradschaftsbund.

In 1937, the Czechoslovak media published stories charging Rutha with homosexual practices, based on police interrogations of young men employed at Rutha's furniture manufacturing plant. Rutha never came to trial, for he hanged himself in a Česká Lípa prison on 4 November 1937. Many other investigations of the Youth Movement were started (most notably scrutinizing the sexual activities of Walter Brand). The direct political aftermath was that Konrad Henlein, as leader of the SdP, had to start making political concessions to the National Socialist wing of the party. In the following years, the National Socialists invoked the charges against Rutha as a handy tool to ostracize and expel many Sudeten separatists out of the SdP. This shifted the balance of power in favor of those who favored Anschluss with Germany.

References[edit]

  • Cornwall, Mark (2002). "Heinrich Rutha and the Unraveling of a Homosexual Scandal in 1930s Czechoslovakia". GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. 8 (3): 319–347. doi:10.1215/10642684-8-3-319.