Tuesday, January 27, 2015

LAST VICTIMS OF LAST BOMBING RAID
WERE GAY CONCENTRATION CAMP INMATES



AS we honor the men who wore the Pink Triangles, we remember the hundreds who endured a forced march to the sea ... only to be bombed and strafed and gunned down before they could be liberated by British soldiers.

Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army on January 27th, 1945, and the pictures of skeletal camp inmates shocked the world. 

In response, Heinrich Himmler issued an order to all camp commandants that they were to ensure that no camp inmates should ever fall into the hands of Allied forces. He didn't specify what they should do, leaving it in the hands of camp commandants.

Some commandants at Dachau and other camps, began gassing all surviving inmates so that none would be left alive. Others began evacuating their inmates.

Hundreds of homosexuals were interned at Neuengamme Concentration Camp near Hamburg, Germany. 

The camp commandant ordered them to leave their camp on a forced march to the Baltic Sea, 100 kms (60 miles) away, where the converted cruise liner Cap Arcona was at anchor.

This was in mid-May 1945. Hitler was dead. The Allies were advancing on all fronts. 

Everyone knew that the war was over. All the inmates had heard the news. 

British forces had dropped leaflets saying they would be in Hamburg within hours.

And yet these men were sent on a Death March march to the sea. Stragglers were shot
. Others died of exhaustion. 

But hundreds made it to the Baltic Sea docks where the Cap Arcona was waiting and they were herded aboard.

It was May 19, 1945. The British RAF was conducting intensive air raids to pave the way for ground forces, which were only a few miles away. 

RAF fighter-bombers had been told that Nazi officials were seeking to flee Germany aboard a big ship disguised as a refugee vessel.

The RAF planes came in and bombed and strafed the Cap Arcona, setting it ablaze and sending it to the bottom. 

Those inmates who managed to dive into the water were either killed by the bombs and strafing from the planes or else were machine-gunned by Gestapo men as they tried to climb ashore.

A handful found shelter in reeds along the shore and were found shivering in the water by British soldiers a few hours later.

The Cap Arcona had been the last bombing raid of the war in Europe … and it involved the men who wore the Pink Triangles.

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