Calenberger Straße 15: Stolperstein for Richard Lange

In front of the house at Calenberger Strasse 15, a Stolperstein commemorates the fate of Richard Lange. He was arrested for being a homosexual in 1939 and murdered three years later in Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria.

Hanover: Stolperstein for Richard Lange on 3 March 2009 in front of Calenberger Strasse 15. Photo: German-Israeli Society, Hanover AG
Hanover: Stolperstein for Richard Lange on 3 March 2009 in front of Calenberger Strasse 15. Photo: German-Israeli Society, Hanover AG

The persecution intensifies

In 1935, the persecution of men engaging in sexual activities with other men, which had already existed in the German Empire, is intensified significantly. This is because under National Socialism, homosexuality is seen as a state crime: “degenerative behaviour”, an attack on fitness for military service and male discipline, endangering the expansion of the “master race”. The persecution is correspondingly drastic.

At least 100,000 men are registered by the police on “Pink Lists’ [“Rosa Listen”], over 50,000 court verdicts handed down, an unknown number are placed in psychiatric institutions, and almost 800 gay men are castrated either by force or “consensually” after threats. It is only possible to give a rough estimate of the number sent to concentration camps but it is put at 5000 to 7000. Proof exists of the particularly brutal treatment meted out to this group of prisoners: the death rate of ‘Pink corner’ [“Rosa Winkel”] inmates is approximately 60%, which makes it the highest death rate of all non-racial victims in the concentration camps.

Death in concentration camp

Richard Lange is born in Hanover on 7 May 1903. He is an electrician by trade. In 1936, he still frequents the clandestine gay bar “Olivia” in Calenberger Neustadt. In October 1938, he is arrested, imprisoned in Hanover court jail and in February 1939 sentenced by the Hanover Regional Court to two years and six months in prison for violating Paragraph 175 of the Criminal Code. From March 1939, he serves his sentence in Hamelin prison.

After his release from prison, Richard Lange is not set free as in the meantime the criminal police central office in Hanover has imposed preventative police custody on him. He is taken to Hanover police prison and then sent to the notorious Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. Richard Lange dies on 1 September 1942 in Gusen subcamp of Mauthausen concentration camp at the age of 39. The alleged cause of death is given as anaemia.

Hanover’s unique archive

With the “Schwullesbischen Archiv” SARCH, in English the “Gay-Lesbian Archive”, assembled by Rainer Hoffschildt, Hanover is home to one of the world’s largest private collections on the history of homosexuals. Since 1987, the “Names and Faces” project has been documenting homosexuals persecuted under National Socialism. By 2011, around 15,000 victims had been identified by name, including approximately 3300 concentration camp prisoners, 1300 inmates in the Emsland camps, and a total of 2000 deaths.

Additional online information

Wikipedia entry Gay-Lesbian Archive (SARCH) [in German]
Wikipedia entry Persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany
ZeitZentrum Zivilcourage Stolpersteine in Hanover [in German]

Further reading: Click here

Texts and images: Michael Pechel