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Photo of the Eldorado Club

Eldorado Club
Landesarchiv Berlin
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tags: censorship politics of fear propaganda

type: Photograph

This photograph depicts two policemen standing guard outside a local Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA) headquarters in March 1933. The windows are boarded up and lined with pro-Hitler posters and Nazi flags. Only weeks earlier, however, this building had hosted the Eldorado nightclub1—a central location for Berlin's gay and transvestite nightlife. The only visible remnant of the former venue is the banner above the front door, reading, Hier ist's Richtig or "Here it's right." 

Until its closure shortly after Hitler's appointment as chancellor in January 1933, the Eldorado had been a popular gathering place for celebrities, artists, and tourists.2 Although some Germans valued the Eldorado Club as a place for freedom of expression and cultural enrichment, others saw it as a symbol of cultural decline and the decadence of Weimar Germany. During that period, Berlin became well known for its art, film, and club scene, much of which conflicted with traditional German values. Berlin emerged as "the undisputed gay capital of the world," and German activists became important members of an international gay rights movement, but some more conservative Germans regarded those developments as a threat to their vision of a German national community.3

Even before the Nazi party's rise to power, Paragraph 175 of the German Constitution of 1871, and later the Weimar Constitution, had banned sexual relations between people of the same sex.4 Still, the closure of Eldorado and its replacement with an SA office point to radical changes to Germany's political life, urban landscape, and cultural policy under the Nazi regime.5 Why or by whom this photo was taken is unclear, that the iconic Eldorado was strewn with Nazi banners suggests that the party was well aware of the building's symbolism.

Two months after this photograph was taken, members of the SA also raided Berlin's Institute for Sexual Science—a center for academic research on sexuality, disease, and homosexuality—and destroyed 12,000 books and 35,000 photographs, along with other literature that they considered "degenerate."6 

The club stood at the corner of Motzstraße and Kalckreuthstraße, near Nollendorfplatz, an epicenter for gay culture—then and today. 

Clayton J. Whisnant, Queer Identities and Politics in Germany: A History, 1880–1945 ( New York: Harrington Park Press, 2016), 94. 

See Robert Beachy, Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity (New York: First Vintage Books, 2015). 

Under the administration of Fritz von Papen, the Weimar Republic's police carried out a crackdown on homosexuality, restricting the hours of gay nightlife and closing nightclubs.

Over the course of the 1930s, Nazi policies increasingly targeted homosexual men for persecution, eventually resulting in the imprisonment of thousands in concentration camps. For more on the persecution of gays under Nazi rule, see the related item Gad Beck: "Do You Remember, When?".

Led by the scientist Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, the Institute for Sexual Science sponsored research and discussion on marital problems, sexually transmitted diseases, and laws relating to sexual offenses, abortion, and homosexuality. Hirschfeld was an accomplished researcher and author who led efforts to reform laws criminalizing homosexuality in Germany.

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Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
Landesarchiv Berlin
Accession Number Landesarchiv Berlin, F Rep. 290 Nr. II6938 / Fotograf: k. A.
Accession Number 74554
Date Created
March 1933
Location
Berlin, Germany
Still Image Type Photograph
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