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Police Report on Fritz Kitzing

Police Report on Fritz Kitzing
Landesarchiv Berlin
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tags: bureaucracy gender law & the courts law enforcement

type: Report

Fritz Kitzing was born into a so-called "Aryan" German family northwest of Berlin in the town of Neuruppin in 1905. In the 1920s, Kitzing moved to Berlin to pursue a career as a bookkeeper. Kitzing was first arrested in 1933 while wearing women’s clothing, and was charged with a statute of the German criminal code designed specifically for women who violated police regulations on prostitution.1 Kitzing had been raised as a boy and often dressed in men’s clothing, but it is unclear how Kitzing self-identified.2 It is also unclear why authorities chose to charge Kitzing under a statute written for women, since police reports repeatedly characterize Kitzing as a man. This suggests that authorities targeted Kitzing as a social outsider without fully understanding how to criminalize this behavior.3 

Kitzing was convicted and served four weeks in jail before being sent to a labor camp for six months. In March 1934, Kitzing managed to escape from custody and fled to England. But Kitzing was arrested again in London for wearing women’s clothing in public.4 Deported to Germany, Kitzing kept running into legal trouble. In June 1935, Kitzing was accused of attempting sexual contact with an SA man in civilian clothes. No arrest was made, but Kitzing was warned that further contact with the police could mean imprisonment in a concentration camp.

The featured report from the Berlin Criminal Police (Kripo) in March 1936 shows how Kitzing was targeted on the basis of an anonymous tip—but no crime. Kitzing was taken into custody because of an anonymous report of a so-called “Transvestit” (“transvestite”) in western Berlin.5 The Nazi police state relied on denunciations by private citizens in order to enforce laws and encourage an atmosphere of political and social conformity.6

The report requests that Kitzing be confined to a concentration camp, but it also states plainly that there was no proof that Kitzing was guilty of committing any crimes. Instead, the report attacks Kitzing as a social threat to the Nazi regime’s imagined "national community" ("Volksgemeinschaft"). It states that a concentration camp was necessary because “K. is an untruthful and depraved transvestite of the worst kind.” This document shows that authorities did not imprison Kitzing to uphold the law—the report recommends a concentration camp even after concluding that “K. could not be proven to have committed an illegal act.” Why would authorities still target Kitzing if no laws had been broken?

Kitzing was sent to the Sachsenhausen camp later that year. After being transferred briefly to Gestapo custody in Berlin in April 1937, Kitzing was released—after more than a year in custody with no evidence of a crime. A few days later, Kitzing was permitted to collect two suitcases of women’s clothing confiscated by the Gestapo. 

In March 1938, Kitzing was arrested again for blackmail. Police quickly established that Kitzing had not been involved in any way. However, searches of Kitzing’s apartment turned up letters written to friends in England about conditions in the Nazi camp system. Kitzing was taken into custody for spreading so-called “atrocity propaganda” against Nazi Germany. No further records exist, and Kitzing's fate is unknown.

An English-language translation of Paragraph 361 Section 6 is available in The Criminal Code of the German Empire, translated and edited by Geoffrey Drage (London: Chapman and Hall, 1885), 296.

Scholars disagree on how Kitzing might have self-identified and on how to understand Kitzing’s gender. For example, see Jennifer Evans and Elissa Mailänder, "Cross-dressing, Male Intimacy and the Violence of Transgression in Third Reich Photography," German History 39, no. 1 (March 2021): 54–77; and Clayton J. Whisnant, Queer Identities and Politics in Germany: A History, 1880–1945 (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2016), 231

There was no statute of the German criminal code specifically prohibiting people from wearing clothing of a different gender. But German police often targeted people for this anyway, charging them with disorderly conduct or other minor violations of the law. To learn more, see the related Experiencing History item, Identification Card of Gerd Katter. For more on Nazi attempts to regulate sex and gender—and individuals' responses to this persecution—see the Experiencing History collection, Sexuality, Gender, and Nazi Persecution.

Kitzing's arrest in London demonstrates that Germany's laws regulating sexuality and gender were not unique at the time. Marginalized gender expressions or same-sex sexual relations were criminalized in many countries throughout Europe. To learn more about the experiences of LGBTQ+ people in the United Kingdom in the early 20th century, see Matt Houlbrook, Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis, 1918–1957 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2005).

 

The term "Transvestit" (“transvestite”) was coined in 1910 by doctor and pioneering researcher of sexuality and gender Magnus Hirschfeld as a neutral scientific term. But the term "transvestite" has acquired negative connotations over the years and is generally considered offensive by members of the transgender community today.

To learn more, see Robert Gellately, "The Gestapo and German Society: Political Denunciations in the Gestapo Case Files," The Journal of Modern History 60, no. 4 (Dec. 1988): 654–94. For other primary sources on denunciations, see the related Experiencing History items, Advertisement for Damenklub Violetta, Request for the Investigation of Professor Hans Peters, and Criminal Complaint against Douglas Bamberger.

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[Page 1] [Signature]

State Police, Inspectorate VII Berlin, March 5, 1936

Request

(Transfer to a Concentration Camp)

1. I request placement in a concentration camp for the book dealer (transvestite) Fritz Kitzing, born in Neuruppin on October 28, 1905, residing in Wilmersdorf at 12 Fürtherstr., c/o Kapla[n?], German citizen, Protestant, unmarried.

In mid-February this office was confidentially informed that a transvestite was making trouble in the western part of Berlin.

Kitzing comes into consideration in this connection. On March 4, 1936, he was taken to the local authority, transferred, and he confessed.

According to his personal file K. 389, he has prior convictions as follows: In 1933 K[itzing], wearing women’s clothing, was encountered on Augsburgerstr., where he was soliciting in a conspicuous manner. In due course, he was found guilty of having violated § 361 (6) of the Criminal Code of the German Reich [RStGB] and was sentenced to four weeks in prison and transfer into the custody of the regional police authority for six months.

On March 16, 1934, wearing institutional clothing, he escaped from the workhouse while being taken to the dentist by a guard.

2. In November 1934, K., while in London, was found guilty of an offence against morality and sentenced to payment of a fine of 40 shillings or 13 days in jail, No. 6566 (c. 3).

3. On June 9, 1935, he attempted to grab the genitals of a member of the SA [SA-Mann], Herbert Rank, on a bench at Helmholtz Square [Helmholtzplatz] in Wilmersdorf. While so doing, K. got out his own genitals 

[Page 2]

and showed them to Rank.

The proceedings were dropped. At the time, K. was told that he would face placement in a camp if he ever again gave cause for police intervention.

4. On March 4, 1936, he was once again brought in for the State Police, Inspectorate VII, with regard to the present complaint (page 1).

At first he denied going around in women’s clothing, but later—when a number of women’s dresses and pieces of lingerie were found—he admitted doing so.

K. is an untruthful and depraved transvestite of the basest kind, who surely supports himself on the proceeds of male prostitution. He has been unemployed for years and years. K. claims to receive RM 50 per month from his mother, who lives in Neuruppin. 

K. could not be proven to have committed an illegal act under § 175a (4) and § 361 (6) of the Criminal Code of the German Reich.

Kitzing’s dangerousness to the public can be substantiated by the fact that complaints about the shameless activities of transvestites, particularly on Lutherstrasse and its side streets (where Kitzing put in his appearances), have been received by this office.

If K. is placed in a concentration camp, both the public and the utterly degenerate man would be better served thereby.

State Police 7 [Signature]

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
Landesarchiv Berlin
RG Number 14.093
Date Created
March 5, 1936
Language(s)
German
Location
Berlin, Germany
Document Type Report
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