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"Protective Custody Order" for Herbert Fröhlich

Protective custody order for Herbert Fröhlich from the Berlin Police.
US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Courtesy of Landesarchiv Berlin

Following the Nazi rise to power in 1933, German police became responsible for enforcing the new regime’s policies, including those regarding sex.1  Nazi authorities waged a campaign against those who did not conform to gender and sexual norms, especially persecuting men who had sexual relations with other men. According to Nazi ideology, same-sex sexual and romantic relationships threatened the growth of the Nazis' so-called "national community" ("Volksgemeinschaft").2

In 1935, the Nazi regime revised the German criminal code to broaden the reach of Paragraph 175, an existing statute that criminalized sexual relations between men. The Nazi version of the statute allowed the regime to target far greater numbers of men. Scholars estimate that German police made roughly 100,000 arrests for alleged violations of Paragraph 175 from 1933 to 1945.3

The majority of those arrested for alleged violations of Paragraph 175 were prosecuted in a court of law, but thousands were jailed without trials or the ability to challenge their sentences.4 Shortly after the Nazi Party rose to power, some German police were granted the authority to imprison people without oversight from the court system. The use of "protective custody” gave the Gestapo the ability to jail anyone they decided was a threat to national security.5

The featured document comes from police files on Herbert Walter Fröhlich, a young Berlin resident who was arrested several times and placed in “protective custody” because police suspected him of blackmail, prostitution, and violations of Paragraph 175.6 Born in Dresden in 1911, Fröhlich had been arrested many times. He always denied the charges against him and maintained that he had never had sex with another man. Fröhlich was nevertheless imprisoned at the Lichtenburg concentration camp multiple times.7

Conditions were overcrowded and unsanitary at Lichtenburg, and prisoners were often physically abused. Fröhlich’s own experiences there were so unbearable that he told police that no one would ever be able to take him to a concentration camp alive again. Nevertheless, he was held in "protective custody" at Lichtenburg at least three times because police officials decided that he would "carry out further attacks on the national community." There are few other archival traces of Fröhlich, and his fate is unknown.

According to Nazi ideology, sex was intended to produce children, increasing the so-called "Aryan" population of the Reich. Sexuality that did not serve this purpose was deemed a threat that undermined the strength of the German nation. For more primary sources related to Nazi views of sex, reproduction, and race, see the related Experiencing History items, "Sexually Transmitted Disease Is an Obstacle to Marriage" and Brochure for the Lebensborn Program.

To learn more about the experiences of those targeted by the Nazi regime for their sexuality or gender identities, see the Experiencing History collection, Sexuality, Gender, and Nazi Persecution.

This figure includes arrests of those who were detained multiple times and may not represent the total number of individuals arrested for alleged violations of Paragraph 175. Over half of these arrests produced convictions. To learn more about the Nazi persecution of gay men and others accused of violating Nazi regulatons on sexuality and gender, see Geoffrey J. Giles, Why Bother about Homosexuals?: Homophobia and Sexual Politics in Nazi Germany (Washington, DC: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2001).

Roughly five to fifteen thousand people were held in "protective custody" or "preventive detention" for alleged violations of Paragraph 175. 

The Kripo also had the authority to place those they considered professional criminals or threats to public order under "preventive arrest."

Secondary allegations of prostitution or blackmail sometimes accompanied alleged violations of Paragraph 175, and individuals who were repeatedly accused of these crimes were often placed in "protective custody" rather than being put back through the court system. 

Although the Lichtenburg concentration camp had originally been established to hold political opponents of the Nazi regime, it was increasingly used to imprison others deemed to be threats to the Nazi state. At the time Fröhlich was first jailed at Lichtenburg from April to October 1935, nearly half of the men there were imprisoned for alleged violations of Paragraph 175. To learn more about the Lichtenburg concentration camp, see The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945, Vol I: Ghettos in German-Occupied Eastern Europe, Part A, edited by Geoffrey P. Megargee, Martin Dean, and Melvin Hecker (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009): 120–3.

Fröhlich was accused of taking part in a scheme to blackmail another man for violating Paragraph 175 of the German criminal code. Fröhlich's actual involvement in this case is not clear from police files, but many German men were blackmailed over allegations that they violated Paragraph 175. 

Although the German terms Homosexualität ("homosexuality") and homosexuell ("homosexual") were widely used at the time to describe same-sex love and sexuality, most members of the LGBTQ+ community consider these terms offensive today.

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Prussian Secret State Police Berlin, April 21, 1936
State Police Station   Berlin

Reference number  -Stapo 7, F.21/36, Geh. [secret]
To the Secret State Police Bureau,
– II  1  H  3 –
B e r l i n  SW. 11


Protective Custody Order

Pursuant to § 1 of the Decree of the President of the Reich for the Protection of the People and the State, issued on February 28, 1933
(Reichsgesetzblatt I, p. 83), [the following individual] is placed under protective custody:

First and last name: Herbert F r ö h l i c h
Date and place of birth: October 1, 1911, Dresden
Occupation: Carpenter
Marital status: Married
Citizenship: German Reich
Religion: Protestant
Place of residence: Berlin, 62 Kommandantenstraße, c/o Keil


F r ö h l i c h  stands convicted of having engaged in extortion1 based on homosexuality.2 He contests the facts set out; however, as a result of the credible statements of a witness, he is declared guilty.

Placement under protective custody is necessary for the purpose of preserving public safety and order.


Because the extensive investigations cannot be completed within 7 days, I request that protective custody be authorized until the conclusion of the investigations. ps.

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Courtesy of Landesarchiv Berlin
RG Number RG-14.093M
Accession Number 2009.3
Date Created
April 21, 1936
Berlin, Germany
Document Type Report
How to Cite Museum Materials

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