Survivor: Molested by Homosexual Guards
Founder of Boston Holocaust Museum spent five years in Nazi camps
Itís commonly accepted that Hitler targeted homosexuals for extermination ó just as he did the Jews.
"Not so," says Stephan Ross, the Newton resident who is the founder of the Holocaust Museum in Boston.
And he should know. Ross was there. He lived, and almost died, in Nazi prison camps from the age of 9 to 14.
And while the abuse of the Nazis took many forms, he says he was sexually molested more than once by homosexual Nazi prison guards. He knew it was also going on with other prisoners, "although I didnít go looking for it."
He estimates that about 20 percent of those guarding Jewish prisoners were homosexual. And he says that Hitler may have taken a public stance against homosexuals, but he believes that stance was simply a device to round up Catholic priests or others Hitler wanted to remove from society.
"All they [those accused of being homosexual] had to do to get out [of the camp] was to sign a paper to say that they had been rehabilitated and wouldnít do it [engage in homosexual activity] anymore," he says. "They were allowed to go back to their families. "They were not targeted to die. Not like we were."
Now 68 and living in Newton, Ross is retired after a successful career. He says he attended three universities and became a licensed psychologist. His son, Michael Ross, was recently elected a city councilor in Boston.
He tells of horrors in the Nazi camps that range from hiding in the filth of outhouses to being hanged until he was almost dead for eating a piece of a potato he was peeling. And while he has tried for decades to forget, he says he is "still suffering, still living in pain. I still canít get it off my back."
Ross says he doesnít know how he survived. "There was nothing heroic about it," he says. "It just came from being cunning, from always being apprehensive, from always being fearful. You ended up not caring for your fellow man. You were mean and hostile to one another. You saw people die and you were afraid that you were going to be next."
But he suspects one reason he was spared was because he was "handy." Many other children were simply taken out and shot, he says. Even now, decades later, he cannot understand the barbaric cruelty of other human beings. "Even a wild animal, when it is full, will not attack you," he says.
Rossí sexual abuse came at the hands of a guard who intercepted him as he was going from the barracks one early morning to get water.
"We lived 1,800 to a barracks and 10 to a section," he says. We just laid on boards, and didnít cover ourselves with anything. We smelled horribly and lice were sucking the blood out of us.
"But they woke us in the mornings at about 4 a.m., and we would run to try to get a little water. A guard caught me one morning and made me Ďdo his dick.í I threw up. I couldnít handle it. To this day Iím very angry about it.
"Other times they would beat you and then make you do that [perform oral sex]."
Ross says he knows there have been books written on the topic. "I havenít seen them. I can only tell you what I saw," he says.
"But donít underestimate my knowledge just because I was a little kid at the time. I was very inquisitive, and I understood what was going on. I was able to watch the guards and even the commandant. I walked behind other peopleís beds, and I knew what was happening."
Ross says he is most furious about those who he says are trying to twist or deny the reality of what happened in the camps.
"How can I tell civilized people who have not gone through this? How can I speak the truth, when the truth is unspeakable?
"You have these hysterical scholars who have ridiculed us. They come out of the silver-spoon world and talk about us murdering each other. What do they know about having a gun at your head?"
Ross says he has nothing against homosexuals in general. "Iím trying to build a foundation for tolerance for all people," he says. "Iím not really interested in aligning myself [against homosexuals].
"But I donít consider their agenda to be normal, and Iím not pleased with this. I just look at them and think there has to be some kind of connection with how they were brought up.
"I really donít want to study or learn about it, I just donít want to have anything to do with it."