Panoptikum (engl.)

Gerlingplatz 4, 45127 Essen | 51.460973, 7.018393‎ | +51° 27′ 39.50″, +7° 1′ 6.21″

About 80 years ago, today’s Panoptikum carried the name Eldorado. The Eldorado was a popular meeting point for Essen’s homosexuals. Fancy-dress balls („flower’s dreams“) and other celebrations took place in here. On May 2nd, 1933, the concession were taken away from the operators by the Nazis. Thus, the well-known pub had to shut down. A commemorative plaque calls the exclusion of homosexuals, initiated by the Hitler fascists, in mind.

Panoptikum I

The entrance area of the former Eldorado

Panoptikum II

A menu of today’s Panoptikum

Historical background

According to Hitler’s supporters, homosexuality had to be denounced perverted and unnatural, like the Nazi term Widernatürliche Unzucht (literally translated: „unnatural illicit sexual relations“) suggested. For that reason, the fascists arrested arbitrary homosexuals, put them into concentration camps where the imprisoned had to wear a pink triangle, underlining their sexual orientation. All in all, people fancying the same gender were persecuted in a harsh manner during the Nazi era. A characteristic element the Nazi ideology consisted of was the belief that homosexuals were not able to contribute to the „aryan race’s“ success. Nevertheless, of course, several high-ranking Nazis were themselves homosexuals, such as Ernst Röhm.

Hitler claimed that he did not know at all about the homosexuality of his fellow party member. Although it is more probable that Hitler accepted the sexual orientation of Röhm as long as he was able to make use of the latter. When Röhm made himself a claim for increasing the influence of the SA and therefore becoming a more powerful person, he was murdered by Hitler’s supporters in the so-called „night of the long knives“ (30th June-1st July 1934). Hitler just did not need anymore the pseudo-revolutionary flair of the SA and its thugs who backed him in the years before his final rise to power.

The pitiless persecution of homosexual people was intensified in the years yet to come. The Nazi-led press of that time claimed a connection between Röhm’s homosexuality and his unwanted political ideas. The main aim of the condescending reporting on homosexuals was to make them an unpopular social group, portraying them as a political danger eager for threatening the so-called Volksgemeinschaft (translated literally.: „people’s community“).

Exercises

1) Take a photograph of the commemorative plaque which you find on the right, besides the entrance area. Search for a date to be found on the plaque. Write a brief report in the style of „100 years ago“. Try to throw light on the things the plaque describes.

2) Enter the Panoptikum and ask the personnel whether they can tell you facts about the past of this pub. Eventually, ask if there is something comparable with a chronicle.

3) Order a cool, foaming Stauder (if you are at least 18 years old). Enjoy the pleasant atmosphere of this pub. Cheers!

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