Karl Kloss, portrait photo 1944.

(Nuremberg City Archives, prosecuting authority, Nuremberg Special Court, No. 2555)

Hotel “Goldener Adler” at Hallplatz 21. Picture postcard from around 1930.

(Collection Daniel Gürtler)

The building at Hallplatz 21, south of the Mauthalle, is circled in red. Königstrasse, the street further to the east (to the right in the picture), passes the Church of St. Lawrence and proceeds on down to the Pegnitz River, which can be seen at the top of the picture. Aerial photo 1927.

(Nuremberg City Archives, A 97 No. 295)

Karl Kloss

(1895-1944)

Location of stone: Hallplatz 21 District: St. Lorenz
Sponsor: Fliederlich e.V. – Gay Community Centre Laying of stone: 17 October 2017

Biography

Since 17 October 2017 stumbling stones have been reminding us of homosexual victims of National Socialism. The politics study-group from Fliederlich e.V., led by the late Ralph Hoffmann, initiated the laying of the stones. On the above-mentioned date, one of the stumbling stones laid by Gunter Demnig was for Karl Kloss. The show-trial in which Kloss was a defendant was open to the public. He took his own life at a point when the court was in recess.

Karl Kloss was born on 12 July 1895 in Steuden near Halle (Saale). His parents were Bernhard Kloss and Lina (née Markgraf). Kloss attended both school and vocational college in his home town, before working as a buffet attendant in Halle, Leipzig and Hamburg. Later he switched to the hotel business and was employed as a hotel porter in Magdeburg, Meiningen and Erfurt. Doubtless the frequent change of location enabled him to establish covert contact with other homosexuals and live out his homosexuality in secret.

Over the years, Kloss built up a large circle of acquaintances and for a long time he was able to avoid prosecution. The situation changed however in 1935, when the National Socialists tightened up Paragraph 175. This intensified the repression of homosexuals to a hitherto unknown extent. Immediately, the number of investigations against homosexuals in the whole of Germany escalated sharply. The following year, in Meiningen, Kloss was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for contravening Paragraph 175. On the same grounds, two further convictions followed in 1938 and 1939 in Erfurt. In each case Kloss was sentenced to one year in prison.

After serving his sentence Kloss moved to Nuremberg, where he was employed again as a porter, at the “Goldener Aldler” hotel. In the hotel at Hallplatz 21, he lived in one of the rooms for staff members. Hotel guests and colleagues (who were later questioned by the police) only spoke well of him: he was attentive and helpful, behaved in a collegial manner to other members of staff and could be relied upon to take good care of the hotel guests.

At the beginning of 1944 Kloss was arrested at his place of work. Amongst his belongings, the police found several letters from the 36-year-old Nuremberg citizen Edmund Reuter and came to the conclusion that “the discovered letters from Reuter to Kloss were, as regards content, love letters and indicate that the two were in a relationship”. On these grounds, the public prosecution department brought charges against Kloss. However, the prosecutor’s office brought the case not to the regional court but to the infamous People’s Court in Nuremberg. What Kloss now faced was clear just from reading the formulation of the indictment: on the grounds of his homosexuality he was identified as a “habitual offender” and the objective was his “eradication”.

The trial began on 8 June 1944. The president of the People’s Court, Rudolf Oeschey, was known for insulting and humiliating defendants in the course of court proceedings. Moreover, the punishment that Oeschey handed out at the end of such show trials was draconian. In the months leading up to the proceedings against Kloss, he had sentenced several men to death for contravening Paragraph 175. After the trial started, it appears that Kloss very quickly gave up all hope and he committed suicide before the court could reach a verdict. In the midday recess Karl Kloss hanged himself with a strip of shirt in his cell in the remand prison.

- Nuremberg City Archives, C 21/IX registration card.

- Nuremberg City Archives, prosecuting authority, Nuremberg Special Court, No. 2555.

- Biographical compilation by Dr. Matthias Gemählich.