The History of the Gay Male and Lesbian Experience during World War II


Kurt von Ruffin

Kurt von Ruffin (born 1901, Munich, Germany, died 17 November 1996, Berlin, Germany) was a German actor and opera singer who was imprisoned by the Nazis for the crime of homosexuality.

Von Ruffin began his career as a singer. Starting in 1927 he sang with the operas of Magdeburg, Mainz, and Nuremberg. He made his film debut in 1931 in Die Faschingsfee and Walzerparadies, also starring in Harry Piel's Bobby geht los in the same year. For the latter film von Ruffin took boxing lessons from heavyweight champion Hans Breitenstrater.

After completing filming on Schwarzwaldmim under torture, and imprisoned at Lichtenburg, where many gay men were imprisoned, for two years. Von Ruffin says that SS guards touched prisoners and then beat those who got sexually aroused. He also recalls being forced to watch as some prisoners were beaten to death (We were marked with a big 'A').

After nine months in Lichtenburg, von Ruffin was released thanks to the intervention of prominent theatre director Heinz Hilpert, and his lawyers arranged for the destruction of his Gestapo file.

Von Ruffin went on to star in five more movies: Konigswalzer (1935), Die Geige lockt (1935), Schwarze Rosen (1935), Die Stunde der Versuchung (1936), and Du bist so schlinerin (1936) before he was finally prohibited from appearing in any more films. From 1941 until the end of the war, he appeared only on stage.

After the war, von Ruffin appeared in several more films, including Ich mach' Dich glucklich (1949), Der blaue Strohhut (1949), Neues vom Hexer (1965), Die Herren mit der weissen Weste (1970), and his last, Der Unbesiegbare in 1985.