Once a separate entity, Schöneberg was swallowed up by Greater Berlin in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. By the 1920s and early 1930s it had become the centre for Berlin’s sizeable gay community: there were around forty gay bars on and near to the road and rail intersection Nollendorfplatz alone, and gay life in the city was open, fashionable and well organized, with its own newspapers and community associations. Local theatres were filled with plays exploring gay themes; homosexuality in the Prussian army was little short of institutionalized; and gay bars, nightclubs and brothels proudly advertised themselves – there were even gay working men’s clubs. A block away, at Nollendorfstrasse 17, stands the building in which Christopher Isherwood lived during his years in prewar Berlin. Under the Third Reich, however, homosexuality was brutally outlawed: gays and lesbians were rounded up and taken to concentration camps and often murdered. A red-granite triangle at Nollendorfplatz U-Bahn station commemorates this. Though the neigbourhood was blown to pieces during the war, Schöneberg’s gay village has proved more robust, and its attendant nightlife still first class.
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