The Rutha Affair and the Trial Against the Werner Weiss Group in Autumn 1937

Jiří Plachý

The study deals with the case of Heinrich Rutha (1897–1937), one of the highest-ranking politicians of the Sudeten German Party (SdP), sometimes referred to as its Foreign Minister, Konrad Henlein’s personal friend and one of the main promoters of philosopher Othmar Spann’s ideas in the Czech lands. Rutha worked in the Sudeten German youth movement, where he tried to create his own educational concept. In 1926, he established, more precisely made independent, the Sudetendeutsche Jugendschaft youth organization and was at the birth of an organization that be- came known under the abbreviated designation Kameradschaftsbund. Its aim, in the spirit of Spann’s theories, was to create an elite layer of leaders who would take over the leadership of Sudeten German society. He was also involved in the sports organization Deutscher Turnverein (DTV). However, he resigned from the prestigious position of the head of the Ještěd-Jizera Division of the DTV in October 1935 as his homosexual orientation was revealed. Two years later, as a result of the denunciation of “old Nazis” (i.e. former members and supporters of the dissolved DNSAP), his homosexuality was also reported to the Czechoslovak police. At the beginning of October 1937, Rutha was arrested for homosexual intercourse, which was criminal at that time. Having been convicted by several of his former partners, he committed suicide on 5 November 1937. Twelve young men were eventually brought to court, seven of whom were found guilty and sentenced to one to eight months’ suspended sentences.

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