1923 - 2005

“I had to bear witness in order to protect the future, bear witness in order to overcome the amnesia of my contemporaries.”

– Pierre Seel

By his late teens, Pierre Seel knew he was gay. In 1939, while in a public garden notorious for cruising, his watch was stolen. When he reported the theft to police, he unknowingly added his name to a list of known homosexuals. After the German invasion in May 1941, Seel was arrested by the SS, beaten, jailed and transferred to the Schirmeck-Vorbruck camp, where he worked as a slave laborer to build crematoriums. His treatment there was marked by starvation, rape, and torture – he was even made to suffer being impaled with syringes thrown at him like darts. On the order of camp authorities, he was also forced to watch as his boyfriend, Jo, was stripped naked, bound, and torn to shreds by dogs. In November 1941, Seel was released from the camp only to be conscripted to the German army. After four years he deserted and surrendered to the Allies. Because liberation had come for some, but not for homosexuals, he fabricated a story regarding his deportation. It was a decision all the gay victims of the Third Reich were forced to make because the society into which they were released was no less homophobic than it was before the war. In 1950 Seel married and eventually fathered three children. Deeply closeted, his despair led to alcoholism and eventual estrangement from his family. In 1982, when a French bishop railed against homosexuals, Seel broke his silence and reclaimed his identity as a gay man by telling of the horrors he had endured. He spent the rest of his life demanding recognition for the forgotten French victims of the Nazis’ anti-homosexual policies. In 1994 he published I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual and appeared on TV, in the press, and in the documentary ‘Paragraph 175’ (2000). He remains the only French person to testify openly about being deported during WWII because of his homosexuality. He spent the last twelve years of his life with his partner, Eric Feliu, in Toulouse, France. He died from cancer in their home on November, 25, 2005. He was 82.


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Faith Construct Catholic

Nations Affiliated France Germany

Era/Epoch World War II (1939-1945)

Field(s) of Contribution



Social Justice

Commemorations & Honors

Featured in the Paragraph 175 Documentary (2000)

Plaque Commemorating Toulouse Renaming City Street in Pierre Seel’s Honor (2008)

Paris Street Named After Pierre Seel (2019)


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Original Biography Author
Victor Salvo
Biography Edited By
Owen Keehnen
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell