born June 26, 1907
Albert Christel in the Wandervogel youth group, ca. 1930 (Frankfurt am Main City Archives)
Albert Christel was born in the city of Metz in northwestern France. After completing his studies in physics and chemistry, he worked as a student teacher at a school in Leipzig. In his free time, he was active in the German Youth Movement. In 1934, he was dismissed from his teaching post because of his opposition to National Socialism.
As a political opponent of the Nazi regime and a homosexual, Albert Christel was arrested several times during the 1930s. In late 1939, he was arrested by the Gestapo on political grounds and detained in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He was sent to Flossenbürg in April 1940. There he was put to work in the “artists’ commando,” where he wrote poems and painted for the SS. Christel later said his assignment to this commando saved his life. His brother Ernst submitted numerous petitions for his release, with no success. The SS told Albert Christel that he would only be released if he submitted to forcible castration. Although his family urged him to undergo the procedure, Albert Christel refused. After three years in Flossenbürg, he was transferred to several other concentration camps, where he remained incarcerated until the end of the war.
After May 1945, Albert Christel moved to Frankfurt am Main to be near his family. Because male homosexuality was still illegal in the Federal Republic of Germany, Albert Christel was awarded a one-time compensation payment for his years in the concentration camp only after a long struggle with the authorities. Despite numerous lengthy and exhausting applications, he was repeatedly denied additional compensation for the damage to his health that was a result of his incarceration. He was also denied a teaching position in the schools. Albert Christel documented his experiences of persecution in numerous writings, theater pieces, and poems. After outliving most of his family, Albert Christel withdrew to a solitary life in Frankfurt. He committed suicide on December 26, 1977.
Albert Christel, ca. 1968 (Frankfurt am Main City Archives)