samedi 16 octobre 2010

Homosexuality in SS units

Twenty-four-year-old Hans G., an SS- Hauptscharfuhrer (sergeant major) with the Eleventh SS Volunteer Panzer Grenadier Division Nordland, had served with distinction and had been wounded in action in 1942; in the fail of 1944 he was apprehended on charges of homosexual assault. The interrogations and testimonies reveal a sexually frustrated, perhaps lonely, soldier at the front with strong homoerotic leanings. G. admitted to mutual masturbation with two of his men while having no idea whether it was one of them who had turned him in. His men certainly found some of his actions strange but were offended only by direct sexual assault. Sturmmann (lance corporal) D. described his mutual masturbation with G. and admitted that he was himself sexually excited and had reciprocated for about ten minutes. They were both drunk. Subsequently, D. was rather embarrassed, stating: "The incident didn't particularly concern me, I just really wanted to forget about it. I know that it's a bit unusual. I have never heard ofthe Fiihrer's decree, and I didn't know that this sort of thing was punishable." Unfortunately, the impression of unsullied innocence created by this account of an isolated occurrence was damaged by D.'s initial interrogation, in which he admitted to two further incidents with G. while the two were out on patrol. Even more damaging, they had kissed on those occasions, and G. had thrust his penis between D.'s thighs. Such intercrural intercourse was an indictable homosexual offense even under the Weimar Republic, because it closely replicated the standard heterosexual act. The police fired off a telegram to the station in D.'s home town of Stettin, requesting details of his criminal record and instructing the officers to investigate for any hereditary disorders in his family. Within a week the Stettin police reported back that D.'s father, a conductor on the local trams, and the whole family of eleven children seemed perfectly normal, healthy, and crime-free. G.'s advances to other men were often quite public. When sharing sleeping quarters with his platoon in a barn, for example, he would have one of them pull off his boots and help him to undress, even giving attention to his underwear. He would then sometimes have one of his men remain beside him, holding his hand; G. attempted to shrug off the criticism that this was not typical soldierly behavior. "It's true that I often had O. D. hold my hand in the evening. But I did this without any kind of sexual intent. It was no big deal for me." His excuse to his men was that it helped him sleep better. The young man in question, nineteen-year-old signalman Otto D., certainly found it rather improper that, three weeks after being assigned to this unit, he was sitting holding hands with his sergeant major. But their contact went further. G. made sure that O. D. slept beside him, and one night, the latter awoke to find the sergeant major masturbating him. The younger man allowed his NCO to proceed, not resisting at all ("I remained completely passive"). G. then climbed on top of him and made paracoital movements with his hips until finally he rolled back, "moaning and gasping." The next day, however, the younger man felt sufficiently disturbed by these advances to turn to a fellow soldier for advice. They decided they could take no action in the absence of witnesses. Still, since the men were all sleeping together in a barn, it was easy to find witnesses. G. clearly thought that he had found a willing partner for sex, but two nights later, when G. tried again, O. D. rebuffed him. Several ofthe other soldiers were not yet asleep this time and heard the whispered exchange between them:
G.: Just take mine, and I will play with yours.
O. D.: No, Sergeant Major, I won't do it, it's disgusting.
G.: If we just play around a bit, we can sleep better afterward. You're crazy! Why don't you want to? We already did it once.
O. D. replied that he had been caught unawares while sleeping the first time and firmly took hold of both of G.'s hands to prevent matters from going any further. G. did not force himself on O. D. after this. But now a private matter had become public, and one ofthe men (probably O. D.) reported G., initiating an intrusive, if brief, investigation into the intimate lives of the men of this unit.

The depositions provide an unusual view of the kind of intimacy perhaps not so uncommon among soldiers at the front. Significantly, in the testimony of all of the parties concerned, no soldier thought of himself or accused the other of being a homosexual. It is interesting to analyze the use of ideas of manliness or femininity in the testimony of witnesses, the statements of the defendant, and the judgment of the court. Take Sturmmann Franz B., just turned twenty-one. He was aware that he was a favorite of his NCO, but he did not feel repulsed by G.'s attentions. His evidence of assault was important to the prosecution, although the perceived effeminacy of his mannerisms might tend to discredit him as being homosexual himself and thus an unreliable witness. Most unusually, the chairman of the SS court added a personal comment about him as an addendum to his interrogation: "Outwardly B. gives a soft and girlish impression, yet he is described by his company commander as an exemplary soldier and irreproachable. I myself had the impression that he was telling the truth, and he left behind the very best impression of himself. In his external appearance he is without doubt a type that homosexuals fail for." The judge's statement conveyed the common prejudice that gay men are attracted to effeminate partners, but his reasoning was unusual: the homosexual appearance of the witness proved the actual homosexuality of the accused! B.'s testimony about G.'s behavior revealed a similar conflation of sex and gender roles. While fondling B., the sergeant major "looked like a girl in love and moaned strangely all the while." This gender role reversal followed a direct sexual advance. The two men were alone together in a bunker, lying on some straw. G. began stroking the other's hair and then chest, and without undue resistance on B.'s part he gradually reached for the other man's genitals. At this point B. stopped him and moved his hand away but otherwise did not appear to have taken exception to the caressing: "[G.] often took me into his arms and pressed my head against his breast. However, I never had the feeling that this was an abnormal gesture, I didn't give it a second thought."

The testimony encapsulates the Nazi Party's general problem with homosexuality: the party wished to promote the very closest male friendship and trust but without allowing relationships to cross over a certain line of intimacy that not everyone viewed as a taboo. In this case, that line between comradeship and physicality seemed to have been crossed, though the men involved did not see it that way. Their protestations of innocence and normality should not be seen as a clever manipulation of Nazi discourse in their favor; in fact, their comments tended to incriminate them. Perhaps B. was trying to instrumentalize commonplace notions of masculinity through his reference to G.'s girlishness in order to underline his own "normality." However, his candid admission to being the passive and regular recipient of G.'s embraces seriously undermined that defense strategy. His remarks are so natural in tone that it is likely they were recorded as spoken. And I would contend that the interrogators (through whose pen the statements are handed down) were not necessarily trying to entrap the witnesses; rather, the latter were simply naive. Himmler, had he read the full details of the case, would doubtless have been astonished to learn that his SS men at the fighting front could spend their evenings holding hands or caressing one another without any feelings of guilt or concern.

Hans G. himself strenuously denied being a homosexual. His defense was a common one among front-line soldiers in such cases: "My behavior can simply be attributed to the fact that I have had no leave for a long time and thus have had no opportunity for normal sexual intercourse." That was true, because the troops were strictly forbidden to have any intimate contact with the native women in the occupied territories. Less plausibly, he claimed to be completely innocent about homosexuality. G. had volunteered for the Waffen-SS while still only sixteen years old and had been assigned to the SS Death's Head Division (Division Totenkopf) for training at Dachau by the time he reached eighteen, the normal age for entry. He was later transferred to Mauthausen and Flossenbürg, concentration camps with noteworthy concentrations of pink triangle inmates. Let us examine G.'s comments in this regard: "I did not experience anything like that [intimacy among the men] in the [SS] Viking Division [Division Wiking]. I had my first sexual intercourse [with a woman] when I was eighteen. Before that I knew nothing about [gay sex], I didn't even masturbate. The first urges came to me in July 1944. I heard about such things in the concentration camp, but I didn't know anything about it. Paragraph 175 didn't mean anything to me. I don't know the Fuhrer's decree either. It was never read out to me."

This testimony suggests that G. probably subscribed to the common perception that participation in anal intercourse defined a homosexual; in some concentration camps, for example, the Paragraph 175ers were made to wear a badge with the letter "A" to denote "ass fucker" (Arschficker). It is entirely plausible that such was the talk of the common guards. Furthermore, his statement provides further evidence of the timidity of the SS leadership in giving warnings about infractions in this area that were explicit enough to be of any use. G. also tried to "prove" that he was not a homosexual by insisting that he had turned in someone who had reached for his private parts in a public toilet in Brno, where his SS unit had been stationed in 1939. G. claimed to have boxed him on the ears and gone straight to the Gestapo office to report him. When it came to substantiating his claim, the story became rather fuzzy. G. asserted that he attended the court hearing to listen to the trial ofthe man but was never called as a witness. "He got two and a half years' penitentiary and a punishment beating every day, as I later heard." If that was meant to suggest that G. thought this an appropriate punishment for a "real" homosexual, it was not a particularly prudent remark, because this alleged assault was little different from his own unwanted advances against the men in his unit.

The SS judges did not believe him and annotated their copy of his testimony with exclamations of doubt. They underlined the fact that he had spent two years at a Catholic monastery school, since that was an immediate indicator of possible homosexuality. They scrawled a large question mark in the margin next to his account of his lively relations with women, at least fifteen in all. G. asserted that as his wartime duties had grown more strenuous, he had become deeply involved with one woman, Lotti Kortum. He spent his last leave with her and had sex with her. Could he provide her current address? No, she had recently moved, and, since his unit was constantly on the move, he had thrown away all her letters. It sounded very much like a fiction. The judges knew that he had already misled their inquiry by admitting to just two instances of mutual masturbation. "These are the only incidents," he stated categorically on September 28, 1944. "A lie!" wrote one of the judges on the transcript later. What probably clinched the case for the court was the fact that, despite a minimal difference in ages, about five years, the assaults were carried out by a superior against junior NCOs in his charge.

Such an abuse of rank was always treated in an especially stern manner. On October 10, 1944, the SS court pronounced the death sentence on Hans G. for five completed and two attempted homosexual acts. The Appeals Process Initially, G.'s case seems to be a clear example of the enforcement of Hitler's November 1941 edict. Yet immediately, the tide began to turn for Hans G. Within one week, the commanding officer ofthe Third SS-Panzer Corps, General Steiner, wrote a strong plea for clemency, arguing that "the condemned displayed for years a magnificent fighting spirit and won for himself in these long war years every medal that he possibly could" and that "he was a particularly competent junior officer who enjoyed general respect." His reasons suggest that the pragmatic needs created by the worsening war situation overrode the ideological imperatives of homophobia. The general's final justification for his plea for leniency showed that he agreed with G.'s own excuse that the conditions of war were to blame:
I do not believe his action can be judged to be the consequence of a sick or depraved disposition, because he has never before come under suspicion of similar offenses or a similar disposition. Rather, this really does seem to be an example of sexual deprivation. . . . In my opinion we have here a strong psychic and erotic aberration that has been formed by the conditions of war. The accused is certainly no national parasite [Volksschadling], since he has continuously been in action of the most dangerous kind for his country.

Unfortunately, the outcome of the case is not clear, since the chaotic conditions of the war's end prevented the preservation of a paper trail. The files were sent to the head office of the SS courts for a decision on the clemency appeal, and it appears that the case was then handed over for a further opinion to the civilian criminal police authorities in the Reichszentrale zur Bekampfung der Homosexualitat (Reich Central Office for Combating Homosexuality). With Berlin already largely in ruins in early 1945, this office continued its laborious investigations, wanting in the first place to know why at the age of twelve G. had suddenly left the Catholic school attached to the Fiirstenstein monastery. G. claimed to have been expelled for reading the Nazi newspaper, the Volkische Beobachter. No incriminating evidence was found; the gendarmerie post in the small town responded that G.'s version was entirely plausible. The local policeman had known G. personally since 1930 and could testify that even as a twelve year old the latter had shown an unusual interest in politics, which doubtless derived from his father's early support for the Nazis before their seizure of power. Neither was there "the slightest suspicion of a homosexual disposition." G.'s relations with women had been entirely normal during his youth. He had had a number of girlfriends over the years and had contemplated marrying several of them. In fact, during his last home leave he had made more concrete moves in this direction with one woman, only to have the plans blocked by his widowed mother. There is something grotesque in the fact that in the winter of 1945, with Germany close to collapse, the police office on homosexuality was still going to these extraordinary lengths to pry into the private life of an individual in order to see whether he might be cured of his homosexual tendencies or else be put to death.

As late as February 1945, the police were still pursuing G. He was brought from the Schoneberg prison, to which he had been transferred, for an interrogation in the central office in the bombed-out heart of Berlin, which disproves the view that the employees of this office did little more than shuffle index cards. Agent Dornhofer wanted precise details about G.'s relations with women. When he was stationed at Dachau in the mid-1930s, G. asserted that he "had sexual intercourse with a girl at least once a fortnight." Evidently, these young men in SS uniforms had their pick of the local women and made the most of it in the local dance halls. He could not recall any of their names, because these had been merely fleeting acquaintances. Making no progress here, Dornhofer pressed G. more closely about his homosexual acts: "Did you find pleasure in these activities?" G. was smart enough to offer a very circumspect answer: "I had the desire to find sexual satisfaction under any circumstances." Eliciting from the prisoner the admission that mutual masturbation between men was not normal behavior for well-balanced heterosexuals, Dornhofer tried to trip him up by asking him why, if he realized that this was wrong, he had come to repeat the offenses. G. replied that his will was weakened by heavy drinking - an admission that appears to have been partly true, according to earlier testimony, and was in any case an argument that sometimes worked in favor of a defendant.

We do not know whether it worked for Hans G., because the file breaks off with this February 1945 interrogation, and additional documents did not survive the end of the war. While the historical record is incomplete, the case repays careful study because it demonstrates the difficulties of sexuality for both the average soldier and the legal system. There is little doubt that Hans G., former concentration camp guard in some of Nazi Germany's most notorious camps, was a pretty unsavory character. Yet his SS record is not at issue here. What is important is the treatment of homosexual acts. Men in closed societies (such as prisons or armies) do become sexually frustrated and seek a release. In part, the German generals sought to address that need for front-line soldiers through the provision of brothels; yet brothels could not be set up everywhere, especially in the more isolated areas. Once a complaint concerning sexual abuse or assault by a superior had been lodged, it had to be taken seriously. This case could not be shrugged off as an isolated incident, since a total of seven incidents came to light, revealing a pattern of homosexual activity. Consequently, it became important to establish the exact nature of the offenses. There had not been just manual stimulation but also paracoital movements of the hips and even kissing. This simulation of heterosexual intercourse was the most damning factor. This and the abuse of rank pointed toward the death sentence. Yet some empathy seems to have prevailed in the SS judiciary in its acknowledgment that the harsh privations of front-line duty created special circumstances that would try the willpower of even the most upright of characters. Those charged with enforcing Himmler's homophobic policies did not respond simply with a knee-jerk reaction. They leavened ideology with pragmatism, even in this sensitive area. [...]. Although even in the final weeks of the war German men convicted as homosexuals faced the threat of execution [...].

Werner S., the only son of a foreman in a metalworks factory in Düsseldorf, joined the junior branch of the Hitler Youth as soon as he could but never held rank in that organization, concentrating instead on music and advancing to the district Hider Youth orchestra. He was a fairly good student, attending the local, nonclassical high school. He intended to go to college to study the humanities and physiology but was still rather vague, listing astrology and graphology (!) as possible areas of study. Three months before he was due to graduate and a couple of weeks after his twentieth birthday in June 1942, he was called up for army service. Passing his basic training with flying colors, he was assigned to an anti-aircraft unit on the eastern front, where he was soon singled out as officer candidate material. He completed officer training with the rank of lieutenant in August 1944. The report card noted his "particularly decent character" as well as his diligence and sense of duty. His superiors judged that he would make a good "political officer" because he could communicate National Socialist ideas to others convincingly. A subsequent report claimed that he positively "embod[ied] solid soldierly and National Socialist ideals." Immediately after officer training, Werner S. was sent back to combat, this time to the western front, as an officer in charge of a gun battery unit. Now he was on his own, with real responsibility for the lives of his soldiers. He was still quite young himself, but his men were slightly younger.

On the night of September 13, 1944, he lay down with his nineteen-year-old orderly, private Engelbert Sch. The latter was already dozing when S. suddenly pulled him over and asked if Sch. had ever "screwed" a girl. When Sch. said that he had not, S. kissed him, evidently with some passion, explaining that this was a French kiss. A couple of nights later, S. found a place with three beds in different rooms for the six of them. Having retired, he and his room-mate stripped down to their shirts and climbed into bed. Werner then embraced and kissed the other soldier, the eighteen-year-old gunner K., several times and suggested that they masturbate each other. K. subsequently asserted to the military court that he had initially refused, but when Werner continued to badger him, he succumbed just so he could shut him up and get some sleep. He was not an entirely unwilling partner, because K. admitted that both had ejaculated. K. allowed himself to be kissed several more times before they fell asleep. But that was that? when Werner asked K. a week later to sleep with him, K. refused, saying he had no interest in doing it again. There are two significant points here: first, the initial sexual encounter was not a particularly big deal for K.; second, although he agreed to participate, K. was able to tell S. in a nonconfrontational way that he did not care for a repeat performance.

Two nights after this incident, S. shared a tent with another soldier and kissed him, too. Nothing further happened. Two nights later he entered the tent of lance corporal G., lay down beside him, and cuddled up to him. The corporal thought nothing of this, assuming that the lieutenant was simply cold, until the latter began to kiss him. Getting nowhere, S. left the tent. Two nights later, he asked his men twice for a volunteer to sleep with him, but none came forward. There is no evidence that they had compared notes yet, although perhaps S. had made advances to all of them by now. At any rate, a new man had just joined the unit, twenty- two-year-old corporal A., and S. simply told A. that he would share with him. After awhile, A. noticed S. pulling him closer. Since A. was cold and assumed that S. was too, he simply moved closer himself and was surprised when S. kissed him. Werner asked if he would like "to do it with him." "Do what?" replied A. and, receiving only a laugh for an answer, rolled over and went back to sleep.

Let us step back and take note of the situation again. The corporal thought nothing of snuggling up to his lieutenant in a rather intimate way in order to keep warm. Thousands of other soldiers must have done so at the front. Nonsexual snuggling seems to have been unexceptional. The following day the unit again changed position. Werner S. appointed nineteen-year-old private T. as his new orderly and had him set up a bivouac for the two of them. It was another cold night, and T. was planning to go to sleep with his great coat on. S. told him to remove it, which he did, and he lay down with his back to his lieutenant. Soon S. asked him to turn round, and when T. did so, S. pulled T. toward himself, kissing him. Sensing no resistance, he then unbuttoned T.'s trousers and grasped his penis. Still finding no objection, S. took T.'s hand and placed it on his own erection, allowing T. to masturbate him to the point of ejaculation. The next morning, while T. was still sleeping, S. took him in his arms again and kissed him. Probably this kissing offended the other man most directly, since it was an unmistakable display of affection that overturned sex roles far more disturbingly than mutual masturbation, which could be dismissed as two men releasing their sexual tension in the absence of any women. At any rate, when S. asked T. to sleep with him the following night, T. refused, saying that he had had enough the previous night. S. admitted that maybe he had gone too far but added that perhaps he was not the only one to blame.

In none of these incidents did Werner S. force his men to be intimate with him. S. was not a violent sex criminal. All this happened within the space of ten days. Inevitably, the men in this small unit talked to one another about their officer. Corporal A. spoke to G. about his experience and then to T, and they all realized they had been kissed by their lieutenant. It suddenly became clear that the young lieutenant was experimenting with everyone who bunked with him. A. promptly reported the matter to the battery officer, and the whole business ofa formal investigation ensued. Things moved very swiftly; within a mere fortnight the court-martial sentenced Werner S. to death. Yet the story had an additional twist. While the interrogations of the men in his unit were proceeding, Werner S. asked T. if he had had to give the officers any details. When T. admitted that he had, S. declared he had only two courses of action remaining: he could shoot himself or find some other way out. The nature of the second solution became clearer when he asked another soldier how well the Americans treated German deserters. He had a similar conversation at battery headquarters, asking the sergeant major directly if he thought he should desert, since he had no intention of shooting himself.

Soon thereafter he was placed under arrest. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this case is that the death sentence was not given for Werner S.'s homosexual offenses but for his planned desertion (which of course was prompted by his fears about the severe punishment that homosexual offenders could expect). Talking about his plans with other soldiers was deemed to be an act of sabotage. Since S. was not a regular member of the SS or police, execution was not the prescribed penalty for homosexuality; such offenses merited five years in a penitentiary, according to the verdict. The court judged that S. was not a "real" homosexual and was merely guilty of an aberration, explainable by his youth and inexperience. That, the judges felt, coupled with his excel- lent military record, should be counted in his favor. Yet S. had not erred on only one occasion but had systematically made advances to virtually every soldier in his unit; if he had succeeded in "committing a punishable offense" with another soldier on merely two occasions, it was not for want of trying. This, too, is an interesting comment, because the court recognized only the masturbation as a punishable offense and not the kissing, despite the leeway allowed by the revised Paragraph 175, on which the court based its opinion. But if it was lenient in this interpretation, it was harsh in its terms of punishment: a single instance of masturbation merited three years in a penitentiary (and the two proven cases combined merited five) because they were aggravated by S.'s abuse of his authority over his subordinates. Even though there was no significant difference in age between S. and his men, the abuse of rank was a serious matter. All this tortuous weighing of mitigating and aggravating circumstances surrounding the sexual offenses was purely academic, because there was never any intention to allow Werner S. to serve out his penitentiary sentence. The death sentence took precedence. There was, of course, an appeal, and Heinrich Himmler was the judge of last resort, because S. happened to belong to a Volksgrenadier division now under Himmler's command. In preparing a summary of the case for Himmler's decision at the end of October, the SS court itself did not push for a confirmation ofthe sentence. Its memo to Himmler stressed that S. was "very young and immature," that this was "doubtless" the first time that he had carried on like this, and that he only realized the seriousness of the offenses after the event. Indeed, it did not even count both instances of masturbation but reported that there were "serious indecent acts" on only one occasion.

The SS officer preparing the memo apparently endorsed the court-martial's observation that the two soldiers had "quickly succumbed" to S.'s advances and that T. in particular "gave the impression of being not inexperienced in sexual matters." He also emphasized the fact that there had been no adverse effects to morale among the other soldiers and repeated the defense counsel's assertion that the talk of desertion only came up because the accused had had no opportunity to talk with superior officers about his situation. It was several weeks before Himmler managed to attend to this matter, but on December 3,1944, he rejected the appeal without comment. Even the SS judge on Himmler's staff sounded surprised in reporting this decision to the SS court's head office, finding it necessary to explain that Himmler did not view S. as "worthy of clemency despite the extenuating factors about his person that doubtless speak in his favor." On February 9, 1945, at Trier, a few weeks before the city fell to the Allies, Werner S. was executed. He was twenty-two years old.

extracts from The Denial of Homosexuality: Same-Sex Incidents in Himmler's SS and Police by Geoffrey J. Giles (in Journal of the History of Sexuality, Jan./Apr. 2002).

mardi 12 octobre 2010

Ah! que j'aime les militaires... ou les infortunes du capitaine Voyer

Acte I : Quand le pianiste perçait sous le militaire...

"Nous ne serons pas les premiers à parler d'un pianiste éminent, et de toute façon bien exceptionnel, aussi inconnu que possible il y a huit jours à Paris, et qui, pour s'être fait entendre en quelques salons, commence à préoccuper déjà très sérieusement le monde musical. Notre confrère et collaborateur Jouvin a consacré quelques chaleureuses lignes dans Le Figaro à ce pianiste-amateur, qui est en même temps un de nos plus jeunes capitaines d'état-major, 'M. Voyer, c'est le nom du nouvel émule des Liszt et Thalberg du jour, a charmé ses auditeurs par son art de chanter sur le moins chanteur des instruments ; il les a remués, enthousiasmés par l'énergie passionnée d'une grande et savante exécution. Souhaitons, espérons que cette série d'auditions particulières aura prochainement son total et son explosion dans un concert public.' A moins qu'il ne s'agisse d'un concert de bienfaisance, nous craignons bien que M. Voyer ne soit toujours retenu par sa qualité d'officier. Peut-être eût-il obtenu l'autorisation du ministre pour les concerts du Conservatoire, et M. Georges Haint a exprimé le regret que ce grand talent se fût révélé à un moment si avancé de la saison et quand tous les programmes étaient fixés. Mardi, M. Voyer donne un concert (par invitations) dans la salle Erard ; nous en reparlerons après cette audition semi-publique, mais puisqu'il nous a été donné d'entendre en particulier M. Voyer, nous tenons à dire au moins en deux mots, qu'il nous a étonné et ravi dans un andante et un scherzo de Weber, puis dans un morceau de Thalberg, par la puissance expressive et la souplesse de son jeu, et qu'il s'agit en vérité d'un artiste de grand style et de grande inspiration." (Le Ménestrel, 13 mars 1870). "[....] Toute la presse parisienne a déjà signalé le vaillant aide-de-camp du général Bastoul, qui interprète surtout Weber d'une façon vraiment remarquable. C'est du reste, toute une bibliothèque musicale vivante que le cerveau de M. Voyer ; les classiques comme les modernes y sont placés en ligne et paraissent au premier ordre du jeune capitaine d'état-major avec une précision d'attaque inouïe. [...] C'est d'un rythme et d'un naturel d'expression bien rares chez les artistes qui soulignent trop toutes choses. Le souligné, en fait d'art, est bien certainement la plaie de notre époque. Que nos virtuoses y songent sérieusement." (Le Ménestrel, 9 avril 1870).

Acte II : Ce maître, très introduit dans la belle société, a aussi un coeur...

"Le capitaine d'état-major Voyer - un pianiste amateur qui s'est mérité une réputation d'artiste - vient [...] de faire sa rentrée dans nos salons parisiens. Il a commencé par les salons Erard où il a fait entendre du Weber, puis du Mendelssohn, du Thalberg et du Prudent. Au nombre des auditeurs, on remarquait Planté et Ritter, les deux jeunes grands maîtres du piano." (Le Ménestrel, 1er février 1874). La deuxième soirée musicale aligne la marche indienne de L'Africaine de Meyerbeer, la troisième sonate de Weber, la Marche funèbre de Chopin, la Chanson à boire de Prudent, une Romance sans paroles de Mendelssohn et une Polonaise de Chopin. "M. le capitaine Voyer [...] renouvelle cette année ses hauts faits de l'an dernier, et vient de rouvrir à la salle Erard une série de concerts dont il fait à lui seul tous les frais. A sa première séance, qui a eu lieu le 16 de ce mois, assistait un public tel qu'on n'en voit guère aux séances musicales, et parmi lesquels nous avons remarqué M. le général de Cissey, ministre de la guerre, avec sa famille et tout son état-major, M. l'amiral de Montagnac, ministre de la marine, Mme de Cumont, femme du ministre de l'instruction publique et des beaux arts, Mlle Tailhand, fille du garde des sceaux, et un grand nombre d'officiers généraux et supérieurs [...], puis Mme la duchesse d'Elchingen, M. Camille Rousset de l'Académie française, MM. le duc de Galliera, le prince Bibesco, le comte de Clermont-Tonnerre, le baron Larrey, etc. etc. Le succès du capitaine Voyer a été brillant et accepté, et c'est au milieu des applaudissemens de l'assistance qu'il a exécuté la première sonate de Weber, l'Impromptu op. 66 de Chopin, La Danse des fées d'Emile Prudent, La Contemplation de Mendelssohn et une pièce de Thalberg." (Le Ménestrel, 24 janvier 1875).

On le voit, par exemple, participer en février 1875, salle du Conservatoire à Paris, à un concert "très aristocratique au profit de l'Union des oeuvres ouvrières catholiques et de la Société de Saint-Vincent-de-Paul (section des oeuvres ouvrières)". L'année suivante, il joue lors d'un "concert populaire au bénéfice des oeuvres de Sainte-Geneviève et des apprentis orphelins" le Concerto en sol mineur de Mendelssohn, Rêverie de Schumann, Entracte de Taubert, l'Etude en la mineur de Thalberg et la marche turque des Ruines d'Athènes de Beethoven ; au théâtre d'Alger, il exécute "au profit de la libération du territoire [...] le concerto de Weber, la marche turque des Ruines d'Athènes de Beethoven, le Printemps de Mendelssohn, la grande polonaise et tarentelle de Chopin." Beau talent d'amateur au service de nobles causes, voilà qui donne la dimension du personnage, un peu surestimé - ce qui en agace quelques-uns. Et sous les lauriers, perce de temps en autre un peu de réserve polie : "La presse n'a pas ménagé les éloges à M. Voyer; on lui a dit qu'il jouait comme un véritable artiste, qu'il pourrait être nommé colonel ou général des pianistes, etc. M. Voyer a trop d'esprit pour prendre au pied de la lettre ces jeux de journalistes. Il possède un talent d'amateur très distingué, [...] [mais un son un peu faible et] son jeu est trop fantaisiste pour les sonates de Weber [...] Il n'en faut pas moins le féliciter de ce que son grade [...] ne l'empêche pas de cultiver son goût pour la musique" (Le Temps, 20 avril 1875). Il en aura même un an et demi plus tard tout le loisir : "Le capitaine Voyer renonce à la carrière des armes pour se consacrer tout entier à l'art. Mais en devenant pianiste de concert, M. Voyer n'abandonne nullement ses projets philanthropiques, bien au contraire, et il entend consacrer désormais tout son talent aux pauvres. 'Pour prévenir à cet égard toute méprise et toute erreur, écrit-il au Monde, l'argent gagné par mes doigts continuera de ne pas passer par mes mains. Il sera versé aussitôt dans une caisse que je fonde pour servir à la bienfaisance. Je le destine aux oeuvres catholiques, aux familles des anciens militaires et des artistes musiciens, auxquels m'a rattaché ma double condition d'officier et d'artiste. [...] Cette caisse sera administrée en dehors de moi, par un comité dont on connaîtra prochainement la composition, et qui, à la fin de chaque hiver, répartira le produit de mes recettes." (Le Ménestrel, 23 décembre 1876). "La campagne charitable du célèbre pianiste va commencer à Paris. Pendant le mois de janvier [1877], Voyer donnera quatre concerts au bénéfice de quatre sociétés qui ont la charité pour but. Après ces quatre soirées [...], le capitaine Voyer partira pour Le Mans, Chartres, Rennes et nantes, où de brillantes soirées seront organisées, toujours au bénéfice des oeuvres que nous avons signalées. Nous souhaitons à ce généreux projet tout le succès qu'il mérite, et à mesure que nous connaîtrons les résultats de cette bonne oeuvre, nous les enregistrerons dans notre Chronique du bien, où nous avons eu souvent à écrire le nom du capitaine Voyer." (Le Petit Journal, 10 janvier 1877).

Acte III : Quand le capitaine se penche sur le sort d'un jeune artilleur...

Louis Marcel Voyer, ce "si remarquable artiste après avoir été, dans la dernière guerre, un si brillant officier", est surpris le 18 juin 1880 dans le bois de Vincennes, tenant en main les parties génitales d'un jeune artilleur de vingt ans son cadet. Les journaux relatent l'incident avec intérêt, ne ménageant pas leur mépris pour le capitaine Voyer. "Une rumeur étrange circule dans Paris. On se raconte qu'un clérical de marque, l'ex-capitaine Voyer, ami de Mme de Mac Mahon, organisateur des concerts de l'Elysée du temps de la maréchale, et conférencier catholique applaudi, s'est fait pincer dans le bois de Vincennes sous le chêne de saint Louis, en train... d'enseigner la musique à un artilleur. Il paraît d'ailleurs que l'anacréontique capitaine n'en était pas à son coup d'essai; car, si l'on en croit la chronique, la police, qui n'ignore pas les motifs qui l'ont décidé à quitter l'uniforme, avait depuis longtemps les yeux sur lui. Elle savait, cette malencontreuse police, que ce n'était pas seulement sur le piano, dans les soirées du high life, que le capitaine Voyer aimait à exercer ses talents de virtuose, et que ce qu'il affectionnait surtout, c'étaient les nocturnes à deux vois, au milieu de la belle nature, à la pâle lueur des étoiles. Le poétique capitaine, dérangé au milieu du morceau, a vaillamment résisté aux sbires qui interrompaient son duo, mais la force a vaincu la valeur; et voilà comme un galant homme a maintenant du désagrément" (Le Petit Parisien, 28 juin 1880).

Les quolibets pleuvent sur l'infortuné pianiste, interpellé "en train d'apprendre l'arabe à un artilleur", "essayant d'effeuiller un artilleur comme on effeuille une marguerite", etc. "L'officier mélomane était depuis longtemps signalé à la police comme ayant de fâcheuses habitudes ; on racontait même sur lui d'étranges histoires de costumes. Nous n'insistons pas." (La Presse, 23 juin 1880). "Je ne sais si vous êtes comme moi ? Moi, j'aime l'artilleur, je le trouve crâne j'admire cet homme qui sans broncher peut tirer un nombre illimité de coups de canon et semer la mort à distance ; quand, lui, reste plein de vie, solide au poste et toujours prêt à remplir son devoir. Eh bien! les gazettes me sont particulièrement désagréables qui m'apprennent qu'un artilleur a succombé devant un pianiste compositeur, et cela sous la seule influence d'une vulgaire symphonie en blanc majeur intitulée la Pièce de quarante sous. Niez donc, après cela, la puissance de la musique, en tant que procédé pour adoucir les moeurs! Du coup, le pianiste ordinaire du septennat mac-mahonien est devenu le plus extraordinaire des pianistes. Mais où diable la réclame va-t-elle se nicher? Car je ne puis voir dans cette aventure qu'un désir immodéré de faire parler de soi et d'assurer la réussite d'une prochaine tournée de concerts. N'empêche que cette manière de se frayer la route du succès est stupéfiante. C'est infiniment plus fort que de jouer au bouchon. L'agent Voyer, on sait qu'il s'habillait en sergent de ville, ayant pris à l'école d'état-major l'habitude de lever des plans, fera sagement en organisant au plus tôt celui de sa fuite. Au besoin, le musicien émérite qui est un autre lui-même pourra lui dire ce que c'est qu'une fugue. Quant au choix du pays où ce virtuose déchu doit s'exiler, il est tout indiqué. Qu'il aille pleurer sa honte sur les ruines de Sodome" (La Presse, 26 juin 1880).

Acte IV : Les fausses notes de l'ex-capitaine... Un procès à charge

Dans ses Causes criminelles et mondaines (1880), Albert Bataille réserve un chapitre au procès de l'ex-capitaine Voyer devant la huitième Chambre correctionnelle. De même que les compte-rendus des journaux se dispensent "d'entrer dans des détails répugnants", l'auteur (qui est aussi le chroniqueur judiciaire du Figaro) y affiche d'emblée ses réserves : "On comprendra que, dans une affaire de cette nature, nous nous abstenions de tout commentaire, de toute réflexion personnelle, et que nous nous bornions à une sorte de procès-verbal des débats. Nous demandons seulement la permission de substituer des équivalents à certaines expressions un peu crues." Ce qui ne contribue pas toujours à la manifestation de la vérité pour le lecteur, les réponses des uns ou des autres étant souvent tronquées, avec, sous couvert de pudibonderie, le dessein évident de mieux tourner en ridicule les héros de cette mésaventure. Le portrait dont chacun fait l'objet brille d'ailleurs par la sévérité, voire la cruauté dans le cas du jeune artilleur.

"L'audience, ouverte à midi, ne s'est terminée qu'à près de cinq heures. M. Cartier préside ; au fauteuil du ministère public, M. le substitut Quesnay de Beaurepaire. Voyer a choisi pour avocat Me Démange ; Mégnin est défendu par Me Léon. La physionomie de M. Voyer est si connue, sa photographie a été exposée si fréquemment dans les vitrines des éditeurs de musique, que nous avons à peine besoin d'esquisser un portrait. L'ancien officier d'état-major a gardé la tournure militaire. De taille très moyenne, mais bien pris et d'une grande élégance naturelle, il porte la moustache fine, et son visage, très mobile, a gardé quelque chose de l'habitude du commandement. Les yeux sont bleus, très doux, légèrement voilés, la voix est brève, un peu sifflante; les cheveux, blonds et frisés, sont rejetés en arrière." Portrait un peu différent, plus vivant, dans Le Gaulois : "Le capitaine Voyer est un homme de quarante ans. Il est de petite taille, assez replet, la figure pleine, les chairs molles; l'oeil, clair, est comme boursouflé. La moustache est blonde. Les cheveux, blonds également, sont frisés et séparés par une raie irréprochable au milieu de la tête. Il porte à la boutonnière de sa redingote le ruban de la Légion d'honneur. [...] Il est assis sur le banc des prévenus libres. Il est très affaissé. Par instants, un tic nerveux lui fait hauser légèrement les épaules et fermer en même temps l'oeil gauche." Le Petit Parisien (1er août 1880) ajoute qu'il est "tout en noir".
"L'artilleur que la prévention lui a donné pour complice", Louis Nicolas Mégnin (dont le nom est parfois orthographié Meignen), n'est pas gâté par les descriptions, notamment sous la plume d'Albert Bataille : "[C']est un grand garçon d'une vingtaine d'années, maigre, blême et mal bâti [qui] a de gros traits, un grand nez et de grandes oreilles. Il paraît très niais et rit, à tout propos, d'un rire imbécile. L'audience l'amuse excessivement. Avez-vous jamais vu des conscrits en épanouissement devant une parade de foire? Mégnin a cette physionomie-là." Le Gaulois se montre plus objectif : "c'est un jeune homme de vingt ans, imberbe, à la figure pâle et couverte de boutons. Les cheveux sont châtains clairs et mal plantés. Son aspect est sale et repoussant. Lui est arrêté. Il est vêtu de sa veste de travail et d'un pantalon de toile grise. Il tient son képi à la main."

Le récit des débats est assez houleux. "M. le président Cartier commence par faire expulser de l'audience quelques filles plus ou moins plâtrées qui ont eu l'audace de venir assister à cette affaire, et le défilé des témoins à charge commence immédiatement. Voici, d'abord, les quatre inspecteurs de la police des moeurs qui ont dressé le procès-verbal et opéré la double arrestation. Depuis, M. Voyer a été relâché sous caution [...]."

Il ressort de leurs dépositions que "le 18 juin dernier, vers 6 h 45 du soir, [ils ont vu] M. Voyer entrer au restaurant du Casino, route de Paris, à Vincennes.[...] Il en est sorti à neuf heures et quart, et il a causé quelque temps sur la terrasse du restaurant avec un jeune homme en chapeau de paille. Puis il s'est dirigé vers le fort. Il avait l'air de chercher quelqu'un. Arrivé devant le fort, il a accosté un soldat qui se trouvait là, en lui disant : Suivez-moi. Tous deux ont tourné dans l'allée du Polygone. [...] Il pleuvait très fort; arrivé à peu près a la hauteur d'un débit de vins qui se trouve dans cette avenue, M. Voyer s'est abrité sous un arbre, et Mégnin s'est approché de lui." De ce que les agents ont constaté, filtre seulement dans les récits publiés que "M. Voyer, appuyé de la main gauche sur sa canne, [avait] l'autre main appliquée d'une façon indécente sur le pantalon de Mégnin." Dans Le Petit Parisien, la scène est décrite sans ambage : l'un des inspecteurs déclare que "[passant] près d'eux, [il vit] distinctement le capitaine qui tenait à pleine main, par-dessus les vêtements de ce soldat, les organes génitaux de ce militaire."

Si l'on devine les motivations de l'ex-capitaine, l'artilleur ne fait pas mystère des siennes : "Mégnin [...] a déclaré que M. Voyer lui avait donné rendez-vous, trois jours auparavant, pour lui payer une chopine." Et l'agent ajoute qu'il a appris le lendemain que "M. Voyer lui avait offert 2 francs" et de préciser un peu plus loin que "Voyer [lui] avait été signalé comme admettant à sa table des militaires de toutes armes, et comme se promenant avec eux dans le bois." Le commissaire de police qui a procédé à l'interrogatoire après leur arrestation précise : "Je connaissais la mauvaise réputation de Voyer. On l'appelait le beau séducteur. (sourire). Mégnin m'a avoué qu'on lui avait dit que le capitaine Voyer cherchait toujours des soldats. M. Voyer m'a avoué qu'il avait de mauvaises habitudes, mais que, cette fois, il n'avait rien fait." Déclarations qui motivent aussitôt une dénégation très vive, de la part de l'intéressé :
"M. Voyer. — Le commissaire de police me fait dire des choses qui ne sont pas vraies. Ce qu'il ne dit pas. c'est qu'il avait donné à ses agents l'ordre de me casser la tête à coups de revolver ! (Mouvement.)
M. le président. — Nous ne pouvons tolérer ce langage vis-à-vis d'un commissaire de police !
M. Voyer (reprenant). — Il n'est pas admissible, Monsieur le président, que j'aie fait une confidence pareille à un homme qui me menaçait ainsi, et, devant le juge d'instruction, je lui ai témoigné tout mon mépris!
Le témoin. — Je n'ai pas fait menacer M. Voyer de coups de revolver. Seulement, comme il faisait rébellion dans le poste, j'ai invité les agents à réprimer cette rébellion par la force."
Me Léon, défenseur de Mégnin, demande "si l'artilleur ne pleurait pas dans son cabinet.
Le témoin. — Oui, il avait l'air contrit ; il semblait avoir des regrets, ne pas être content, enfin! (Hilarité.)"

Les témoins à décharge protestent des bonnes moeurs de Voyer. M. Saucerousse, le propriétaire du restaurant de Vincennes où il a ses habitudes, déclare qu'il fréquente son établissement "depuis trois ans [...] [et] n'a [jamais] amené de soldats; une seule fois, il a dîné avec un jeune militaire du train" - et encore c'était un ami de la famille. Son ancien ordonnance, tout comme la propriétaire de l'hôtel meublé où il réside donnent, l'un sur son ancien supérieur l'autre sur son locataire, "des renseignements excellents", de même que la concierge de son ancien domicile 25 avenue de Tourville : "M. Voyer a habité longtemps la maison. Il voyait, pour ses concerts, beaucoup de personnes haut placées. Jamais je n'ai vu entrer chez lui de gens suspects. Une seule fois, j'ai empêché un jeune homme de monter chez lui. - D. Que demandait ce jeune homme ? - R. Il désirait la protection de M. Voyer. Le capitaine était très obligeant, très bon. On savait qu'il aimait a rendre service, et il était très sollicité.- D. Le témoin n'a-t-il jamais vu M. Voyer amener des jeunes gens chez lui, la nuit? - R. Jamais. " La concierge de l'immeuble où il habite avec sa mère rue Jacob déclare qu'il "tapotait" et que "le voisin du dessous s'étant plaint, M. Voyer fit remarquer qu'il avait le droit de jouer du piano jusqu'à onze heures. C'était sa seule occupation".

Durant l'interrogatoire, "M. Voyer se possède parfaitement. Il parle avec beaucoup de clarté et répond sans aucun embarras aux questions qui lui sont posées". Le président demande à l'accusé d'expliquer "pourquoi [il était] dans le bois de Vincennes en compagnie de l'artilleur Mégnin et [de dire s'il] lui [avait] donné dendez-vous depuis plusieurs jours.
R. Non, monsieur, je ne lui avais pas donné rendez-vous
D. Il dit le contraire.
R. J'ai toujours déclaré que non.
D. Mais il a toujours, lui, déclaré que oui.
R. Je crois que je m'explique nettement. Il n'a pas la même éducation que moi.
D. Précisément, et alors il est intéressant que nous sachions le motif de votre liaison.
R. Mon Dieu, monsieur le président, c'est bien simple. J'étais averti depuis longtemps que des gens me suivaient, me 'filaient' comme on dit. J'avais su cela à Paris.
D. Vous avez deux domiciles?
R. Oui... Cela recommançait à Vincennes où j'étais depuis trois semaines à peine. Je sortais le matin, l'après-midi ; je voyais toujours des hommes qui me guettaient. Un jour je rencontre un jeune artilleur. Je le croyais de la musique. Je savais qu'il y avait un corps de musicien qu'on formait dans l'artillerie. Alors j'ai adressé la parole à Mégnin. Je lui demandé de quel instrument il jouait. Il m'a dit qu'il n'était que soldat. Nous avons causé un moment. Il m'offrit de prendre une chopine. Vous comprenez que je n'ai pas l'habitude de consommer sur les comptoirs de marchands de vin! Enfin, je ne songeais qu'à me débarrasser de l'artilleur, qui paraissait prendre trop de goût à ma conversation. Nous nous séparâmes.
D. Pour vous revoir bientôt?

R. Par hasard. Trois jours après, nous nous sommes encore rencontrés près la porte du fort. Je venais de me promener avec le directeur du théâtre de Clermont-Ferrand, et de m'apercevoir que j'étais suivi. J'ai fait demi-tour et j'ai vu le soldat. Je me suis donc approché de Mégnin qui venait à moi. Il causa un instant, je causai, je me plaisais à sa simplicité campagnarde. Vous sentez bien, monsieur le président, que me sachant épié par des individus à mines suspectes, je n'étais pas fâché d'avoir un compagnon avec moi. Je l'invitai à ne pas me quitter. Je lui dis même que je lui donnerais quelque chose pour lui s'il restait auprès de moi. Nous allions lentement. Mais tout à coup, une averse commence à tomber. Nous partons au pas de course et nous nous arrêtons à un endroit où il y avait des arbres. Là, nous étions à l'abri. Nous n'avions pas d'autre but que de nous mettre à l'abri, monsieur le président.
D. Est-ce pour cela que vous avez pris la main de Mégnin?
R. Oh! c'est bien simple. Je voyais toujours ceux qui me filaient. Ils arrivèrent sur nous. Ils étaient quatre. Mégnin, en les apercevant, me parut avoir peur. Je lui pris la main pour le rassurer. (Rires).
D. Ce n'est guère flatteur pour l'armée française ! (Nouveaux rires.) De quoi pouvait-il avoir peur? Il ne pouvait craindre les voleurs, lui qui n'avait pas d'argent; de plus, vous vous trouviez près d'un restaurant éclairé.
R. Il avait vu quatre hommes qui nous suivaient, et comme il était sorti ce soir-là de la caserne sans permission en escaladant le mur, il avait peur des patrouilles.
D. Vos explications ne sont pas très plausibles. Vos moeurs ont fait l'objet de rapports qui n'ont rien d'obligeant pour vous. En 1877, un rapport de police a constaté qu'un nommé Bayard, qui était à Mazas, vous a écrit pour vous accuser réception de vingt francs et vous demander cent francs sous menaces.
R. Je ne connais pas cet homme. Depuis quatre ans, je suis comme persécuté. Je reçois des lettres anonymes, et on en fait circuler sur mon compte. Un jour, le duc de Sabran m'en montrait un jour une où on me dénonçait odieusement.
Le capitaine Voyer fond en larmes à ce souvenir.
D. Cette dénonciation ne reposait-elle pas sur quelque fait exact? Vous êtes signalé non-seulement par la police mais par des accusateurs bien compromettants. Il y a des jeunes gens qui ont fait de la prison à cause de certains actes très réprouvés par la morale et qui, sur votre compte, sont singulièrement précis. Il y a un nommé Mathieu, dit Tintamarre; un nommé Bailly, dit La Rougeur; un nommé David, dit Filasse. Mais laissons de côté ces récits. Les constatations du 18 juin doivent seulement nous occuper.
R. Elles sont fausses.

D. Ainsi, vous niez le véritable intérêt qui vous portait, le mercredi, à vous lier avec l'artilleur Mégnin pour le retrouver le vendredi? Mégnin a été précis, lui, dans l'instruction. Il a révélé que vous lui aviez donné rendez-vous pour vous amuser dans le bois; l'endroit était fixé entre les deux portes du fort vieux et du fort neuf; enfin vous lui aviez promis 2 francs. Vous choisissiez bien vos amis! Mégnin a subi, au régiment, en deux ans, 201 jours de punition.
R. Je n'en savais rien, moi.
D. Quand on vous a arrêté, votre première phrase a été celle-ci : 'je ne faisais rien avec l'artileur!' Vous avez résisté et c'est votre complice qui a aidé les agents à vous conduire au poste."
L'interrogatoire se poursuit avec Mégnin. "M. Mégnin est moins vif dans ses réponses. Elles offrent un intérêt médiocre au surplus.
D. Voyons, Mégnin, racontez-nous ce qui s'est passé.
R. Monsieur m'a dit : Suivez-moi, j'ai peur !...
D. De quoi ?
R. Il ne m'a pas dit de quoi.
M. Voyer. - Je lui ai dit que j'étais filé.
Mégnin. - Sous l'arbre, monsieur m'a pris la main.
D. Pourquoi ?
R. Pour que je n'aie pas peur.
D. Il ne vous a pas touché autrement ?
R. Non. Ce sont les agents qui ont fait ce rapport-là en me menaçant de me faire passer au conseil. J'ai tout signé pour être tranquille!"

"Le capitaine Voyer demande ensuite qu'une question soit posée à l'agent Stefani, qui prétend avoir été frappé d'un coup de canne. 'Ma canne était tombée à ce moment, je n'ai pu frapper'. L'agent Stefani est rappelé.
'J'affirme que j'ai reçu des coups de canne. M. Voyer m'en a d'ailleurs demandé pardon au commissariat. (Murmures.)
Le capitaine Voyer (avec indignation). - Moi! demander pardon à un monsieur comme vous! M. le président voudrait-il demander aussi à cet homme, si lorsqu'il m'a vu chez le commissaire, il ne m'a pas dit avec impertinence : 'Te voilà vieille branche!'. L'agent Stefani. - Non."

" [...] M. Voyer venait de quitter le restaurant Saucerousse, situé dans le bois, lorsqu'il se dirigea vers le fort où il assure que Mégnin se trouvait par hasard. Il avait déjeuné en compagnie d'un personnage à chapeau de paille demeuré inconnu. Quelques minutes après sa sortie, l'averse commençait à choir. Pas plus que lui, Mégnin ne tenait à se mouiller. N'était-il pas naturel qu'ils se réfugiassent sous un chêne? On sait que l'affaire date du 18 juin. Sept jours avant, le 11, un rapport des inspecteurs des moeurs signalait le raccolage de jeunes militaires auquel se livrait M. Voyer aux environs de la caserne, à Vincennes et dans les lieux de garnison circonvoisins. L'organe du ministère public regarde Mégnin comme un niais qui mérite une simple leçon ; il réclame contre M. Voyer une condamnation sévère."

Me Demange soutient avec force l'innocence de son client, victime affirme-t-il "de haines sourdes et d'un concours de circonstances fortuit. La famille Voyer est honorable entre toutes. Son père était président du tribunal de Quimper; il est mort conseiller à la cour d'Alger. La mère a écrit à son fils les lettres les plus touchantes." L'avocat de l'ex-capitaine commence par déplorer le scandale qu'on a voulu faire autour de ce procès. "Les haines politiques s'en sont mêlées : on a été jusqu'à dire que ce n'était pas étonnant, de la part d'un ancien élève des Jésuites. Or, M. Voyer a été élevé au collège de Quimper, où il a eu pour camarade M. Lucien Hérault, aujourd'hui procureur de la République à Quimper. L'avocat rappelle les antécédents de son client. Ils sont profondément dignes et glorieux. Décoré en 1870, sur le champ de bataille, M. Voyer peut s'honorer grandement des témoignages d'estime que ses anciens chefs lui ont adressés dans cette douloureuse épreuve. Tous lui expriment leur certitude de son innocence. Tous ! et c'est en face de telles manifestations qu'on osera placer les calomnies de quelques repris de justice ! Me Demange ajoute que son client a été victime d'une infâme persécution. Pendant deux ans, on lui a écrit des lettres abominables. On a été jusqu'à dire qu'il avait dû quitter l'armée à cause de ses moeurs; C'est un mensonge impudent ! Me Demange donne ici lecture d'une attestation chaleureuse du général de Cissey, qui déclare que, si le capitaine Voyer a donné sa démission, malgré les instances de ses chefs, c'est qu'il ne voulait pas quitter Paris, à cause de ses études musicales, et suivre en province la division à laquelle il était attaché. L'avocat relève également un autre point, qui est capital. On a prétendu que M. Voyer n'avait pas voulu se soumettre à une visite médicale. Or, Me Demange produit deux certificats des docteurs Bergeron et Gallard ; ces deux éminents médecins affirment que M. Voyer ne porte absolument aucune trace d'habitudes honteuses. (Mouvement.) Me Demange entre ensuite dans la discussion des faits et développe les explications données par son client. Il ajoute que, après une confrontation sur les lieux mêmes, il a été démontré que les agents n'avaient pu voir M. Voyer et Mégnin de l'endroit où ils se tenaient cachés. Me Léon présente la défense de Mégnin. L'avocat attaque vivement la police des moeurs : 'Nous sommes tous, dit-il, à la merci d'un de ces agents, que l'on croit toujours sur parole !' Me Léon est convaincu que son client est innocent, et que les inspecteurs lui ont tendu un piège pour lui arracher des aveux, qu'il a rétractés depuis. Après une réplique de M. le substitut Quesnay de Beaurepaire, Me Demange se lève de nouveau, et, suivant pour un instant l'accusation sur son propre terrain, il déclare qu'en admettant même que les agents auraient dit vrai, le fait qu'ils ont constaté ne constitue pas le délit d'outrage public à la pudeur. Après une délibération d'un quart d'heure, le Tribunal rapporte un jugement qui acquitte, sur ce chef, Mégnin et M. Voyer : Attendu que les faits, tels qu'ils résultent des débats, ne renferment pas les éléments légaux du délit d'outrage public à la pudeur. M. Voyer est condamné, pour rébellion, à un mois de prison et seize francs d'amende."
Mécontents, Voyer d'une part et le ministère public d'autre part, font appel. Et le pianiste s'en mordra les doigts... car, commente Le Gaulois (24 septembre 1880), "le rédacteur de l'arrêt s'est par-dessus tout proccupé des habitudes prêtées par les rapports de police au capitaine Voyer et de ses intentions probables d'après les agents des moeurs qui l'ont arrêté. On ne peut cependant oublier que le fait reproché au capitaine Voyer se serait passé par une nuit noire et orageuse, où la constatation du délit devait être au moins difficile. Il résulte de ces réflexions que, quelque soit la moralité du capitaine Voyer, ce qui n'est pas notre affaire, la déclaration isolée des agents des moeurs suffit pour faire prononcer une condamnation et que c'est bien la moralité du prévenu qui détermine cette condamnation que le fait spécial à lui reproché. Est-ce bien là l'esprit de la loi?"

Le Figaro reproduit l'arrêt de la Cour d'appel rendu le 23 septembre, "du moins dans les passages qui peuvent être reproduits", gommant les déclarations les plus explicites sur la nature exacte de la "posture" dans laquelle ont été surpris les deux accusés... "La Cour, considérant que le commissaire de police de Vincennes adressait, le 11 juin 1880, à M. le préfet de police un rapport dans lequel il signalait le prévenu Voyer comme excitant à la débauche de jeunes militaires de la garnison, et comme menant une conduite dangereuse pour la morale publique; considérant que, dès le 18 juin, quatre inspecteurs de la police étaient envoyés à Vincennes par le préfet de police, avec mission de surveiller Voyer; que, ledit jour, à neuf heures quinze du soir, ces inspecteurs constatèrent que Voyer accostait près du fort de Vincennes le soldat Mégnin, âgé de vingt ans; qu'il se faisait accqmpagner par lui jusqu'à l'avenue du Polygone ; que, surpris par la pluie, il se réfugiait sous un arbre situé sur la voie publique et se plaçait en face de Mégnin ; qu'alors, les agents s'étant approchés avec précaution, surprirent Voyer. Ici quelques mots indiquant d'une façon très précise la posture des deux prévenus. On comprendra que, par respect pour nos lecteurs, nous remplacions par une ligne de points ce passage. L'arrêt poursuit en ces termes : attendu qu'aussitôt les agents se démasquèrent, et, faisant connaître leur qualité, se mirent en devoir de procéder à l'arrestation des prévenus ; que Mégnin se soumit immédiatement, mais que Voyer opposa une vive résistance, et, avec sa canne, frappa à plusieurs reprises l'agent Stéphany; considérant que l'existence du fait d'outrage à la pudeur ci-dessus énoncé, accompli sur la voie publique, est attestée avec la plus grande précision et la plus grande énergie par les inspecteurs de police qui en ont été les témoins ; que la scène dont il s'agit avait été concertée entre les prévenus, et que, deux jours auparavant, Voyer avait donné rendez-vous, dans une pensée et dans un but de débauche, à Mégnin, avec lequel il ne saurait expliquer ses relations; considérant que Mégnin avait fait tout d'abord, à ce sujet, des aveux presque complets ; qu'en effet, devant le commissaire de police de Vincennes, Mégnin avait dit 'qu'il avait entendu parler de Voyer dans la chambrée, comme s'amusant avec les hommes et, notamment, avec les militaires, qu'il racolait; qu'il était sorti le mercredi, à l'heure où il pensait pouvoir rencontrer Voyer; et que ce dernier lui avait donné rendez-vous dans le bois pour le vendredi soir, après l'appel, pour s'amuser, et qu'il lui avait promis quarante sous s'il y venait. - J'ai parfaitement compris, ajoutait Mégnin, ce que Voyer entendait par s'amuser. Le vendredi, comme il pleuvait nous nous sommes arrêtés sous un arbre. Je me suis mis a côté de Voyer, à demi tourné vers lui. Il m'a pris la main..." Là le journaliste "[saute] encore quelques mots, et [reprend] au paragraphe suivant : "Considérant que, depuis ces déclarations par lui faites, Mégnin a vainement essayé, à l'aide d'explications confuses et qui ne supportent pas l'examen, de revenir sur ses aveux ; que le délit est donc constant, et qu'il ne s'explique que trop si l'on se reporte par la pensée aux habitudes immorales de Voyer, signalé par le commissaire de Vincennes comme tenant une conduite dangereuse pour, la pudeur publique, et dont certaines liaisons inavouables avaient déjà, depuis longtemps, attiré l'attention; que c'est donc à tort que les premiers juges ont renvoyé Voyer et Mégnin des fins de la poursuite pour outrage public à la pudeur..." Voyer est condamné à six mois de prison et à deux cents francs d'amende, le soldat à trois mois et seize francs. "En entendant lire l'arrêt qui le condamnait, commente Le Gaulois (24 september 1880), M. Voyer paraissait atterré. Il est sorti de l'audience au bras d'un de ses parents, qui lui a dit à haute voix qu'il ne fallait pas perdre tout espoir, puisqu'il avait encore la ressource d'un pourvoi en cassation."

La peine de Voyer est plus lourde que celle de son complice, parce que la justice le tient pour responsable de la "corruption" du jeune militaire pour la première fois inculpé d' "outrage public à la pudeur". Pour le malheur de Voyer, cette affaire connaît un certain retentissement en raison des affinités politiques et affectives qui le lie à l'entourage du maréchal de Mac-Mahon, président de la République de 1873 à 1879. La sévérité du jugement de la cour d'appel, et surtout le traitement que la presse a le plus souvent réservé à l'instruction et au procès participe d'un réglement de compte politique : la gauche républicaine dispute à un milieu politique conservateur déjà affaibli par des affaires de corruption, la défense et l'illustration des valeurs morales. C'est d'ailleurs ce que laisse entendre d'entrée de jeu le chroniqueur du Gaulois (31 juillet 1880) : "On sait le bruit qui s'est fait autour de l'arrestation du capitaine Voyer, inculpé d'outrage public à la pudeur. [...] Certains journaux s'empressèrent [...], en apprenant son arrestation, de mêler la politique à l'affaire, et d'entreprendre une campagne contre le capitaine Voyer, qu'ils traitaient de clérical, oubliant qu'il s'occupait indistinctement de bonnes oeuvres religieuses aussi bien que laïques. Chaque jour on voyait, avec surprise, ces feuilles publier de nouveaux détails et suivre l'instruction pas à pas. Ces révélations inqualifiables ne pouvaient émaner que de gens touchant de près au service des moeurs et ayant intérêt à provoquer le scandale. Ainsi que l'a fort bien dit Me Demange, 'il y a eu là une grave atteinte portée à la liberté individuelle par la presse. Celle-ci, qui doit être généreuse et dont la mission paraît être de défendre la liberté individuelle, s'est, dans cette affaire, livrée à de basses dénonciations.' Ceci dit, nous n'entendons nullement prendre la défense de M. le capitaine Voyer ; nos lecteurs apprécieront eux-mêmes ce quil en est [...]. Mais nous ne pouvions laisser sans blâme le rôle odieux que plusieurs journaux se sont plu à jouer dans cette affaire, en se faisant des auxiliaires de nous ne savons quelle coterie politique."


Qu'est devenu le capitaine Voyer? Il poursuivit sa carrière bon gré mal gré, si l'on en croit une lettre que le compositeur Emmanuel Chabrier adresse le 4 novembre 1882 à madame Enoch, "à propos de pianiste, le capitaine Voyer, qui s'est illustré dernièrement en touchant d'un tout autre clavier, donnait des concerts à Puerto Santa Maria près de Cadix ; nous avons vu les affiches en traînant, par les rues de Puerto Santa Maria, nos pauvres doigts de pieds, que nous comptons tous les soirs pour nous assurer qu'il n'en est pas resté en route."

lundi 11 octobre 2010

Eugène Jansson and the men

By the beginning of the twentieth century, painter Eugène Jansson (1862-1915) had achieved both critical acclaim and financial success. He modified his relatively simple lifestyle, becoming an active participant in the sophisticated nightlife of the Swedish capital. Between 1900 and 1903, Jansson traveled for the first time outside Sweden. He visited the Universal Exposition in Paris and traveled to Italy and Germany, reporting to friends that he enjoyed visiting the bathhouses in Munich more than touring museums. The study of ancient classical sculpture during his extended trip to Italy in 1903 is thought to have had a major impact on Jansson's change of subject matter : he suddenly stopped producing the nocturnal cityscapes that had been so eagerly sought by Swedish collectors and devoted himself to depicting young workers, sailors, and athletes, usually shown nude. For three years, Jansson systematically sought to retool himself as an artist, mastering the skills needed by a painter of nude male figures. He did not exhibit any of his new works until 1907. The poses and gestures of some figures in sketches that he executed from life between 1904 and 1907 recall ancient classical statues that he saw in Italy. Despite his use of ancient classical motifs, he succeeds in infusing his life studies with a naturalistic vitality, suggesting movements of muscles even in depictions of seated and standing figures. The soft, subtle handling of light and shade intensifies the sensual appeal of the sketched figures.

Jansson's paintings of nude men differ from those of artists associated with Open Air Vitalism, which encouraged nudity as a mean to intensify contact with the rejuvenating forces of the sun and natural forces. Seeking to express this union of men and nature, Johan Axel Gustav Acke (1859-1924) and other Swedish artists deliberately blended figures with their environments, utilizing almost identical brushwork for bodies and vegetation. In contrast, Jansson represented men in urban settings and interiors and clearly distinguished figures from their settings and emphasized their muscles and other anatomical features, including genitalia (which are depicted in a notably generalized fashion by Acke). Jansson's decision to focus upon the male figure corresponds with a period in which he seems to have been more open about his attraction to other men than he had been previously. Because of its association with Wilde and other cosmopolitan homosexuals, the costume of the dandy, adopted by Jansson during these years (a white suit and shirt, worn with sandals), can be regarded as a public indication of his sexual preference. In the 1890s, Jansson repeatedly was characterized by his professional colleagues as very reticent about his personal life. However, by the early 1900s, Jansson is no longer described in this way, and his public association with younger working-class men is noted in private papers of his associates. For instance, letters exchanged by Nördstrom and Bergh in 1903 note with amusement the promenades that Eugène and his homosexual brother Adrian routinely made that year at Sandhamn (then an elegant "summer colony" of Stockholm) with their younger live-in companions, referred to only by their nicknames, Stomatol and Azymol.

His paintings eloquently reveal the strong attraction that he felt for his subjects. The artist developed close personal friendships and relationships with several of his models. In looking at Jansson's drawings, one can understand why he insisted that his subjects were "voluntary models" and friends, rather than studio employees. Most of these men gaze at the artist/viewer with an intensity that is unusual in professional studies. In Seated Young Man (1906), for example, there is a definite implication of desire in the way that the model (Carl Gyllins) looks up at the artist/viewer. Produced in 1906 and exhibited in 1907, the Young Man Standing in a Doorway is the first large-scale painting of a nude male figure to be completed by Jansson. This work commemorates a major turning point in the artist's life, both professionally and personally. Knut Nyman (1887-1946) is shown in the center of a large interior doorway, arms lifted and outstretched to the doorjambs. He stands in a sensually curved contrapposto pose (most of his weight on one foot so that his shoulders and arms twist off-axis from the hips and legs), with his right knee projecting out toward the spectator. Sunlight streaming into the room behind him (apparently through unseen windows on a higher level) glistens on his flesh. The erotic appeal of this figure is undeniable. The paintings on the heavily shadowed walls in the gallery in the background resemble views that Jansson produced up to 1904. By turning his back to these paintings, Nyman indicates the artist's literal abandonment of his previous subject matter and his intention to develop his work in new ways. But Young Man in a Doorway also can be understood as a declaration of the artist's love for Nyman. As if to encourage this reading of the picture, Jansson placed Nyman's name directly below his own signature on the canvas. Inscribed underneath the names of Jansson and Nyman, "1906" signifies not only the date of the painting's creation but also the year in which the two men began their relationship. Jansson and Nyman became acquainted at the Flottans badhus, where they both enjoyed nude sunbathing and swimming. Photographs taken about 1910, showing Jansson and Nyman relaxing at the baths with friends, reveal the pleasure that they took in one another's company. By 1907, Nyman had taken up residence in Jansson's studio, and they lived together until 1913. During this time, they were regarded as an inseparable couple in artistic circles. They were frequently seen together at elegant restaurants and other establishments in Stockholm. Jansson provoked scandalized rumors by rejecting invitations to any events that did not welcome his partner. By refusing to conceal his relationship with Nyman, Jansson challenged the restrictive social and sexual conventions prevailing in his society in much the way that he did in his late paintings.

Between 1907 and 1911, Jansson made several monumental paintings of men at Stockholm's Flottans badhus, where he had become a frequent visitor by the late 1890s. Photographs of ca 1900 show Jansson swimming in the bathhouse pool. It is interesting to note that some of these images capture Jansson in mid-air in the same pose that he utilized for the divers in Naval Bathhouse (Flottans badhus, 1907) and Bathhouse Scene (Badtavla, 1908). During the period that Jansson created his scenes of the Flottans badhus, existing Swedish laws against sexual acts between men were being enforced with increased rigor. The baths provided a refuge from oppression because nude sunbathing and swimming were widely regarded as healthful activities.

At the bathhouses, men could safely gaze at and associate with other naked men. By the early twentieth century, the bathhouses of Stockholm were widely known to be gathering places for men who desired other men, and they attracted numerous homosexual visitors from all over Europe. Although sexual acts seldom took place at the baths, contacts made there often led to liaisons elsewhere and even to long term relationships, as in the case of Jansson and Nyman. Jansson's procedure in creating the bathhouse paintings differed from the method that he had employed for his earlier cityscapes. Instead of painting from his imagination, Jansson made numerous preparatory sketches of men at the baths; one cannot help but wonder whether Jansson's intense attraction to his new subject matter led to this shift in process.

It should be noted that Jansson modified the sketched figures in some significant ways. For instance, at the baths, he drew men of different ages and of varying degrees of muscular development. In his completed paintings, Jansson populated the baths with the individuals whom he desired: handsome, younger, athletic men. In the previously mentioned Naval Bathhouse (1907) and Bathhouse Scene (1908), Jansson celebrates the beauty of the nude men swimming and relaxing around the pool. In both works, the prominent foreground figures stand in exaggerated versions of the elegant contrapposto pose used so effectively in Young Man Standing in a Doorway. The glistening light reflected on their flesh enhances the sensual allure of the men. Helping to create a joyful mood, the colors are bright and glowing. Although blues dominate as in Jansson's cityscapes, they are not muted by the dark tonalities that he employed in his earlier paintings. Through his skillful organization of figures, Jansson evokes the homoerotic desire that pervaded the bathhouse. Subtle inclinations of heads and other body movements suggest the glances exchanged among the men around the pool. Furthermore, Jansson has arranged the bodies so that one figure leads logically to the next. While preserving the harmony of the overall composition, he organized many of the men into pairs and groups of three. Within each of these groups, the poses of the men's bodies echo one another, thus evoking the sense of rapport that they experienced.

In Swimming Pool (Badsump, 1911), Jansson has employed a very low perspective, corresponding to the viewpoint of a swimmer in the pool that fills the foreground space. From this vantage point, the background figures standing alongside the pool seem almost diminutive. Upon first looking at Swimming Pool, one might suppose that Jansson's primary goal was to demonstrate the energy and prowess of the swimmers and divers. However, the pleasure that Jansson took in the sensual beauty of these men is expressed through the emphasis that he gave to their exposed buttocks and to their glistening flesh. Although comparatively small in scale, the spectators at the edge of the pool in the background contribute significantly to the homoerotic mood of the painting. Many of the background figures are dressed as seamen, and the nude men, scattered among them, stand out provocatively. At least one of the nude figures seems to be fondling his genitals. In the Self Portrait of 1910, Jansson depicted himself at the Flottans badhus in the company of beautiful young men. Although he routinely wore no clothes while at the baths, he depicts himself here in an elegant white linen suit, worn with sandals. The broad blue sash around his waist, the yellow tie, and the yellow and blue bands on his straw hat add lively color accents to his figure. By wearing a costume associated in Sweden with dandies, Jansson provides a clue to his desire for the men around him. Furthermore, the colors of his clothing associate him with the sailors scattered among the crowds around the pool. The sailors wear uniforms of white and blue, highlighted by patches of yellow light, representing reflections of the sun.

Between 1911 and 1914, Jansson also celebrated the nude male figure in numerous large-scale paintings of athletes lifting weights and performing acrobatic exercises in interior spaces. He executed these paintings in the provisional studio that he established at the Flottans badhus. His decision to base an important part of his artistic practice in a locale associated with the emerging homosexual culture provides yet another indication of his willingness to flout repressive conventions. Sailors whom Jansson met at the bathhouse served as models for many of the studio paintings of athletes, but he also featured his partner Nyman in some of them. In Athletes (Atleter, 1912), Nyman is shown seated on the floor in a pose that recalls the famous ancient Hellenistic statue Dying Gaul. Demonstrating his strength, Nyman supports a large iron ball with his right arm, extended straight upwards above his head. As in Young Man Standing in a Doorway, bright sunlight from an unseen source emphasizes Nyman's physical splendor by accenting the contours of his body. Seen from behind, an athletic young man standing in the foreground doorway admires Nyman.

In his effort to visualize the exertions of athletes shown in his studio paintings, Jansson occasionally sacrificed the graceful beauty that he achieved in the pool scenes. For instance, in two paintings of 1914 - Barbell Lifted with a Single Arm II (Pressning av stång på en arm II) and Barbell Lifted with Two Arms II (Pressning av stång på två armar II) - Jansson so strongly emphasizes the bulges of the strained muscles and tendons that the contours of the figures seem irregular and jagged. Furthermore, in order to enhance the impression of athletic exertion, Jansson employed a modified version of the distinctive handling of paint evident in his cityscapes. Among the formal devices that help to convey the strain of muscles are roughly applied, thick strokes of impasto (opaque oil paint) and jagged lines cut into the paint surface with the edge of a palette knife. In the stunning Acrobats (1912), an athlete standing on the studio floor uses his upraised arms to support the full weight of his colleague, whose legs are extended straight in the air above his head. As in his paintings of weightlifters, rough handling of paint and irregular contours help to emphasize muscular strain. Nevertheless, the fact that the figure suspended in air exactly echoes the appearance and pose of the acrobat standing on the floor serves to endow this work with an aura of almost Neoclassical harmony and balance - a serene mood.

Although not mentioned in any published commentary, the erotic power of Jansson's paintings of athletes was noted by the homosexual artist Gösta Adrian-Nilsson (1884-1965). In comments that he made in his diary shortly after visiting the Olympic Exhibition, Adrian-Nilsson claimed that the expression of sexual desire was the primary purpose of Jansson's late paintings. However, despite the fact that he shared Jansson's sexual orientation, Adrian-Nilsson condemned Jansson's focus on material beauty and his apparent disinclination to express higher spiritual ideals. It should be emphasized that Adrian-Nilsson's comments reflect his own commitment to abstraction and that he almost certainly was not condemning the artist's lifestyle from a moralizing perspective. These late paintings continued to be regarded with disdain in the years following Jansson's death. Thus, despite the strong advocacy of Karl Nördsrom, the prominent writer and collector Klas Fåhraeus refused to include any of Jansson's figurative works in the major exhibition of contemporary Swedish art that he organized at the Liljevalchs Gallery, Stockholm, in 1918. Fåhraeus justified the exclusion of these works by claiming that the Swedish public was not prepared to accept such naturalistic depictions of nude male bodies.

On January 16, 1915, Jansson suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, which left him paralyzed on one side. For the remainder of his life, he was cared for by Rudolf Rydström (called Rulle), who had been trained as both a wrestler and a nurse. Rydström had become well known in artistic circles as the model for the predominant nude figure in Carl Larsson's Sacrifice for Winter Solstice (1914-1915), a monumental painting, originally intended for the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm. Rydström perfectly exemplified the type of younger athletic man that most appealed to Jansson. In a diary entry of May 12, 1915, Nördstrom described a recent visit to Jansson's home. In eloquent prose, Nördstrom revealed how deeply touched he had been by the exceptional tenderness that Rydström displayed as he cared for Jansson, and he also noted the contentment that Jansson seemed to feel in Rydström's company. On June 15, Jansson died after suffering another cerebral hemorrhage. Shortly after Jansson's death, his younger brother Adrian (1871-1937) destroyed Eugène's private drawings and personal papers, presumably because he thought that these materials could tarnish Eugène's posthumous reputation. These actions are fully comprehensible within the context of his times. Adrian was a friend of Nils Santesson, whose highly publicized trial for sodomy in 1906 stimulated public outrage against homosexuality, which led to increased surveillance of homosexuals and to intensified enforcement of laws against same-sex sexual acts. The legal authorities resolved to make an example of Santesson, who, as the director of a leading pewter foundry, was well known in artistic circles. Therefore, he was given an unusually severe sentence of ten months hard labor for committing "unnatural" sexual acts. His reputation destroyed, Santesson was unable to resume his former career after being released from prison. Despite his association with Santesson, Adrian managed to escape detection in the police investigations of his friends and acquaintances. After Santesson moved to Paris in 1912, Adrian maintained a steady correspondence with him. Although Adrian managed to destroy documentation of his brother's sexuality, the letters he exchanged with Santesson were preserved, and these provide valuable insights into the homosexual subculture in Sweden during his lifetime.

Richard G. Mann, excerpts from