In memoriam: Peter Schult

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Text by: Hubert Kennedy

At the time of his death one year ago at age 55, Peter Schult was the best known boy-lover in Germany. This was due partly to a public campaign to have him released from prison on humanitarian grounds, since he was terminally ill with lung cancer, a campaign that was strengthened by revelation that officials in the justice system had deliberately refused him treatment until the cancer had become incurable. Until then, however, he was generally known only to activist boy-lovers, left-radical political groups, and, of course, the many boys he had loved and helped and had sex with.

Peter found and took home the homeless - or they found him. In state institutions his address was passed from one boy to another as a place where runaways could find temporary shelter. His address was also well-known to the authorities, whose "authority" the anarchist Peter refused to recognize, and he was sent to prison numerous times on charges of drug possession and "seducing minors." In 1971 - 74 he was in prison for "kidnapping" (read: sheltering a runaway from a state institution) and spent nearly two years in isolation, in part result of political organizing among inmates.

With the publication in 1978 of his autobiography, Besuche in Sackgassen: Aufzeichnungen eines homosexuellen Anarchisten (Visits in Dead-End Street: Memoirs of a Homosexual Anarchist), written while he was again in prison, Peter became notorious, both for the frankness with which he revealed and accepted his sexuality and for his antagonism to the state. The book shows a colorful life.

Peter Schult was born in Berlin on June 17, 1928. He briefly saw military service at the end of the second World War, escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp in the Eastern Zone shortly after internment in 1945, and by the end of that year had fled to the West, where he lived from black market trading and theft from automobiles, for which he was sent to jail. From 1950 he led a respectable life as an active political liberal, directed a youth home and was, briefly, married. As a result of a homosexual affair he resigned his political offices in 1955 and joined the French Foreign Legion, serving until 1961, when he settled in Munich. There he took part in the anti-establishment subculture, among other ways, by editing an underground newspaper and dealing in drugs - and this is a city notorious for its right-wing politics.

When Peter was convicted for the last time in 1982 for "corrupting a minor" and was given the lengthy (for Germany) sentence of two years and ten months, the judge particularly pointed out Peter's lack of regret for his actions. Nor were the authorities pleased by Peter's writing in his second book, Gefallene Engel (Fallen Angels, 1982), a collection of short stories and essays, again describing his experiences with boys and his anarchist views.

Although Peter was unable to obtain treatment for what he believed to be a tumor in his lung, he finally gained a transfer to a prison in Berlin, where the presence of the tumor was confirmed. Efforts to gain his release having failed (although 4,500 people signed the petition), Peter fled the hospital in Berlin in March 1984, and a month later was back in Munich, where he died of bleeding in the lungs on April on April 26, 1984.

As Peter lay dying in Munich, a special issue of the journal Die Aktion: Zeitschrift für Politik, Litaratur, Kunst was being prepared in Hamburg. It was devoted entirely to Peter and expressed an appreciation of him and outrage at his treatment. Edward Brongersma wrote: "Society will one day have to admit - just as with witch hunts and the fight against masturbation - hoe insane and damaging all this was, how many have been made unhappy of morality and law, instead of learning from them and gaining from their special talents. It still clings today to prejudices, whose falseness has long been scientifically demonstrated." "What all could a man like Peter Schult with his intelligence, his understanding, his insight into youth, his warm love of the young, not have done for society! And to what has this world reduced him?" "It would be better to have less outrage over the faults of the past and a bit more over our contemporary Schult. His fate is a symptom of the sickness of our society."

Germany is not the United States, and it is difficult to draw parallels, since our laws are harsher and our prison sentences brutally longer than those in Germany. But our struggle is basically the same, and one need not be the complete anarchist that Peter was to be inspired by his integrity and his determination to follow his feeling in the knowledge that his love for boys was good.

source: Article 'In memoriam: Peter Schult' by Hubert Kennedy; NAMBLA Bulletin, Vol. 6, n. 3; April 1985