‘The Circle’ Was the Only Gay Organization to Survive the Nazi Regime

Der Kreis, The Circle

A Teddy Award winner at this year’s Berlin International Film FestivaL, The Circle tells the story of two gay men who defy convention and fall in love in post-WWII Switzerland. This remarkable film captures the excitement and challenges of Switzerland’s burgeoning gay community and portrays the true story of two of our dear friends in Zurich, Röbi and Ernst.

According to the Berlin International Film Festival:

Founded in the early 1940s, the network around the magazine Der Kreis (The Circle) was the only gay organisation to survive the Nazi regime. It blossomed during the post-war years into an internationally renowned underground club. Legendary masked balls at the Theater am Neumarkt in Zurich provided 800 visitors from all over Europe with a secret and safe space to act out their ‘otherness’ in a self-determined way. It is there that timid teacher Ernst Ostertag falls in love with drag star Röbi Rapp. Ernst searches for a way to fight for his gayness to be accepted as normal outside the boundaries of ‘The Circle’ network without losing his employment as a teacher. Röbi champions the joint fruition of their love. Following a murder in the gay community, violent repression against gay people also endangers ‘The Circle’ network. Stefan Haupt’s new film uncovers the fascinating universe of one of the first gay liberation communities. Enriched by impressive conversational records with Ernst Ostertag and Röbi Rapp, the film depicts a decades-long love story, made taboo by society, and reveals the couple’s inspiring self-knowledge and courage.

Upcoming screenings of The Circle in the USA include Outfest, Los Angeles, July 12 and 14, and at Newfest in New York on July 26 at the Walter Reade Theater.

On the next page, watch a video of Der Kreis winning the Teddy Award for Best Documentary at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2014.

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