Queering History: “The English Patient” WWII Spy Was Gay

5 Apr

Count Laszio de Almasy–the World War II spy who was the inspiration for Ralph Fiennes’ character in The English Patient–was a gay man in love with a young Nazi soldier.

Count Laszio de Almasy.

Letters discovered by the Heinrich Barth Institute for African Studies in Cologne outline Almasy’s intimate affairs and correspondences, and confirm long-standing rumors about his sexual orientation. According to Daily Mail UK, the Institute “refuses to publish the letters, but [a staff member] told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine: ‘Egyptian princes were among Almasy’s lovers.'”

The gay soldier Daily Mail describes Almasy as “in love with” was Hans Entholt, was an officer in the Wehrmacht.

In the film–which won nine Oscars in 1996–Almasy is portrayed as the lover of a young Englishwoman (Kristin Scott Thomas).

(“In love, there are no boundaries.”)

It’s interesting, though certainly not unusual, that the love story involving Kristin Scott Thomas was entirely a fictitious plot device, but it certainly makes me curious about the other war classics whose queer histories could be revealed in the future (Lawrence of Arabia? Saving Private Ryan?).

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