Germany has made a mistake by dedicating a memorial to the gay men who were victims of Nazi oppression, a leading Holocaust scholar has claimed.
 
Israel Gutman of the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem said that the Nazis only targeted German gay men, and that they were the victims of political battles within Hitler’s National Socialist Party rather than a campaign of homophobia.
 
“The location was particularly poorly chosen for this monument,” Mr Gutman told Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita.
 
“If visitors have the impression that there was not a great difference between the suffering of Jews and those of homosexuals, it’s a scandal.”
 
He claimed that the German people “understood the immense scope of the crime of the Holocaust which they had committed, But this time, they made an error.”

The first openly gay Mayor of Berlin opened the new memorial to the homosexual victims of Nazi oppression earlier this week.

Klaus Wowerit was joined by representatives of the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA) and the federal minister for culture and media.

The homosexual victims of Nazi Germany remained excluded from the public process of remembrance of past injustices until recent times and were denied compensation for their suffering under Nazi rule.

It is estimated that 45,000 to 100,000 German homosexuals were arrested under Nazi rule between 1933 and 1945.

Up to 10,000 of them died in concentration camps. Many survivors, far from being liberated, were transferred to prisons.

The laws used against gay people in Germany remained on statute books until 1969.

It was only in 2002 that the German parliament issued a formal pardon for any gay people convicted by the Nazis and in 2003 it approved the construction of the memorial.

The new memorial is situated in Berlin’s Tiergarten Park, close to the Brandenburg Gate and opposite the Jewish Holocaust Memorial.

It consists of a four metre tall grey rectangular block.

One side has a small opening through which viewers can see a black and white art film scene of two men kissing.

A simple kiss could land you in trouble, reads the inscription.