Israel has announced that it is to erect a monument in the honour of gay victims of the Holocaust, the first of its kind in the country.
The memorial is to be completed in Meir Park, Tel Aviv later this year, and the first of its kind in Israel. Like other monuments around the world, it will feature a concrete pink triangle, the same symbol used by the Nazis to mark someone as gay.
Eran Lev, an attorney and member of the municipal council from the Meretz party began working on a proposal for the monument after receiving support from Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai
“This will be the first and only memorial site in Israel to mention the victims of the Nazis who were persecuted for anything other than being Jewish,” Lev told Haaretz. “As a cosmopolitan city and an international gay centre, Tel Aviv will offer a memorial site that is universal in its essence. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not a monument, but a place — a place of quiet that will invite visitors to sit, contemplate, reflect and be in solitude.”
Lev pointed out the significance of the monument’s placement in Meir Park, saying: “One of the first restrictions the Nazis imposed on the Jews was against going to public parks. We’re bringing that memory back into the public space.
According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, over a million German men were targeted by the Nazis for threatening the “disciplined masculinity” of Germany, and over 100,000 were arrested under a law criminalising homosexuality.
Approximately 50,000 served prison sentences as “convicted homosexuals”, and around 5,000 and 15,000 gay men were imprisoned in concentration camps.
Professor Moshe Zimmerman, a Hebrew University historian told Haaretz of the persecution of lesbian women: “The persecution of lesbians was often concealed using other pretexts. Lesbians were persecuted as ‘asocials,’ a group that included unemployed people and alcoholics.”
According to Haaretz, the monument will “explain the difference between the persecution of gay men and lesbians during the Holocaust, but will commemorate them in a single place. According to Zimmermann, this is being done to emphasize that ‘the biggest problem is discrimination and its social and political consequences.’”
Similar memorials appear in Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Sydney and San Francisco.
A memorial was unveiled in Berlin in 2008, next to the Holocaust monument, which consists of a concrete slab with a window where viewers can see a continuous film of two men kissing.