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Holocaust Memorial Day: The lessons we should learn from the Nazi persecution of gay people

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  1. Helge Vladimir Tiller 27 Jan 2014, 10:37am

    It is a pleasure for me , one more time to mention that the leader (–and other members ) of Our Gay and Transgender org. here in Oslo, Norway ( LLH )- together With The Jewish Community in town, last year jointly made the arrangement onThe Holocaust Memorial Day. Our leader was invited to give a speech. Hope this will be a tradition !

  2. Derek Williams 27 Jan 2014, 11:28am

    Thank you for these timely and important reflections.

  3. Well said, Ben.

  4. Patrick Turbitt 27 Jan 2014, 11:49am

    Thank you Benjamin Cohen for publishing Pink News and these reflections. Patrick

  5. Robert in S. Kensington 27 Jan 2014, 12:12pm

    Very well written, Ben. We need more reminders of this and so does society at large. I wonder if this is ever mentioned in school classrooms across the country?

  6. As an historian I have a huge problem with the way our society tends to remember the Nazis and their crimes against humanity. “The Holocaust” (or, rather, the Nazi Holocaust, because there has been more than one) is set aside as a special and unique kind of evil. As “the single worst example of misery that humanity has ever inflicted on itself” (yes, it was awful, but by any criterion you care to name, there have been worse).

    The Holocaust is comprehensively othered, and made out to be some kind of aberration of history, rather than the kind of all-too-common and very depressing thing that happens all the time. Which is in many ways very disrespectful to the victims of other, just as horrible, crimes in the past. This is dangerous. Placing the Nazis on a pedestal of special evil allows us to think of them as something other than historical agents. It encourages us not to understand them properly, to think of them as monsters, not as people, and to think it couldn’t happen elsewhere.

    1. It also allows us to fall into easy and unpleasantly nationalistic condemnations of others. When we talk about concentration camps we always think of the Germans – it is all too easy to forget that we ourselves ran the first concentration camps in Africa during the Boer war. That the Eugenics movement was perhaps biggest in Britain in the late 19th century. That it was our colonial laws against same-sex relations which formed the basis of Africa’s current crop of homophobic nastiness.

      “But we weren’t as bad as the Nazis” doesn’t cut it. We were as bad. In some ways we were worse.

    2. Absolutely, VP, and a general point well worth making. However, when it comes to the systematic round-up of gay/homosexual people, explicitly categorised as such, I think the Nazis and their puppet regimes are unique, are they not?

    3. Cary Alexander Bailey 27 Jan 2014, 1:02pm

      If the Nazis had succeeded, we would judge them differently. That is what we must think about; success is sometimes failure.

    4. I tend to agree with this. The idea of the Nazis having acted wholly outside of precedent and past examples of humanity, it makes it harder to deal with the same evils in the present and future. After all, how can Naziism return when all the Nazis were killed in the war and/or put on trial?
      Russia suffers from this deliberate blindness a lot more than most, as drawing the parallel between the past and today will see a person assaulted and arrested for insulting the memory of the millions of war dead. Africa too, suffers evangelical preachers going out there saying each and every problem on the continent was started by foreign gays.
      The mistake the world made when fighting the Nazis was that instead of fighting the ideology itself as we did with the matter of slavery, which was never about individual slave traders and remains illegal more or less worldwide, we sadly let ourselves believe that the threat was not only unique in it’s evil, but also that it died with Hitler and his goons.

    5. Mihangel apYrs 4 Feb 2014, 9:45pm

      respectfully, it’s because it happened in a western secular country in the mid-20C – Germany was the same civilisation as us – a cousin. That’s what horrified us – it wasn’t one of those “primitive countries”

  7. DeeRoo Pacific 27 Jan 2014, 12:40pm

    In September 2007 I visited an exhibition in the former Nazi camp Vught, The Netherlands, called: “Homosexual in Nazi Germany and occupied The Netherlands”. With the subtitle “Who can I still trust?” The stats of that exhibition indeed showed that about 100,000 gay men were arrested during the Nazi period, 15,000 gay men were sent into labour camps, of which between 6,000 to 9,000 did not survive. The most shocking statistic for me was, and it haunted me for months, that over 80% of those men were betrayed by their neighbours…

  8. Peter Beacham 27 Jan 2014, 3:36pm

    Mr. Cohen, if you are interested in human rights and dignity, you should stop misusing the LGBT rights campaign in order to vilify Nazis, and by extension, justify the Zionist occupation of Palestine. Instead, you should be condemning Zionists for their creeping 125-year invasion of Palestine and their ongoing, murder, exiling and and daily mistreatment of Palestinians. And find another venue to do your human rights and dignity campaigns instead of taking advantage of your website and its readers.

    1. Valid point, Peter Beacham, and bravely stated! It is unfathomable that the very people who suffered the most and so horrifically under the Nazis have been engaged for over four decades now in the systematic persecution of the Palestinian people. Even today ( this very day!) more land is being snatched by Israelis from the Palestinian people, and more homes are being built upon Palestinian land for Israelis. It’s utterly intolerable and totally unforgivable.

      There exists in Israel a terrible hypocrisy, a loathsome double-speak.

      And it is fitting that we remember it on Holocaust Memorial Day.

    2. You should stop using Palestinians to justify your anti-semitism and find another venue for your hate speech.

      And if you’re talking about Palestinians, you should remember the LGBT Palestinians that are criminalised by their government in the gaza strip, and given no legal protection from the homophobic islamic rule. But then, you don’t care about human rights, especially LGBT rights – you just don’t like ‘Zionists’.

      1. Mark Y, please provide evidence of the anti-semitism.

        You can’t.

        You can only accuse.

        And very very feebly, I’m afraid.

        The continuing Jewish persecution of the Palestinians is shameful. Of any group on the face of this Earth, Israelis should know better.

        1. and the persecution of the Israelis by those who bomb their buses in the streets and markets, cafes and beaches? what about that? What about the leaders of neighbouring states who weekly call for the destruction of the State of Israel and its people – literally – what abuot that? Can we have some balance here please? Or at least some accuracy!

          1. If you wish accuracy, rob, I’ll give it you.

            Since 1967 (that’s 47 years ago) the Israelis have continually been snatching Palestinian land beyond the borders agreed in that year. Repeatedly the Israelis have been internationally condemned for this behaviour. Repeatedly they have ignored the international outcry. To this very day they continue to snatch Palestinian land.

            It is no wonder therefore that there is hostility towards the Israelis, not only because of this outrageous behaviour, but because they of all the people on the face of this earth OUGHT TO KNOW BETTER!

        2. Eddy, evidence of antisemitism (whether you identify as an antisemite is completely irrelevant) is right there, when you say “Jewish” persecution of Palestinians. You’re categorising every Jew as X, just because they’re Jews, which is quite an obviously antisemitic sentiment.

          1. It is ridiculous to accuse someone of a pathological and unfounded hatred of a people because that person takes a stand against a behaviour of one very large subset of that people.

            Anti-semitism is hatred of all Jews wherever they may dwell.

            Refusing to accept the behaviour of those Jews/Israelis who dominate Israel and who have been embarked on the persecution of the Palestinian people for decades cannot therefore be described as anti-semitism.

            But, of course, that does not mean to say it is not extremely convenient for those particular Jews/Israelis themselves, and their supporters, to cry “Anti-semitism” when such behaviour is objected to.

          2. Provide one name in Israelis government that is not jewish

    3. Benjamin Cohen 28 Jan 2014, 12:46pm

      WTF has the situation in Palestine got to do with me or with the 6 million Jews and the tens of thousands of gay people who died in the Holocaust?

      1. I’ll state it again. A great many people all around the world find it unfathomable and intolerable that the descendants of the greater number of those millions of Jewish people who were so cruelly treated in the 1940s have for decades themselves been cruelly treating the Palestinian people, and those descendants of the oppressed continue to oppress the Palestinian people today.

        It’s a question of integrity and congruity.


        1. Eddy,
          Why do you never mention the Europeans that have displaced the native Americans? Who btw have less of a right to America than the Israelis have to a land that they have been occupying for thousands of years.
          Why do you never mention the Europeans who have displaced the aborigines from Austrailia?
          Why not cite the Arabs who have displaced the native Egyptians from Egypt?
          Or the Chinese who have obilerated Tibet?
          Or the Spanish and Europeans who have displaced almost the entire continent of South America?
          Or the………
          And the list goes on and on and on.

          Why only concentrate on the Israelis? – its either because you’re uneducated and you don’t realise that people have had to move from all over the World because others feel they have a right to that land, or its because you’re anti-semitic and you just want to pick on Jewish people. It’s nothing to do with integrity. It’s a war, and there’s no integrity in war. Just different beliefs fighting for survival.

          1. I’ve often nattered on about imperialism and the displacement of native peoples by foreign conquerors, most frequently the impositions of the British. I haven’t spoke of those cases here because we’ve been urged to focus on “Holocaust Memorial Day”, and you know what “Holocaust Memorial Day” is primarily about. :-)

          2. its a fact that israel was establish through terrorist activity( infamous king david hotel bombing etc), so it boggles the mind now how hypocritical isrealis are bleeding about palestinians employing ‘terrorist’ means to establish its state.
            israel claims to be democratic nation but then it is happy to administrate democracy on the leash in palestine, where only ‘right’ electoral result will do. they abuse palestinians for decades and then act surprised when hamas (the only political entity in palestine prepared to stand up to israelis occupants) wins election time after time. israel by imitating n@zi’s tactics in palestine (warsaw getto style perimiter around west bank to name one) managed to alienate any sympathy people had to do with holocaust.

            i despise violence and hypocrisy in equal measure

  9. Great article , and I agree with societal/legislative quantum mass of opinion to human rights can alter over short periods, Russia etc. even india recently. I’m also very worried about the extreme anti Semitism ,I see on these boards by those manipulated/conditioned with anti Israel bias by anti Jewish media. The growing antipathy towards Jews from footballers/comedians with fascist salutes is very concerning , especially as it appears to be largely ignored by british media.

  10. Colin (Queenstown/London) 27 Jan 2014, 8:19pm

    Great article. We need constant reminders. We must never forget and work towards real equality in deed and thought.

  11. Christopher in Canada 28 Jan 2014, 12:06am

    I had no idea that the gay prisoners were kept in prison after the Allies took over. Somehow that detail never made it to my ears, until today. Thank you for educating me.

  12. One thing we need to do is have the mass murder of GBLT people recognised as genocide – it’s still a hole in the UN definition of genocide which, in turn, means when countries decide to murder us for existing the label is never applied. It’s a gross loop hole that needs to be stopped – trying to exterminate a group because of their race, religion or politics is genocide; it’s ridiculous and insulting that trying to exterminate GBLT people is not considered so

  13. Thanks Ben. Yesterday I gave a lecture on The Nazis and Homosexuality to a government department, which dealt with;- The growth of the Nazi party as a popular movement,
    Homosexuality in the Nazi party as part of the Master race,
    Butch against feminine homosexual men in Nazi Germany,
    paradoxes of the treatment of homosexual men in Nazi Germany and the concentration camp system.

  14. What is sad is it is happening again in Russia today.

  15. Yes it is believed that Allied soldiers when relieving the hatefull death camps showed little or no sympathy towards those wearing the pink triangles as they too were very homophoobic and one must remember transsexuals in those days were classified as gay because the german psychiatrists who coined the terms we now recognise were not known universally for decades to come so a transwoman would be classed as gay and forced to wear a pink triangle

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