Memorial to gay Holocaust victims to be unveiled this month

Adam Lake May 6, 2008
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A memorial to the persecuted homosexual victims of Nazism will be officially unveiled in Berlin on May 27th.
It takes the form of a gray concrete slab, with a window to allow visitors to view a video. It cost 600,000 euros (£450,000).

There will be two alternated videos which show either two men kissing or two women kissing.

Originally, the plan was for a video of just two men, but that proposal drew heavy criticism from people who claimed that lesbians were being excluded.

The memorial was developed at the southern edge of the Tiergaten after Danish-Norwegian artistic duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset won the artistic competition.

Its design echoes Peter Eisenman’s Berlin memorial to the Nazis’ Jewish victims, a vast field of more than 2,700 slabs.

The competition was initiated by the Land Berlin on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany and in coordination with the initiative Commemorate the homosexual victims of the Nazis and gay rights group LSVD.

An estimated 100,000 homosexuals were arrested after Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s.

Under the Nazi regime, 15,000 gay people were convicted as criminals and up to 15,000 were deported to concentration camps. Few survived.

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

But the German parliament of 2002 issued a formal pardon for any gay people convicted by the Nazi and approved the construction of the memorial in December 2003.

The homosexual victims of Nazi Germany remained excluded from the public process of remembrance of past injustices until recent times.

The LSVD described the exclusion of the victims from compensation for their suffering under the Nazi-injustices as, “especially scandalous.”

The memorial is to honour the persecuted and murdered victims, keep awake the memory of injustice, as well as be a steady symbol against intolerance, animosity and exclusion of gays and lesbians, according to resolution of the Bundestag of 2003.

The dedication to the public has been organised on behalf of the Federal Government by the Foundation “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.”

Earlier this year the Roman Catholic Bishop of Motherwell in Scotland caused outrage when he said that a “homosexual lobby” attend Holocaust memorial events to create for themselves “the image of a group of people under persecution.”

Bishop Joseph Devine’s extremist views were widely criticised.

The chair of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Lord Janner, defended the right of gay people to commemorate the Holocaust, telling”They were persecuted by the Nazis and are right to recall the horrors of the Holocaust.”

Green MSP Patrick Harvie has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament in protest at the bishop’s comments about the Holocaust, telling “Not only do his comments mark a revisionism about what happened to gay people in Nazi Germany but he has also called on parents not to tolerate their gay children.

“This is very damaging to children who should be fully supported.” The Nazis’ anti-gay polices and their destruction of the early gay-rights movement were generally not considered suitable subject matter for Holocaust historians and educators.

It was not until the 1970s and 1980s that there was some mainstream exploration of the theme, with Holocaust survivors writing their autobiographies, plays such as Bent, and more historical research and documentaries being published about Nazi homophobia and their destruction of the German gay-rights movement.

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