Monday, December 16, 2013

World News

Israel honors gay Holocaust victims in first national memorial
New memorial to gay Holocaust victims
picture via the Jewish daily Forward
By Brody Levesque | TEL AVIV -- A brand new monument that pays tribute to Jewish and Non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust who were persecuted by the Nazis for their sexual orientation was unveiled in Tel Aviv this past Tuesday.
The new memorial stands in front of the municipal community center established in 2005, by the city for the LGBTQ community in Gan Meir (Meir Park) in the city's center.
The center offers cultural, athletic and recreational programs for teenagers and young adults. The center also hosts IGY -a youth movement for the LGBTQ community – and provides support and health services for groups, couples, and families.
Local attorney and LGBTQ rights activist Eran Lev had been the driving force behind the creation of the memeorial which was funded by the city.
“It’s important to me that people understand that persecution of gay people was not the usual story of the Holocaust that we know from the final solution, and from the Wansee Conference. This is a different story, more modest, but still an important one,” Lev told The Jewish Daily Forward magazine. 
“It’s important that people in Israel know that the Nazis persecuted others as well, not because they were Jews, but because they were gay,” he said.
The memorial was planned by the landscape architect Prof. Yael Moriah, who has been in charge in recent years of the renovation of Gan Meir park.
It consists of three triangles – the symbol of the gay community. One is concrete, and on it appears a explanation of the persecution of homosexuals during the Holocaust. The second, which is painted on a concrete triangle, is an upside-down triangle painted pink, of the type the Nazis forced homosexuals to wear. The third triangle faces the other two and consists of three pink benches.
On each of them a sentence is written in Hebrew, English and German: “In memory of those persecuted by the Nazi regime for their sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Gay prisoners in Nazi Concentration camp
Photo undated-no location given via U. S. Holocaust Museum
Moshe Zimmermann, the memorial project’s historical adviser and a tenured professor at Hebrew 
University, contributed the text which reads:
According to Nazi ideology, homosexuality was considered harmful to ‘public health.’ The Gestapo had a special unit to fight 
homosexuals and the ‘Center for the Fighting of Homosexuality and Abortions’ kept a secret file on about 100,000 homosexuals.” 
Gay people were shipped off to the Nazi concentration camps and made to wear a patch featuring a pink triangle. The exact numbers of gay persons who perished is difficult to ascertain, but Professor Zimmermann noted 15,000 such people were sent to the camps and more than half were murdered. He adds that medical experiments were carried out at Buchenwald concentration camp to “cure homosexuality.”
The memorial cites the names of prominent Jewish homosexuals, including the sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld, an anti-Nazi activist who was persecuted, and Gad Beck, who saved the lives of many Jews in Berlin, and who died in the German capital last year.