John M. Becker

Israel's Pink Triangle Monument Opens Friday

Filed By John M. Becker | January 07, 2014 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Living
Tags: concentration camp, erasure, gay Holocaust victims, Holocaust, Holocaust memorial, Israel, pink triangle, Tel Aviv, yellow star

pink_triangle_tattoo.jpgA monument to gay victims of the Holocaust is set to open in the worldwide gay capital of Tel Aviv on Friday, the Jerusalem Post reports:

The new monument will be mounted outside the Municipal LGBT Community Center in Meir Park (Gan Meir) which serves as the city's main hub of activity for the LGBT community.

The monument will be shaped in the form of a pink triangle, reminiscent of the pink triangles LGBT community members were required to attach to their clothes in the concentration camps, and will feature short texts in Hebrew, English and German.

H.E. Andreas Michaelis, the German ambassador to Israel, will speak at the unveiling, as will Tel Aviv-Jaffa mayor Ron Huldai.

In a statement released yesterday, Huldai said, "This monument reminds us all how important it is for us to respect every human being. It is only natural that such a reminder will exist in Tel Aviv-Yafo - a city that warmly embraces all groups and minorities."

As I noted here at The Bilerico Project in August, this memorial will be the first and only one in Israel to honor Holocaust victims who wore a badge other than the yellow star. It also represents an important step forward in the overall international recognition of gay Holocaust victims, which has historically lagged far behind that given to other groups persecuted by the Nazis.

I then wrote a little about the history of the pink triangle. It bears repeating -- it can never be repeated often enough, in my view -- so I will reproduce it below.

During the Nazi regime, approximately 50,000 gay men were convicted under Germany's infamous Paragraph 175, which made gay sex a crime. At least 15,000 were deported to concentration camps, and between 7,000 and 10,000 died. Gay prisoners were often regarded as the lowest of the low even among their fellow inmates, and they were frequently targeted by prisoners and guards alike for especially brutal work, punishment, and humiliation.

Paragraph 175 remained on the books after World War II, and many gay men who survived the camps were re-imprisoned under the Allied government until the law was finally repealed in 1969. Other survivors often refused to acknowledge the existence or the experiences of gay Holocaust victims. In fact, one of the most striking memories Michael and I have of our visit to the Dachau concentration camp in 2009 is learning that the pink triangle was intentionally excluded from the international memorial sculpture -- designed by a survivor in 1968 -- because homosexuals were not accepted as a "recognized" persecuted group at that time. It took until 1985, forty years after the camp was liberated, for a pink triangle to be displayed at Dachau.

The last known gay Holocaust survivor died in 2011.

The experiences of gay Holocaust victims have been denied and erased for far too long. This new memorial in Tel Aviv will help the world remember what they went through and give them a voice once again.

h/t: Towleroad

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