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Tribute for gay victims of Nazism

Germany is planning to build a memorial to commemorate the thousands of homosexuals persecuted under the Nazis.

The memorial should complement a monument to the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.

"Homosexual victims of Nazism have been given too little attention in the past in Germany's culture of remembrance," said a government statement.

The monument, planned for Berlin, will serve as a warning against the discrimination of gays and lesbians.

Despite passing the Lower House culture committee, the project to build the gay victims memorial is still opposed by the conservative opposition Christian Democrats.


Pink triangle

The Nazi persecution of gays began in 1935, when all male homosexual activity was declared a crime.

Gay clubs were raided, and homosexuals were forced to wear a pink triangle.

An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 of them were deported to concentration camps, where most of them died. Fifty thousand more were convicted as criminals.

In the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen, near Berlin, living conditions for homosexuals were particularly harsh.

Many were castrated or sterilised - their sexual orientation was seen as a threat to the purity of the Arian race.

The Austrian Heinz Heger, who joined the camp in 1939, wrote: "Jews, gays and gypsies were the inmates who were most often abused and beaten by SS police and Kapos.

"They were called the scum of society, who did not have the right to live on German soil, and therefore had to be exterminated.

"But the last scum of this scum, that was us, the men with the pink triangle."

The discrimination law against gays, paragraph 175 of the penal code, remained in force until 1957 in Eastern Germany and 1969 in Western Germany - a fact that prevented many from coming forward when WWII ended.

A formal pardon for homosexuals convicted under the Nazis was issued by the German parliament only last year.


BBC News, 14.11.2003









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