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Lesbian Holocaust memorial plan upsets historians

AFP · 25 Mar 2010, 15:40

Published: 25 Mar 2010 15:40 GMT+01:00

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The monument was erected in May 2008 opposite the city's large memorial to the six million Jewish Holocaust victims.

It is currently comprised of a concrete slab with a window through which viewers can watch a video of a "never-ending" kiss between two men.

Under the original plans, the video is to change every two years to feature two women locked in an embrace, meaning the switch is due in May.

But Alexander Zinn, a board member of the foundation that maintains the former Nazi concentration camps near Berlin, said such a move would distort history as there were no known Holocaust victims targeted for being lesbian.

"Historical truth must remain the focus," Zinn told AFP.

He has banded together with other Holocaust experts and fired off a letter of protest to Culture Minister Michael Neumann and Berlin's openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit.

Neumann defended the plans as true to the original concept of the memorial in addressing present-day discrimination against lesbians and gays as well as the plight of homosexuals at the hands of the Nazis.

"The option of using a lesbian film motif in the memorial is in no way meant to put on the same level the persecution of homosexual men and women under the Nazi regime," he said in a statement.

"Research shows that the persecution of lesbian women by the Nazi regime was not comparable to that of homosexual men. This is also clearly explained in a plaque on the memorial."

Story continues below…

It is estimated that the Nazis sent between 5,000 and 15,000 gay men to concentration camps together with Jews, political opponents, gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses and others considered undesirable.

Once there, few were killed right away. Rather, they were held under degrading conditions, and subjected to hunger, disease, abuse and exhaustion. Very few returned.

A jury is to take a decision about the next video used at the memorial in the coming weeks.

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Your comments about this article

16:18 March 25, 2010 by William Thirteen
an interesting conundrum. is it monument to signify those actually persecuted (the gay men) or to remember the reason they were persecuted (homophobia)?

an interesting side note

16:41 March 25, 2010 by whatzup
How about including a video of two negroes kissing? Weren't so many of them in the German concentration camps but they have been discriminated against in other countries. How about a video of two Chinese? They were certainly abused by the Japanese in the past. And during the same time period. What about prisoners of war? The russians were horribly mistreated by the germans. Looks like there's a lot of work in the near future for video production companies in germany...
17:21 March 25, 2010 by michael4096
If I were Jewish, I would be seriously pissed off & insulted...
Why? If you were the offspring of a raped WW2 lesbian, would you feel elated?
17:35 March 25, 2010 by biker hotel harz
I'd like to see a never ending video of two lesbians kissing
20:02 March 25, 2010 by Frenemy
"Why? If you were the offspring of a raped WW2 lesbian, would you feel elated?"

Well, to be honest I personally wouldn't give a damn! But then thats just me...

But, my sociopathy aside, what does sexual orientation have to do with rape?!

Being physically sexually/violently violated is immoral (according to contemporary social convention, and generally frowned upon based on what I understand to to be commonly accepted norms of human interaction...) regardless of which way you swing!
21:38 March 25, 2010 by wxman
Do we need to single out certain people who were victims of the Holocaust? Didn't all suffer equally from this atrosity?
00:20 March 26, 2010 by Talonx
wxman, you've hit the most f#cked up nail directly on the head. Often times the different groups that were persecuted by the NSDAP don't want to be 'remembered together', and will give exactly the same reasoning as the Nazis would give. Fortunately, Germany has created many collective memorials anyways.
00:31 March 26, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, although I don't beleive in violence, this is however another example as to how liberal Germany really is. And the truth is, extreme liberalism is just as dangerous as other all-or-nothing concepts.

I have come to realize that liberlism equals immorality.

And sooner or later, it's going to send Germany down another dark road.
01:12 March 26, 2010 by William Thirteen
06:38 March 26, 2010 by Zobirdie
I love it...

The ladies were persecuted, but not persecuted enough for this memorial!

Our groups persecution was worse than your groups persecution!

Or maybe the men are just jealous because perhaps lesbians could get out of it by laying back and counting the cracks on the ceiling.

This is all so atrocious and stupid.

I vote they have lesbian dwarves kissing, as both lesbians and dwarves were persecuted.
09:16 March 26, 2010 by Talonx
Logic guy, I think you're off on this one. The German government doesn't want the construction of memorials to be littered with controversy from any of the groups the memorial is meant to memorialize, I think that's something that is pretty independent of liberalism (by the way, if you say liberal in Germany, alot of people think you mean 'economic liberal' as in hands off capitalism.
11:29 March 26, 2010 by Fishoutofwater
21:38 March 25, 2010 by wxman

Do we need to single out certain people who were victims of the Holocaust? Didn't all suffer equally from this atrosity?

I think wxman says all that needs to be said. Amen to that!
12:48 March 26, 2010 by Talonx
Fishoutofwater, try telling that to the homophobic religious nutters or to the Muslim Gypsies that don't want to be remembered with the Jews and vice versa. I do agree with you though.
15:12 March 26, 2010 by Prufrock2010
"I have come to realize that liberlism [sic] equals immorality." Logic Guy

This typifies the hate speech coming from the American evangelical right wing, the same "conservative" morons who vigorously (and sometimes violently) attempted unsuccessfully to deny health insurance to 32 million Americans, the same folks who don't believe gays deserve the same rights as other citizens, the same knuckleheads who advocate murdering doctors who perform abortions and politicians who work for social equality. This is the vile mantra of Glen Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Tony Perkins. This is the primary tenet of fascism, the kool-aid for the illiterati. This hateful, incendiary rhetoric has no place in the American discourse, and certainly none in Germany, which has already lived its tragic consequences. Whoever makes such remarks is a disgrace to all humanity.
18:57 March 26, 2010 by Talonx
The most rediculous thing is that the exact opposite of liberalism is true in the case of these memorials. Liberalism (by which Logic Guy really means progressivism) would lead to an insistence upon remembering everyone together (which is what German politicians have tried to do with multiple projects, e.g., Platz der Opfer in München and all the memorial sites throughout Germany now contain memorials to all). Instead what has occured with these memorials, time and again, everytime a plan for an all-in-one memorial is proposed the orthodox and fundie crazies come out of the woodwork threatening to shun the memorial and ruin its meaning for everybody.
00:50 March 27, 2010 by vonSchwerin
Denkmal für die ermordeten Lesben Europas?
06:55 March 27, 2010 by Prufrock2010
"It seems to me that Jews respect free speech only when it is their own. " a US citizen

And it seems to me that you're another knuckle-dragging, antisemitic Holocaust denier. There's a reason that no other "proven" historical event receives such special status. Can you possibly imagine what that reason is?
09:28 March 27, 2010 by Aussiefrank
it seems to be forgotten that the earliest group persecuted were the people in insane asylums. Though how you represent insane people or insane homosexuals is beyond me. But if people are to be represented due to their sexual preferences, then surely the insane too have a right to be represented.
11:02 March 27, 2010 by Prufrock2010
The people who should have been in insane asylums were the people running the government. I don't think they have a right to be represented.
15:22 March 27, 2010 by Talonx
The menatlly handicapped and insane are remembered in numerous memorials across Germany. Forgetten elsewhere, but not in Germany.
16:38 March 27, 2010 by dbert4
"And it seems to me that you're another knuckle-dragging, antisemitic Holocaust denier."

Not much of a believer in free spreech are you? To question the painting of a whole nation of people is being a "denyer"? To question the motives of a group of people with a HUGE financial incentive to air greivences is being a denyer?
17:53 March 27, 2010 by wenddiver
Why not let the individual groups put up/ pay for their own memorials? Then they can put on them whatever they want. I don't think sexually explicit acts would be appropriate for a murder victim memorial.
17:58 March 27, 2010 by Prufrock2010
@ a US citizen:

Au contraire, pal. I'm a firm believer in free speech. I believe that everyone has the right to demonstrate his ignorance through his speech, and to prove to one and all through his words that he is a knuckle-dragging, antisemitic Holocaust denier.

That said, as you claim to be a US citizen, you have probably heard that even in the US there are limits to the free speech protections of the First Amendment, hate speech being notable among them. Your screed comes close to crossing that line. But far be it from me to stop you from making a damn fool of yourself in this forum.
19:50 March 27, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, unsual people are often misunderstood. I have no problem saying that I'm a conservative Christian. However, there are extraordianry differences between myself and people who Prifrcok2010 referred to.

I'm as friendly and polite as anyone else in this world.

And no one cares about humanity as much as I do.

The truth is, such a thing is not possible.
21:08 March 27, 2010 by Prufrock2010
@ a US citizen:

Words mean something. You wrote: "Why must Jews promote laws in the European countries that criminalize the questioning of their version of the Holocaust tale? No other "proven" historical event receives such special status, nor does truth fear investigation."

Your use of the term "their version of the Holocaust tale" and the quotation marks you inserted around the word "proven" when referring to this historical event betray you as a Holocaust denier. The Holocaust is not a "tale," which connotes fiction, but rather a fact of one of the most heinous atrocities of modern history. No rational person would deny that it happened. No rational person would suggest that it is unproven by enclosing the word "proven" in quotation marks. That is the dead giveaway that you are a Holocaust denier. As such, you are perforce not rational.

The laws you refer to were probably intended to dissuade revisionist nazi cretins from rewriting history so as to prevent a recurrence of such an atrocity. If that violates your tortured concept of free speech, that's just too bad. There is all too much hate speech polluting the air these days, and that speech has consequences. As I stated, I support your right to make a fool of yourself with your writing. You would be well advised, however, not to say those things to me personally or to many people I know. But then cowards would never have the balls to do that, would they?
22:34 March 27, 2010 by Prufrock2010
I did answer your question, sir. Read my post #28. Furthermore, I have made no personal attack against you, as that would be too easy. You indict yourself with every word you write.
23:11 March 27, 2010 by Talonx
US citizen, you are on crack.
23:26 March 27, 2010 by Prufrock2010
I wish to hell I were on crack. It might make it easier to get inside the twisted mind of a neo-nazi Holocaust denier. As an American, I'm ashamed that he calls himself a US citizen.
06:50 March 28, 2010 by vonSchwerin

Fortunately, the site editor/moderator zapped the comments made by the forum participant who calls himself "US citizen". The Local does not need to tolerate Holocaust revisionism or insults made against a single ethnic group.
09:05 March 28, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Good. The last thing we need these days is more hate speech.
17:00 March 28, 2010 by Talonx
Back to the point of this article. I would like to know what 'Historians' are up in arms about this exhibition and what constitutes the designation 'Holocaust Scholar'.

It seems to me a trifle wierd that an academic would completely miss the point concerning memorialising the plight and persecution of homosexuality (independent of sex) under the Dritte Reich.
08:19 January 18, 2011 by JoelA
It's amazing how many commenters seem to believe Lesbians were persecuted anyway despite the article which I guess they didn't read, which validates the argument why Lesbians kissing should have never been part of this exhibit.

The reason is simple, people much prefer to see women kissing than men; two women = erotic, two men = vulgar.

Same thing then, same thing now. Queen Victoria never persecuted Lesbians either, but gay men were sent to prison for hard labor, their lives destroyed as a public spectacle.

To distort and forget our history dooms us to repeat it, so maybe next time when they come for the gays first again maybe this time they can go after the Lesbians too so afterward it will make sense to have another Holocaust memorial but this time it could accurately include both genders.
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