Israel now has its first memorial to the gay victims of the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler, with a public memorial to them unveiled in Tel Aviv’s Meir Park on Tuesday.
The memorial, near Tel Aviv’s Gay Center is in the shape of a giant pink triangle – the same symbol the Nazis used to mark out homosexual prisoners in their concentration camp – and bears the names of prominent homosexuals persecuted by the Nazis including Magnus Hirschfeld and Gad Beck.
Hirschfeld was a groundbreaking sexologist and one of the world’s first gay rights activists whose institute and library were burned down by the Nazis, while Beck was the last known gay concentration camp survivor.
It also bears an inscription that 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.’
The memorial acknowledges the at least 15,000 homosexuals sent to concentration camps by the Nazis and that more than half of those were killed.
The memorial was the brainchild of lawyer and former city councilman Eran Lev who told Haaretz that it was important that people knew the story of the other groups that were persecuted alongside Jews by the Nazis.
‘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,’ Lev said.
‘This is a different story, more modest, but still an important one,” he said. “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.’