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Tel Aviv's Monument to GLBTQ Victims of the Holocaust
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 01/12/14
Last updated on: 01/13/14
 
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On January 10, 2014, Tel Aviv, the cultural and financial capital of Israel, unveiled a monument honoring glbtq victims of the Holocaust. It is the first memorial in Israel specifically recognizing non-Jewish victims of the murderous Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler.

As Aron Heller reports for the Associated Press, the memorial, located in a Tel Aviv park near the city's Gay and Lesbian Community Center, consists of a concrete plaque that evokes the pink triangle the Nazis forced gay prisoners to wear in concentration camps and details--in English, German, and Hebrew--the plight of glbtq people during Hitler's Third Reich. It is dedicated "In memory of those persecuted by the Nazi regime for their sexual orientation and gender identity."

The memorial is reminiscent of monuments in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, San Francisco, and Sydney that are also dedicated to gay victims of the Holocaust. The memorial serves to highlight Israel's status as one of the world's most progressive countries for gay rights.

At the dedication ceremony, where a rainbow flag waved alongside the flag of Israel, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said, "In Israel today it is very important to show that a human being is a human being is a human being." He added that the monument "shows that we are not only caring for ourselves but for everybody who suffered. These are our values--to see everyone as a human being."

The state of Israel was born out of the Holocaust, which remains seared in the country's psyche and is often cited as justification for its identity as a Jewish state. Hence, the addition of a commemoration of non-Jewish Holocaust victims is a significant development.

The memorial was initiated by Eran Lev, an openly gay Tel Aviv councilman, who said, "The significance here is that we are recognizing that there were other victims of the Holocaust, not just Jews."

As part of its agenda to preserve an "Aryan master race," Nazism indicted homosexuals as "socially aberrant" and persecuted them. Between 1933 and 1945, it is estimated that more than 100,000 men were arrested on homosexual charges, and half of these were officially sentenced.

Most of the convicted men were jailed in regular prisons, but as many as 15,000 of the men who were sentenced for homosexual offenses were incarcerated in concentration camps where most of them perished. In addition to Jews and homosexuals, communists, Slavs, gypsies, and Jehovah's Witnesses were also targeted for persecution by the Nazis.

Although lesbians were not specifically persecuted as lesbians, lesbianism was seen by many Nazi officials as alien to the nature of the Aryan woman. Some lesbians were arrested as "asocials" or "prostitutes," so that in concentration camps they wore the asocials' black triangle rather than the pink triangle worn by gay men.

Moshe Zimmermann, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the memorial project's historical advisor, said the Tel Aviv monument marked a big step in Israel by ridding itself from what he called a monopoly of victimhood.

"We are finally shedding the load of being the lone and ultimate victim," he said. "We can learn from this that by recognizing the victimhood of others, it does not diminish the uniqueness of your own victimhood."

The video below reports on the unveiling of the memorial.

The following video highlights the remarks at the dedication ceremony of Andreas Michaelis, the German Ambassador to Israel.

 
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