Friday, 27 January 2012

Holocaust Memorial Day

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day - a chance to remember those who suffered the horrors of the Nazis' concentration camps.

The US Holocaust Museum in Washington has an excellent website, with a very good section on the Nazi persecution of homosexuals.


The Homomonument in the centre of Amsterdam commemorates all gay men and lesbians who have been subjected to persecution because of their homosexuality. Opened on September 5, 1987, it takes the form of three large pink triangles made of granite, set into the ground so as to form a larger triangle, on the bank of the Keizersgracht canal, near the historic Westerkerk church. It was designed to "inspire and support lesbians and gays in their struggle against denial, oppression and discrimination". It was the first monument in the world to commemorate gays and lesbians who were killed by the Nazis.
Photo by Chris Park, 2003

Heinz Heger's book The Men with the Pink Triangle (Die Männer mit dem rosa Winkel) was probably the first account by a gay survivor of how gay men were treated in the concentration camps. It is still available from Amazon and other booksellers.

After liberation, Heger (real name Josef Kohout) - like other homosexual prisoners - was still regarded as a criminal, since homosexuality remained illegal after the demise of the Nazi regime. He was not eligible for compensation and, despite attempts on his part, he received none from the West German government. Many of the gay men who survived the concentration camps were returned to prison with the collusion of the Allies (including the British), and the time they had spent interred in the camps was not deducted from their sentences.

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