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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 30 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 35
Israel to build monument to Gay victims of Nazis
Section One
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Israel to build monument to Gay victims of Nazis

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

The Israeli city of Tel Aviv will host the country's first monument dedicated to Gay victims of the German Nazi regime, officials announced this week.

The design will feature a giant pink concrete triangle, which was the symbol used by the Nazis to identify Gay prisoners.

Officials say the monument will be built in Gan Meir Park.

The place of remembrance of Gay men that were convicted under Nazi law was the brainchild of Meretz Party municipal council member Eran Lev.

AN ISRAELI FIRST
'One of the first restrictions the Nazis imposed on the Jews was against going to public parks,' said Lev. 'This will be the first and only memorial site in Israel to mention the victims of the Nazis who were persecuted for anything other than being Jewish.

'As a cosmopolitan city and an international Gay center, Tel Aviv will offer a memorial site that is universal in its essence. As far as I'm concerned, it's not a monument, but a place - a place of quiet that will invite visitors to sit, contemplate, reflect, and be in solitude.'

While the details of the monument are still being discussed, officials say it will 'explain the difference between the persecution of Gay men and Lesbians during the Holocaust, but will commemorate them in a single place.'

It will also bear the names of prominent Jewish Gay men who were persecuted by the Nazi regime, including Magnus Hirschfeld, a sexologist and one of the world's first Gay rights activists, and Gad Beck, the last known Gay concentration camp survivor. Beck died last year at age 88.

The memorial is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Similar monuments to the Gay victims of the Nazis have been built in Sydney, San Francisco, Cologne, Montevideo, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Berlin.

STAGGERING NUMBERS
According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, more than a million German men were targeted by the Nazis for threatening the 'disciplined masculinity' of Germany. Of that number, more than 100,000 were arrested under the law criminalizing homosexuality. It's estimated that 50,000 of those men served prison sentences and anywhere between 5,000 and 15,000 were sent to concentration camps.

Much less is known about the fate of Lesbians under the Nazi regime.

'The persecution of Lesbians was often concealed using other pretexts. Lesbians were persecuted as 'asocials,' a group that included unemployed people and alcoholics,' said Professor Moshe Zimmermann of Hebrew University, in Jerusalem.

James Whitely contributed to this report.

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