Israel unveils its first memorial commemorating gay Holocaust victims

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On Tuesday, December 10, an inauguration in Tel Aviv marked Israel’s very first memorial dedicated to the Holocaust victims who were prosecuted due to their sexuality.

Following the way of Berlin, Amsterdam, Sydney, San Francisco, and now, Tel Aviv are the standalone cities that commemorate those who suffered because of their sexual orientation—Jewish or not.

The memorial, which was founded by the city, rests in front of the municipal community center, which was established for LGBT people in 2008 at Meir Park ahead of Tel Aviv’s centennial.

Eran Lev, an attorney and activist in the LGBT community, is said to have been the driving force behind the approval of the statue, following a proposal he made to Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.

“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,” Lev told press.

“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 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.”

The monument was created from a concept planned by landscape architect Professor Yael Moriah and consists of three triangles, the symbols of the gay community.

On each triangle, one of which is upside-down and pink (the type that gay Holocaust victims were forced to wear), a sentence written in Hebrew, German and English reads: “In memory of those persecuted by the Nazi regime for their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The main text was written by Hebrew University Professor Moshe Zimmerman, the historical advisor for the project. It states that approximately 15,000 people were sent to camps (although San Diego Gay and Lesbian News reported that more than 100,000 gay men were arrested) and over half were killed.

Zimmerman also stated that many were sent to the Bucherwald concentration camp, where medical experiments were ran in order to “cure homosexuality.”

The memorial also names several prominent gay Jews, such as sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld, an anti-Nazi activist who was persecuted, and Gad Beck, who saved the lives of many Jews in Berlin; he died in the German capital in 2012.

429Magazine

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