On January 10, Israel officially unveiled a new memorial, dedicated to the LGBT victims of the Holocaust; located in its capital, Tel Aviv, it’s the first memorial in Israel specifically recognizing non-Jewish victims of the Nazis.
The monument features a concrete triangle containing a second pink triangle, in remembrance of the symbol used by the Nazis to mark homosexuals, and the re-appropriation of that symbol as a source of pride for the LGBT community.
The memorial’s plaque reads, “In memory of those persecuted by the Nazi regime for their sexual orientation and gender identity,” in Hebrew, German, and English; it was written by Hebrew University Professor Moshe Zimmermann, the historical adviser for the memorial.
It’s estimated that more than a hundred thousand men were arrested under a law interpreted to be against homosexuality, and approximately fifty thousand served prison terms as convicted homosexuals. Records suggest that between five and fifteen thousand were imprisoned in concentration camps. Rather than outright exterminate them, like many groups throughout history and even today, the Nazis tried to find ways to “cure” people of their homosexuality.
Other memorials dedicated to the Holocaust’s LGBT victims can be found in places such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Sydney, and San Francisco.
At the dedication ceremony, Mayor Ron Huldai said, “I think in Israel today it is very important to show that a human being is a human being is a human being. It 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.”
Though Israel has countless memorials to Jewish victims of the Holocaust, seventy years later, openly gay Tel Aviv councilman Eran Lev decided it was time to remember how many others were victims of the death camps. He told press, “The significance here is that we are recognizing that there were other victims of the Holocaust, not just Jews.” Other groups targeted included communists, Slavs, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Romani, and the disabled.
Though Israel does not currently allow same-sex marriage, it does recognize such marriages performed in other countries, and polls have shown that despite conservative objections, the majority of Israeli citizens support marriage equality. LGBT people serve openly in the military and government, and have access to family rights such as survivors’ benefits and inheritance.
Professor Zimmermann told news site Haaretz in December 2013, “the great advantage of the monument being built is the ability to reflect on discrimination in its broadest form and not make it subordinate to the definitions of the Third Reich.”