By Melanie Nathan, 3-25-10. Controversy is building as a monument in the form of a changeable video presentation is planned to include lesbians kissing. The monument, erected in 2008, opposite Berlin’s memorial to the Six Million Jews, is dedicated to the thousands of homosexuals persecuted by the Nazis. However now there is an outcry that lesbians will take the place of the current homosexual men on display.
The monument in question is a concrete slab which showcases a video through a window, currently featuring two men perpetually kissing. Every two years the featured video changes and from May viewers will be able to watch a video of kissing women, portraying lesbians.
Whereas this appears to be a rare example of male gay vs. female lesbian discrimination; that is not the case. Apparently the outcry has a different platform. A group of Holocaust experts and scholars contend that a memorial representing lesbians distorts what actually happened in the Holocaust, where there is apparently only proof that homosexual men were targets of Hitler’s extermination and no proof that lesbians were also targeted.
An attempt to maintain ‘historical truth’ as the scholars suggest has been the impetus behind a letter campaign to Berlin’s openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit and Culture Minister Michael Neumann. A decision is pending as to whether or not the exhibit will display the lesbians will be kissing for the next two years.
Research that the persecution of lesbian women by the Nazi regime was not comparable to that of homosexual men, may well be correct, yet the intent of the monument is to end discrimination of any kind and supporters of the lesbian display believe that it does not matter that Hitler may not specifically have targeted lesbians, as explained by a plaque on the memorial.
The Nazis sent as many as 15,000 gay men to concentration camps in addition to the many millions of Jews, political opponents, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others whom the targeted for extermination.
Interestingly in 2008, When the Memorial was first introduced, concern was expressed about having a gay related memorial. Here is the excerpt from an article by Pink News in the UK, written back in 2008.
“Germany has made a mistake by dedicating a memorial to the gay men who were victims of Nazi oppression, a leading Holocaust scholar has claimed. Israel Gutman of the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem said that the Nazis only targeted German gay men, and that they were the victims of political battles within Hitler’s National Socialist Party rather than a campaign of homophobia.
“The location was particularly poorly chosen for this monument,” Mr Gutman told Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita.“If visitors have the impression that there was not a great difference between the suffering of Jews and those of homosexuals, it’s a scandal.”
He claimed that the German people “understood the immense scope of the crime of the Holocaust which they had committed, But this time, they made an error.”
The first openly gay Mayor of Berlin opened the new memorial to the homosexual victims of Nazi oppression earlier this week.
Klaus Wowerit was joined by representatives of the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA) and the federal minister for culture and media.
The homosexual victims of Nazi Germany remained excluded from the public process of remembrance of past injustices until recent times and were denied compensation for their suffering under Nazi rule.
It is estimated that 45,000 to 100,000 German homosexuals were arrested under Nazi rule between 1933 and 1945.
Up to 10,000 of them died in concentration camps. Many survivors, far from being liberated, were transferred to prisons.
The laws used against gay people in Germany remained on statute books until 1969.
It was only in 2002 that the German parliament issued a formal pardon for any gay people convicted by the Nazis and in 2003 it approved the construction of the memorial.
The new memorial is situated in Berlin’s Tiergarten Park, close to the Brandenburg Gate and opposite the Jewish Holocaust Memorial.
It consists of a four metre tall grey rectangular block.
One side has a small opening through which viewers can see a black and white art film scene of two men kissing.
A simple kiss could land you in trouble, reads the inscription.”
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Hate & Discrimination – scapegoating- life is simply too short- America on this day when so much hate was spewed wake up and look at where scapegoating has led. My Late mother, Professor Carmen Nathan, of blessed memory, used to say, “We are Smart if we learn from our own mistakes, but even more smart if we learn from the mistakes of others.”