During the Holocaust, roughly 10,000 gays were rounded up and sent to the death camps. There they were experimented upon, used as slave labor and executed. This does not include the numbers who were simply sent to jail for years. Israel has announced plans to create their first monument dedicated to gays who were persecuted and died at the hands of the Nazis.
The monument will be erected near the headquarters of the Gay Center in central Tel Aviv’s Meir Park and should be completed by the end of the year. It will feature a pink triangle, which was the symbol the Nazis used to mark gay men. The symbol will be displayed on a concreate triangle in the center of the monument. There will also be a bench and a plaque explaining how the Nazis’ persecuted gays.
The pink triangle and the black triangle (which was used to mark non-conformist women including lesbians) have become defiant symbols for the LGBT community.
Attorney Eran Lev is the brains behind the monument. He is a member of the municipal council and represents the Meretz Party.
He told Haaretz that “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.”
He also said that “One of the first restrictions the Nazis imposed on the Jews was against going to public parks. We’re bringing that memory back into the public space. It’s very moving. We felt it was important to present it as part of the park. It’s close to the Gay Center, but not inside it. It’s a public Israeli monument, erected by the municipality, and not something that belongs only to the gay community.”
Lev does hope that the monument will not be the focal point for anti-gay hostility and that it “will be received with understanding and not become a focus of strife between people.”
There are similar monuments in various cities dedicated to the same principals.