Sunday, 13 February 2005


Click here for more details

Celebrating LGBT History Month

27 January, in most of Europe was Holocaust Memorial Day, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps. A special ceremony took place at Auschwitz, attended by all sorts of political leaders.

In London, a much lower key ceremony took place at City Hall on the Tuesday before HMD. In the welcome speech, we were reminded that whoever knew and remembered the atrocities committed in the camp could not even consider wearing a Nazi uniform for fun; this thought was made even more potent when a survivor of the camps, Trude Levi, read out some of her story; also pleading for tolerance and making references to our current tendencies to reject asylum seekers. Rabbi Barry Marcus said a few words and sang a very moving prayer in Hebrew. The intonations of the singing and the word "Shalom" together with a list of concentration camp (the only words I could understand) made it all the more poignant. The Rwandan Ambassador to the UK, Mrs Rosemary Museminali told about her country's experience of genocide ten years ago and of her visit of Auschwitz. In the audience, there were a handful of teenage school children in their uniforms (interestingly the vaste majority of them was white). At the end of the ceremony, a Book of Commitment was signed by 7 students and whoever who was present who wanted to sign. The book marks the commitment of London to keep the memory of what happened alive and to avoid its reoccurrence.

I attended as part of the London Gay Men's Chorus who had been officially invited to take part in the ceremony. we sang two songs, at the beginning and at the end. The fact that we had been invited was, I think highly symbolic. There at City Hall but also more widely, this year, and I believe for the first year on such a large scale, groups other than the Jews (and more noticeably I think) were recognised as victims of the Nazi in the camps, this included the homosexual victims. For the occasion of HMD, Italy saw the erection of the one of the first memorials to gay victims in Europe (there are other ones in San Francisco, Sydney and Berlin); while, in Britain, the Lesbian & Gay Foundation in Manchester has opened three ‘Books of Hope’ to acknowledge the estimated 100,000 gay and lesbian victims of the Nazi.
Let's not forget either that, at the liberation of the camps, due to the infamous Paragraph 175 (a 1871 German law, amended by the Nazis and kept on the German law books until 1969), some of the victims who were there for homosexuality were sent directly to prison and that it took years for them to be recognised as victims of the concentration camps (The official apology from the German government came in 2001!!!). A link to the site for Paragraph 175, the film with educational resources.

For many years the plight of homosexuals (and other minorities) in the camp have been eclipsed by the huge amount of Jewish victims, when not simply negated. Sometimes it still is. Lest we forget; lest it happens again:

Holocaust Memorial Day

Gay Holocaust Memorial Site

Gay Holocaust Memorial

Pink Triangle

Pink Triangle Coalition

Homosexuals and the Holocaust, an essaie by Ben S. Austin

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave your comment here. Note that comments are moderated and only those in French or in English will be published. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and to leave a thought.