Wednesday, June 1, 2011
The German city of Munich, where the Nazis raided gay bars in the early days of the Third Reich, is to have a new memorial dedicated to the gay and lesbian victims of the holocaust.
The location of the memorial is significant, as on 20 October 1934, the Nazis undertook a raid on the city’s gay bars. It was one of the first such incidents in what would become a full-scale systematic persecution of gay people under Hitler’s rule.
The memorial will form part of a new pedestrian development in the center of Munich and will be placed at the crossroads of Oberanger and Dultstrasse outside what was the Scwharzfischer (The Black Fisherman), one of the city’s most popular gay bars in the 1930s.
It is estimated that more than 50,000 gay people were eventually arrested. The majority were men, although the Third Reich did also arrest and imprison lesbians, contrary to an earlier belief they were spared.
Many of those arrested were interned in concentration camps, though the true number of how many met that fate will probably never be known. Gay men were forced to wear pink triangles, lesbians black triangles. Many gay people who survived the camps were re-imprisoned, as homosexuality remained criminalised. Paragraph 175 – that which criminalised homosexuality in Germany – remained in effect until 1969
The man behind the monument is Thomas Niederbuhl, a Councillor for the Rosa List Party. His project has broad political support from both parties currently in power in Munich. However, Richard Quaas, spokesman for the opposition party, the Christian Democrats said: “Until now, there was a consensus not to establish differentiation of victims on monuments or monuments. Other groups of victims of Nazism have no specific memorial in the public arena in Munich.”
It was not until 1995, after a decade of campaigning, that gay men and lesbians were given a memorial in recognition of their suffering under the Nazis - a pink triangle plaque at the Dachau Memorial Museum.
A memorial in Berlin was unveiled in 2008.