Monument to gay victims of Nazis vandalized in Berlin

Man defaces memorial with homophobic flyers, attempts to set it on fire before fleeing; memorial to Jews deported from city’s Grunewald railway station also hit by arson attack

Wreaths placed at the memorial for the homosexual victims of the Nazis on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Berlin, Germany, January 27, 2023. (Markus Schreiber/AP)
Wreaths placed at the memorial for the homosexual victims of the Nazis on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Berlin, Germany, January 27, 2023. (Markus Schreiber/AP)

BERLIN, Germany — An unidentified vandal defaced a memorial to the LGBT victims of the Nazis in central Berlin with homophobic flyers and attempted to set fire to it, police said Tuesday.

The man, who was spotted by a security guard but remains at large, threw a burning object at the memorial in the early hours of Saturday but it did not catch fire, a police spokesman told AFP.

He also affixed papers with a biblical quotation about homosexuality and the death penalty to the concrete slab monument, which features a video loop of two men kissing.

The security guard alerted police but the suspect was able to flee. A criminal probe has been opened.

The LSVD gay rights organization said in a statement it was “shocked by the incitement of hate” behind the incident, and by another act of vandalism against a separate Holocaust memorial the same night.

It noted that the Old Testament verse on the signs “is frequently abused for queer-hostile agitation.”

The monument to gay victims was inaugurated in 2008 for the thousands of LGBT people persecuted, tortured and murdered by the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945.

The memorial, which was commissioned by parliament, is in Tiergarten park in the heart of the capital, close to the main monument to the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

It is estimated that Nazi Germany sent 5,000 to 15,000 LGBT people to concentration camps together with Jews, political opponents, Roma, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others considered undesirable.

Once there, few were killed right away. Most were forced to wear a pink triangle, putting them at the bottom of the camp hierarchy, and many died of hunger, disease, abuse or exhaustion. Very few survived.

Wreaths in the name of then-German president Joachim Gauck and his then-Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin at the ‘Gleis 17’ (platform 17) memorial of the deportation of Jews from Berlin to concentration camps at the Grunewald railway station in Berlin, Germany, May 11, 2015. (Odd Andersen/Pool Photo via AP)

Police said Saturday that a man overnight set fire to a box of books on Nazism that was part of a Berlin monument dedicated to Jews deported to the camps by the Nazis.

The box of books was part of a memorial known as “Platform 17” at Grunewald railway station.

It was from Platform 17 that 50,000 German Jews were deported to Nazi concentration and death camps at Riga, Warsaw, Auschwitz and Theresienstadt beginning in 1941.

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