Tel Aviv monument to remember homosexuals persecuted by Nazis

Memorial will remember 50,000 gay men convicted by the Third Reich, including over 7,000 murdered in death camps

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Tel Aviv is going ahead with a plan to install a monument to the gay community persecuted by the Nazis, memorializing thousands of homosexual men who were murdered in death camps.

The memorial is designed to be a concrete triangular slab embossed with a smaller pink triangle, reminiscent of the symbol that the Nazis forced gay men to wear on their clothes.

A park bench and plaque will provide information about the 50,000 gay men who were convicted under Paragraph 175 of the Nazi penal code, which banned homosexual relations. Between 7,000 and 10,000 were sent to their deaths for the crime during the Third Reich.

The monument is slated to be placed in Gan Meir, a park at the center of Tel Aviv’s LGBT community, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.

City councilman and Meretz party member Eran Lev initiated the project, which received the blessing of Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. The monument will cost NIS 150,000 ($42,000).

“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,” Lev told Haaretz. “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.”

Tel Aviv has over recent years become noted as one of the world’s most gay-friendly cities, with a popular pride parade and thriving LGBT community. MK Nitzan Horowitz is currently running to become the city’s first openly gay mayor.

Lev said finding an inscription for the monument involved striking a balance between inclusiveness to the community and avoiding using anachronisms not appropriate to the period.

The inscription will read “to the memory of those persecuted by the Nazi regime for their sexual preference and gender identity.” The words will serve as a reference to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people who all identify as individual groups today, but were labeled with the catchall “homosexual” by the Nazis.

Lev explained that the location of the memorial in a public park also has special significance for Jews.

“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,” he said. “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.”

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