Monument to homosexual victims of Nazis unveiled

Tue May 27, 2008 3:33pm EDT
 
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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany unveiled a monument to the tens of thousands of homosexuals persecuted under the Nazis, whose laws were used to prosecute gay men for a generation after World War Two.

Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit, who is openly gay, hailed the grey, concrete memorial as a long overdue acknowledgement of the repression of homosexuals, 50,000 of whom were convicted by Nazi courts during Adolf Hitler's 12-year dictatorship.

"The monument consecrated today is a reminder to us of the horrors of the past and draws our attention to the degree of discrimination that currently exists," Wowereit said.

"Great efforts will still need to be undertaken before the sight of two men or women kissing here or in Moscow or elsewhere on the planet is accepted by society in general."

The 600,000 euro ($950,000) cube in Berlin's central Tiergarten park stands opposite the monument to the 6 million European Jews murdered by the Nazis, and was designed by the Danish-Norwegian pairing of Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset.

Nazi authorities ordered the castration of some gay men, and sent thousands more to concentration camps, many of whom were murdered or died from hunger and disease.

Until 1969, when the centre-left Social Democrats headed a government for the first time since the Weimar Republic, Nazi laws continued to be applied to prosecute homosexuals.

The country's gay and lesbian association (LSVD) said that for years German homosexuals had been cut out of the official culture of commemoration, and denied compensation.

"Commemoration must have consequences," the LSVD said in a statement. "The rehabilitation of those people who were convicted under Nazi laws must therefore be the next step."

(Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Giles Elgood)

 
<p>People are reflected in the protective glass in front of a video screen showing a kissing couple inside the newly unveiled memorial to homosexuals persecuted by the Nazis, during the inauguration ceremony in Berlin May 27, 2008. The single grey concrete slab is placed in the capital's central Tiergarten park. REUTERS/Johannes Eisele</p>