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Monumental Embrace

Daniel Estrin reports on the controversy over Berlin’s latest Holocaust memorial, a tribute to gay victims of the Nazis that has pitted historians against activists and gay men against lesbians

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From the video “The Kiss,” in the Memorial for the Homosexual Victims of the Nazi Regime in Berlin(Video by Nimbus Film/Thomas Vinterberg; visual effects by Gearless/Peter Hjorth)

Holocaust memorials seem destined to seed controversy, particularly in Berlin. When the city’s first Holocaust memorial—2,711 stone blocks designed by Peter Eisenman—opened in 2005, it provoked a barrage of criticism. Some disliked Eisenman’s abstract concept. Others objected to its location after it was discovered that the bunker where Joseph Goebbels had committed suicide was on the site. And many were horrified to learn that the anti-graffiti coating applied to the memorial was manufactured by a subsidiary of the company that produced Zyklon B, the poison used in concentration-camp gas chambers.

Now a monument directly across the street from the Holocaust memorial has sparked an entirely different conflict. Erected in 2008, it is a memorial to gay victims of the Nazi regime. Echoing the design of Eisenman’s Holocaust memorial, it consists a single cement column, which holds a video monitor playing a continuously looping film of two men kissing. The video has prompted outrage, but not from the parties one might expect. Daniel Estrin reported for Vox Tablet from Berlin. [Running time: 12:00.]

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I think all this is overblown by people seeking the rewards of victimhood. Frankly if it weren’t so tragic (comparing this group sufferings to Jews’ or Gypsies’) it would be farcical.

The bunker where Joseph Goebbels committed suicide? YOu mean Hitler’s bunker where he and Goebbels committed suicide.(Together with Eva Braun, Magda Goebbels and all of the Goebbels children)

The horror of the Shoah is not diminished nor diluted by profound respect for the horrors of others killed and treated cruelly by the Nazis merely for their being who they were. The pettiness of calling concern for the suffering of homosexuals “farcical” is obscene.

I’m wondering about the comment by ‘dusan’.
For me a victim is a victim. A human being is a human being. A loss is a loss. Why would someone take the energy to diminish even a lesser target of the Nazis?
It’s not about ‘rewards of victimhood’ but it is about Justice!

Victor says:

Look who is hosting “dusan”s link – it is an organization called “Abiding Truth Ministries.” The Christian ministry is headed by Scott Lively, who is the primary preacher who goes around the world pushing his homophobic message. Look him up on Wikipedia – he is directly connected to spreading anti-gay lies and hysteria in Uganda, which resulted in the Anti-Homosexuality bill (for now it’s still a bill. If enacted, it will lead to deaths of many people – gay and straight. There are also videos of him spreading his hate to new lands under the guise of “Christian love.”

Victor, thanks for your research. That explains a lot and answers my question.

Victor says:


Glad it helped.

S. Mollick says:

wp says it all in his/her comment above. Let us remember and honor all those who
suffered and died at the hands of the Nazi regime.

Bob van den Haenenbal says:

If we go on defining and re-defining victimhood in ever more detailed sub-categories to do justice to everyone’s longing for an identifying connection to a great historic tragedy, we soon will have monuments erected to the victims coming from Cluny-sur-Seine and to guys called Bob and born in Amsterdam. Stop building monuments – build houses.

Victor says:

Dear Bob,

While I agree with your general idea that people need to think of real present needs of people, I disagree with another premise of your thought. The reason these monuments and discussion are needed is that right after WW2 they were absent. In fact, the gays went from concentration camps back to prisons. If you look at gypsies, you’ll find out that back in the previously occupied Slavic lands they were still being discriminated against to a very high degree.

So, yes, while things like housing are necessary, we do need to point out to people that no, it wasn’t just the Jews who suffered greatly at the hands of the Nazi regime. We still do need to point out that yes, gays were sent to concentration camps, they were being experimented on, they were beaten and killed, too. For even some in the Jewish community refuse to acknowledge that.

Apart from its concentrated intensity, the Jewish Holocaust, so far from being unique, was in many ways an emblematic event. I dare say there was not a single outrage committed against the Jews in the course of it that had not been committed a hundred-times-over against countless other innocent men, women, and children in the course of history. The only difference is that the other victims were obscure, mute, illiterate, and therefore easily forgotten.

This fact in no wise diminishes the value of the Holocaust as a world-historical event. On the contrary it should serve to remind us all, Jews and Gentiles alike, of the barbarous crimes against humanity that have been part and parcel of the historical process ever since civilization began — a process from which we have mercifully been delivered, let us pray, by the modern triumph of liberal democracy.

May we never forget! May the Jews never let us forget!

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Monumental Embrace

Daniel Estrin reports on the controversy over Berlin’s latest Holocaust memorial, a tribute to gay victims of the Nazis that has pitted historians against activists and gay men against lesbians

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