German Parliament to officially commemorate LGBTQ+ victims of Holocaust

On this year's Holocaust Remembrance Day, a ceremony will be held to commemorate the LGBTQ+ victims of the Nazi regime.

This article is about a commemoration for the LGBTQ+ victims of the Holocaust. In the photo, a concentration camp of the Nazi regime.
Image: Via Unsplash - Vada

For the first time, the German Parliament will officially commemorate the LGBTQ+ victims of the Nazi regime at this year’s ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day, on January 27.

Holocaust Remembrance Day was established by the United Nations to commemorate the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, as well as all the other victims of the Nazi regime. The German Parliament has commemorated the day every year since 1996 with a special memorial ceremony.

While victims who were persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity were recognised during previous ceremonies, there has never been an official parliamentary commemoration dedicated to them before.

Last summer, the German Parliament decided that, for the first time in its history, the commemoration ceremony held on Holocaust Remembrance Day would be dedicated to the LGBTQ+ victims of the Nazi regime this January 27.

It is estimated that between 6,000 and 7,000 gay men were imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps. Of those who were deported to camps, 60% died there. Many were executed, but many more died because of forced labour, malnutrition and the horrifying tortures they had to endure.

These victims will be “at the centre of the commemoration ceremony” this year, confirmed Bärbel Bas, President of the Bundestag (the German federal parliament). The commemoration usually involves a speech by a Holocaust survivor, but Bas said that “sadly there are no survivors left” for the LGBTQ+ victims’ memorial.

She also explained that the parliamentary authorities were in close discussion with the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD) to shape a suitable commemoration ceremony. The group welcomed the Parliament’s decision to dedicate the ceremony to victims persecuted due to their sexual orientation and gender identity.

“To draw the right lessons from all its different facets, history must be comprehensively kept alive” said Henny Engels, member of the LSVD board.

In 2002, the German government officially apologised to the LGBTQ+ community for what is remembered as the most severe persecution of gay people in history. In Berlin, Danish-Norwegian artist duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset design a monument in 2008 to commemorate the LGBTQ+ victims persecuted and killed in the Holocaust. It is a parallelepiped made of concrete that has a small window where it is possible to watch a film of two men kissing.

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