Holocaust memorial for LGBTQ+ victims vandalised in suspected homophobic attack

A Berlin-based memorial for gay men persecuted under the Nazi regime has been vandalised in a suspected homophobic attack.

Holocaust memorial for gay men persecuted under the Nazi regime in Berlin.
Image: @Florian_Vienna (via Twitter)

A Holocaust memorial for LGBTQ+ victims persecuted under the Nazi regime in Berlin has been vandalised. According to police, the incident occurred early on Saturday, August 12, and the State Security Service has now taken over the investigation of the suspected homophobic attack.

A flammable object was thrown at the monument by an unknown person, but fortunately, the device did not ignite. The vandal then put up posters containing Bible scripture around the Holocaust memorial, citing Leviticus 20:13, a verse frequently exploited for anti-LGBTQ+ activism.

The memorial, which is located on the outskirts of the famed Tiergarten Park, was unveiled in 2008. A small window in the concrete cube building allows viewers to watch a film depicting a romantic same-sex scene, and the landmark has been subjected to suspected homophobic attacks in the past, especially in the time after its unveiling. 

Shortly after Saturday’s vandal managed to flee the scene unapprehended, two witnesses observed a man committing an arson attack on a book exchange near the Holocaust memorial, Platform 17, at Grunewald station. He placed a box in a former telephone booth, which was serving as a public bookshelf, and set it on fire. The fire brigade managed to extinguish the fire, but the books were almost completely destroyed. 

The majority of the publications in the book exchange dealt with Berlin’s Jewish population as well as the Nazi persecution of Jews living there. Between 1941 and 1945, more than 50,000 Jewish men, women and children were deported from Grunewald station to be murdered in the Eastern territories and Auschwitz.

The Offene Initiative Lesbischer Frauen (Open Initiative of Lesbian Women) was the target of a third assault on Monday night, August 14. Someone attempted to set fire to and damage the shop window of the organisation’s advisory centre. Inside, burned flyers and pamphlets were discovered by police officers, and it is thought that the offender put them there.

Investigators claim that the same Bible verse that was discovered on the memorial was at the scene of the third attack. Additionally, it’s said that the flyers include an identical confession letter that was also placed at Platform 17’s book exchange. Although all three crimes appear to have been perpetrated by the same person, the police have not released any information about the attacker, as the investigation is still underway. 

Responding to the attacks, the Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD) issued a statement on Tuesday, August 15, saying it “is shocked that queer spaces, advice centers, demonstrations, memorials and places of democratic civil society are being targeted by perpetrators from what are believed to be right-wing extremist and religious-fundamentalist backgrounds.

“These actions send a clear message: We know where to find you. You are not safe there,” the organisation added.

“But our community is not intimidated. We won’t hide again. As lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans*, intersex and queer people, we bravely fought our way into the middle of society – we’re staying here.”

The Federal Ministry of the Interior reports that the number of assaults on LGBTQ+ individuals in Germany has risen in the past years. In 2021, 1,005 instances, including 227 serious offences and 341 insults, were recorded. In comparison to these numbers, there have been roughly 15% more cases in 2022.

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