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Holocaust Memorial Day

Today for Holocaust Memorial Day Proudly mourns all the victims of the Holocaust, all those six million people lost to genocide. Included in that figure are the forgotten victims, the many thousands of gay men & other LGBTQ+ people who have survived the Nazi death camps only to have been liberated and then imprisoned.

What is Holocaust Memorial Day?

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust encourages remembrance in a world scarred by genocide. This day is dedicated to the remembrance of the Jews and others who suffered in the Holocaust, under Nazi persecution. Holocaust Memorial Day was first held in January 2001 and has been on the same date every year since.

This day takes place on the 27th January as it marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

On this international day, we remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi Persecution and in genocides that followed in CambodiaRwandaBosnia and Darfur.

Remembering the LGBTQ+ who we have lost

Holocaust Memorial Day gives us a chance to pause and reflect on this chapter in Jewish history, LGBTQ+ history, and our shared human history.  We are reminded of the devastating consequences hatred and prejudice can have. May we never forget.

Alongside Romany Gypsies and people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community were also targeted by the Nazis in their efforts to eradicate entire communities who they portrayed as a threat to the ‘German people’.  

While Berlin in the 1920s and early 1930s was home to a flourishing LGBTQ+ community, since immortalised in Goodbye to Berlin and Cabaret, the Nazi rise to power was followed by a swift and brutal crackdown.  

Between 1933 and 1945, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested in Nazi Germany as ‘homosexuals’, of whom 50,000 were sentenced, and between 5,000 and 15,000 were sent to concentration camps.

Lesbians, bi women and trans people, whose experiences remain under-researched, were also targeted. It is unclear how many LGBTQ+ people perished in these camps.  

As homosexuality was only decriminalised in Germany decades after the Second World War, many LGBTQ+ survivors could not publicly give voice to their stories and experiences.  

We remember the survivors

That’s why today, Proudly remember Gad Beck, a gay Jewish man who survived the Holocaust and supported many others to do the same, by using his connections in Berlin’s underground gay community.  

Proudly want to also mention Annette Eick, a Jewish lesbian who narrowly avoided the fate met by her parents in Auschwitz by fleeing to England in 1938, where she later met her partner.    

And most of all, today Proudly are thinking about those victims and survivors, families and communities whose stories have all but been lost.

That is why it’s so important we remember those stories that have survived, and which continue to come to light.

The Pink Triangle

Holocaust Memorial Day Pink Triangle
Source: Fortheloveofqueers (Holocaust Memorial Day Pink Triangle)

In the concentration camps, prisoners arrested for being ‘homosexual’ were forced to wear a pink triangle on their sleeve as a badge of shame.

The pink triangle symbolises the power of remembering the past, reflecting on the injustices that persist today, and the possibility of a future where people are not demonised for their difference.

Now, the pink triangle has been inverted and reclaimed as a symbol of queer resistance and liberation, as was done most visibly by American HIV/AIDS activists in the 1980s.   

The pink triangle symbolises the power of remembering the past, reflecting on the injustices that persist today, and the possibility of a future where people are not demonised for their difference.

More than 70 years on from the end of World War Two, today’s burial offers the chance for us to remember those who suffered under the Nazi regime, and to give them a small amount of the dignity they deserve. Today we remember them. 

Holocaust Memorial Day Pink Triangle
Source: Fortheloveofqueers (Holocaust Memorial Day Pink Triangle)

We will light a candle and safely put it in our windows at 8pm today to remember those who were murdered for who they were. To stand against hatred and prejudice in the world today.

Today we #LightTheDarkness together.

Featured image by: Fortheloveofqueers

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