Tuesday, January 27, 2009


From Gay Wisdom

Why today?
Well on this date in 1945 the Soviet Red Army arrived at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland and liberated the survivors.

This is the day to remember the genocide of approximately six million European Jews during World War II, as part of a program of deliberate extermination planned and executed by the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazi) regime in Germany led by Adolf Hitler. Some scholars extend this definition to include the Nazi's systematic murder of Roma; Soviet civilians, Soviet prisoners of war; ethnic Poles; the disabled; Homosexual men; and political and religious opponents. Taking into account all the victims of Nazi persecution, the total number of victims would be between nine and 11 million.

Between 1933-45, more than 100,000 men were arrested and registered by police as homosexuals ("Rosa Listen" or "Pink Lists"), and of these, some 50,000 were officially sentenced. Most of these men spent time in regular prisons, and an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 of the total sentenced were incarcerated in concentration camps. It is unclear how many of these 5,000 to 15,000 eventually perished in the concentration camps. The leading scholar Ruediger Lautman however believes that the death rate in concentration camps of imprisoned homosexuals may have been as high as 60%. Homosexuals in camps were treated in an unusually cruel manner by their captors, and were also persecuted by their fellow inmates. This was a factor in the relatively high death rate for homosexuals, compared to other "anti-social groups".

More recently however German state television channel Deutsche Welle updated this figure to "almost 55,000" deaths following the study of documents from archives in East Germany that had been inaccessible to researchers for decades after the war.

After the war, the treatment of homosexuals in concentration camps went unacknowledged by most countries. Some that did escape were even re-arrested and imprisoned based on evidence found during the Nazi years. It was not until the 1980s that governments acknowledged this episode, and not until 2002 that the German government apologized to the Gay community. This period still provokes controversy, however.

In 2005, the European Parliament adopted a resolution regarding the Holocaust where the persecution of homosexuals was mentioned.

One of the oldest symbols of the modern Gay rights movement is the pink triangle, which originated from the Nazi concentration camp badges that Homosexuals were required to wear on their clothing. It is estimated that as many as 220,000 Gays and Lesbians perished alongside the 6,000,000 Jews whom the Nazis exterminated in their death camps during World War II as part of Hitler's so-called final solution. For this reason, the Pink Triangle is used both as an identification symbol and as a memento to remind both its wearers and the general public of the atrocities that Gays suffered under Nazi persecutors. ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) also adopted the inverted pink triangle to symbolize the "active fight back" against the disease "rather than a passive resignation to fate."

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