Just across from the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is another Holocaust Memorial in downtown Berlin—a monument to the homosexual Holocaust victims during WWII.

In Nazi Germany, homosexuality was persecuted to a degree unprecedented in history. In 1935, the National Socialists issued an order making all male homosexuality a crime; the provisions governing homosexual behavior in Section 175 of the Criminal Code were significantly expanded and made stricter. A kiss was enough reason to prosecute. There were more than 50,000 convictions. Under Section 175, the punishment was imprisonment; in some cases, convicted offenders were castrated. Thousands of men were sent to concentration camps for being gay; many of them died there. They died of hunger, disease and abuse or were the victims of targeted killings.

In Nazi Germany, female homosexuality was not prosecuted except in Austria though lesbians were persecuted. After WWII, homosexuality would remain illegal and continue to be prosecuted in both East and West Germany with the Nazi-inherited Section 175 laws. In 1968, East Germany removed Section 175 from its books and in 1969, West Germany also did so.

Gay Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

Gay Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

The monument for homosexual Holocaust victims in Berlin was opened in 2008 by Berlin’s gay major Klaus Wowereit. The memorial features a stone slab with a small window through which a looped video of two men (and now also, two women) kissing. It’s just across the street from the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin’s other Holocaust memorial.

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