New Nazi victims' monument opens in Berlin

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A new memorial opened in Berlin on Tuesday in honor of homosexual victims of the Nazis. The monument also aims to address the discrimination towards and social stigma surrounding homosexuality in today's society by confronting visitors with an image of a same-sex couple kissing.

The monument is a sloping gray concrete slab on the edge of Berlin's Tiergarten park, which echoes the vast field of smaller slabs that make up Germany's memorial to Jewish victims of the Holocaust, opened three years ago across the road.

Nazi Germany declared homosexuality a deviation that threatened the German race and convicted some 50,000 homosexuals as criminals. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 gay men were deported to concentration camps where few survived.

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit stated that he regrets the lengthy time it took to honor the Nazis' gay victims.

The federal government financed the 600,000 building costs, while Berlin's city government provided the site.

Germany has allowed gay couples to become registered partners at registry offices since 2001, however the law falls short of permitting formal marriage. Berlin has a large gay community, as do other major German cities such as Cologne, Hamburg and Munich.