Poland: Monument to gay victims of nazi death camps planned in Warsaw

January 18, 2007

Story by UK Gay News

Gays in Poland revealed Monday a plan to erect a monument in the centre of Warsaw that will be a permanent reminder of the “Pink Triangle” gays who were slaughtered in the Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War.

And the plan has already won the support of some city councillors in the Polish capital.

“Warsaw should be a city of equal rights,” said Councillor Bartosz Dominiak of Lewica and Demokraci. “We will support the erection of the monument.”

Dominiak added that he will be urging councillors from Platforma Obywatelska to also support the scheme.

And Pawe_Czekalski from the Platforma party did not dismiss the idea. “We will consider it,” he said.

The monument will be a meter and a half long and of the shape of a pink triangle, the symbol that homosexuals were obliged to wear in Nazi Germany and in concentration camps.

“We have to build this monument so that the people will not forget the thousands of gays who were murdered in the concentration camps of Poland,” said Lukasz Palucki, the founder of the Citizens’ Initiative to Commemorate Gays and Lesbians.

“World War II is evidence that intolerance, anti-Semitism and homophobia lead to concentration camps. History has proved that hated towards other groups leads to homicide.

“It’s time to commemorate all the homosexuals murdered in Nazi concentration camps,” Palucki who is an ambassador of the Swedish-based International Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network (ILGCN). He added that a similar monument was unveiled in December in Berlin.

The Citizens’ Committee for erection of the monument already has several prominent members. Among them are Maria Szyszkowska, professor of philosophy and advocate of LGBT rights in Poland, Tomasz Blczkowski, organizer of Warsaw Gay Pride, and Piotr Gadzinowski, an MP.

The backers of the monument have announced that a contest for the design is to be held next week. And the hope is that the monument will be in place in May so that the Warsaw Gay Pride march could pass and pay respects.

“If Roman Dmowski, a Polish nationalist who had strongly anti-Semitic views, has a monument, why not honor murdered gays,” asked Blczkowski?

However, the idea is not supported by the whole gay community in Poland.

“It is not a wise idea,” Robert Biedrol, the head of Kampanii Przeciw Homofobii (Campaign against Homophobia) said.

“I think that such a monument can only make people turn away from gay community. It will be taken as litigious,” he suggested.

Biedrol’s criticism does not discourage the originator. “We count on generosity of private sponsors,” said Palucki.

“It would be nice if Warsaw City Council contributed.”

For some city councillors, the plan is unacceptable. The Prawo i Sprawiedliwol party is outraged.

“It is a devastating idea and we shall not agree to this,” charged an upset Marek Makuch, party’s chief on the Warsaw council.

“I have not seen in Warsaw a monument for Catholic priests or disabled people,” he said.

“The triangle would be a promotion of homosexuality. “We cannot compare Warsaw with Berlin – Berlin is the capitol of European homosexuality, and here we have our values,” he fumed.

Speaking from Stockholm, Bill Schiller, secretary general of the ILGCN, expressed his pride in the pioneering effort of the ILGCN Eastern European Secretariat and others in supporting the creation of a Homo Monument in Warsaw to honor those gays rounded by Nazi forces and deported to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

“Of course, such a strong symbol also represents all gays, lesbians, and trans persons persecuted and murdered by many regimes and many homophobes around the globe in the past centuries as well as in the present day...

“Those who fear a backlash because of such a statement in stone or metal should recall that all of our work on the barricades in whatever form is always opposed by some – and is no reason to hide in closets or hesitate to go forward,” he said.

“The argument that other groups in society have not made monuments of their own persecuted and annihilated is no reason for us to hide, but all the more reason to support others honoring their fallen – no mater what race, nationality, religion or sexual orientation.

“We gays, lesbians and transgenders have an even greater obligation to raise such rainbow monuments – as are already in existence in Amsterdam, Berlin, Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria and elsewhere – and are under preparation in other cities and sites – is the tragic invisibility of our colleagues even in many countries around the world today and often forgotten by history.”

More gays were slaughtered in Nazi concentration camps in Poland than in any other country invaded by Hitler during the Second World War.

No definitive figures are available, but it is estimated that between 20,000 and 40,000 perished in the notorious Auschwitz camp in south west Poland.

Two years ago, when the 60th anniversary of the Allied “liberation” of Auschwitz was commemorated, gays were the only group that were not recognized during the official ceremony attended by many world leaders.

But on Saturday April 23, 2005, as part of Krakow Pride, a group of about 100 gay men and women from across Europe – and from Israel – took part in a special 30-minute remembrance ceremony of all victims of the Nazi concentration camps when the courtyard containing the notorious “Wall of Death” was closed to the public by the authorities at the Auschwitz camp. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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