The Lost Pink Triangles

An exhibition of Nazi persecution of homosexuals goes on display in NYC.

BY JAMES MCDONALD
JULY 06 2015 5:00 AM ET
A traveling exhibition produced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933–1945,” is now on view at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City.

The show tells the story of Nazi persecution of homosexuals during World War II: Hitler’s genocide resulted in the death of 6 million Jews and millions of other people, with an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 sent to concentration camps because of their sexual orientations — the vast majority of them being gay men.

The story of these victims, commonly known as the Pink Triangles, has begun attracting attention relatively recently. Despite noted works like the play Bent, which was adapted into a film starring Clive Owen in 1997, and memoirs by former camp prisoners Gad Beck and Pierre Seel, gay stories have largely failed to become part of mainstream Holocaust narratives.

“The exhibition explores why homosexual behavior was identified as a danger to Nazi society and how the Nazi regime attempted to eliminate it,” says exhibition curator Edward Phillips.

“The Nazis believed it was possible to ‘cure’ homosexual behavior through labor and ‘re-education.’ ” Phillips says. “Their efforts to eradicate homosexuality left gay men subject to imprisonment, castration, institutionalization, and deportation to concentration camps.”

Between 1933 and 1945, more than 100,000 gay men were arrested for violating Nazi Germany’s ban on homosexuality. The exhibition includes personal accounts, photographs, and detailed information spanning this dark period of LGBT history.

MJHNYC.org, through October 2, 2015.

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