The human cost of the Holocaust is well known, but largely glossed over in the teaching of the history of the great tragedy is the murder of over 50,000 gay people at the hands of the Third Reich. That terrible tragedy is the origin of the pink and black triangles as symbols sometimes used to represent the gay community, which would have been worn on prison uniforms by gay and lesbian inmates respectively. The city of Munich, however, is joining the city of Berlin to bring more visibility to a darker page in gay history.
As part of a larger urban renewal plan, Munich will construct a memorial to the gay victims of the holocaust at the site of a large gay bar where many of the city’s gay victims would have been rounded up on October 20, 1934, and sent to prison camps. The Scwharzfischer had been the center of one of the most vibrant gay scenes in Europe prior to the passage of a law called “Paragraph 175” by the Nazi party criminalizing homosexuality. According to the United Kingdom’s PinkNews, the memorial–part of a larger pedestrian-focused neighborhood redevelopment–will be located at the corner of Oberanger and Dultstrasse, where the bar once stood.
When the Allied troops freed the prisoners of the Concentration camps, most of the gay prisoners in Germany were re-imprisoned, and served the remainder of their sentences, unlike other groups freed after the end of World War II. According to the same PinkNews report, the law remained on the books until 1969.
Berlin unveiled a similar gay-specific memorial in 2008, and a pink and black triangle plaque was installed at the memorial at Dachau–one of the most brutal prison camps–in 1995.