In Berlin last weekend, a vandal defaced the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under National Socialism with biblical quotations denouncing homosexuality before attempting to set fire to the concrete structure.
Overnight on Saturday, a security guard witnessed a man, still at large, throw a burning object at the memorial. The structure didn’t sustain any lasting damage.
Our activism was born in these forgotten papers—and lies—generated decades ago, retooled and weaponized for our time.
The concrete cube, erected in 2008 at the edge of Tiergarten Park near the main monument to the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, features a small opening through which video of a same-sex couple kissing can be seen.
German police have opened an inquiry into the vandalism.
On the same night, another Holocaust memorial in Berlin was also the target of an arson attack.
An unknown assailant set fire to a “book box” containing reading material about the Nazi era, part of the “Platform 17” memorial honoring Jews sent to their deaths from the Grünewald train station.
An estimated 50,000 German Jews were deported to Nazi concentration and death camps at Riga, Warsaw, Auschwitz, and Theresienstadt through the station beginning in 1941.
Police said the display was almost entirely destroyed.
The LSVD German LGBTQ+ rights organization said in a statement it was “shocked by the incitement of hate” behind both incidents.
It noted that the Old Testament verse on the notes affixed to the LGBTQ+ monument, which linked the death penalty and homosexual sex, is “frequently abused for queer-hostile agitation.”
The memorial has been the object of vandalism in the past. Just nine months after the unveiling, the window revealing the same-sex embrace was smashed three times in back-to-back incidents.
Monument designers Ingar Dragset and Michael Elmgreen have said the view to the kiss is at the heart of the memorial’s message.
“It was important to have direct imagery of a love scene, a passionate scene, an emotional scene between two same-sex persons, because that is the main problem in homophobia,” Elmgreen told the Associated Press in 2008. “You can get whatever rights, you can get acceptance on an abstract level, but they don’t want to look at us.”
Nazi Germany considered homosexuality an aberration and a threat to the German Reich. More than 50,000 LGBTQ+ Germans were convicted as criminals, with an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 gay men sent to concentration camps.