Germany Remembers 'Pink' Holocaust

  • Share
  • Read Later
BONN: "First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I said nothing..." Even Pastor Martin Niemoller's famous poem denouncing German silence in the Holocaust is silent on those concentration camp inmates who wore the pink triangle. But Wednesday's official Holocaust Memorial ceremonies for the first time included a special tribute to the estimated 12,500 gay men who died after being sent to the camps because of their sexual orientation. "Germany has waited this long to acknowledge the gay victims of Nazism because public acceptance of homosexuality has been slow in coming," says TIME Bonn correspondent Ursula Sautter. "The law that prevailed in the Nazi era outlawing homosexuality was only formally repealed in 1994."

The inclusion of gay victims in ceremonies marking the country's fourth annual Holocaust Memorial day reflects a generational shift in German society. "Those in power today came of age during the radical protests of 1968," says Sautter. "They're more relaxed about acknowledging and discussing the Holocaust, compared with the earlier generation who were riddled with guilt and shame. Opening up these issues has been a lot healthier for Germany."