The Memorial to the Persecuted Homosexuals pays tribute to those who were marginalized by Hitler's regime. This sensitive memorial complex is one of the most pleasantly surprising sites in the sphere of remembrance.
A Visit Is Optional. It Is Also a Personal Favourite.
In 2008, a memorial was unveiled in Berlin to honor those persecuted by the National Socialist regime due to their sexual orientation, purportedly in the name of the biological and social regeneration of the national body. The construction of the remarkable Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, dedicated to the victims of the Shoah, led other communities who were also marginalized to rightly demand their own place of remembrance.
Quantitatively, it is impossible to compare the victims of anti-homosexual policies with those of anti-Jewish policies during that period. However, it is important to note that human suffering is not quantifiable, and there is no need for competition among memories. On the contrary, these two memorials, along with those that will follow, are complementary rather than antagonistic. Each combats historical denial and has a distinct contemporary relevance.
An Almost Accidental Discovery
Hidden and deliberately discreet, an oblique stele stands at the edge of Tiergarten Park. Without any title or information plaque, a skylight allows one to observe a short video montage inside, depicting two individuals of the same sex, either men or women, in an embrace. Behind the embracing couple, a panorama of images displays discriminatory measures and the struggle for equal rights throughout the ages, not solely during the period of National Socialism. This detail illustrates that the issue of homophobia is contemporary and reminds visitors of its historical echoes. In essence, the artistic form of the Memorial adapts to contemporary issues.
Moreover, compelling the visitor to witness the intimacy and act of love between two people hiding from potentially judgmental or reproachful gazes is both unsettling and surprising. The lack of visible information is a pedagogical choice, reminding us that even today, people in love are often forced to hide their affection.
However, there is a commemorative and explanatory plaque that, although it is logically placed away from the Memorial to maintain the ambiance, its sterile style makes the entire ensemble challenging to interpret and comprehend.
One of the Most Extraordinary Memorials Ever
The Memorial to Persecuted Homosexuals exhibits remarkable sensitivity and places the visitor in an uncomfortable situation. The discretion demonstrated here is intentional, and the political message is clear.
However, one must be cautious of preconceived ideas, which are unfortunately reinforced and consolidated due to the lack of explanations. The interpretation of the historical fact can be precarious when the form takes precedence over the substance, a characteristic of a memorial. In other words, it necessitates rethinking one's own perceptions and cultivating patience. There is no doubt that the memorial is an absolutely remarkable ensemble. Visiting there is not an obligation but a personal journey.
Reasons to Visit
A daring and successful adaptation of historical issues to contemporary ones
A dignified and respectful discretion
The fantastic lighting effect shortly before the darkness
Reasons to Skip
A commendable concept, but difficult to access for beginners
Frequent technical problems that leave the visitor in the dark
Condensation inside the stele making it difficult to watch the video