New film for Berlin's memorial to commemorate persecuted homosexuals

A film by Israeli multimedia artist Yael Bartana will replace the current loop video at the Berlin Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism.

Yael Bartana's concept was chosen from among a total of 11 entries, the German Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe said in a statement on Thursday.

Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, the artist duo from Denmark and Norway respectively who created the Berlin Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism, unveiled in 2008, had invited handpicked artists to participate in the closed competition. The German Culture Ministry is funding the film, the foundation said.

The new looped film is to start showing on June 3 in the framework of an official ceremony with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to mark the memorial's 10th anniversary.

The large grey concrete cuboid set up near the Holocaust Memorial in the heart of the German capital has a small square window on its front side, through which visitors can watch a short looped video that is swapped out every few years.

Read more: Gay Nazi victim Wolfgang Lauinger dies without state compensation

Eternal kiss

The very first film showed men locked in a kiss. It was replaced in 2012 by a film that showed people's reaction to kissing gay or lesbian couples. Since 2014, the original film has been showing again.   

Homosexuellen-Mahnmal eingeweiht

Kissing another man could land men in jail under the Nazis

The Israeli artist chosen to design the third film says on her homepage that her "films, installations and photographs explore the imagery of identity and the politics of memory."

Male homosexuality was a crime severely oppressed in Nazi Germany. A kiss was reason enough to persecute, and there were tens of thousands of convictions.

For a long time after World War II, homosexual victims of Nazi Germany were not officially recognized. Section 175 of the German criminal code that made homosexual acts between males a crime was only reformed in the early 1970s and finally abolished in 1994.

Read more: The long path toward same-sex marriage in Germany

Related Subjects

In 2001, the initiative "Remember the Homosexual Victims of National Socialism" and the Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany urged the creation of a memorial to the homosexuals persecuted by the National Socialist regime. Two years later, the German Bundestag pledged to build a memorial site.


Wannsee House

The villa on Berlin's Wannsee lake was pivotal in planning the Holocaust. Fifteen members of the Nazi government and the SS Schutzstaffel met here on January 20, 1942 to plan what became known as the "Final Solution," the deportation and extermination of all Jews in German-occupied territory. In 1992, the villa where the Wannsee Conference was held was turned into a memorial and museum.



The Nazi regime opened the first concentration camp in Dauchau, not far from Munich. Just a few weeks after Adolf Hitler came to power it was used by the paramilitary SS "Schutzstaffel" to imprison, torture and kill political opponents to the regime. Dachau also served as a prototype and model for the other Nazi camps that followed.


Nazi party rally grounds

Nuremberg hosted the biggest Nazi party propaganda rallies from 1933 until the start of the Second World War. The annual Nazi party congress as well as rallies with as many as 200,000 participants took place on the 11-km² (4.25 square miles) area. Today, the unfinished Congress Hall building serves as a documentation center and a museum.



The Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Lower Saxony was initially established as a prisoner of war camp before becoming a concentration camp. Prisoners too sick to work were brought here from other concentration camps, so many also died of disease. One of the 50,000 killed here was Anne Frank, a Jewish girl who gained international fame posthumously after her diary was published.


Memorial to the German Resistance

The Bendlerblock building in Berlin was the headquarters of a military resistance group. On July 20, 1944, a group of Wehrmacht officers around Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg carried out an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler that failed. The leaders of the conspiracy were summarily shot the same night in the courtyard of the Bendlerblock, which is today the German Resistance Memorial Center.


Hadamar Euthanasia Center

From 1941 people with physical and mental disabilities were killed at a psychiatric hospital in Hadamar in Hesse. Declared "undesirables" by the Nazis, some 15,000 people were murdered here by asphyxiation with carbon monoxide or by being injected with lethal drug overdoses. Across Germany some 70,000 were killed as part of the Nazi euthanasia program. Today Hadamar is a memorial to those victims.


Holocaust Memorial

Located next to the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was inaugurated sixty years after the end of World War II on May 10, 2005, and opened to the public two days later. Architect Peter Eisenman created a field with 2,711 concrete slabs. An attached underground "Place of Information" holds the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims.


Memorial to persecuted homosexuals

Not too far from the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, another concrete memorial honors the thousands of homosexuals persecuted by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. The four-meter high monument, which has a window showing alternately a film of two men or two women kissing, was inaugurated in Berlin's Tiergarten on May 27, 2008.


Sinti and Roma Memorial

Opposite the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin, a park inaugurated in 2012 serves as a memorial to the 500,000 Sinti and Roma people killed by the Nazi regime. Around a memorial pool the poem "Auschwitz" by Roma poet Santino Spinelli is written in English, Germany and Romani: "gaunt face, dead eyes, cold lips, quiet, a broken heart, out of breath, without words, no tears."


'Stolpersteine' - stumbling blocks as memorials

In the 1990s, the artist Gunther Demnig began a project to confront Germany's Nazi past. Brass-covered concrete cubes placed in front of the former houses of Nazi victims, provide details about the people and their date of deportation and death, if known. More than 45,000 "Stolpersteine" have been laid in 18 countries in Europe - it's the world's largest decentralized Holocaust memorial.


Brown House in Munich

Right next to the "Führerbau" where Adolf Hitler had his office, was the headquarters of the Nazi Party in Germany, in the "Brown House" in Munich. A white cube now occupies its former location. A new "Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism" opened on April 30, 2015, 70 years after the liberation from the Nazi regime, uncovering further dark chapters of history.