Pink Triangles and Prison Sentences: Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals

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Scan a bookshelf just about anywhere—at a school or local library, in a university archive, or even in a private home—and there’s a good chance you’ll find at least one memoir written by a Jewish victim of the Nazis. It may be Anne Frank’s diary or a story told by a Jew who endured the unimaginable and survived the Holocaust.

Much more difficult to find would be a comparable tale written by a member of another group systematically persecuted by Hitler’s regime: homosexual men.

“It’s so vastly different from the Jewish memoir literature—thousands and thousands of these things where people were telling their own stories,” says Ted Phillips, director of exhibitions at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C., and curator of the traveling exhibit “Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals, 1933-1945.”

The exhibit, shown first at USHMM in November 2002, has been presented at dozens of museums, libraries, universities and LGBT centers in more than 25 states. Making its first stop in New York City, “Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals” opened to the public Friday at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. It remains on display through October 2.

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