Tour guide Alice Marcu works at the Holocaust museum Yad Vashem, where she specializes in LGBTQ history. She tells the once neglected story of the persecutions of homosexuals during the Holocaust. A Wider Bridge is fortunate to have Alice as our tour guide during our Israel Missions. This is her story.
I began at Yad Vashem (YV) by giving a Holocaust tours of the museum and associated memorials around the YV campus, including the Holocaust Art Museum and the YV Synagogue. As someone who is both Jewish and a member of the LGBT community, I really wanted to learn more about the history of homosexuality in the Holocaust. This is a very important topic which matters on a personal level, and also gives me additional insights regarding that period of time. I researched this subject in depth and created a special tour and lecture.
When I was first contacted to guide a tour for A Wider Bridge, it was because it was well known at YV that this is one of the subjects I’m an expert on. And the rest is history.
My A Wider Bridge tours include an explanation on the LGBT persecutions by the Nazis, the ideology behind them, how these were carried out. I contextualize these things within the time period. In addition, as I recount the different stages and periods of the Holocaust, I include the personal stories of people whose sexual and gender identities were different from what was seen as “normative”.
I have so many moving memories from the AWB tours. For example, the first time founder Arthur Slepian took the tour with me, and remarked that he had taken the tour before but, ‘this was truly special’. Or the time Midwest Manager Laurie Grauer led a discussion with the group at the end of the tour and we touched upon current subjects that the Jewish and LGBT communities deal with today. I was fortunate enough to get to hear people’s thoughts and was allowed to add my two cents.
To me, every time I feel like I’ve touched or moved someone through one of my tours, it matters and it stays with me. And at the end of the last tour, a woman came up to me and said, ‘you’re the beautiful thing that happened to me today’. And if you’ve heard my story about my grandmother, then you know why that meant more than I can express.
Participants in my tours over the years have pointed out quite a few things they’ve learned on an intellectual level, such as being surprised at how many of the Nazi perpetrators were highly educated, better understanding why the allies didn’t get involved, better understanding the stages of development for the Holocaust and so on. I honestly think what most take as an insight is more on an emotional level, which may be harder to put into words but I think informs our actions going forward just as much, if not more so.
I really enjoy this work and I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn about LGBT issues and the Holocaust, and have an educational platform to teach others about this as well.