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    Jun 25, 2011 6:01 PM GMT

    When Allied forces liberated the German concentration camps at the end of World War II, not all of the prisoners were released.

    The horrific treatment of Jewish people during the Holocaust is well-known, but few may be aware that Adolf Hitler’s government incarcerated an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 gay men in the camps. Many were sent back to prison upon liberation because it remained illegal in Germany to be gay even after the Nazis left power.

    “There were camps within the camps; you had the homosexual camp within the Auschwitz camp,” said Alice Murray, president and CEO of the Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance. “They were treated with so much less respect, if that’s even possible.”

    The persecution of gay men during that time in history is the focus of a special exhibit now at the museum through Sept. 5.

    “Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945” contains reproductions of 250 historical documents and photographs that show what happens when a society attempts to eliminate those who are different.

    Before Hitler took power in 1933, Paragraph 175 of Germany’s criminal law made “unnatural indecency” between men an offense punishable by up to two years in prison. However, the law did not define indecency or make any mention of homosexuality in women.

    In 1935, the Nazi Party rewrote Paragraph 175, drastically broadening the definition of “indecencies between men” to include nearly any interaction considered to be a form of sexual contact.

    During the 12 years of Nazi control, German police arrested more than 100,000 men for violations of Paragraph 175.

    Roughly half of them served time in prison. Some were institutionalized in mental hospitals or castrated by court order or coercion. While records are incomplete, it is estimated that between 5,000 and 15,000 gay men were incarcerated in concentration camps, and many died from starvation, disease, exhaustion, beatings or murder.

    “We thought it was important to support the exhibit because it’s a part of history that needs to stay alive,” said Cece Cox, president and CEO of Resource Center Dallas. “We live in a world where there are still hate crimes and hateful statements made against people in various groups, including gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals.”

    The center is one of several local sponsors, and is an organization that serves gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, as well as North Texas in general. The group provides health and social services, along with assistance to those with HIV.
    The Holocaust has “always been a Jewish story,” Murray said. But “we’re talking about human rights issues here. It’s not just about the Jews and the Holocaust, but about homosexuals and the Holocaust, about the Roma and the Holocaust. It’s about stopping the mentality that it’s OK to get people out of your way by killing them.”

    The exhibit has been traveling since 2003, and has journeyed through 24 states to 36 locations, including Dallas, where it opened on June 3.

    “It examines how easy it is in some ways to declare some members of society ‘outcasts’ and then go to some lengths to take them out of it [society],” said Ted Phillips, director of exhibitions at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and curator of the traveling exhibit. “The persecution of these [outcast] groups is a compelling story.”

    Phillips said it took time to create the exhibit due to a lack of artifacts from gay men victimized by the Nazis. The task was made more difficult as homosexuality remained illegal in Germany until 1969.

    It was not until 2002 that the German Parliament enacted legislation that pardoned all of those convicted for violation of Paragraph 175.

    Lauren Frasier and some friends came to visit the museum recently from Nederland, Texas, after reading about it online.

    Frasier said she has many gay and lesbian friends, and the exhibit made her think: “What if this was them? What if this was happening now?”

    AT A GLANCE: The exhibit

    The exhibit: Open through Sept. 5. Regular admission to the museum allows visitors to view the special exhibit as well. It takes about an hour to read and review the 28 panels of information.

    Cost: Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, students (ages 10-1icon_cool.gif and active military personnel.

    Where: Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance, 211 N. Record St., Suite 100.


    The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/traveling/

    The Dallas Holocaust Museum: www.dallasholocaustmuseum.org
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    Jun 26, 2011 5:08 AM GMT

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    Jun 26, 2011 5:10 AM GMT

    Here, a pedestrian version for the likes of True_Blue