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Germany

Berlin to Build Memorial to Gays Persecuted by Nazis

The Berlin government has given the go-ahead for a memorial designed by a Scandinavian artist-duo in central Berlin commemorating thousands of homosexuals persecuted by Nazi Germany.

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The new monument will be located in central Berlin

In addition to the famous Holocaust monument -- consisting of a field of cement slabs -- to Europe's murdered Jews in downtown Berlin, the German capital will in the future be the location to another memorial to Nazi victims.

Designed by a Norwegian-Danish artist-duo, the memorial will remember the tens of thousands of homosexuals persecuted and killed by Hitler's regime.

The 450,000 euro ($549,000) project funded by the federal government is to be erected "as soon as possible" opposite the Holocaust memorial on the margins of Berlin's vast Tiergarten park near the historic Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag parliament building.

"An endless kiss"

Norbert Radermacher, president of the jury that named Ingar Dragset and Michael Elmgreen winners of the bidding competition, said the monument would remember the victims in a "direct but subtle way."

Holocaust Mahnmal Berlin eröffnet

The Holocaust monument in central Berlin is a popular site

The concrete sculpture takes its cue from the Holocaust monument designed by star architect Peter Eisenman. It expands on the gray cement slab theme, by turning it into a kind of house.

Radermacher, added that the structure, which appears cool and distant at first glance actually conceals an intimate aspect -- it will have an oblique window featuring a black and white video of "an endless kiss between two men."

Persecution and killing during Nazi regime

The decision to go ahead with the project was taken three years after the German parliament agreed to set up a memorial for murdered gays that would also serve as a visible stand against intolerance and isolation.

Germany's lower house of parliament in 2000 formally apologized to gays persecuted under the Nazi regime, which held power from 1933 to 1945.

Between 5,000 and 10,000 homosexuals were deported to concentration camps. During its crackdown on homosexuals the Nazi regime began 100,000 legal proceedings, followed by 45,000 sentences under a criminal law that endured until 1969.

After the war, 44,231 sentences were handed down against gays in then West Germany.

Legal discrimination of homosexual men ended in 1994, four years after German unification. East Germany had abolished its anti-gay legislation in 1968. Although there is no timeframe for the erection of the monument for murdered homosexuals, gay rights groups have urged the government to act speedily, emphasizing that the purging of gays between 1933 and 1945 was without precedent in history.

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