Germany has been discussing whether a video of two lesbians should be shown at the memorial for gay victims of the Nazis.
The slabby, concrete thing across the road from the supersized Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe has a little window in which, till now, you could watch a looped video of two men kissing. Now the government-appointed commission in charge of it has announced that, come May, the memorial will show a video of two snogging women. Nazi persecution experts are making a stink. A group of Nazi-memorial directors got together and wrote an open letter to the government’s top culture guy, state minister for culture Bernd Neumann (CDU). Not a single gay woman was murdered in the Holocaust, they write, hence showing two women would lead to the “distortion and falsification of history as well as the remembrance of the persecuted”. But isn’t the point of the memorial to be a Mahnmal, a warning to future generations to accept kissing men and kissing women? The video inside the memorial was always supposed to be “art” and not fact – the Bundestag decided so years ago. Most memorials are abstract and “arty” by their very nature these days. The Holocaust Memorial a few metres away, with its hundreds of slabs, is “art” and doesn’t really reference the specifics of what happened in any tangible way, unless you take the time to enter the underground info centre.
More than anything, this shows that Germany is light years ahead of most countries. There aren’t many places in the world where you could imagine politicians and experts discussing the finer points of whether we should have a video of kissing men or kissing women.