The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust has deleted from a teachers' guide the only two paragraphs addressing the persecution of gay men in the Holocaust. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force denounced the commission's action.
There is a rally today in Atlanta of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) community and its allies within the Jewish community who have denounced the commission's action. In addition, tomorrow community leaders will meet with the Georgia Holocaust Commission to demand a reprinting of the guide with the deleted paragraphs reinserted. They will also request that a resource booklet on gays in the Holocaust published by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum be distributed to middle school teachers along with the guide. Jane Seville, a board member of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and a former board member of Bet Haverim, a GLBT synagogue in Atlanta, will attend the meeting along with Harry Knox of Georgia Equality Project and Steve Kovall of the Atlanta Executive Network.
Below is a statement from Task Force executive director Kerry Lobel followed by the two paragraphs that were deleted from the guide.
"This decision by the commission is deeply troubling and dangerous. The Holocaust has taught us about the insidiousness of hate and intolerance, which can take root quickly and deeply in a society. The Holocaust has taught us to be vigilant against hatred, intolerance, and ignorance - in all their forms and manifestations.
As a Jew, I am chilled by this attempt to erase gay men from the pages of Holocaust history. It is hate we must erase, not history. How ironic that this curriculum, intended to teach tolerance and understanding, will now foster more misunderstanding and intolerance.
It is our hope that the commissioners will take the lessons of the Holocaust to heart. If they do, then they will have no other choice but to include in the curriculum the full truth about the persecution of gay men by the Nazis. We implore the commissioners to look to the work of the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC where the stories of gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals are woven into every aspect of Holocaust history.
The words of Pastor Martin Niemoller serve us well in remembering the Holocaust's most important lesson to all humanity:
"In Germany they first came for the communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a protestant. Then they came for me - and by that time no one was left to speak up."
The two paragraphs deleted from the guide:
"German male homosexuals were targeted and arrested because they would not breed the master race: they were an affront to the Nazi macho image."
"The doors of the third [cattle] car open and the homosexuals spill forth, males only, because as Himmler concluded, 'lesbians can give birth.' The taunting jeers, and blows of the guards stun the men. They will stay a night and then be rerouted to Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald to be with their kind. The pink triangle they will soon wear is a result of a judgment that they have broken Article 175A, by sexual act, by kissing, by embracing, by fantasy and thought. Some will be given an opportunity to recant by successfully completing sexual activity with a woman in the camp brothel. Most others will find themselves tormented from all sides as they struggle to avoid being assaulted, raped, worked, and beaten to death."