America now has public stone memorial markers remembering the lives of the Other Victims of the Nazi Era and is now telling their stories. In the early 1990’s, New York City created the Holocaust Memorial Park in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, with well over 100 stone markers to memorialize the Jewish victims and to educate the public about the Holocaust. The original plan was to have several stone markers tell what happened to the non-Jewish victims, namely the Homosexuals, Disabled, Roma & Sinti (Gypsies), Homeless and A-socials, Communists, and Jehovah Witnesses. But for various reasons, some of the local communities and politicians rejected the request by the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Children of Holocaust Survivors (and later CBST (Congregation Beit Simchat Torah)) to inscribe these “Other Victims” stone markers for over ten years.
The annual rejections were finally overturned when a blue ribbon advisory panel was created by the City of members from Holocaust Museums and other experts. Permits were finally granted by the Bloomberg Administration in 2010 and the markers were finally inscribed by Supreme Memorials, at their expense, on July 25, 2012. Visitors can now go to this NYC public park and stroll through all of the markers to learn how a civilized society turned so vicious in the earlier years (1933-1939) by reading about the Other Victims. May we all learn from these lessons and not let any group become second class humans (Untermenshen).
On May 5, 2013 there was an intimate unveiling ceremony for the five stone markers with a contemporary representative uncovering the stone marker and reading the text. You can read all the text on the markers and review the 18 year struggle at www.infotrue.com/sheep.html. The day was chosen because it is the 80th Anniversary of the destruction of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexual Sciences, where his paperwork and books were burned in the Berlin Bonfires by the university students. He was Jewish, German, and a leader in homosexuality. Sad to say that there was a protest by a local politician running for City Council to mar the unveiling. Emboldened by the protest, a few members of the community came by to shout hurtful homophobic, anti-Obama, and crude remarks at the unveiling participants.
Future articles will be about the Jewish contingent in NYC’s September German-American Friendship Steuben Parade, the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht in November, why I became a dual German-American citizen, summers in the German Jewish Catskills, and more about growing up with a pre-war German Jewish culture.