For at least the third time since it was installed, a memorial to LGBTQ+ victims killed during the Holocaust has been vandalized.
Near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin sits a concrete memorial in Tiergarten Park covered in candles and red roses. Designed by Elmgreen & Dragset, the installation features a video of same-sex couples kissing. It was installed in 2008 to memorialize the LGBTQ+ people who were arrested, forced into concentration camps, and murdered by the Third Reich under Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship.
But on Monday, police in the German capital reported the memorial had been defaced. According to the Associated Press, vandals painted over the viewing window, blocking visitors from seeing the tribute to enduring LGBTQ+ love.
The site has been vandalized on at least two previous occasions: once shortly after it was unveiled more than a decade ago and another time earlier this year. As the arts and culture website Hyperallergic describes it, the incident was very similar to the recent defacement — with the viewing window blacked out.
As law enforcement officials have not yet identified suspects, it’s impossible to say if the two crimes are connected.
However, the vandalism follows a recent increase of anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes in Germany. Despite the recent legalization of same-sex marriages in the European nation, the publication Deutsche Welle claims bias attacks against queer and transgender people increased by nearly a third between 2016 and 2017.
Fittingly, the memorial serves a reminder of that ongoing persecution and its legacy. Between 5,000 and 15,000 queer and transgender people were hauled off to work camps during the Holocaust, where they were subjected to some of the harshest treatment among prisoners. Gay men, in particular, were castrated by having their testicles boiled off, used for target practice, and often worked to death.
The law which allowed LGBTQ+ people to be persecuted, rounded up and arrested — known as Paragraph 175 — wasn’t stricken from the German criminal code until 1994. In 2017, the country’s government announced that individuals targeted under the now-defunct law would be entitled to reparations.