LGBT on Tour Youth Project

A LGBT Youth Project to discover discrimination and persecution in Nazi Germany during World War Two

The Gay Holocaust

Persecution of homosexuals in Germany began before the Second World War with a pre-existing law strengthened in 1935.  However, immediately the Nazis took power, Hitler declared the eradication of homosexuality and implemented a broad range of persecutory measures.

An estimated 50,000 gay men were sentenced and imprisoned, some of whom faced the death penalty. Up to 15,000 gay men were confined in concentration camps and made to wear the pink triangle symbol which identified them as homosexuals. Many of these Pink Triangle detainees, as they were known, were subjected to starvation, hard labour, castration, medical experiments and then death. Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January each year remembers these victims as part of the Holocaust atrocities. (Courtesy of Stonewall, www.stonewall.org.uk).

In Nazi concentration camps male gay prisoners were forced to wear a pink triangle badge (Courtesy of Dargate Auction Galleries)

In Nazi concentration camps male gay prisoners were forced to wear a pink triangle badge (Courtesy of Dargate Auction Galleries)

The idea

In 2010, Surrey Heritage began working with Nikki Parkhill, Surrey County Council’s Equalities Development Officer and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) youth group Out, Loud and Proud. The group planned a project to research and discover how the LGBTQ+ community were treated during the Second World War. Through doing this, the group also aimed to address the discrimination experienced by the young LGBTQ+ community in Surrey.

Nikki and the young people involved in the project recorded their thoughts as part of an oral history initiative. You can listen to these and read the transcripts.

PDF.gif Click on the links to read the transcripts of the Out, Loud and Proud and Nikki Parkhill recordings.

The group presented their plans for their project, called ‘LGBT on Tour’, at a Holocaust Memorial Day event they had organised at Addlestone Youth Club, in January 2011. The presentation showed what they wanted to achieve.

PDF.gif Click on the link to see the presentation.

From Chertsey to Auschwitz

After much planning, fundraising and revising some of their original project plans, the young people headed for Poland in August 2011:

“We left Chertsey at 3am in the pouring rain. A few hours later, glorious sunshine and temperatures of 34 degrees greeted us as we landed in Krakow, Poland. After nearly 3 years of hard work, determination, planning and fundraising we couldn’t believe that we had actually arrived!”.

What the young people encountered at Auschwitz and Birkenau Concentration Camps was unexpected: “We were extremely shocked because gay men and women were listed as an ethnic minority “.

PDF.gif Click on the links to read about the group’s experiences in Poland and see their presentation.

The outcome

Out Loud and Proud's Sian, Lucy and Cassie receiving their Heart of Equality Award from Gay Surrey's Gino Meriano Photograph by Phil Cooper

Out Loud and Proud’s Sian, Lucy and Cassie receiving their Heart of Equality Award from Gay Surrey’s Gino Meriano
Photograph by Phil Cooper

Nikki Parkhill was asked to write an article for Citizenship School’s Magazine about the project. PDF.gif You can read the article here.

The project culminated in a presentation for Holocaust Memorial Day in January at Addlestone Youth Club, followed by charity Gay Surrey’s IDAHO evening (International Day against Homophobia), in May 2011, at County Hall, Kingston. This event was particularly special as the young people also won Gay Surrey’s Heart of Equality Award. The group put together a fantastic, colourful display which charted their project progress and encapsulated what they had learnt on their journey.

PDF.gif Click on the link to read more about the group at IDAHO and the Heart of Equality award.

Out Loud and Proud's Lucy and Sian making their presentation at IDAHO 2011 Photograph by Phil Cooper

Out Loud and Proud’s Lucy and Sian making their presentation at IDAHO 2011
Photograph by Phil Cooper

The display boards formed part of Surrey Heritage’s LGBT+ History Month display in 2011, with a revised version for the project finale for LGBT+ History Month in February 2012. This was particularly poignant as the Surrey History Centre display featured Surrey wartime LGBTQ+ icons and Hitler’s Black Book, which listed 2,800 prominent British citizens, many from the LGBTQ+ community, who were to be detained following Nazi invasion.

Their project work, including photographs, a travel diary and display material, have been added to the Surrey History Centre archive (SHC ref 9760).

Out, Loud and Proud members at the Berlin Wall Monument, Imperial War Museum, London, 2010

Out, Loud and Proud members at the Berlin Wall Monument, Imperial War Museum, London, 2010

Want to know more?

If you would like to know more about how this project was organised please contact Nikki Parkhill, Surrey County Council Commissioning Officer: Early Help, tel: 07976 974742, e-mail: [email protected]

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