Memorial to gay and lesbian victims of National Socialism

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engraving on the memorial
view onto Rhine and Hohenzollernbrücke

The memorial for the gay and lesbian victims of the National Socialism (Also known as the FEZ memorial) was inaugurated in 1995 in Cologne, a city noted as a centre of the German gay community. It takes a prominent place in the urban features of Cologne at the bank of the Rhine at the Hohenzollernbrücke. A second memorial not formed as a plaque was built by the gay community itself and was dedicated to the memory of the community in Germany in Cologne on June 24, 1995. The Frankfurt Angel Memorial, dedicated to this topic, has already existed since December 11, 1994 in Frankfurt am Main. A subsequent monument to homosexuals persecuted by National Socialism was inaugurated in Berlin on May 27, 2008. Plaques and panels were also set up in the German-speaking room in the former concentration camps Mauthausen, Neuenamme, Dachau and Sachsenhausen and in Berlin at the Nollendorfplatz (place). The Cologne memorial was given to the city of Cologne by the initiator, the Cologne public services, transport and traffic trade union as a gift. This was the first time a memorial to lesbian and gay victims of National-Socialism was set up by a German trade union.

Historical background[edit]

The memorial is intended to remind people of the persecution of homosexuals during the time of National Socialism. Although there was no systematic persecution of lesbians by National Socialism, these are mentioned particularly in the label of the memorial because the circumstances and culture of the German gay community were nonetheless affected by National Socialist ideology. Furthermore the monument is intended to remind people of the situation of the victims in the post-war Federal Republic with the label " killed - hushed up ".

History of the memorial[edit]

The study group "dykes and queers" started (former study group homosexuality) ÖTV Cologne with the initiative for the erection of the memorial in March of the year 1990. The initiator Jörg Lenk the primarily responsible contact person and the driving force stayed for this project until the list of the memorial stone. The official applicant, the Federation of German Trade Unions (DGB) circle Cologne, was supported by different organisations and parties publicly. According to a statement by the National Socialism documentation centre of the city of Cologne, the initial idea of the mayor of enlarging the panel at the Cologne fair in Köln-Deutz to the memory of the deportation of the Jews, Sinti and Roma (Gypsy) was dropped. Initial doubts about the truth of persecution of lesbians in Nazi Germany by representatives of the city of Cologne were dispelled by the National Socialism documentation centre. The city representatives initially wanted the words "gay and lesbian" replaced by "homosexual". On initiative of the parliamentary group of the party of the Greens the wording was left to the initiators. A limited group of under 25 artists was proposed by the office for cultural affairs of the city of Cologne in 1993. The "Christian democratic union" party (CDU) eventually voted for erection of the memorial. This was done without public discussion. The memorial finance came together through donations which collected 30.900,00 DM (15.798,92 €). The memorial was submitted to the public in June 1995.


The label was " killed - hushed up, the gay and lesbian victims of the National Socialism, " the only specification for the design of the memorial next to the location. The words had already found use at the Berlin Nollendorfplatz (Place) " killed - hushed up " on the plaque. Study group dykes and queers shall just be pointed out to the destiny of the following for ÖTV by homosexuals under the National Socialists for the inhabitant of Cologne and on the further following in the postwar Germany and on the continuous discrimination of dykes and queers in today's Federal Republic with that. Continuous neglect of the victims until 1994, when paragraph 175, which had made sex between males a crime, was abolished. The inscription seemed "homosexual" to the study group employees as too medical. Since they describe themselves as dykes or queers, the use of these words was indisputable.


As a location the one of inhabitants of Cologne and tourists became strongly frequent area of the Garden at the Rhine/franc shipyard directly (Rheingarten/Frankenwerft) at the Hohenzollern Bridge (Hohenzollernbrücke) chosen with the Museum Ludwig and the Cathedral in the background. Installation site is not chosen without a historical reference. The area at the Hohenzollernbridge was already a popular meeting place for homosexual men for a long time which offered the possibility for anonymous contacts without laying itself open to the risk of being confessed in the civil life as a queer. A urinal used since the turn of the century with gay men as a meeting place was in the second World War at the Hohenzollernbridge up to his destruction. The war-shattered stairs towers of the Hohenzollernbridge were turned into the meeting place by the queers in the postwar years.


Among the 11 submitted competition contributions an independent special jury decided unanimously in favour of the work of the Rostock sculptor Achim Zinkann which came second. No first place was awarded (?). The eleven submitted designs were presented on June 14 in an exhibition at the forum for adult education centre, Cologne until July 15, 1994.


Achim Zinkann, born 1960, built the memorial. After teaching art and history studies at the University of Siegen, Zinkann from 1991 to 1993 held a lectureship at the Siegen polytechnic in the areas of stone sculpture, steel sculpture and sculpture. Since 1993 he was lecturer and art teacher at the Käthe-Kollwitz secondary school in the Rostock-Land district. Zinkann as an artist took part in different exhibitions since 1986.


The memorial consists of pink and grey granite. It has a height of 120 cm (3.93701 foot/47.24409 Inch) and an edge length of 69 cm (2.26378 foot/27.16535 Inch).

The pink triangle was a symbol, this during the time the National Socialism was used to identify male prisoners in concentration camps which had been protracted because of her homosexuality there.

The artist Achim Zinkann describes his work as follows:

Quotation: Two blocks equal in size are the starting point for this work made of granite with grey and pink colouring. These two blocks were sawed up and arranged newly about a side diagonal. The grey wedges stand with the square area on the ground, contrast with himself with then sloping saw areas diagonally and take in the middle of the notch arose the pink wedges which are two and joined together to an equilateral triangle. In the sculpture a correspondence between the wedges arises. Pressure, counterpressure and friction are prerequisites for the complete cohesion. If one of the thrashing is removed, at least a different one loses the hold. The structure is destroyed. The inner tension and the solution of the block like character is caused by the diagonal position of the grey stones.The interplay of body shade and shadows amplifies this tension just like the silhouette, we, changing. The measure relationship in the sculpture arises from the geometric conditions of the equilateral triangle and a height fixed of 120 cm. This height is available well for a man. The text is dug in and so haptically and visually experienceable in this height to the square areas of the pink wedges.

Interpretation approaches are given in a large multitude.

Two blocks, two colours, two cuts, joined together to a whole. A grey, a pink block. Parts of a society. Men, women. Causing himself, lifted into each other rubbing his dykes, queers, to each other, depressing each other. I leave further interpretations to the observer.


The opening ceremony took place on 24 June 1995 both as a contribution to the OTV 50th Anniversary of the liberation of Germany from the Nazi reign of terror as well as part of the Cologne gay pride (ColognePride) events. The speech of the mayor of the city of Cologne, Norbert Burger, was his first official appearance in the context of a Christopher Street Day (CSD/Cologne Pride). The same day, there were film reports in the German news programmes "heute" and "heute journal" about the ceremony, and also reports and interviews on various radio programmes. Likewise, these were followed by reports nationwide in different newspapers, the trade union press and gay and lesbian media at home and abroad.


Being wreaths and flowers laid down at the memorial in the context of an event on the annual official German commemoration day for the victims of the National Socialism on the occasion of the anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27.

The memorial is frequently the starting point or the completion of the tours at the guided tours to gay/lesbian topics taking place regularly.

See also[edit]


  • Limpricht/Müller/Oxenius. Verführte Männer — Das Leben der Kölner Homosexuellen im Dritten Reich, Köln 1991
  • Centrum Schwule Geschichte Köln. «Das sind Volksfeinde» — Die Verfolgung von Homosexuellen an Rhein und Ruhr 1933-45, Köln 1998
  • Jürgen Müller. Ausgrenzung der Homosexuellen aus der «Volksgemeinschaft» — Die Verfolgung von Homosexuellen in Köln 1933—1945, Köln 2003
  • Claudia Schoppmann. Verbotene Verhältnisse — Frauenliebe 1938—1945, Berlin 1999
  • Burkhard Jellonnek, Rüdiger Lautmann. Nationalsozialistischer Terror gegen Homosexuelle — Verdrängt und ungesühnt, Paderborn 2002
  • Pierre Seel. Ich, Pierre Seel, deportiert und vergessen, Köln 1996
  • Stümke-Winkler. Rosa Winkel, Rosa Listen, Hamburg 1981
  • Frank Sparing. «Wegen Vergehen nach § 175 verhaftet» — Die Verfolgung der Düsseldorfer Homosexuellen, Düsseldorf 1997


External links[edit]

Media related to Mahnmal für die schwulen und lesbischen Opfer des Nationalsozialismus in Köln at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 50°56′27″N 6°57′45″E / 50.94092°N 6.962619°E / 50.94092; 6.962619