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The World Honors LGBT Holocaust Victims on Day of Remembrance

The World Honors LGBT Holocaust Victims on Day of Remembrance

The World Honors LGBT Holocaust Victims on Day of Remembrance

Events will be held all day Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz from Nazi Germany.

The world today marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the notorious Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps, with memorials including those who were ordered to the Nazi camps because they were gay.

British Prime Minister David Cameron paid special tribute to all those who were persecuted under Nazi Germany in his Holocaust Memorial Day speech.

He said Tuesday was "a day to remember the victims of the Holocaust as well as the gay people, disabled people and Roma who suffered alongside the Jewish people during that awful time and those who have been persecuted in genocides that have taken place since."  

President Barack Obama also paid tribute to the millions of people who were killed or imprisoned in the camps, adding that the recent terrorist attacks in Paris were a reminder of bigotry in the world.  

"Honoring the victims and survivors begins with our renewed recognition of the value and dignity of each person," he said in a statement Tuesday. "It demands from us the courage to protect the persecuted and speak out against bigotry and hatred."

Shortly after Adolf Hitler assumed power in 1933, he ordered a listing of homosexuals under the German law known as Paragraph 175, which was later regulated through the Reich Office for Combating Abortion and Homosexuality. That action led to the arrest of as many as 100,000 people and the imprisonment of 15,000 in concentration camps. A majority (80 percent) of those who were sent to Auschwitz under Paragraph 175 died there, according to Slate.

U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said non-Jewish people who were persecuted under the Nazi regime should also be acknowledged in a national memorial, particularly LGBT victims.

"As we pay tribute to them, we must never forget the tens of thousands of gay people who were so brutally persecuted and executed at the hands of the Nazis, simply because of their sexuality," he said, according to Britain-based Jewish News. 

There are memorials in Berlin, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, and San Francisco that honor the lives of those who were persecuted under Nazi Germany for their sexual orientation. 

Rudolf Brazda, who died in 2011, was believed to be the last surviving member of the Pink Triangles, those who were sent to the camps for being gay. Brazda was ordered to Buchenwald concentration camp in 1942. Brazda, who died a year after the video interview below, described his introduction to the camp, which included a so-called disinfection bath:

"I still had my gold chain with a cross. It was a gift from my boyfriend. He ripped it and asked if I was a churchgoer. Of course I didn't answer. Then I left the disinfection room. I got dressed but this time, I had to wear the striped prisoner's clothes. We were also given our symbols. It was a pink triangle, stitched on the left breast. It was … the symbol for homosexuality. It was so ridiculous, the color pink. The other prisoners, the common criminals, they had a green triangle. The asocials were wearing the black triangle, and the Jehovah's Witnesses, the purple triangle." 

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Michelle Garcia