On Nov. 11, we gather in many places to remember the dreadful occurrences of wars in years past.
As a Dutch-Canadian I have always saluted the many service men that made it possible for me to survive and consequently my family came to Canada.
In addition to the many men and women who fought and perished during the Second World War, we must also pay tribute to the millions that died in concentration camps. Jews, gays and many others suffered brutally under the Nazi regime.
Gay men were the largest group after the Jews, to perish in these horrific camps. Aside from invading neighbouring countries Hitler also decided he wanted an Aryan race, (a perfect white race), and all sorts of mad ideas crossed his evil mind.
It was soon realized that the Jewish race must be eliminated and so more “pure white” people would remain in Europe. However, the Nazi regime would also extent this elimination to others.
Heinrich Himmler, a top Nazi official declared, “Homosexuals are not mere criminals, but should not be included in the Aryan race.”
Arresting gay men was already in place before the Jewish round-up. Many lesbians were saved from a death sentence as they were not thought to be a threat to the Aryan race that Hitler had in mind.
Instead, it seemed ideal for them to be used for “breeding” purposes. Many went underground with gay men to avoid arrest. The men endured humiliation, torture and finally for most, the death sentence. Thousands of gay men died in concentration camps. These are the forgotten victims of the Second World War, who through the years were largely ignored by society.
The LGBT community owes much to those that went before us and had such a tragic end to their lives. Let us remember them this Nov. 11.
Hitler, the mad architect of the Second World War must not win and lives must not be wasted in vain. I will attend the ceremony at the Memorial in New Glasgow, along with members of the Pictou County Rainbow Community, remembering those that died needlessly, only to satisfy one man’s madness.
We will lay a wreath. I urge the gay community to gather at ceremonies across Nova Scotia to remember our gay and lesbian friends who perished and suffered at the hands of the Nazis.
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Gerard Veldhoven is a former Amherst resident who is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears weekly in The Amherst News.