You can contribute and help former homosexual slave and forced laborers to receive compensation for the injustice they suffered under the Nazi regime. It is perhaps possible to reach the few surviving victims and to inform them about the compensation programmes administered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) through an international network of personal contacts. After the Nazi terror, many of the victims changed their identities and some live today an isolated life, without family or in nursing homes. Your help is vital to reach those Nazi victims through friends, relatives, acquaintances or nurses.
We are forwarding the following information on behalf of the International Organization on Migration.
In recognition of the persecution of homosexuals by the Nazi regime and the climate of repression that prevailed after the Holocaust with regard to homosexuals, the Swiss Bank and German compensation programmes administered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) seek to redress the exclusion of this group. The programmes indicate that homosexual victims need to be finally included in the history books concerning this horrific period in the history of mankind.
IOM will make payments to survivors of forced and slave labour camps and labourers for Swiss companies or German subsidiaries of Swiss companies who performed work for little or no compensation. IOM also compensates those victims and targets of Nazi persecution who sought entry into Switzerland to avoid persecution but were denied or, after gaining entry, were deported, detained, abused or otherwise mistreated. All claims have to be filed with IOM until 31 December 2001. Heirs of homosexual victims who died on or after February 16, 1999 are also entitled to claim for compensation. If a victim who filed a claim dies, the heirs must assert their rights with IOM within six months after the date of death. IOM in Geneva provides claim forms and assistance free of charge: Hotline +41-22-7179204, IOM/HVAP, 17 route des Morillons, P.O. Box 71, 1211 Geneva 19, Switzerland.
The aim of IOM's campaign is to solicit the support of German and international gay and lesbian organizations in disseminating information about the compensation programmes through their networks. Dirk de Winter, Director of IOM's Compensation Programmes, points out that not many homosexual victims survived the Nazi era and that survivors were reluctant to publicize the intimate nature of their so-called "crimes against the Nazi regime." Therefore, De Winter emphasizes, homosexual victims of the Nazi regime were hard to locate but, "Through our information campaign we want to reach these individuals in a targeted way." Many homosexuals entered into fictitious marriages or sought refuge in foreign countries in order to avoid persecution. The goal of this campaign is to promote networking and target media initiatives that will have a snowball effect and spread to other countries, such as the USA, Canada and Australia where homosexuals sought shelter from Nazi persecution.
The campaign also wants to raise the awareness of the special situation of homosexual victims. As noted by Volker Beck, member of the German Foundation "Remembrance Responsibility and Future" and the German Bundestag, "After the war, homosexuals were not recognized as victims for a long time in Germany, and thus received no compensation, either." Even after 1949, people were persecuted due to their homosexual orientation in the Federal Republic of Germany as well as in the then German Democratic Republic. Beck points out that the Nazi version of Section 175 of the German Criminal Code, which categorizes homosexual relationships as a punishable offence, remained in force without any amendments until 1969.
The psychologist and historian, Günter Grau, describes the difficult situation of the surviving homosexual victims of the Nazi regime. Nazi repression, slave labour and concentration camps have destroyed the lives of many homosexuals. Historians estimate that approximately 50,000 men were sentenced by Nazi courts to long terms of imprisonment on the basis of Section 175. Up to 5,000 homosexual men were taken to concentration camps for "re-education through labour" where they faced extremely tough living conditions. Some were subjected to so-called "medical experiments." IOM's Swiss Banks and German Foundation compensation programmes are making tremendous strides to redress this history and it is important that the homosexual victims and their heirs, where appropriate, take advantage of this opportunity to be vindicated for these past wrongs.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Marie-Agnes Heine, Public Information Officer, IOM,
Holocaust Victim Assets Programme (Swiss Banks)
17, route des Morillons - P.O. Box 71, Tel: +41-22-7179220, Fax: +41-22-7986150 ,
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Internet: http://www.swissbankclaims.iom.int
Published on December 18, 2001 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization