Gay holocaust victims to be remembered in Westminster

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Homosexuals murdered by the Nazis will be among those remembered at a solemn ceremony on Monday in Westminster to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

150 teenagers and young people from across the London borough will present a powerful and poignant mix of drama, video and singing through a series of digital media presentations as they take part in a solemn ceremony.

Westminster choir will perform several pieces including one in Hebrew.

The theme of ‘Imagine, Remember, Reflect, React’ will run through the evening which will be held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in The Mall.

Westminster youth theatre arts company DreamArts will provide theatrical performances based on moving testimonies from people such as World War Two resistance fighter Vera Laska and Anna Lasker-Wallfisch, who was found by British troops when they liberated Belsen concentration camp.

The event will also include dramatised monologues based on the life of Japanese Consul Chiune Sugihara, who helped save thousands of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust, and Minnie Vautrin, an American missionary renowned for saving the lives of thousands of Chinese women during the Nanjing massacre in the Sino-Japanese War.

Groups such as the Roma, gay people and people with disabilities who also suffered under Nazi rule will be commemorated through song and imagery along with victims of other genocides.

The event is part of a wider programme of education in Westminster’s youth centres to explore the issues of racism, homophobia and sexism.

Between 5,000 and 15,000 gay men were held in concentration camps by the Nazis as members of an “anti-social group.”

Historians estimate that 60% of them died while incarcerated.

After the war gay men were not recognised as victims of the Holocaust and many were re-imprisoned by the authorities because of the sexuality.

They were denied the reparations and state pensions available to other groups.

Councillor Sarah Richardson, Westminster City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said:

“In leading this event, the young people involved with Westminster’s Youth Service have shown great sensitivity in understanding the horrors of the Holocaust.

“We believe that education is the key to fostering greater understanding between people of different races, religions and backgrounds and we hope that events like this go some way in promoting values of tolerance, respect and goodwill.”

The Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor Carolyn Keen, will lead the event, the audience for which will largely consist of young people from the 28 youth projects in Westminster.

The event starts at 6pm and is due to end at 7.30pm.