Holocaust Memorial Day | Pride Presentation

To mark the beginning of LGBT+ History Month, we wanted to share some photos from our Holocaust Memorial Day presentation, which was showcased to Sixth Form students earlier this week.
 
The presentation was well received on the night, and at the academy; The Worshipful The Mayor of Medway Councillor Nina Gurung said: “They were extremely good, well done 👏👏Very proud of you!”
 
Below is the full script from the presentation.

Fragility of Freedom | Pride Presentation | Bradfields Academy

At first I was afraid, I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live with who I am inside
But then I spent so many nights thinking how you called me wrong
And I grew strong
And I learned how to get along


Within days of Adolf Hitler coming to power, the Nazis began their violent attacks on the Lesbian, Gay and Transgender community.

In the 1920s, Germany and in particular Berlin, had been a hub for tolerance towards LGBT people. Paragraph 175 of Germany’s Penal Code was the law saying that being gay is illegal and it was not being applied as often. The process to decriminalise homosexuality had begun.

This act of tolerance would change quickly. The Nazis saw homosexuality as going against their ideals regarding race, gender and eugenics. When they took control, the Nazis treated the LGBT community as a threat and the law did not protect them in any way.

Unknown numbers of German gay men, lesbian women and trans people fled abroad. Others entered into marriages in order to appear to conform to the Nazi’s rule. This had an obvious negative effect on their mental health and many suffered in silence.

 

Go on now, go, walk out the door
Just turn around now
‘Cause you’re not in charge anymore.
Weren’t you the one who tried to hurt me with your lies?
You think I’d crumble?
You think I’d lay down and die?

 

A significant number of gay men were arrested under Nazi orders. An estimated 50,000 were sent to prison. Between 10 to 15,000 were deported to concentration camps and many did not survive the horrors that took place there.

They suffered hard labour, abuse, experimentation or execution. As many as 65% lost their lives. It is believed that many more of the gay prisoners committed suicide though we don’t know these numbers.

When the camps were liberated in 1945, the world celebrated. Families and friends were reunited and the victims received reparation. Today we celebrate the people who regained their freedom in 1945. Unfortunately, not everyone was given their freedom back.

Tragically, gay Holocaust survivors did not leave their camps as recognized victims. Instead, they left as convicted criminals and were sent to prison.

The Nazi enforcements of Paragraph 175 were kept in place for over 20 years which means being gay was still illegal in Germany.

Between 1945 and 1969, around 100,000 gay men, including Holocaust survivors, were forced to carry out their prison sentence. None received any acknowledgement or reparation for what they had been through.

With tonight’s theme “The Fragility of Freedom” in mind, we ask the question

“Is it Freedom, if it’s not for everyone?”

 

Oh no, not I, I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
And I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive
I will survive

 

Following the Holocaust, many survivors shared their story. In school we learn about Anne Frank. A television series was made about Miep Geiss and films are made about the wife of a zookeeper. For the LGBT community, they were forced into a new silence. Their stories could not be shared for fear of further punishment.

People who had been persecuted by the Nazis for homosexuality had a hard choice: either to bury their experience and pretend it never happened, or to try to be heard in an environment where the same neighbours, the same law, the same police and the same judges were in control.

Shirer’s book “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” was published in 1960. This definitive study left out all reference to the Nazis’ anti-gay actions. It wasn’t until 1972, 27 years after the camps were liberated, that gay Holocaust victims would start speaking out in public.

 

It took all the strength I had not to fall apart
Kept trying hard to mend the pieces of my broken heart
And I spent so many nights just feeling sorry for myself
I used to cry
But now I hold my head up high

 

Following the Stonewall riots in 1969, Pride has become an annual event and a voice for LGBT rights. It is thanks to this and the introduction of LGBT History education that we now learn about the experiences of people who were persecuted for being themselves.

When you think about it, the same can be said for Black History Month in October, Women’s History in March or Holocaust Education. The world needs to be taught about the struggles people have faced and, more importantly, the people who rose up and changed the world for the better.

 

Go on now, go, walk out the door
Just turn around now
‘Cause you’re not in charge anymore.
Weren’t you the one who tried to break me with your lies?
You think I’d crumble?
You think I’d lay down and die?

Oh no, not I, I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
And I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive
I will survive

 

These days Pride is celebrated around the world. It is a time for people to literally be proud of who they are but it is also a time, much like tonight, for other people to show their support for a community that has been treated unfairly. It is a time for allies to make their voices heard and show that the world is a tolerant place. During the London Pride celebration, representatives from different faiths attend to share messages of support. These people show that the barriers between communities are chosen and can be removed.

We would like to combine Pride with our Holocaust Memorial Day presentation as we believe that any form of modern-day remembrance must include stories from all victims, especially as these communities continue to face persecution around the world.

 

Go on now, go, walk out the door
Just turn around now
‘Cause you’re not in charge anymore.
Weren’t you the one who tried to break me with your lies?
You think I’d crumble? You think I’d lay down and die?

Oh no, not I, I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
And I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive
I will survive
I will survive

 

Freedom is for everyone.

Thank you.