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Closer Than You Think: One Day

Holocaust Memorial Day and LGBT+ History Month

On 6 May 1933 the Institute of Sexual Research, an academic foundation devoted to sexological research and the advocacy of homosexual rights, was broken into by the Nazi-supporting youth. They beat up the staff and ransacked the Institute’s library that housed an immense archival collection on sexuality and provided educational services and medical consultations. Four days later, on 10 May the entire content of the library will be burned. The founder of the Institute was Dr Magnus Hirschfeld, German physician and sexologist and a Jewish gay man.

During the Second World War over six million Jews were murdered and tens of thousands of homosexuals were arrested, around 50,000 received severe prison sentences. Most homosexuals were sent to police prisons, rather than concentration camps, where they were exposed to inhumane treatment: subjected to hard labour, torture, were experimented upon or executed. There they could be subjected to hard labour and torture, or they were experimented upon or executed. An estimated 10-15,000 were incarcerated within the concentration camps, 60% of whom died. Many were castrated and some subjected to gruesome medical experiments. Collective murder actions were undertaken against gay detainees, exterminating hundreds at a time.

In the camps homosexual men were identified by a large ‘pink triangle’ worn on their uniform and the Jewish prisoners by a ‘yellow star’.

This year a visual installation physically connecting two unique and historic buildings, which face each other, spanning the street with fabric replicas of these two iconic symbols. The buildings are two very different establishments: one – a social and recreational venue – The Ship Inn, considered to be one of the oldest LGBT venues in the country; the other – Chatham Memorial Synagogue, a place of worship of one of the earliest Jewish communities in Britain.

An exhibition, consisting of information panels, celebrating the life, work and legacy of Dr M. Hirschfeld and artwork produced by local students with disabilities, is situated along the Old Chatham High Street, using the historically diverse area of Chatham Intra as the installation’s unique backdrop. It picks up this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s theme of One Day, also raising awareness of the struggle for survival of disabled people. It is estimated that close to 250,000 disabled people were murdered under the Nazi regime, many of them children.

The exhibition runs from 27 January throughout LGBT+ History Month in February.

Find out more – borrow books on the subject from Medway Libraries’ rich collection.

Visit Chatham Library for a drop-in family workshop with a local artist Christopher Sacre.

Remember your One Day from the past or create your One Day dream of the future:

  • Saturday, 12 February between 2-4pm

Join a guided tour on Saturday, 19 February

  • 11am – tailored for deaf and hard of hearing
    • 2pm

The tours start at Intra Arts (337-341 High St, Rochester) and end at Chatham Library with a viewing of the exhibition of the students’ One Day artwork. The tour lasts up to two hours.

By Martin Adams, Peter Moorcraft, Christopher Sacre and Irina Fridman

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