September 15, 2011

Holocaust exhibit comes to campus

By James El-Mallakh–

The University of Louisville, in partnership with the United States Holocaust Museum, will host a traveling exhibit called “Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals, 1933-1945.”

The exhibit, focusing primarily on the Nazi party’s persecution of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Holocaustera Germany, will be at the Ekstrom Library from Sept. 19 to Nov. 28.Brian Buford, director of LGBT services at U of L, helped bring the exhibit to the university. He and the staff at the Intersection, the LGBT hub on the Belknap campus, have worked for the past three years to bring this traveling exhibit to U of L.

“It comes right out of the Holocaust Museum in [Washington] D.C.,” Buford said. “…It’s sort of a look at a piece of a story that doesn’t often get told. We learn a lot about the Holocaust in school and in films, but the reality that LGBT people were also targeted by Hitler and attempted to be eradicated is sort of a missing piece of the story.”

Some students say they were unaware Jewish people were not the only ones who were victims of the Holocaust.

“I didn’t realize the LGBT community was persecuted along with the Jewish during the Holocaust,” said Ngocuyen Nguyen, a senior at the Kent School of Social Work.

“I think that [the exhibit] will be a good learning experience for people.”

There were many people who were targeted by the Nazi party and killed in large numbers during the time the party was in power. Some of the other lesser known groups that were victims include disabled people, the mentally ill, Jehovah’s Witnesses, communists, political opponents and Soviet soldiers.

“I am looking forward to seeing [the exhibit] and learning more about that and the issue,” said Carmen Mitchell, a sophomore psychology major. “I’m hoping that we can talk more about the persecution of the LGBT community in a more public forum, not just in Louisville but nationally as well. It’s a very timely exhibit because [gay prejudice] is not a problem that’s by any means gone away.”

Buford said the biggest role this exhibit can play for the students at U of L is education in the form of re-evaluation. Buford hopes the exhibit will help “people look with new eyes at a story they think they’ve heard before.”

“One of the things I really appreciate is that even my community – even LGBT people – don’t always have the opportunity to hear this part of their own history and make that connection,” Buford said. “In the LGBT office at U of L, we are all about dismantling oppression, empowering people and not just LGBT people, but realizing that all the other issues of oppression are also my business as well.

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Photo: Courtesy of Andrej Koymasky/Memorial Hall

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