Alice Murray

Dallas Holocaust Museum opens exhibit on Nazi persecution of gays

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
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About 100,000 gay men were arrested in Nazi Germany, targeted by Adolph Hitler’s barbaric regime as an obstacle to building an Aryan population. An exhibit that opened June 3 at Dallas Holocaust Museum helps bring some of that hidden LGBT history to life.

Despite the massive amount of literature about the Holocaust, little was known about the gay victims of the Nazis until the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum opened in 1993 and began doing research.

At that time, Paragraph 175, the statute dating from the Weimar Republic that was used to arrest gays, was still on the books in Germany. It remained law, with the brutal amendments that Hitler added, until 1994.

The exhibit created by the USHMM, called Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945 and opening at the Dallas Holocaust Museum in time for Gay Pride Month, came to Dallas through a partnership formed between the museum and members of the LGBT community.

The partnership began a year ago when Westboro Baptist Church protested at the Holocaust center. While museum staff and board members were apprehensive about the demonstration, hundreds of members of the LGBT community confronted the Phelps clan in the street.

Museum President and CEO Alice Murray said that Westboro’s visit taught her how extreme hatred can leave such a devastating impact on the world. But the visit also forged a friendship between the museum and the LGBT community.

“Not only is our relationship strong, but we’ve evolved into a partnership teaching tolerance as the response to bigotry and indifference,” Murray said.

Louise Young, an exhibit sponsor, became a Dallas museum volunteer last year when she arranged a program about the Holocaust at East Central University in her hometown, Ada, Okla.

“About four years ago, I established a fund for an endowed diversity lecture series in my name at the university,” Young said. “Each year the university allows me to set the topic for the annual lecture.”

This time, she wanted to bring a Holocaust survivor to the school.

The Museum’s education director Kathy Chapman “quickly put me in touch with a remarkable Dallas resident, Max Glauben, who survived horrible conditions in Nazi slave labor concentration camps, and then a death march from Dachau at the end of World War II,” Young said.

Glauben spoke at the school to standing-room-only audience, filling a 1,000-seat auditorium. After a standing ovation, the president of the school made Glauben an honorary alumnus.
Young has been working with the museum ever since.

“Maria McMullen, director of development, called me in April to ask for my help in both raising funds for and suggesting community partners in the Dallas GLBT community for their upcoming exhibit,” she said. “I jumped at the chance to contribute.”

Earlier this year, the museum opened new, temporary exhibit space. Members of the LGBT community suggested bringing the traveling exhibit on the treatment of gays during the Holocaust to the museum.

Museum staff contacted the U.S. Holocaust Museum about availability. The only opening for several years was this summer, so they booked it and began a fundraising blitz to raise the money to transport it and program around it through the summer.

Among the sponsors are Dallas’ LGBT synagogue Congregation Beth El Binah, Young and her partner Vivienne Armstrong, and Jay Oppenheimer and Dolf Haas. Resource Center Dallas, the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce and the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas are community partners. Dallas Voice is the media sponsor.

Other sponsors include Texas Instruments, Waldman Brothers and Raytheon.

Museum Marketing and Communication director Nanette Fodell said that programming around the exhibit is still being planned. Director of Exhibitions and Curator Edward J. Phillips from the UUSHMM speaks on June 16 at a reception for sponsors and museum members.

Fodell said that she would like to put together a program on bullying that includes members of Youth First Texas. Glauben, who was arrested and put in a concentration camp at age 10, said that the Holocaust began with bullying.

The film Paragraph 175 will be shown later in the summer.

To schedule a private reception or a group tour of the exhibit, contact Chapman at the museum.

Dallas Holocaust Museum, 211 Record Street at West End Station. Mon.-Fri. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed July 4. $8. 214-741-7500.