Exhibit looks at Nazi violence, persecution

BURLINGTON Richard Grune was in the wrong place at the wrong time. After studying at Germanys famous Bauhaus school under painters Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, Grune moved to Berlin in February 1933. Adolf Hitler had become Germanys Chancellor the month before. Hitlers Nazi Party claimed that gay men carried a degeneracy that threatened the nations disciplined masculinity and hindered population growth. Hitler therefore took immediate action against gays. Gay bars and clubs were closed, scholarly books about homosexuality were burned, and two homosexual rights organizations were dissolved. In December 1934, Grune himself was arrested, and, under interrogation, he admitted to being homosexual. Held in protective custody for five months, he was then accused of violating infamous Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code. Under this provision, a man could be imprisoned if he committed indecency with another man, or [allowed] himself to be misused indecently. Grune was convicted and sentenced to prison for over a year. Upon his release, he was again placed in protective custody. Because the Gestapo criticized Grunes previous sentence as being too lenient, Grune was sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp for almost three years, then to the Flossenbrg concentration camp for five more years. Tragically, Richard Grune was not alone. Between 1933 and 1945, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested for homosexuality in Germany, and, of these, approximately half were convicted and sentenced for the crime. Most of the convicted men spent time in regular prisons, but an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 were shipped off to concentration camps where an unknown number of them died. Military men were not spared from persecution. In June, 1934, Ernst R__ leader of the notorious Nazi Storm troopers since 1930, was falsely accused of plotting to overthrow Hitler. His homosexuality was publicly linked to his alleged treasonous acts, and he was executed. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museums traveling exhibition, Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals: 1933-1945, documents the many anti-homosexual atrocities that took place during the Third Reich. Through reproductions of some 250 historic photographs and documents, the exhibition examines the rationale, means, and impact of the Nazi regimes attempt to eradicate homosexuality. The exhibition will travel to Vermont in August thanks to the University of Vermont and Outright Vermont, a state-wide organization whose mission is to build safe, healthy, and supportive environments for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth. Outright Vermonts website is www.outrightvt.org. The exhibition will be open to the public at the University of Vermont Living/Learning Center Gallery on August 18-29 from noon to 5 p.m. (Monday-Friday). On Sept. 2-30, exhibition hours will be from 12:30 to 5 p.m. (Monday-Friday) and from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays. The gallery is located near the UVM Fireplace Lounge in the Living/Learning Commons Building. More details about the Center and Gallery are at www.uvm.edu/llcenter. Further information about the traveling exhibition may be obtained online at www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/traveling.

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