After years of being stonewalled, a gay activist who wants to inscribe a tribute to homosexual and other victims at a Brooklyn Holocaust memorial finally has a foot in the door.
Rick Landman, co-chair of the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Children of Holocaust Survivors, will meet with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and other officials next month to discuss adding new inscriptions at the Holocaust Memorial Park in Sheepshead Bay.
Markowitz’s predecessor, Howard Golden, who secured some $800,000 in city funds to build the monument in 1999, had never responded to Landman with more than a form letter, Landman said.
"This is a very positive thing that the borough president is doing by setting up the meeting and I’m very happy to attend," said Landman, whose father was arrested by the Nazis during Kristallnacht and sent to Dachau, while his mother fled Germany to France and eventually America.
"I feel that I have two kinds of ancestors who died in the Holocaust: blood ancestors from the generation before mine, as well as members of the homosexual community," he said.
A private group in Manhattan Beach, the Holocaust Memorial Committee, administers the site. The committee offers inscriptions of victims’ names, in exchange for a $180 donation, on dozens of stone markers surrounding a central monument.
The original plan by designer George Velonikas called for 10 of the markers to be inscribed with types of victims of Nazi persecution, including gays, gypsies, communists, the disabled and others.
But when the park was completed, the 10 markers were left blank.
Instead, a large inscription at the base of the central monument includes a reference to gays and others persecuted by the Nazis for reasons other than being Jewish.
Landman wants to see the original design implemented and is willing to raise the money to cover the cost.
While opponents say the change would be redundant, Landman believes that individual markers would provide historic context about the experience of each group.
Members of the Holocaust Memorial Committee would not comment about the matter on the record, a member told The Jewish Week.
The subject of Nazi persecution of homosexuals has been hotly debated in the 60 years since the fall of the Third Reich.
It is currently the subject of an extensive exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
A spokesman for Markowitz, Andy Roth, would not say who had been invited to the meeting with Landman.
"We want to bring these folks to the table and hopefully when they sit down they will come up with an amicable solution," said Roth.