the letter with which the Ministry for Social Affairs withdrew all entitlements granted under the Federal Nazi Victims Compensation Act after it had found out that the person concerned had not worn the red triangle of those persecuted for political reasons but the homosexuals’ pink triangle.

Inside the columns, to be looked at through peep-holes at navel height, very personal documents were reproduced – letters, post-cards, photos – confiscated by the regular police and the secret police GESTAPO and added to the files. These personal documents were deliberately placed in such a way that the beholders not only had to bend forward and thus to bow, but also got this feeling of intruding – like through a keyhole – into the privacy of the people persecuted. It is indeed highly problematic to drag these private things again before the public, but on the other hand this was an important aspect of documenting the kind of persecution these people suffered.


The exhibition “Lost Lives – Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals in Vienna, 1938-45” was a project of Homosexuelle Initiative (HOSI) Wien – Austria’s first lesbian and gay association ( as a contribution to Europride which took place in Vienna in 2001.

The exhibition presented the Nazi persecution of homosexuals by displaying official and private documents, which were reproduced on and inside 14 columns. On the outer surface, “typical” documents issued by the authorities were reproduced: charges filed by the police, reports about a house search, documents from legal proceedings, terse notices of an academic title being revoked, the suicide of a detainee, the death of a person serving on the front as a form of “probation”, the transfer from a regular prison to a concentration camp or the referral to a Viennese hospital for “voluntary” castration. And finally a document from post-war time:

To the curators of the exhibition, this conception seemed to be a workable compromise. We have tried to also keep and implement this conception in the virtual design of these 14 columns.

The full introduction to the exhibition by Hannes Sulzenbacher and Niko Wahl, as published in the special edition of LAMBDA-Nachrichten, can be read – in German – here (Download PDF)

Hardly mounted, eleven of the fourteen columns were knocked down even before the exhibition was officially opened. Please, read the report about this incident here.