History of World War II still contains blank chapters. Sachsenhausen Memorial represents a few of them. Until 1945 it was a concentration camp for the “socially undesirable” types: political dissident, Roma people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and a large documented number of prisoners with the Pink Triangle – the gay victims of Holocaust. Most die in slave quarry labor or from medical experiments. For several years after the liberation the camp continued its operations as a Soviet military prison. Institutionalized homophobia and Cold War political intricacies made Sachsenhausen a “forgotten” camp for years.
This summer queer Russian artist Alexey Timbul will do a powerful poignant performance art project in memoriam of gay Sachsenhausen victims. “LIEBEration 1:175” is a series of 175 simple everyday actions performed on the grounds of the camp and throughout the nearby township. It serves both as a way to embody and transform this collective trauma and a unique opportunity to manifest defiant power of love by a survivor across generational span.
A smile, a morning newspaper, a fresh apple at a farmer’s market, a hand to hold in the square, text message to a friend… moments that comprise ordinary freedom, of which fascist ideology robbed thousands of innocent gay and bisexual men. Each action will be intentionally performed in dedication to a masculine first name. Number 175 is an allusion to the infamous paragraph in Nazi criminal code that persecuted same-sex relations.
As a gay Russian man, Alexey embodies the Sachsenhausen story. The project comes on the heels of the rise in homophobic legislative initiatives in the former Soviet Union. Documentation of the project will result in a mobile exhibition highlighting this hidden chapter of the Holocaust history to a new generation of activists.