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Exhibit In Wilton Manors Explores 'Nazi Persecution Of Homosexuals'

Stonewall Museum
Caitie Switalski
More than 25 panels explore the persecution of homosexuals during World War II.

Anti-gay laws, fines, prison and concentration camps.

A new traveling exhibit at the Stonewall National Museum and Archives in Wilton Manors follows the persecution of an estimated 100,000 gay men in Germany between 1933 and 1945. The exhibit opened Thursday.

Stonewall's Executive Director, Chris Rudisill, said he believes this history lesson is important to learn today.

"The timeliness of this exhibit couldn't be better," Redistill said. "It's important that we remember the Holocaust and remember why we don't want these things to happen again."

The display is on loan from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Washington D.C. Robert Tanen is responsible for the museum's southeast operations.

"It's a lot of panels to read," he said. "But it really is going to take you on a timeline of what happened from the time that Hitler took power, how gays started to become persecuted slowly and surely, and leading up to some of them being sent away."

The exhibit has been in South Florida before; 13 years ago Stonewall helped bring it to the public library in Fort Lauderdale. But the display has never been inside Stonewall's dedicated museum space. 

"I think there's still people that don't know the truth about this history," Rudisill said. 

Stonewall Museum
Credit Caitie Switalski / WLRN
After a special opening for the museum's donors, Stonewall opened up the exhibit to the Public Thursday night. This is the traveling display's 58th location since it left Washington D.C. in the early 2000s.

On opening night, visitors like Chip Jones appreciated learning about history.

"The expectation is that it's depressing and that you’re gonna cry or feel something emotional. But it’s a little more intellectual," Jones said. "You get to put a name to a face with some of the people who were good, and you get to see some of what was bad. Mainly, it’s just good to learn."

Stonewall also has a few artifacts on display from the war. There’s a letter that a high-ranking Nazi soldier wrote to his lover, along with armbands that gay men were forced to wear at the time that depict the symbolic pink triangle.

The exhibit will be on display at Stonewall through Oct. 14.

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, currently leads the WLRN Newsroom as Interim Managing Editor. Prior to transitioning to leadership from production, Caitie reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News for four years.