You are here


Holocaust Remembrance: “Unnatural Indecency”: Sexuality and Homosexuality during Nazism and Fascism

Europe and the United Nations commemorate the victims of the Shoah each winter on the date of Auschwitz's liberation in 1945, and the Italian Academy marks Holocaust Remembrance Day with an annual academic event exploring issues of discrimination and crimes against humanity.

Last year, the Academy broadened its focus to explore another minority group that was targeted in the racism and xenophobia of the Nazi and Fascist regimes, and that suffered and died along with the millions of Jews: the Roma and Sinti (known as Gypsies), who were also judged to be "racially inferior." This year, our Holocaust Remembrance will focus on sexuality and homosexuality in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Thousands of men, primarily, were victims of state persecution and violence: arrested, institutionalized in mental hospitals, castrated, or imprisoned in jails or concentration camps where they succumbed to starvation, disease, exhaustion, beatings, and murder.
Speaker Bios

Elizabeth Leake is professor, Acting Chair, and Director of Graduate Studies in the Italian Department at Columbia. Her research interests include Twentieth Century narrative and theatre, psychoanalytic and ideological studies in Italian literature, fascist Italy, Italian cinema, and early Danish cinema. She is a recipient of the Modern Language Association Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Publication Award for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies for her book The Reinvention of Ignazio Silone (2003) and The National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for College Teachers and Independent Scholars 2001. Her latest book, After Words: Suicide and Authorship in Twentieth Century Italy, was published in February of this year, and she is co-authoring another entitled Representing Confino.

Edward (Ted) Phillips joined the Museum in 1994 and has been Director of the Division of Exhibitions since June 2008. Throughout his career at the Museum, he has been a member of the curatorial teams for special and traveling exhibitions, and has worked on nearly 40 exhibition projects. He also helped develop and edit educational and exhibition publications that accompanied several of the major exhibitions. Ted earned a Ph.D. in Russian and Early Modern European History from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Prior to joining the Museum, he taught Russian history at the University of Maryland, College Park, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University. Between 2000 and 2002, Ted curated the Museum’s traveling exhibition Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933–1945.


Remembrance Symposia at the Academy since 2008

(Talks marked with an
* appear in the upcoming book, PRESENT AND FUTURE MEMORY)

2008 Law and Science in the Service of Racism: the “Leggi Razziali”
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, The Italian Racial Laws: Pretexts, Subtexts, Aftermaths
Lidia Santarelli, The Righteous Enemy?
Fascist Italy and the Jews in Axis-Occupied Europe
Alexander Stille, The Holocaust and the Case of Italy

2009 Anti-Semitism at Home and Abroad
Ira Katznelson, The Liberal Alternative:
Jews in the United States during the Decades of Italian Fascism
Claudio Lomnitz [originally scheduled], Dreyfus in Latin America:
Anti-Semitism and the Ideology of the Mexican Revolution

2010 Rome’s Jewish Ghetto
Kenneth Stow, “Doing as the Romans Do” . . . But Also Staying Jewish.
The Challenge of Life in the Roman Ghetto, 1555–1870
Irina Oryshkevich, Accommodating the Jews in the “New Jerusalem” *

 2011 “Racially Inferior”: Roma, Sinti, and Other Holocaust Victims
Krista Hegburg, “Unknown Holocaust”: Roma and Sinti in Hitler’s Europe
Robert Kushen, Roma in Today’s Europe:
Contemporary Patterns of Prejudice and Discrimination

2012 “Unnatural Indecency”: Sexuality and Homosexuality during
Nazism and Fascism
Ted Phillips, Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933–1945 *
Elizabeth Leake, Fascism and Sexuality in Italian Literature and Film

2013 “The Unfit”: Disability under Nazism and Fascism
Patricia Heberer Rice, Giving a Face to Faceless Victims:
Profiles of Disabled Victims of the Nazi “Euthanasia” Program
Susan Bachrach, Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race *
David Forgacs, Photographing Places of Social Exclusion

2014 Gender and Anti-Semitism: Women’s Rights Yesterday and Today
Victoria de Grazia, Fascist Men and Jewish Women
Yasmine Ergas, Women’s Rights and Women’s Freedoms:
A View from the Present
Elissa Bemporad, Female Voices of the Holocaust

2015 Music, Fascism, and the Holocaust
Michael Beckerman, Moravia and the Wild Goose: Terezin, Summer 1944
Harvey Sachs, Jewish and Anti-Fascist Musicians in Mussolini’s Italy *

2016 To Be a Child during the Holocaust
Patricia Heberer Rice, In Their Own Words:
The World of the Child during the Holocaust
Emily Langer, “We Are Very Lucky”:
Two Young Italian Sisters Who Survived Auschwitz