Academics and historians are in a tizz over plans to include a video showing two lesbians kissing as part of a gay holocaust memorial in Berlin.

The memorial, which was unveiled in 2008, commemorates the tens of thousands of gays persecuted by the Nazis. It consists of a grey rectangular block; one side has a small opening through which viewers can see a black and white film of two men kissing.

At its unveiling, it was announced that the film would alternate every two years with a version depicting two women kissing. Some scholars, however, have now criticised the move, set to take place in May, because they say that lesbians were not persecuted by the Nazis.

They have written a letter to Berlin’s openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, insisting that while gay men were systematically targeted by the Nazis, this was not the case with lesbians.

“It’s a distortion of history as there were no known Holocaust victims targeted for being lesbian and historical truth must remain focused,” Alexander Zinn, a board member of the foundation that maintains the former Nazi concentration camps near Berlin, told AFP.

The exact number of people who were tortured and killed during the holocaust because of their sexual orientation is unknown, but some estimates suggest that about 54,000 homosexuals were arrested by Nazis with 7,000 being killed in concentration camps.

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