Story and photo by Berlin-based ManAboutWorld Global Correspondent Adam Groffman
I’ve now visited Cologne twice and I’d say it’s one of my favorite cities in Germany. With nearly 10% of the local Cologne residents identifying as gay or lesbian, according to the local tourism office, the city has a unique and special atmosphere. Maybe it’s the upbeat attitude of the local residents in Cologne. Maybe it’s the innate friendliness that seems to define the city. Or maybe it’s the fact that people will actually start conversations with strangers on the street. This open-minded attitude and friendly atmosphere makes Cologne a friendly and fun place to visit — and it’s why I’ve been back twice in the past six months!
Despite countless claims of Cologne being “Germany’s gayest city”, it still has that relatively small-town feeling. But in Cologne they also take things seriously. One memorial I visited recently was the memorial for gay and lesbian victims of Nazism (National Socialism as the Germans say). The memorial was inaugurated in 1995, well before the more popular one in Berlin, but still later than a similar memorial in Frankfurt. The memorial’s official name is the Rosa Winkel Mahnmal and it’s conveniently located along the Rhine River within walking distance to Cologne’s most important tourist attractions. With the Museum Ludwig and the Cologne Cathedral in the distance, it’s easily reached by tourists, though many probably wouldn’t notice it. It’s located near the steps up to the Hohenzollern Bridge — where thousands (millions?!) of love locks have been left by locals & tourists from around the world. This same area was once a meeting place for gay & queer Cologne residents when being gay wasn’t quite as open.
The monument is reminiscent of the pink triangle, which was used by the Nazis to identify gays in the concentration camps. So on your next trip to Germany, make sure you visit this memorial.
The complete article was originally posted in TravelsofAdam in March 2014.