Never Again? - Dutch police seize gay archive

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Walk past the slightly dilapidated, century-old mansion in Haarlem's poshest neighborhood and things seem as they have for the past 20 years, since the building became home to the Brongersma Foundation, one of Europe's largest homosexual archives. But the image of only slow-motion demise misleads, for on the morning of August 20th, Amsterdam morals police, on orders from the Dutch Justice Ministry, raided the archive and sealed off the collection in preparation to seize it.

Whether they can or not is now the subject of a court battle that pits factions on the archive's board against each other and, in turn, against the Justice Ministry. Meanwhile, Dutch media have launched a smear against the archive's founder, Dr. Edward Brongersma, a jurist knighted by the Dutch queen for his political activism and scholarship.

A likely outcome of this very public three-way tug of war? The largest destruction of a gay archive since 1933, when Nazis in Berlin looted and burned the library of homosexual campaigner Magnus Hirschfeld's Scientific and Humanitarian Committee. Sure enough, Dutch authorities cited the same reasons for seizing the Brongersma archive as the Nazi's did for burning Hirschfeld's: protection of youth and public morals. Specifically, Dutch police invoked two new laws in the raid-- one bans possession of any images of minors intended to arouse; the other requires doctors, teachers, clergy, and other professionals who know of sex involving youngsters to report it to the police. [...]

Magnus Hirschfeld's gay and lesbian archive wasn't the only one to fall victim to the Nazis. In 1940, the Dutch Nazi regime seized another collection, compiled over 28 years by Jacob Schorer, a pioneering activist in Amsterdam. The library never surfaced after the war. Schorer reassembled an archive, which became the nucleus of Homodok. As preservationists wait for a court in Haarlem to decide the fate of the Brongersma Foundation, it feels like 1940 all over again.

source: Article 'Never Again? - Dutch police seize gay archive'; archive.guidemag.com/magcontent/invokemagcontent.cfm?ID=E0BE2488-C7B8-11D3-AD8E0050DA7E046B; The Guide; October 1999