Curator discusses artifact donated by gay Holocaust survivor

Uploaded by ushmm on 17.11.2011

My name is Klaus Müller. I'm the Museum's Representative in Europe, and today I would
like to introduce you to a very special object that was given to me by a gay survivor, Pierre
Seel. When I met Pierre Seel in Vienna--we knew each other for a couple of years--he
suddenly gave me an object for the Holocaust Museum and it was really surprising because
I had not known that this object existed. And I would like to introduce you to this,
for him, very emotional object and tell you the story of it and how fortunate we are as
the Museum that he entrusted us with this object that for him, in a way, represents
his life. So, what you see is a small wooden box containing a very, very old Mickey Mouse.
It's laying on very soft material and it's decorated with a garland that comes from his
mother's [wedding] veil. When he came home, being released at the age of 18 from the camp
of Schirmeck-Vorbrück, the rule in the house was silence. He was not allowed to talk what
happened to him in the concentration camp and then he would be allowed to come back
to the family. So, he lived with this terrible stories at this very young age. He could not
talk with his mother; he could not talk with his father all through the war, and when he
came home there was still silence ruling. He was only accepted…because the family
was ashamed that he had been arrested and incarcerated because of homosexuality. But,
at the end of her life, [his] mother told him that he actually was not forgotten, and
that she very much loved him. And, in order to--'cause she didn't know how to protect
him--she produced this little object with the Mickey Mouse. And Pierre said, "You know,
the Mickey Mouse, that was me for my mother and she put it, she told me, 'I put it every
night next to my bed and I gave the little Mickey Mouse a kiss so that you're safe and
I prayed that you'd come home safely.'"