The memorial is mainly intended to commemorate the persecution of homosexuals during the period of National Socialism. Although there was no systematic persecution of lesbians under National Socialism, they are explicitly mentioned in the inscription of the memorial because their living conditions and infrastructure were also affected by National Socialism. With the inscription “Totgeschlagen – Totgeschwiegen” (Dead Struck – Dead Silent), the monument is also intended to commemorate the situation of the victims in the post-war Federal Republic of Germany.
In March 1990 the working group Lesbians and Gays (former AK Homosexualität) of the ÖTV Cologne started the initiative for the erection of the memorial. Until the memorial stone was erected, the initiator Jörg Lenk remained the main contact person responsible and the driving force behind this project. The official applicant, the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB), Cologne, was publicly supported by various organisations and parties. After a statement by the NS Documentation Centre of the City of Cologne, the initial idea of the Lord Mayor to extend the blackboard at the Cologne Fair in Cologne-Deutz in memory of the deportation of Jews, Sinti and Roma was dropped. The initial doubts about the persecution of lesbians by representatives of the Council of the City of Cologne were dispelled by the NS Documentation Centre. The representatives of the council initially wanted to replace the words “gay and lesbian” in the inscription with “homosexual”. On the initiative of the Green parliamentary group, the formulation was left to the initiators. In 1993 a limited call for tenders was launched among 25 artists proposed by the Cultural Office of the City of Cologne. With the exception of the dissenting votes from the CDU, the memorial was erected on the basis of a broad consensus and without public discussion. In order to finance the memorial, a collection of donations was initiated, bringing together 30,900.00 DM (15,798.92 €). In June 1995 the memorial was opened to the public.