Why We Need to Remember Gad Beck: Holocaust Survivor

20 Aug

Gay Jew Holocaust Survivor

I want to thank my friend and TSM correspondent, Brad Fairchild, for inspiring me to write this story. Sadly, TSM had reported the loss of Rudolph Brazda as the last gay man remaining survivor of the Holocaust . Apparently, Brazda was not the last survivor. Fortunately, the Dallas Holocaust Museum has tracked down Gad Beck, another gay Holocaust survivor.

Beck was featured in the documentary Paragraph 175, a film that chronicles the lives of gay men and lesbians during the Nazi regime–giving birth to labeling us with the pink triangle.  Beck was born to a Jewish father and German mother.  While living in Berlin, Beck helped Jews escape to Switzerland between 1940 and 1944.  Being gay, Beck was also able to gain the trust of  non-Jews.  Sadly, in 1945, a Gestapo spy betrayed Beck and had him sent to a Jewish transit camp–a camp from which people were then sent to concentration, work, or death camps.

Fortunately, Beck survived the concentration camp and eventually published his autobiography, An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin.  In his memoir, Beck describes the painful separation from his then lover.  One should note that Beck was sent to the camps for being a Jew, where as Brazda was sent to the camps for being gay. I presume that Beck was able to pass as straight.

I’m so very glad that Beck is still with us and hope there might be other LGBT Holocaust survivors whom we don’t know about yet. I, for one, would welcome the opportunity to record their histories.  In a time where right wing extremists have taken control of the Republican party, we must not forget the history of the Holocaust.  It is all too conceivable that Bachmann and Perry could design another atrocity against the LGBT community.  If you have not seen Paragraph 175, I strongly encourage you to rent it.  It is not a trip to chuckle town, but it is a necessary documentary to watch!

I am very interested in recording the history of  LGBT Holocaust survivors; please let me know if you are aware of any.


2 Responses to “Why We Need to Remember Gad Beck: Holocaust Survivor”

  1. brad fairchild August 20, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    thanks, michael, for writing about this— i do have one question: how did being gay help beck gain the trust of non-jews? did that “disguise” his jewishness somehow in the minds of other germans?

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt August 20, 2011 at 11:40 am #

      Brad, thank you again for bringing my attention to Beck and inspiring me. I suspect that being gay allowed him a “bargaining chip” that he could reveal about himself to help create alliances.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: