Tag Archives: Gad Beck

Kristallnacht and Veterans Day

11 Nov

kristallnacht-bannerSaturday commemorated 75 years ago that the Nazis started the pogroms throughout Germany and Austria. This night in 1938 witnessed a strategic attack on Jews.  Kristallnacht — the Night of Broken Glass — marks the event where Jewish store fronts,  homes, and synagogues had their windows knocked out and smashed.  Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps.  The world learned on this night that the Holocaust had now started.  The Nazis were putting into play their “Final Solution.” 

This part of history is exceedingly ugly and painful.  We witnessed mortal racism and homophobia as Nazis assigned yellow stars and pink triangles to those they deemed unfit to live — people like Gad Beck. Sadly, we are currently seeing a rise in anti-Semitism in Germany and Russia.  We are also seeing a rise in homophobia around the world, including Russia, which is hosting the 2014 Olympics.

Thank goodness for all of the veterans and all those that helped to end World War II.  I do believe these veterans are heroes; they fought to ensure that regardless of our differing opinions and beliefs, the one thing that should unite us all is our shared humanity. That bond values those differences and does not try to limit them or take away people’s rights.

Call to action: I charge all people around the world to look for the humanity we all share and to interrupt oppression when we witness it. When we hear anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, homophobic, sexist slurs, we must interrupt that oppression or we dishonor those who fought to protect and cherish our common humanity and strove to create a level playing field.  We also strip ourselves of human dignity when we practice any form of hate against people who are different from us or collude in our silence with the oppression practiced by others.

For young kids, I would recommend reading Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars.

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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.

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