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Gad Beck, Last Known Gay Jewish Holocaust Survivor, Dies at 89

Amazing to think that until this week, an actual Pink Triangle lad still roamed the earth among us. It is a great loss to know that this human link to the past is now gone.

The last known gay Jewish survivor of the Holocaust has passed away in Berlin, just days before he was due to celebrate his 89th birthday, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Gad Beck was an Zionist resistance fighter during the Second World War, and, in post-war Germany, a bold campaigner for gay rights when homosexuality was still illegal.

Under the Nazi regime, he famously dressed-up as a Hitler Youth member, and entered a deportation camp to free his lover, Manfred Lewin. However, Mr Lewin refused to be separated from his family, with whom he was later deported to Auschwitz, and killed there.

Two films provide details on his extraordinary life and times: “The Life of Gad Beck” and “Paragraph 175.” I’ve seen parts of the latter, but could not watch it all.

As the Nazi policies against Jews became progressively more brutal, Mr Beck joined an underground Zionist resistance movement, Chug Chaluzi, and used his fellow gay acquaintances to help rescue Jewish people in Berlin. However, just before the end of the war in 1945, a Gestapo-appointed Jewish spy betrayed him, and he was put in a transit camp in Berlin, before being liberated by the Allied forces.

Gad Beck emigrated to Israel but returned to Germany to accept a position in Berlin as the director of the Jewish Adult Education Centre. He leaves his partner of 35 years, Julius Laufer. Mr Beck once said of his life:

“Only Steven Spielberg can film my life: forgive me, forgive me.”

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Teddy Partridge

Teddy Partridge