Activist, Leader, and Inspiration, Gad Beck Dies Just Short of 89

Gad Beck may have been the last gay Holocaust survivor.

BY Neal Broverman

June 25 2012 7:52 PM ET

Gad Beck, a gay half-Jewish activist and freedom fighter, passed away in Berlin just days before turning 89.

Beck is thought by some to be the last gay Holocaust survivor. With a Jewish father and mother who converted to Judaism, Beck was considered a half-breed by the Nazis. In 1943, he and his father were taken against their will to a holding compound in Berlin until massive protests by non-Jewish wives convinced the Nazis to release the prisoners. Beck then joined an underground resistance movement and worked to save gay and Jewish Germans. In a heartbreaking turn, the young man tried to rescue his Jewish boyfriend, donning a Hitler youth uniform in an unsuccesful effort to free his lover from a holding camp. Beck's boyfriend, and the boyfriend's family, were carted off to Auschwitz and murdered.

Shortly before the end of World War II, Beck was betrayed by a Gestapo spy. He was taken to a holding camp, but freed when the Allies defeated the Nazis.

After the war, Beck would move to Israel, but return to Germany in 1979, where he became active in gay and Jewish life. His fascinating story was immortalized in the film The Life of Gad Beck and the documentary Paragraph 175. He is survived by Julius Laufer, his partner of 35 years. Read more about Beck here.

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