BY ROB SALERNO – Last week we shared news from around the web that the last known gay Holocaust survivor had died.
Since the story broke, however, word has come out that at least one other gay Holocaust survivor is still living.
Gad Beck (pictured below) is a German gay man who is half Jewish. He escaped persecution through most of the war until he was arrested by the Gestapo for aiding Jewish refugees trying to escape to Switzerland in 1945. Technically, he wasn’t arrested for his homosexuality, but as a gay Jewish man living under the third reich, he knows from persecution.
In the face of Nazi horrors, Beck became a member and leader of the Jewish underground, giving food and supplies to Jews who were trying to flee Germany. Being only half Jewish, Beck was spared the death camps. Unfortunately, his lover, Manfred Lewin, was not so lucky. Despite a daring attempt to free his lover from the pre-deportation camp where Lewin and his family were being held, Lewin turned Beck away, saying that he needed to be with his family. Beck later found out that Lewin perished in Auschwitz along with 1.1 million other Jews, Poles, Roma, Sinti, communists, homosexuals and others deemed unfit for the Nazi regime.
After the war, Beck maintained his activism, working for years to help Jewish survivors move to Palestine/Israel, where he eventually emigrated in 1947. He’s also spoken publicly about being a gay Jew in Nazi Germany, most notably in the HBO documentary Paragraph 175 and in his published memoir An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin. There are even reports that a major motion picture about his life is in the works.