The last gay survivor of the Holocaust died in France on Aug 4. He was 98 years old.
Rudolf Brazda, a Czech German from Saxony, was deported to Czechoslovakia after serving time for his first arrest for “debauchery between men.” When the Nazis annexed Sudeten Czechoslovakia in 1938, Brazda was arrested again and deported to Buchenwald, where he was interned for 32 months and forced to wear the pink triangle.
According to UPI, Brazda emigrated to France in 1960 but didn’t publicly disclose why he was sent to Buchenwald until 2008, when Germany erected a monument to gay victims of the Nazis in Berlin (pictured below).
Brazda’s body will be cremated and placed next to a companion who died in 2003.
Meanwhile, gay victims of the Holocaust are becoming an unlikely issue in this fall’s Ontario election.
During Pride weekend, Toronto Centre MPP Glen Murray co-authored an op-ed piece with Bernie Farber (on leave from the Canadian Jewish Congress) that ran in the Toronto Star, urging Jewish people to remember the gay victims of the Nazis and urging more cooperation and understanding between gays and Jews. The unwritten but clear subtext here was the Toronto Pride/QuAIA/city council funding flap that’s cast a pall over Pride for the past few years.
The piece was largely uncontroversial, but one Jewish congregation chose to rebut it with an op-ed of their own, which the Star published on July 23. Thirteen members of the Vaad Harabbanim of Toronto signed the op-ed, in which they call homosexuality a “life choice” that does not need to be respected when paying tribute to victims as human beings.
"Using Farber and Murray’s logic, it would be demanded of us to respect other ideologies, as well,” they write.“The Nazis killed Communists. As Jews, must we pay respect for the Communism of these victims?”
Here’s the thing, Vaad Harabbanim of Toronto: yes, you do. It’s not enough to respect a murdered Communist as a human being, or a murdered homosexual as a human being, or a murdered Jew as a human being, while ignoring the conditions and society that caused those murders to happen. It ignores the lesson of the Holocaust, which is that disrespect for freedom of speech, freedom of life, love and liberty, freedom of religion, and freedom from discrimination on racial, ethnic and other immutable grounds leads to these horrible consequences.
The Holocaust wasn’t just 11 million people who died suddenly. It was a systematic elimination of “undesirable” people in the name of a larger ideology. Recognizing victims in isolation of their social positions obfuscates the full horror of it.
As far as I know, none of the Vaad Harabbanim is running or campaigning for a political party in Ontario.
But Jacob Blum is a campaign manager for PC candidate Martin Abell in Toronto Centre, and he took to Twitter to affirm the Vaad Harabbanim op-ed and criticize Murray for politicizing the “real victims” of the Holocaust.
"Shame on liberals for politicizing the Holocaust to serve their own ends and dlbrtly taking out of cntext words to drspct the real victims,” and
"Rabbi’s lttr in TorStar: the Crux of the Rabbi’s mssg was that ones humanity supersedes one’s life choices Rabbi Schochet is a Tzaddik !!!” were both sent from his Twitter account on July 24.