Gad Beck, activist and last known gay Jewish Holocaust survivor, died Sunday. He was 88.
Gad Beck is probably one of the most colourful personalities in German Jewish history. He survived Nazi-Germany as a homosexual and Jewish youth. A crucial experience in his life was the deportation of his Jewish lover Manfred Lewin who did not survive the Holocaust: the entire Lewin family was murdered in Auschwitz. As a “half-breed” by Nazi-standards Gad Beck was interned at Rosenstraße-camp in the centre of Berlin in 1943, but set free again after unique street-protests by non-Jewish relatives and friends. Soon after he joined the “Chug Chaluzi”, an underground Zionist youth group. As the leader of this illegal group, Gad Beck helped to organize the survival of many Jews in Berlin during the last two years of WW II.
Notwithstanding his age Gad Beck speaks about his sexuality in a charmingly provocative way. Rather than having suffered from the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi-Germany Gad Beck believes his homosexuality has given him the strength and power to go into resistance and organize his own and other people’s survival.
Reflecting on his life, Beck said, “God doesn’t punish for a life of love.”