Gad Beck, Last Known Gay Jewish Holocaust Survivor, Dead At 88

Gad Beck, the last known gay Jewish Holocaust survivor, died in Berlin on Sunday, just a few days shy of his 89th birthday.

Beck’s fascinating story is recounted in the documentaries The Life of Gad Beck and Paragraph 175.

The Jerusalem Post reports:

Perhaps the single most important experience that shaped his life was the wartime effort to rescue his boyfriend. Beck donned a Hitler Youth uniform and entered a deportation center to free his Jewish lover Manfred Lewin, who had declined to separate himself from his family.

Beck told the New York Daily News that he had asked an officer for the boy’s release to use on a construction project, but outside, his young lover said, “Gad, I can’t go with you. My family needs me. If I abandon them now, I could never be free.” The two boys parted without saying goodbye.

“In those seconds, watching him go, I grew up” Gad recalled.

As the son of an Austrian Jew and non-Jewish woman who converted, Beck was classified as a mischling, or half-breed. In 1943, he and nearly 2,000 other men were imprisoned in a compound on Rosenstrasse for deportation. But protests by the thousands of non-Jewish wives and mothers of these detainees—one of the most  significant examples of nonviolent opposition to the Nazi regime by German civilians—led to Beck and the other men being freed.

Said Beck, “The Rosenstrasse event made one thing absolutely clear to me: I won’t wait until we get deported.”

He then joined the resistance and worked to help keep Jews in Berlin alive and safe: “As a homosexual, I was able to turn to my trusted non-Jewish, homosexual acquaintances to help supply food and hiding places,” he explained. But shortly before the end of the war, Beck was betrayed by a Jewish spy working for the Gestapo and sent to a transit camp in Berlin, where he remained until the end of the war. After the city’s liberation, he helped Jewish survivors emigrate to Palestine.

Beck’s story is truly inspiring, and a reminder that even those who are marginalized or deemed outcasts by society can rise up and be heroes.

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  • Cam

    I wonder how long it will take all of the people who always come on here to try to get gays to support Palestine even though being gay will get you arrested, to say that the Holocaust was fake and that this guy is a monster.

    I think it is telling that he had so many connections across the board in Germany BECAUSE he was gay, he was able to reach out to all of his non-Jewish gay friends as well.

    Something that the gay community should always aspire to, cutting across all other boundaries.

    An inspirational life.

  • randy

    I read about him just yesterday in the regular news. Never once mentioned he was gay. MUst we still be invisible?

  • David Ehrenstein

    What “regular news”? Where? Got a link?

  • Chad

    This is way we need LGBT history taught in schools.

  • Baba Booey

    @Chad: 100% agree.

  • Dennis Velco

    Thanks for this article and your reporting. I just booked marked you as a new source as I curate global LGBT news & resources and group moderator.  What you do is appreciated.

    I posted it to my LGBT Group on LinkedIn to spur members to read your article and to make comment. I also scooped it at Scoop.It on my LGBT Times news mashup.

    Link to group >>

    All LGBT+ and community allies…. please come join me and 14,000 of your soon to be great friends on LinkedIn. The member base represents 80% of the world’s countries.

    It is strictly professional office friendly dialog, posting and profiles / profile images. I’ve been told by many that it may well be one of the best run / managed groups on LinkedIn. It even has several LinkedIn top executives as members.

    You can be as out or private as you like and I provide instructions on how to set those preferences (In the Manager’s Choice area).
    EVERY new member is placed automatically and systematically on a temporary 100% moderation to ensure that Right Wingers don’t join and immediately spew forth their garbage. I have the ability to place individuals on 100% moderation at any time and can remove and ban people from the group as necessary. If removed for hate speech I report them to LinkedIn.

    It’s core value is – Visibility can lead to awareness which can lead to equality. Come stand with us and increase our visibility on the globe’s largest professional networking site. Be a professional who just happens to be LGBT – or a welcomed community ally.

  • 1equalityUSA

    I love the photo on the opener page. The image is so powerful, almost hauntingly captivating. His eyes are so expressive and beautiful. Thank you for this article, Queerty.

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