Gay Holocaust Survivor Profiled

What does it take to survive the literal Holocaust?  98-year-old Rudolf Brazda, the last known remaining gay survivor of the German death camps, suggests it takes a sense of humor and gratitude.

“I had always been blessed with good fortune” is the title of a German-language biography of him, a title that reflects his philosophy.  A long profile in Spiegel walks us through highlights of his life and how he lives now, in an Alsatian hospital.  (Make sure you read past the fourth paragraph, or you’ll miss the point of the painful opening story.)  He speaks of openly holding hands with his lover in 1934, when Hitler was already beginning to openly persecute gay men (lesbians, the article says, were never sent to the death camps).  He explains how homosexual prisoners were separated from the rest of the concentration camp inmates, and sentenced to “extermination through labor.”  Brazda escaped that fate by being selected by another camp inmate, a political prisoner, given supervisory powers for his lover.

The article also describes what happened after the war, when liberated gay men were still shunned by the community at large.  Even now, the memorial for the estimated 6,000 gay men who were imprisoned and died during the holocaust has been repeatedly attacked.

What does he want us to remember?  “People need to know that we homosexuals were persecuted,” he says, pausing for effect, “by people who themselves were also gay.”

The article, which includes three photos (one of which is seen here), is available at http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,772667,00.html

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