JERUSALEM (JTA) — Gad Beck, the last known gay Jewish Holocaust survivor, who fought the Nazis in a resistance unit before being imprisoned late in World War II, died at 88 in Berlin on June 24.
During the war, Beck put on a Hitler Youth uniform and entered a deportation center in an attempt to free his lover, Manfred Lewin. In his 1999 memoir, “The Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin,” Beck wrote that Lewin said to him, ”Gad, I can’t go with you. My family needs me. If I abandon them now, I could never be free.”
Beck wrote: ”No smile, no sadness. He had made his decision. We didn’t even say goodbye. He turned around and went back. Lewin and all of his family later perished in Auschwitz.”
In 1943 Beck — defined by the Nazis as a “half-breed” because he had one non-Jewish parent — was freed from the Rosenstrasse holding compound in Berlin after the non-Jewish wives of the prisoners protested. The Rosenstrasse demonstration led him to join a Zionist resistance unit, the Chug Chaluzi.
Beck told the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington that he was aided by non-Jewish gay friends who supplied him with food and safe hiding places. A Jewish spy for the Gestapo betrayed Beck and other resistance fighters in early 1945.
After the war he went to prestate Palestine but returned to Germany in 1979, where he worked at the Jewish Adult Education Center in Berlin. He remained active in gay rights movements and was featured in the 2006 German documentary “The Life of Gad Beck.”
Beck was once quoted as saying that “God doesn’t punish for a life of love.”