Holocaust’s Last Gay Survivor Dead at 98
The terrors of the Holocaust wiped out six million Jews. What is less known is that a number of other groups were also targeted for forced labor and extermination by the Nazis, with gays being among them.
It’s estimated that around 100,000 gay men were arrested during the Nazi regime. Of those, about half were incarcerated, and as many as 15,000 were sent to concentration camps under the Nazis, a Wikipedia article says.
"It is unclear how many... eventually perished in the camps, but leading scholar Ruediger Lautman believes that the death rate of homosexuals in concentration camps may have been as high as 60%," the Wikipedia article notes. "Homosexuals in the camps were treated in an unusually cruel manner by their captors."
The Nazis forced gay concentration camp prisoners to wear pink triangles as a means of identification; GLBT equality groups later embraced the pink triangle which now stands as a symbol of the civil rights struggle for equality before the law.
But when the Allies liberated the concentration camps, gays were not set free; rather, they were turned over to the civil authorities. All too often, they were locked up once again.
The issue of gays having been persecuted, arrested, incarcerated, and murdered under the Nazi machine was left unaddressed for decades. In 1979, playwright Martin Sherman used the topic as the basis for his play "Bent," a separate Wikipedia article says. "When the play was first performed, there was only a small trickle of historical research or even awareness about the Nazi persecution of homosexuals. In some regards, the play helped increase that historical research and education in the 1980s and 1990s," the article adds.
In 2002, the German government finally issued an apology to the gay community.
One of the gays sent to the camps under the Nazis was Rudolph Brazda, who spent three years at Buchenwald. Brazda was thought to be the last surviving gay man to have been sent to the camps for his sexuality upon his recent death, the Associated Press reported in an Aug. 4 article. He was 98 years old.
The AP story drew on a statement made German group the Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD), which reported that Brazda died on Aug. 3. The report "didn’t give details of the location or cause of death," the AP article said.