Thursday, August 4, 2011

Last Gay Concentration Camp Survivor Dies

Rudolf Brazda has died, and part of our history went with him.

Brazda, a German native, was believed to be the last surviving person sent to a Nazi concentration camp because of homosexuality.  He landed at Buchenwald in August of 1942, where he managed to survive until the camp's liberation by American forces in 1945.

I hate seeing witnesses to history pass on.  Gay or straight, they have so much to tell us.  But Brazda was 98 years old, so—grudgingly, grouchily and grumpily—I concede it was his time.

According to The Associated Press, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 gay men were dispatched to concentration camps, and not many survived.  That makes the stories of those who did even more important, but I'll refrain from any further whining.

In 2008, Berlin unveiled a memorial to the Nazis' gay victims.  German gay rights activists thought all the former prisoners had died, but Brazda stepped forward to say the German equivalent of "I'm still here, buckoes."

Brazda visited the memorial in Berlin, a city whose mayor is openly gay.  Earlier this year, Brazda's adopted country of France named him a knight in its Legion of Honor.

Would the men who died during the Holocaust for being gay have believed any of this?