The last known gay and Jewish survivor of the Holocaust died on Sunday in Berlin, six days short of his 89th birthday, the Jerusalem Post reports. Gad Beck was a gay activist in anti-homosexual, post-World War II Germany.
The Nazis defined Beck as a “mischling,” meaning half-breed. He and his father were sent to a holding compound in the Rosenstrasse in central Berlin until the non-Jewish wives of the prisoners launched a street protest in 1943. Beck was released.
He had more close calls with Nazis. In an attempt to rescue his boyfriend, Manfred Lewin, Beck wore a Hitler Youth uniform and went into a deportation centre to free him. Lewin refused to separate himself from his family, and the Nazis deported he and his family to Auschwitz where they were murdered.
Years later, Beck responded to claims that he was a hero for gay rights. “The Americans in New York called me a great hero,” he said. “I said no…I’m really a little hero.”