August 8, 2011
Last gay survivor of Holocaust dies
The last surviving man to be sent to a Nazi concentration camp because of his homosexuality has died at the age of 98.
Rudolpf Brazda was arrested by the Nazis in 1937 in the town of Meuselwitz, and after a month in custody was forced to confess to having “felt love for his friend” instead of “conquering his unnatural urges,” and sentenced to six months in prison. Four years later he was arrested again and sent to Buchenwald, where he stayed until liberation in 1945.
An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 gay men were sent to concentration camps; few survived.
Brazda was unknown until he came forward during the 2008 opening of a new memorial to homosexual survivors of the Nazis. It had been believed that no gay concentration camp survivors were still living.
Brazda basked in the publicity in later years, flirting with reporters, the mayor of Berlin and his biographer, and enjoying telling the story of his life. In 1934, three years before being arrested, he and his boyfriend held a wedding ceremony with his mother and sisters attending, and a fake priest presiding over the ceremony.
Earlier this year, Brazda was named a knight in France’s Legion of Honor.
“Everyone lives his own life, and I have lived mine,” Brazda told a reporter who asked in June if he feared death. “Whatever happens, happens. I’m not scared.”