Rudolf Brazda, widely believed to be the last survivor of the Nazi campaign against gay men, died last week in France, where he had lived since the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1945. Born in 1913 to Czech parents in Germany, Brazda was arrested by the Nazis in 1937 and sent to Buchenwald four years later, where he remained until liberation. It is estimated that 650 gay men were transported to Buchenwald, where some were castrated as part of the Nazi “National Sexual Budget” plan.
The harrowing plight of gay victims of the Holocaust—identified by the pink triangle affixed to their concentration camp uniforms—often goes unexamined, and Brazda didn’t identify himself as such until 2008, when a controversial memorial to gay victims of the Nazi regime was built in Berlin.
The Times obituary quotes Gerard Koskovich, an historian whose work deals with this subject:
“Pointing out that only men were interned, Mr. Koskovich said, ‘The Nazi persecution represented the apogee of anti-gay persecution, the most extreme instance of state-sponsored homophobia in the 20th century.’
During the 12-year Nazi regime, he said, up to 100,000 men were identified in police records as homosexuals, with about 50,000 convicted of violating Paragraph 175, a section of the German criminal code that outlawed male homosexual acts. There was no law outlawing female homosexual acts, he said. Citing research by Rüdiger Lautmann, a German sociologist, Mr. Koskovich said that 5,000 to 15,000 gay men were interned in the camps and that about 60 percent of them died there, most within a year.”
Brazda, who this year was appointed to France’s Legion of Honor but never received restitutions from the German government, once said today’s LGBT generation “should consider themselves lucky to live in a free democracy.” He lived in Alsace with his partner, Edouard Mayer, who died in 2003.
According to Itinerary of a Pink Triangle, the biography by Jean-Luc Schwab, Brazda once said, “I have known it all, from the basest repression to the grand emancipation of today.”
Rudolf Brazda, Who Survived Pink Triangle, Is Dead at 98 [NYT]
Last homosexual concentration camp survivor dies at 98 [JPost]
Last survivor dies who was sent to concentration camp for homosexuality [JTA]
Related: Monumental Embrace [Vox Tablet]