30 June 1923
|Died||24 June 2012
|Occupation||Educator, activist, author|
|Known for||Last gay Holocaust survivor|
|Home town||Berlin, Germany|
(1977–2012; his death)
|Family||Margot Beck (sister)|
Life and career
Beck was born Gerhard Beck in Berlin, Germany, along with twin sister Margot, the son of Hedwig (née Kretschmar) and Heinrich Beck. His father was born Jewish, and his German mother, originally a Protestant, had converted to Judaism. The family lived in a predominately Jewish immigrant section of the city. At age five, he and his family moved to the Weissensee district where he attended primary school and was the target of antisemitism from classmates. In 1934, he was enrolled in a Jewish school but had to quit and take a job as a shop attendant.
As a person with a partial Jewish ancestry (as the Nazis termed, Mischling) Beck was not deported with other German Jews. Instead, he remained in Berlin. He recalls in his autobiography borrowing a neighbor’s Hitler Youth uniform and marching into the pre-deportation camp where his lover, Manfred Lewin, had been arrested and detained. He asked the commanding officer for the boy's release for use in a construction project, and it was granted. When outside the building; however, the boy declined, saying, "Gad, I can't go with you. My family needs me. If I abandon them now, I could never be free." With that, the two parted without saying goodbye. "In those seconds, watching him go," Gad recalls, "I grew up." Lewin and his entire family were murdered at Auschwitz.
Beck joined an underground effort to supply food and hiding places to Jews escaping to neutral Switzerland. In early 1945, a Jewish spy for the Gestapo betrayed him and some of his underground friends. He was subsequently interrogated and interned in a Jewish transit camp in Berlin.
After World War II, Beck helped organize efforts to emigrate Jewish survivors to Palestine, emigrating himself in 1947. Beck returned to Berlin in 1979 where he was the director of the Jewish Adult Education Center in Berlin.
In 2000, Beck was featured, along with a few other gay Holocaust survivors, in the HBO documentary film Paragraph 175 in which he remembers his "great, great love" lost to the Nazis. Also in 2000, Beck published his autobiography An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin. A documentary film, Gad is planned to be filmed on location in Berlin.
Beck died on June 24, 2012 in a Berlin retirement home at the age of 88.
- Broverman, Neal (2012-06-25). "Activist, Leader, and Inspiration, Gad Beck, Dies Just Short of 89". Advocate.com. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
- Weinthal, Benjamin (2012-06-13). "Last gay Jewish Holocaust s... JPost – Jewish World – Jewish News". Jpost.com. Retrieved 2012-06-25.
- Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher (6 December 1999), "Books of the Times; Surviving in Germany, the Wrong Type at the Wrong Time", The New York Times, retrieved 23 October 2009
- "Gad Beck". Holocaust Encyclopedia. Washington, D.C.: United States Holocaust Museum. Retrieved 22 October 2009.
- Burnett, Richard. "Remembering Gad Beck". Retrieved 8/10/2012.
- Mink, Eric (9 July 2001). "A Painful Reminder of Nazi's Anti-Gay Terror". Daily News. Retrieved 22 October 2009.
- "Do you remember when". USHMM.
- Rothaus, Steve (16 November 2001). "Gay man still mourns lover killed by Nazis". Miami Herald. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
- Meza, Ed; Jaafar, Ali (9 February 2008). "Eytan Fox, Filme pair for war project". Variety. Retrieved 12 October 2009.
- Last gay Jewish Holocaust survivor dies, by Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, 25 June 2012