Gad Beck, the last known gay Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, died June 24 in a German senior citizens' home.
The Jerusalem Post reports that Beck, an anti-Nazi Zionist resistance fighter, was just six days away from turning 89 on June 30.
The pioneering gay activist is reported to have once taken on the disguise of a Hitler Youth uniform to rescue his lover Manfred Lewin from a deportation center, even though Lewin refused to abandon his family. As the Post notes, the Nazis would later deport the entire Lewin family to Auschwitz, where they were murdered.
Beck told the Miami Herald in 2001 that he became aware he was gay at a young age. "At the age of 12, it was clear to me I was in love with a boyfriend, " Beck told the Herald, before adding, "In the time I was a young boy, there was no way you could speak of it."
The Jerusalem Post also reports that as the Nazi policies against Jews became progressively more brutal, Mr Beck joined an underground Zionist resistance movement, Chug Chaluzi, and used his fellow gay acquaintances to help rescue Jewish people in Berlin. Just before the end of the war in 1945, however, a Gestapo-appointed Jewish spy betrayed Beck, and he was put in a transit camp in Berlin, before being liberated by the Allied forces.
Though he emigrated to Israel in 1947, Beck returned to Germany in 1979, when he was appointed as the director of the Jewish Adult Education Centre in Berlin. On life as a gay Jew, Beck invoked the following line: “God doesn’t punish for a life of love.”
Beck, whose life was once profiled in the documentaries "The Life of Gad Beck" and "Paragraph 175," also once told a German talk show: "The Americans in New York called me a great hero. I said, 'No…I’m really a little hero.'"
He is reportedly survived by his partner of 35 years, Julius Laufer.