Another living link to the Holocaust was lost last week when the last surviving man to have worn the pink triangle — sewn onto concentration camp uniforms to signify homosexuality — died at the age of 98.
The New York Times reported that Rudolf Brazda, who had been imprisoned in Buchenwald, died in Alsace, France, where he had lived since the camp’s liberation, in 1945.
It was only in May 2008, “when the German National Monument to the Homosexual Victims of the Nazi Regime was unveiled in Berlin’s Tiergarten park — opposite the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe — that Mr. Brazda became known as probably the last gay survivor of the camps,” the Times said. “Until he notified German officials after the unveiling, the Lesbian and Gay Federation believed there were no other pink-triangle survivors.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, Brazda was incarcerated in 1937 for six months because of Germany’s anti-gay Paragraph 175 law. A Nazi collaborator denounced him to the authorities as engaging in “unnatural lewdness.” Four years later, he was again jailed and convicted under the anti-gay statute. After serving a prison sentence in 1941, he was deported to Buchenwald, where an estimated 650 gay men were imprisoned, the Post said.
More than 50,000 men in Germany were arrested because of alleged violations of Paragraph 175 during the Nazi period (1933-1945), according to the Post. “I didn’t understand what was happening, but what could I do? Under Hitler you were powerless,” Brazda said in a 2010 video interview with Yagg, a French gay website, the Post reported.
After the Holocaust, Brazda relocated to Alsace, where he lived with his partner, Edi Mayer, for more than three decades. Mayer died in 2003, the Post stated.
This past April, France appointed Brazda a Knight of the Legion of Honor. “Germany chose not to award Brazda the Federal Cross of Merit. Brazda did not receive monetary compensation from the German government for his incarceration in Buchenwald,” the Post said. “Successive post-Holocaust German governments resisted paying financial compensation for gay victims of the Nazi period.”