In Memoriam: Rudolf Brazda, The Last Known Gay Concentration Camp Survivor Passes Away
Rudolf Brazda, last known survivor of the so-called “Pink Triangles” — gays interned in Nazi camps because of their homosexuality — died in France Wednesday aged 98, officials said.
In 1935, the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour was passed. This amended the existing Paragraph 175 of the Reich Penal Code:
An unnatural sex act committed between persons of male sex or by humans with animals is punishable by imprisonment; the loss of civil rights might also be imposed.
However, whereas previously the only punishable offence had been anal intercourse, the new Paragraph 175a ushered in 10 new possible ‘acts’ between men as crimes worthy of punishment, including kissing, embracing and having homosexual fantasies. Despite this, many anti-Nazis still attacked the Fascists as homosexual, and in revenge, the Nazis became increasingly vicious, later exporting their persecution of gays to the countries they occupied.
The number of gay men who died at the hands of Hitler’s Reich has never been fully established. It is not clear how many people lived in the gay community before or after World War II, and since many who were executed received no trial, there is only patchy evidence of how many were imprisoned or sent to their deaths.
Nevertheless, researchers estimate that some 50,000 men were convicted for committing homosexual acts, and that 15,000 gays died in Auschwitz alone, often as a result of being worked to death. At present, according to the historian Rictor Norton, the estimates for the total number of gay men who were killed by the Nazis range from 10,000 (undoubtedly too low) to 430,000 (probably too high).
Brazda, born in 1913, was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp in August 1942 and reamined there until it was liberated by US troops in 1945.