LGBT Holocaust victims like Rudolf MUST be remembered
Publish Date: 23/01/2012
On January 27th 2012 the annual commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day takes place, which provides us with an opportunity to pay tribute to all those who suffered persecution at the hands of the Nazi’s and for us to remember those people from the LGB&T community who were also victims of Nazi prejudice.
Singling out Jews for extermination during the Holocaust was not the full extent of Nazi hatred. Anyone who did not fit their narrow idea of who was ‘normal’ was targeted for persecution and discrimination across Nazi-occupied Europe.
LGBT culture had thrived in the relative freedom of the pubs and cafes 1920s, in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Bremen, and other German cities. In fact it is estimated that there were well over 1 million gay men alone in Germany in 1928.
However this soon changed as part of the Nazis' attempt to purify German society and propagate an "Aryan master race," they condemned homosexuals as "socially abhorrent."
Although lesbians were not targeted in the same way as gay men, lesbians suffered the same destruction of community networks as gay men. They were allowed to play no role in public life and often experienced a double economic disadvantage.
Soon after taking office on January 30, 1933, Hitler banned all LGBT organizations and brown shirted storm troopers raided their institutions and gathering places.
Between 1933-45, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested as homosexuals and half of these men who defined themselves as gay were sentenced. Most of the men spent time in regular prisons, but an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 of the total sentenced were incarcerated in concentration camps.
Today it is not known how many survivors there are although according to reports, the last surviving man to be sent to a Nazi concentration camp because of his homosexuality died at the age of 98 last August.
The Last Gay Survivor?
Rudolf Brazda was arrested by the Nazis in 1937 in the town of Meuselwitz, and after a month in custody was forced to confess to having “felt love for his friend” instead of “conquering his unnatural urges,” and sentenced to six months in prison. Four years later he was arrested again and sent to Buchenwald, where he stayed until liberation in 1945.
In 1934, three years before being arrested, he and his boyfriend held a wedding ceremony with his mother and sisters attending, and a fake priest presiding over the ceremony. “Everyone lives his own life, and I have lived mine,” Brazda told a reporter who asked in June 2011 if he feared death. “Whatever happens, happens. I’m not scared.”
Brazda was unknown until he came forward during the 2008 opening of a new memorial to homosexual survivors of the Nazis. Earlier in 2011, Brazda was named a knight in France’s Legion of Honor.
A few months before he died Rudolf Brazda shared his story. http://bit.ly/n90M0P
Speak Up, Speak Out
The Lesbian & Gay Foundation has supported Holocaust Memorial Day for many years as we recognise that the vast majority of the victims of the Holocaust faced indescribable suffering whether they were Jewish, Gypsy, Black, Disabled, Jehovah‘s Witness, Polish, Slavic in fact any one who was different to the Nazi ideal.
But many people don’t know or forget that gay people were themselves victims of the Holocaust and this does get overlooked because of the sheer magnitude of the Nazi regime’s hatred to any human being other than it’s desired Aryan elite.
Holocaust Memorial Day remains significant to our communities and will continue to be important as the hatred and prejudice that existed in the Nazi era still exists around the world today and is still directed with prejudice at lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people.
Holocaust Memorial Day serves to remind us all of what actually happened during the Holocaust. Soon there will be no living reminders of this terrible period in human history but fortunately there are stories so that we never forget what happened to all the victims of Nazi hatred.
For the LGB&T community we must remind those who do not understand the persecution that we face around the world that this terrible part of history does reflect a side of human nature that however you look at it, still exists.
We must continue to draw attention to those cases where we experience hatred, prejudice and ignorance based on our sexual orientation or gender identity.
This Holocaust Memorial Day you can use your voice to speak out against humiliation, injustice and hatred. Sign the pledge: http://www.hmd.org.uk/
On Thursday 26th January at 7pm The Lesbian & Gay Foundation and The Albert Kennedy Trust are inviting you to come to a free event and Speak Up about the issues that matter to you for Holocaust Memorial Day.
It takes place at The Lesbian & Gay Foundation Community Resource Centre, Number 5, Richmond Street, Manchester, M1 3HF