Gad beck has died. as a Jew and a homosexual he stood little chance of surviving the holocaust, but miraculously he did. in Dna #47 he spoke to us about life in nazi Germany, and living and loving under hitler. tim Warrington reports. Gerhard (Gad) Beck and his twin sister Margot were born in 1923. Already, the Nazi movement had started to take hold among the young veterans of World War I. One of Gad’s earliest memories was as the only Jew in class, excluded from saluting the swastika flag. “I no longer belonged. I was an outcast who wasn’t worthy of saluting the German flag.” By the time Gad was 10 years old, Hitler had seized power. Like many Jews, Gad’s father Heinrich believed that if they didn’t cause any trouble, they wouldn’t suffer any consequences. He didn’t believe it was necessary to flee the country. By the time he realised he was wrong, it was too late. When he was 12 years old, Gad had his first sexual experience with his 22-year-old gym teacher. “He finished before I did, put on a bathrobe and threw me a towel. In that moment, I was overcome with unrestrained desire and without thinking about what I was doing I went over to him and snuggled into his bathrobe, naked. Not a word was uttered. As I embraced him I noticed he was aroused as
(Left): Manfred Lewin in 1941 and (right) Zwi who, along with Gad, survived nazi torture.
well. I relished the feeling. We caressed and rubbed against each other until we both came.” By the time he was 13, Gad was having regular sexual encounters with Otto, a Czech student who lived in the neighbourhood. Due to his mixed Jewish and Protestant heritage Gad was not deported to a labour camp, but instead remained in Berlin. When war broke out in Europe, the situation for Jews became even more precarious. Gad’s family were evicted from their state-owned apartment and Gad joined the Zionist movement. Among his Zionist friends was a young man called Manfred Lewin – his first love. As World War II progressed, information began to trickle in about what became known as the Holocaust. It’s estimated that six million Jews were killed by the Nazi regime and at least 50,000 homosexuals were murdered. Amidst the terror of war and the fear of persecution by the Nazis, love blossomed between the two men, however, the relationship was cut short tragically
(Above): Gad Beck and his sister Margot as children in 1937; and Gad at age 80.
when Manfred and his entire family were deported. Gad never saw Manfred again and he “never really got over the loss”. In 1943, Gad met Heinz Abrahamssohn, known as “Zwi”. Zwi had lost his entire family and was alone in Berlin. Gad and Zwi began a sexual relationship, which was surprisingly “relaxed” considering there were bombs falling and the constant threat of discovery by the Nazis. Gad continued to distribute money, food, clothing and letters to Jews. He even posed as a Swiss diplomat to avoid capture. On occasion he used sex as currency to buy favours. All the while he was protecting his own family and housing six illegal Jews. Gad participated in a few acts of sabotage for the British, but on one occasion, he and Zwi were captured by the Gestapo. Gad was interrogated while Zwi was tortured in the adjoining room. “The door was left open intentionally. I could hear Zwi being beaten and screaming in the next room. They were trying to find out if we were having sex.” The two spent the rest of the war in prison. Gad was liberated by Russian soldiers in 1945. Following the war, at the age of just 22, he was appointed as the first representative for Jewish affairs in Berlin. Gad spent the rest of his life serving the Jewish community. In 1974, he met his life partner, Julius Laufer, and the two settled in Rj. Berlin. Beck died on 24 June 2012 in a Berlin retirement home. He was 88.