Gad Beck, a gay, Jewish Holocaust Survivor, will be speaking at CBST's Friday night service's ONEG. Mr. Beck was the guest speaker at CBST's Pride Shabbat service in 1997, and proudly rode on the CBST float during the Gay Pride Parade that year. Gad Beck has had his book translated into English and it is now called An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin (University of Wisconsin Press).
A German Jew, Gad Beck managed to evade the Nazis, living in Berlin during World War II. That Beck was a homosexual Jew during the Holocaust makes his survival all the more remarkable. Born Gerhard Beck in a Christian-Jewish household, he first experienced the growing power and influence of National Socialism only as an uncertain threat. As Jews began to be forced out of German social, political, and economic life, the young Gerhard embraced his Jewish heritage, joined Zionist youth groups, and took the Hebrew name Gad.
Then the Nazis came for Manfred Lewin, Beck's first love, and for the Lewin family. Gad's love for Manfred gave him the courage to don a three-sizes-too-large Hitler Youth uniform, march into the assembly camp where the Lewins were being held, and demand- and obtain, to his astonishment- the release of his lover. But Manfred would not leave without his family, and so went back into the camp. The Lewins did not survive.
Still in his teens, Beck was soon an important contact in Berlin for the Swiss-based Zionist organization Hechalutz and led a resistance group, Chug Chaluzi, that aided Jews with food, housing, and escape plans. Defying caution, Beck and the other members of his Zionist youth group met in the streets of Berlin, wandering and singing, under the eye of the Nazis. Coming of age in a city under constant bombardment, carrying on resistance work and a series of romantic gay relationships despite the constant risk of arrest by the Gestapo, Beck revealed a tenacity and irrepressible spirit that is his real legacy. Unlike many stories of the Holocaust, Beck's is not that of a victim, but of a man who lived semi-openly and actively, never losing his love of life despite the threat of persecution.
Gad Beck is the author of An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin, one of the new fall titles in the Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies series published by the University of Wisconsin Press. In An Underground Life, Beck relates his experiences during World War II. Originally published in Germany under the title, Und Gad Ging Zu David, Beck's memoir is one of the first biographies of a homosexual Jewish Holocaust Survivor. After living in Israel for many years after World War II, Beck eventually returned to Berlin, where he was the director of the Jewish Adult Education Center until his retirement. He still lives in Berlin, where he is active as a public speaker.
270 pages, 23 b/w photos and 2 maps. ISBN 0-299-16500-0 Cl. $24.95
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