Rudolf Brázda (26 June 1913 – 3 August 2011), last known survivor of the Nazi deportation of gay men, died yesterday. Rudolf was born in Germany to Czech parents. He was first imprisoned for homosexuality in Germany in 1937, after which he was deported to Czechoslovakia. As he didn’t speak Czech, he settled in the German-speaking region of the Sudetenland, which was annexed by Germany less than a year later. Rudolf was again imprisoned for homosexuality from April 1941 to June 1942. He was not released at the end of his sentence, and in August 1942 he was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, where he remained until April 1945. With the help of a kapo who hid him in a barn at the camp, he was able to escape the forced marches that killed about half the prisoners when the camp was evacuated by the Nazis.
After his escape, Rudolf moved to Mulhouse, Alsace, with his friend Ferdinand who was a native of the city. In Mulhouse Rudolf met Edward Mayer, who was to be his life partner for more than fifty years. Edi died in 2003.
The image shown here is a well-known photo of Rudolf at the Gay Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. For more photos, see Nos Témoins de l’Histoire. Rudolf received a number of honors in the last three years of his life, and was the subject of two books:
Jean-Luc Schwab and Rudolf Brazda, Itinéraire d’un triangle rose (Journey of a Pink Triangle) (Masset Florent, 2010).
Alexander Zinn, “Das Glück kam immer zu mir”: Rudolf Brazda – Das Überleben eines Homosexuellen im Dritten Reich (“I Was Always Lucky”: Rudolf Brazda – The Life of a Homosexual in the Third Reich) (Campus Verlag, 2011).
Rudolf’s remains will be cremated and his ashes placed alongside those of Edward Mayer.