An Underground Life: The Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin
THAT A JEW LIVING IN NAZI BERLIN survived the Holocaust at all is surprising. That he was a homosexual, and also a leader in the resistance, and survived is amazing. But that he endured the ongoing horror with an open heart, with love and humor and without vitriol, and has now written about it so beautifully is truly miraculous. This is Gad Beck's story.
Love gave Gad Beck both the impetus and strength to fight. 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, Gad 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. 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 reveals a tenacity and irrepressible spirit that is his real legacy. His determination to keep loving, living, and believing inevery human possibility without compromise -- even in the face of the unthinkably monstrous -- makes this quite a different story of the Holocaust.