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Rudolf Brazda, Who Survived Pink Triangle, Is Dead at 98

Rudolf Brazda, Who Survived Pink Triangle, Is Dead at 98

Rudolf Brazda, believed to be the last surviving man to wear the pink triangle — the emblem sewn onto the striped uniforms of the thousands of homosexuals sent to Nazi concentration camps, most of them to their deaths — died on Wednesday in Bantzenheim, in Alsace, France. He was 98.
His death was confirmed by the Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany.
Mr. Brazda, who was born in Germany, had lived in France since the Buchenwald camp, near Weimar, Germany, was liberated by American forces in April 1945. He had been imprisoned there for three years.
It was only after May 27, 2008, when the German National Monument to the Homosexual Victims of the Nazi Regime was unveiled in Berlin’s Tiergarten park — opposite the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe — that Mr. Brazda became known as probably the last gay survivor of the camps. Until he notified German officials after the unveiling, the Lesbian and Gay Federation believed there were no other pink-triangle survivors.
In a statement on Thursday, Mémorial de la Déportation Homosexuelle, a French organization that commemorates the Nazi persecution of gay people, said that Mr. Brazda “was very likely the last victim and the last witness” to the persecution.
“It will now be the task of historians to keep this memory alive,” the statement said, “a task that they are just beginning to undertake.”
One of those historians is Gerard Koskovich, curator of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender History Museum in San Francisco and an author with Roberto Malini and Steed Gamero of “A Different Holocaust” (2006).
Pointing out that only men were interned, Mr. Koskovich said, “The Nazi persecution represented the apogee of anti-gay persecution, the most extreme instance of state-sponsored homophobia in the 20th century.”
During the 12-year Nazi regime, he said, up to 100,000 men were identified in police records as homosexuals, with about 50,000 convicted of violating Paragraph 175, a section of the German criminal code that outlawed male homosexual acts. There was no law outlawing female homosexual acts, he said. Citing research by Rüdiger Lautmann, a German sociologist, Mr. Koskovich said that 5,000 to 15,000 gay men were interned in the camps and that about 60 percent of them died there, most within a year.
“The experience of homosexual men under the Nazi regime was one of extreme persecution, but not genocide,” Mr. Koskovich said, when compared with the “relentless effort to identify all Jewish people and ultimately exterminate them.”
Still, the conditions in the camps were murderous, said Edward J. Phillips, the director of exhibitions at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Men sent to the camps under Section 175 were usually put to forced labor under the cruelest conditions — underfed, long hours, exposure to the elements and brutal treatment by labor brigade leaders,” Mr. Phillips said. “We know of instances where gay prisoners and their pink triangles were used for guards’ target practices.”
Two books have been written about Mr. Brazda. In one, “Itinerary of a Pink Triangle” (2010), by Jean-Luc Schwab, Mr. Brazda recalled how dehumanizing the incarceration was. “Seeing people die became such an everyday thing, it left you feeling practically indifferent,” he is quoted as saying. “Now, every time I think back on those terrible times, I cry. But back then, just like everyone in the camps, I had hardened myself so I could survive.”
Rudolf Brazda was born on June 26, 1913, in the eastern German town of Meuselwitz to a family of Czech origin. His parents, Emil and Anna Erneker Brazda, both worked in the coal mining industry. Rudolf became a roofer. Before he was sent to the camp, he was arrested twice for violations of Paragraph 175.
After the war, Mr. Brazda moved to Alsace. There he met Edouard Mayer, his partner until Mr. Mayer’s death in 2003. He has no immediate survivors.
“Having emerged from anonymity,” the book “Itinerary of a Pink Triangle” says of Mr. Brazda, “he looks at the social evolution for homosexuals over his nearly 100 years of life: ‘I have known it all, from the basest repression to the grand emancipation of today.’ ”


The Rise and Fall of the Sunday Drive!

During my late childhood and early teen years, I distinctly remember my father saying let's go for a Sunday drive! We would all pile into the car, me, my Mother, my Dad, Grandmother and my Great Aunt to set out for ...well NOWHERE in particular.  My Father was also famous for taking "shortcuts" which turned into long cuts that took an extra hour to get where we were going!  Most of my time was spent being nauseated in the back seat due to motion sickness. Once in a while we would actually have some sort of purpose or destination set as the end point to the car journey, like some obscure ice cream store six towns away, or gravity hill where your car would roll up hill instead of down (and yes it really does, if you dont belive me just Google Gravity Hill, Pennsylvania), or once my Father drove us an hour to show us some old restaurant that was built to look like a giant tea pot! More often then not, there was no set destination.  Just hours of look at the cows, look at the trees, look at the birds, ect.  

I am sure that most people my age or older, that being late 30's and older, remember similar experiences.  At the time, I couldn't for the life of me, figure out why on earth anyone would want to pile their family into a car in the hot summer months, to drive aimlessly out into the countryside on back country roads with absolutely no purpose at all, and for hours and hours only to return home having not really gone to any destination in particular!

The other day I was talking about this very thing with a friend and we started discussing the whole concept of "the Sunday Drive".  I sat and pondered it for a while and realized that its is a relic of a bygone era that spilled over into my era.  You see, prior to the invention of the automobile, people didn't have the luxury of traveling any great distance.  There were no superhighways, no road infra structure, just rutted roads with lots and lots of horse manure along the way.  Getting from town to town could be an all day venture.  When the automobile was invented, much like the television, only the wealthy could afford the luxury and driving in those days was a huge big deal.  People even wore driving outfits complete with driving gloves and goggles! It was an event, something to be savored, a luxury to be able to travel and see things that were not logistically possible before! This is how the concept of the Sunday drive was born.  In the 50's and 60's the interstate came into full force and people took to the roads with new found freedom!  Hey kids, lets all pack into the family car and go driving! This was also during the era when family's actually ate meals together, went to church, talked to each other in person,  and lived a lot like Ward and June Cleaver.  

Sadly, more and more super highways came into being, the family dinner went out the window and microwaves, chat rooms, texting, Wii, television, and Lean Cusine came into vogue.  The pleasure of driving went to the wayside and the family car became another necessity for work, soccer practice for the kids, and trips to the grocery store for more frozen dinners! Driving is no longer a pleasure with city traffic, gas that costs $60.00 a tank, and road rage! I think the death of the Sunday Drive happened sometime in the late 70's in my opinion!


As you may have noticed, I have not been writing too much in my blog these days.  I think that its a combination of things.  One, its summer and during the summer I am away most weekends at Roseland. Also, I HATE being inside during the sunny months because Pittsburgh winters tend to drag ON AND AND ON so I like to get the maximum out of the sunny days. I was a bit shocked to see that my monthly stats dropped from nearly 10,000 viewers to just under 6,000 for the month of July!  I thought I should get up off of my ass and start writing a few articles!

I will do my best, oh loyal readers, to provide you with more entertaining articles, relentless lamenting over life's issues, and so on!  So hold on to your hats....more good stuff is coming!

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