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A reading from the book "Das Glück kam immer zu mir" (Happiness always came to me)

Author Alexander Zinn.

“I had great respect for him before we met,” said author Alexander Zinn at a book reading of his new book “Das Glück kam immer zu mir / Rudolf Brazda – A Homosexual´s Survival in the Third Reich”. The event took place on 28 June 2013 at the Media Project Center Open Channel at the KulturBahnhof in Kassel. Zinn met Rudolf Brazda in Berlin in May 2008 at the dedication of the German National Monument to the Homosexual Victims of the Nazi Regime. Brazda, who has since died, was one of the few survivors who spoke publicly about his suffering, albeit late in his life.

Zinn said he was inspired to write a book after their first meeting. Long, intense conversations ensued, as well as visits to significant places in Brazda´s life. He spent several years in prison under the Nazi regime and was interned at the concentration camp Buchenwald. Zinn brought Brazda to life during the 45-minute reading, which was planned in cooperation with the CSD Kassel and the International Tracing Service (ITS).

“Brazda didn´t have many nightmares or fears because of what happened to him, and he was always an optimist,” said Zinn. “However, it had long rankled him that his persecution was not recognized as an injustice.” Brazda perceived the dedication of the memorial as belated vindication. Paragraph 175, which was extensively overhauled by the Nazis, was first revised by the Federal Republic of Germany in 1969 and abolished in 1994. In 2002 the German Parliament pardoned homosexuals convicted by the Nazis under Paragraph 175. Brazda never received compensation for his incarceration.

As the Nazi party took power in 1933, the 20-year-old Brazda and his boyfriend lived together openly, Zinn reported. They even invited friends to celebrate their unofficial wedding at his mother´s home. “This showed courage but also naiveté,” said Zinn. Brazda´s biggest role model was Josephine Baker, the dancer and actor who he always emulated. In 1937 he was sentenced to 6 months in prison in Altenburg for “unnatural fornication.”

After his release the native of Saxony was deported to Czechoslovakia, home of his parents. Brazda was again persecuted when the Germans occupied the country. He was arrested on 1 April 1941 and deported to Buchenwald, where he was incarcerated for 16 months until its liberation. One of the first things he did was to sew a pink triangle on his prison uniform. “He wanted to document his allegiance to a group which was very low in the camp hierarchy,” Zinn writes. Brazda survived with luck and the help of kapos.

Zinn sensitively portrayed Rudolf Brazda´s life with wit and empathy, supplementing his personal memories with archival material. In the course of his research Zinn also visited the ITS, where original documents on Brazda´s incarceration at Buchenwald are housed. Rudolf Brazda died on 3 August 2011 at the age of 98. At the end of June 2013 the government of Thuringia celebrated his 100th birthday with a state ceremony, the first ever for a homosexual prisoner under the Nazi regime in the history of the federal republic of Germany.