From Publishers Weekly
The publication of Richard Plant's The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals (1986) opened public discussion of the treatment of gay people under the Third Reich. Since then, few books have revealed the personal stories of those who endured anti-gay German policies (I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual, 1995, is a notable exception), perhaps because many of the gay men who survived are now dead, or never felt safe coming out even after the war. All of this makes Beck's startling memoir a particularly important addition to both gay and Holocaust studies. Born in 1923 to a Jewish father and a Christian mother in a middle-class family, Beck was raised in both of his parents' religious traditions. When anti-Jewish policiesAinvolving housing relocation, forced labor and, finally, transport to the campsAbegan to be enforced, Beck helped set up resistance efforts to hide refugees and smuggle food and drugs into labor and concentration camps. In one terrifying episode, he donned a Hitler Youth uniform to rescue a lover from a deportation camp. Actively homosexual from an early age, Beck argues forthrightly and convincingly that his sexuality and love for menAwhich he movingly describes over the course of many adventuresAinfused most of his life and gave him the ability to fight for his own life and for others. His astute observations of daily life in Nazi Berlin, related in a chatty, humorous style, present a full, complex portrait of the times. (Oct.)
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From Kirkus Reviews
Beck, director of Berlin's Jewish Adult Education Center, recalls his youth and his work in the anti-Nazi resistance under most unusual circumstances. Beck was half of a pair of twins (with his sister Margot) born to an interfaith couple in Weimar Germany. Beck was one of those rare fortunate gay men who recognized his sexual orientation while still very young and who had a tolerant, loving, and supportive family who never for an instant were troubled by his lifestyle. He was equally lucky that his kin on the Christian side of the family felt the same toward their new Jewish relatives. Those facts are an inextricable element in his story of growing up Jewish in Nazi Germany. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Beck and his family found themselves, like other Jews, almost immediately stigmatized by law and separated forcibly from their non-Jewish friends and neighbors. After a lengthy series of humiliations, he was forced to leave his nondenominational school for a Jewish one. Beck is one of those quietly feisty types who are spurred by rejection into action; plunged into an entirely Jewish milieu, he quickly embraced the Zionist movement. Just as quickly, he embraced many of its male adherents, and the author is charmingly frank (but not explicit) about his sex life as well as his clandestine political activities. He would survive the war living as an ``illegal'' in Berlin, becoming a central figure in the underdocumented Zionist resistance that functioned despite the Nazis. Beck is a witty, chatty figure, and Heibert and Brown have done a splendid job of capturing and conveying his voice. The result is a readable and entertaining memoir of a terrible time. Beck is apparently at work on a sequel that takes him from the end of the war up to the present; its a book to look forward to. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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