The last known gay survivor of the Nazi holocaust is to receive the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur.
Rudolf Brazda, 97, who spent three years in Buchenwald concentration camp, was recommended for the honour by President Sarkozy.
News of his award came 66 years to the day he left the camp, in 1945.
Philippe Couillet, president of Les Oublié(e)s de la Mémoire (an association campaigning for recognition of the suffering of gay people once imprisoned by the Nazis), said the award marked “a further step in the recognition of the deportation of homosexuals” and was a deserved reward for the bravery Mr Brazda had displayed in speaking publicly about his experience.
Author Alexander Zinn has documented Mr Brazda’s life in a new book titled Das Glück Kam Immer zu Mir (Happiness Always Came to Me). In addition, Mr Zinn has gathered material for a documentary which he hopes will be screened this year, which includes interviews with Mr Brazda and his return to Buchenwald.
It was after the unveiling of the Berlin monument to gay and lesbian holocaust victims that Mr Brazda came forward to tell his story. He has previously received the gold medals of the cities of Toulouse and Nancy.
Writing on his LGBT Asylum News blog, Paul Canning said: “In spite of his old age, and health permitting, Brazda is determined to continue speaking out about his past, in the hope that younger generations remain vigilant in the face of present day behaviour and thoughts similar to those which led to the persecutions endured by homosexuals during the Nazi era.”
Mr Brazda will receive his award tomorrow at College Puteaux in Hauts-de-Seine. He will give a speech and the honour will be presented to him by Marie-José of Chombart Lauwe, a former resistance fighter who was an inmate at Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s work camp. She is now president of The Foundation for the Memory of the Deportation.