Auschwitz survivor Leon Schwarzbaum dies at 101 in Germany

Leon Scharzbaum, a survivor of the Nazis’ death camp at Auschwitz and lifelong fighter for justice for the victims of the Holocaust, has died

Via AP news wire
Monday 14 March 2022 15:15

Leon Scharzbaum, a survivor of the Nazis' death camp at Auschwitz and a lifelong fighter for justice for the victims of the Holocaust, has died at 101.

Schwarzbaum died early Monday in Potsdam near Berlin, the International Auschwitz Committee reported on its website. No cause of death was given.

“It is with great sadness, respect and gratitude that Holocaust survivors around the world bid farewell to their friend, fellow sufferer and companion Leon Schwarzbaum, who in the last decades of his life became one of the most important contemporary witnesses of the Shoah,” the committee said.

Schwarzbaum was the only one of his family to survive the concentration camps at Auschwitz, Buchenwald and a subcamp Sachsenhausen, the Auschwitz committee said.

He became known to a wider audience when film director Hans Erich Viet made a movie in 2018 about his life. “The Last of the Jolly Boys” was shot with Schwarzbaum himself at original locations.

Schwarzbaum was born in 1921 to a Polish-Jewish family in Hamburg in northern Germany. He grew up in Bedzin, Poland, from where the family was deported to Auschwitz in 1943 after the ghetto there was dissolved.

After the war, he lived in Berlin for many years where he worked as an art and antiques dealer. He was married twice, but had no children, daily newspaper Bild reported.

Well into his 90s, Schwarzbaum still appeared on German television to speak about the unbearable sufferings he lived through at Auschwitz and the other concentration camps he was deported to. He also visited schools in Germany regularly to tell the children about his life.

“Especially in his last years, Leon Schwarzbaum was driven again and again by the urge to remember his parents who were murdered in Auschwitz and all the other victims of the Holocaust. He spoke on their behalf,” said Christoph Heubner, the Executive Vice President of the International Auschwitz Committee.

“But he was also driven by his anger at the fact that so few SS perpetrators ever saw the inside of a German courtroom," Heubner added, referring to the Nazis' brutal paramilitary organization.

In 2016, he gave testimony at the trial against former Auschwitz death guard Reinhold Hanning in Germany.

In an 2019 interview with the Associated Press at his Berlin apartment, which was covered with paintings and old back-and-white pictures of his 35 relatives who perished in the Holocaust, Schwarzbaum expressed deep worry about the reemergence of antisemitism across Europe.

“If things get worse, I would not want to live through such times again,” he said. “I would immigrate to Israel right away.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in