Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Oldest Auschwitz survivor dies

The oldest known survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp - a teacher who gave lessons in defiance of his native Poland's Nazi occupiers - has died at the age of 108.

Antoni Dobrowolski died on Sunday in the Polish town of Debno.

After invading Poland in 1939, sparking the Second World War, the Germans banned anything beyond four years of elementary education in a bid to crush Polish culture and the country's intelligentsia. They considered Poles inferior beings, and the education policy was part of a plan to use them as a "slave race."

An underground effort by Poles to continue to teach children immediately emerged, with those caught punished by being sent to concentration camps or prisons. Mr Dobrowolski was among the Poles engaged in the effort, and he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz in June 1942.

"Auschwitz was worse than Dante's hell," he recalled when he was 103.

Mr Dobrowolski, who was born on October 8, 1904 in Wolborz, Poland, was later moved to the concentration camps of Gross-Rosen and Sachsenhausen.

After the war, he moved to Debno, where he worked as a Polish-language teacher and as head of an elementary school and later at a high school for many years.

He will be buried in Debno on Wednesday.

At least 1.1 million people were killed by the Germans at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. Most of the victims were Jews, but many non-Jewish Poles, Roma and others were also murdered there.


From Belfast Telegraph