Auschwitz survivor Leon Schwarzbaum, who spent his latter years campaigning and raising awareness of the death camp’s horrors in meetings with figures including Prince William, has died aged 101.
The International Auschwitz Committee announced he passed away early on Monday morning in Potsdam, near Berlin.
Schwarzbaum, who was 22 when he was deported to Auschwitz in 1943, was the only one of his family to survive.
The IAC said he had also been incarcerated at Buchenwald and at a sub-camp of Sachsenhausen.
After the war he moved to Berlin, where he worked for many years as an art and antiques dealer. He married twice but had no children.
He spent his latter years raising awareness of the Holocaust, visiting schools to speak to children and appearing regularly on German television until he was in his late 90s.
Schwarzbaum also gave a vivid account of his experience to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when they visited Germany in 2017.
During their conversation Kate asked him: “How many people slept in each bunk?”
“Six, six, and six, he replied, pointing to a row of three bunks.
The Duke and Duchess met Holocaust survivor Leon Henry Schwarzbaum, who shared his story with them. pic.twitter.com/AGrH7SzCOp
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) July 19, 2017
He told the couple about the smell of burning bodies pervading the camp from the crematorium.
“This was the chimney,” he said, showing them a picture.
“You could smell the chimney throughout the whole camp. It was a terrible smell.”
He told Associated Press in a 2019 interview that he was deeply worried about the resurgence of antisemitism: ““If things get worse, I would not want to live through such times again. I would immigrate to Israel right away.”
The IAC said it was “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.”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.