Holocaust survivor who shared Auschwitz’s horrors with Prince William dies aged 101

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Holocaust survivor who shared Auschwitz’s horrors with Prince William dies aged 101

Leon Schwarzbaum's entire family was wiped out after they were deported in 1943

Michael Daventry is Jewish News’s foreign and broadcast editor

Holocaust survivor Leon Schwarzbaum talks to Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and his wife Catherine in Berlin in July 2017 (Photo: Reuters)
Holocaust survivor Leon Schwarzbaum talks to Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and his wife Catherine in Berlin in July 2017 (Photo: Reuters)

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.

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.”

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