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Last Surviving Auschwitz Liberator Dies Aged 98

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Last Surviving Auschwitz Liberator Dies Aged 98

The last surviving liberator of Auschwitz has died at the age of 98.

David Dushman was a member of the Jewish Red Army and drove a tank through the electric fences of the Nazi concentration camp on 27 January 1945.

Just 21 years old at the time, he helped save the lives of those who had been imprisoned under the fascist regime.

According to reports, Mr Dushman passed away in Germany on Saturday (6 June).

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Speaking to Reuters last year, the World War Two veteran, who went on to become an Olympic fencer, opened up about the moment he and others freed the prisoners.

He told the publication: "When we arrived we saw the fence and these unfortunate people, we broke through the fence with our tanks. We gave food to the prisoners and continued.

David Dushman has died aged 98. Credit: PA
David Dushman has died aged 98. Credit: PA

"They were standing there, all of them in [prisoner] uniforms, only eyes, only eyes, very narrow - that was very terrible, very terrible."

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Mr Dushman admitted in the past that he wasn't aware of what was going on at Auschwitz during the war.

It was only at the end of the conflict that he learned of the atrocities that had been carried out there.

In a 2015 interview with Sueddeutsche daily, Mr Dushman said: "We hardly knew anything about Auschwitz.

"They staggered out of the barracks, sat and lay among the dead. Terrible. We threw them all our canned food and immediately went on to hunt down the fascists."

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In his later life, Mr Dushman visited schools to talk to students about the war and the horrific injustices millions suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

Mr Dushman drove a tank through the electric fences at Auschwitz in 1945, liberating the camp's prisoners. Credit: PA
Mr Dushman drove a tank through the electric fences at Auschwitz in 1945, liberating the camp's prisoners. Credit: PA

Charlotte Knobloch, a former head of Germany's Central Council of Jews, told The National: "Every witness to history who passes on is a loss, but saying farewell to David Dushman is particularly painful.

"Mr Dushman was right on the front lines when the National Socialists' machinery of murder was destroyed."

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Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympic Committee, also shared shared his condolences following news of Mr Dushman's passing.

He said: "When we met in 1970, he immediately offered me friendship and counsel, despite Mr Dushman's personal experience with World War II and Auschwitz, and he being a man of Jewish origin.

"This was such a deep human gesture that I will never ever forget it."

Rest in peace.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: schools, History, Germany, Veteran, World War Two

Dominic Smithers
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