David Dushman, the last surviving Allied soldier who helped liberate the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz during World War II, died on June 5 at the age of 98.
Dushman died at a Munich hospital in Germany, the city’s Jewish community announced on June 6, describing him as the “hero of Auschwitz.”
“It was with great sadness that I learned of David Dushman’s death. Every contemporary witness that leaves us is a loss, but saying goodbye to David Dushman is particularly painful. Dushman was at the forefront when the Nazis’ murder machinery was smashed in 1945… and saved countless lives,” Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Jewish community in Munich, said in a statement.
“With him we lose a brave, honest, and sincere man and an honorary member of our religious community. We remain deeply grateful to him and will keep him an honorable memory,” Knobloch added.
As a 21-year-old Jewish Red Army soldier, Dushman used his tank to mow down the electric fence of the Auschwitz camp on Jan. 27, 1945, helping set prisoners free.
Dushman suffered serious injuries and was one of 69 men in his 12,000-strong division to survive the war.
Dushman later became one of the Soviet Union’s top fencers, then one of the world’s greatest fencing coaches, training the women’s team for over 30 years.
International Olympic President Thomas Bach, a fellow fencer and friend, expressed his condolences.
“The death of David Dushman has deeply saddened me. 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, Back said.
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