Russian Jew David Dushman, who was one of the soldiers who liberated Auschwitz in January 1945, speaks to Reuters journalists in Munich on January 14, 2020 (REUTERS/Ayhan Uyanik)

From Jewish Chronicle:

Tributes were paid to the Jewish last surviving Auschwitz liberator, David Dushman, who died on Saturday aged 98.

His death was confirmed by the Israelite Cultural Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria on Sunday.

The veteran, who joined the Red Army in 1941, knocked down the electric fence surrounding the Nazi death camp with his tank on 27 January 1945. 

Around 7,000 inmates, including 700 children, were liberated that day.

“They were standing there, all of them in (prisoner) uniforms, only eyes, only eyes, very narrow – that was very terrible, very terrible,” he told Reuters last year.

Survivor Charlotte Knobloch, the former head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, paid tribute to the “brave, honest and sincere” man. 

“Every contemporary witness who leaves us is a loss, but the farewell to David Dushman hurts especially.

“Dushman was at the forefront when the murder machine of the National Socialists was smashed in 1945; as a hero of Auschwitz, he was one of the liberators of the concentration camp and saved countless lives. 

“He was one of the last to be able to report on this event from his own experience,” she said. 

After the war, Mr Dushman won acclaim as the Soviet Union’s top fencer in 1951.

He went on to coach some of the greatest Soviet athletes including Olympian Valentina Sidorova.

Mr Dushman continued to attend his fencing club in Munich up until the age of 94, the International Olympic Committee said.

His friend for more than 50 years, German former Olympic fencer Thomas Bach, said he was “deeply saddened” by his death.

“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,” he recalled.

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