Germany: David Dushman, the last liberator of Auschwitz, died at 98

Germany: David Dushman, the last liberator of Auschwitz, died at 98
Germany: David Dushman, the last liberator of Auschwitz, died at 98

It was he who, on 27 January 1945, on board a Soviet T-34 tank, demolished the electrified fence of Auschwitz: David Dushman, the last liberator of the concentration camp who more than any other, died at the age of 98. symbolizes the horror of the Holocaust. The confirmation came from a spokesman for the Jewish community of Munich, who specified that the death took place on the night between Friday and Saturday in a hospital in the Bavarian capital. What Dushman, then just 21, saw in the extermination camp never left him: “Mountains of corpses, people half-starved, endless suffering. But in a way I didn’t know what Auschwitz was. I only really understood it after the war ».

“Dushman’s biography is material for history books,” points out the newspaper Juedische Allgemeine. Originally from the Soviet Union, driving his tank “he had seen death in the face numerous times.” Among the many battles in which he had participated, very young, also that of Stalingrad: for the courage shown on the front line he obtained numerous honors, paradoxically not for the liberation of Auschwitz. Last April, on the occasion of his 98th birthday, Dushman was made an honorary member of the German Jewish community. After the war he was – for almost four decades, ie from 1952 to 1988 – the coach of the USSR women’s fencing team. In this capacity he also witnessed the bloody terrorist attack against the 1972 Israeli Olympic team in Munich. The experiences of his life he told her for decades in schools, from the war to concentration camps to the Olympics. There are many athletes brought by Dushman to the podium of world champions as well as to those of the Olympic Games. Dushman arrived in Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Discrimination and defamation of Jews also lived there, beyond the Iron Curtain. His father, a doctor, had been one of the countless victims of the Stalinist purges, and his days ended as a labor camp. A horror memory was also the 1972 bloody Olympics: «We were housed right in front of where the Israeli team was. We could hear the gunfire and the sound of the helicopters in front of us. I will never forget the terror that the attack unleashed among all the athletes present ».

When he turned 95, it was the then president of the German Jewish Community, Charlotte Knobloch, who paid homage to him: “For at least three lives, what you had to suffer in body and soul is enough – he said to the veteran – but also what which he managed to conquer extraordinary and the extraordinary successes he was able to celebrate ». The last liberator of Auschwitz continued to wield the sword and the florin until the very end. He arrived in Germany after the dissolution of the Iron Curtain, after a brief passage in Austria. But, as he never tired of telling, he never resented his new homeland, Germany: “We weren’t fighting against the Germans, we were fighting against fascism.”

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