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Last known survivor of Sobibor Nazi death camp dies

June 3, 2019

Semion Rosenfeld escaped from the Sobibor extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, in 1943. The Ukrainian-born Jew has been described as a "true hero."

Polen, Sobibor: Gedenktafel
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Wierzchowski

The last known survivor of the Nazi extermination camp Sobibor died aged 96 on Monday. Semion Rosenfeld was born in Ukraine and was a Jewish soldier held in captivity at the death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Rosenfeld passed away in Israel, where he had lived in a retirement home with the support of the the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency.

The head of the organization, Isaac Herzog, said he was "very sad" about the death of Rosenfeld, who he described as a "true hero".

Read more: Germany does not have to cover ex-Nazi guard legal fees, court rules

"Semion fought the Nazis as part of the Red Army and was then sent to the Sobibor death camp as a prisoner of war, where he encountered death every day until the famous rebellion," Herzog said.

Rosenfeld escaped following an uprising by prisoners at the camp.

Commemorations mark Sobibor anniversary

The revolt became legendary as nearly 300 Sobibor prisoners, Rosenfeld among them, staged a breakout in October 1943. However, almost 170 were subsequently caught by the Nazis and shot dead. Rosenfeld took refuge in the forest until the spring of 1944, when he began fighting once more for the Red Army.

"I wasn't afraid. I didn't have time to think about it. I wanted to survive," Rosenfeld later told regarding the mission and his hideout. All his family was killed by the Nazis.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid his respects upon hearing the news. He said: "Rosenfeld fought in the Red Army, was taken prisoner by the Nazis, managed to escape the death camp and continued to fight Nazism. May his memory be blessed."

Rosenfeld, who leaves behind two sons and five grandchildren, was one of 212,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel, according to the country's Central Bureau of Statistics in 2017.

The Quarrel about the Former Concentration Camp Sobibor

jsi/rt (AFP, dpa)

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