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08:55

Holocaust survivor recalls being saved from deportation to Auschwitz ahead of 75th liberation anniversary

Germany, Essen
January 24, 2020 at 21:00 GMT +00:00 · Published

Josef Konigsberg, a Holocaust survivor who escaped deportation to the Auschwitz concentration camp with the help of a German official, recounted his sad experiences from the Nazi times and how he survived the concentration camps at his office in Essen, Friday, ahead of the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation by the Red Army of the Soviet Union.

The 95-years-old explained that he was sent to a Jewish ghetto after the Nazis marched into his native city of Katowice. From there, together with his mother and sister they were put into a column towards Auschwitz. That was when her mother asked the German Helmut Kleinicke to save her son and stressed he is thankful to him for his having survived. His mother and sister unfortunately were sent to Auschwitz to the gas chambers.

Konigsberg also recounted the story of his stamp collection, which he gave to be safeguarded by his rescuer, who said "if we both survive, you will get the stamps back. And actually, two years ago, Mr. Kleinicke's daughter turned up. She found the stamps in her father's things - he was already dead - and gave them back to me."

Konigsberg then went on to comment on the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany, stressing despite all efforts, too little is being done to combat anti-Semitism in the country, and although Germany had learnt from his past, there is still more to learn as there are still cases of anti-Jewish hatred in the country.

"Maybe Germany still needs some hundreds of years for the Germans to experience a Germany without anti-Semitism. The way it stands today, one can only hope" he said.

Konigsberg is the only person still alive in Germany that was saved by Helmut Kleinicke, who was awarded the 'Righteous Among the Nations' at the Israeli Embassy in Berlin on January 14, 40 years after his death. The award is given by memorial centre Yad Vashem to those who have risked their lives to save Jews during WWII. Kleinicke, an engineer and official of the Nazi party, reportedly saved hundreds of Jews, saying they worked for him, keeping them hidden or tipping them off about about roundups.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier claimed during the Holocaust memorial services in Jerusalem yesterday that he wished he could say Germany had learned, but that his nation had not fully learned the lessons of the Holocaust.

08:55
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Josef Konigsberg, a Holocaust survivor who escaped deportation to the Auschwitz concentration camp with the help of a German official, recounted his sad experiences from the Nazi times and how he survived the concentration camps at his office in Essen, Friday, ahead of the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation by the Red Army of the Soviet Union.

The 95-years-old explained that he was sent to a Jewish ghetto after the Nazis marched into his native city of Katowice. From there, together with his mother and sister they were put into a column towards Auschwitz. That was when her mother asked the German Helmut Kleinicke to save her son and stressed he is thankful to him for his having survived. His mother and sister unfortunately were sent to Auschwitz to the gas chambers.

Konigsberg also recounted the story of his stamp collection, which he gave to be safeguarded by his rescuer, who said "if we both survive, you will get the stamps back. And actually, two years ago, Mr. Kleinicke's daughter turned up. She found the stamps in her father's things - he was already dead - and gave them back to me."

Konigsberg then went on to comment on the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany, stressing despite all efforts, too little is being done to combat anti-Semitism in the country, and although Germany had learnt from his past, there is still more to learn as there are still cases of anti-Jewish hatred in the country.

"Maybe Germany still needs some hundreds of years for the Germans to experience a Germany without anti-Semitism. The way it stands today, one can only hope" he said.

Konigsberg is the only person still alive in Germany that was saved by Helmut Kleinicke, who was awarded the 'Righteous Among the Nations' at the Israeli Embassy in Berlin on January 14, 40 years after his death. The award is given by memorial centre Yad Vashem to those who have risked their lives to save Jews during WWII. Kleinicke, an engineer and official of the Nazi party, reportedly saved hundreds of Jews, saying they worked for him, keeping them hidden or tipping them off about about roundups.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier claimed during the Holocaust memorial services in Jerusalem yesterday that he wished he could say Germany had learned, but that his nation had not fully learned the lessons of the Holocaust.

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