BERLIN Ernst Cramer, who fled to the United States in 1939 and returned to Germany as an American soldier in 1944, died on Tuesday aged 96, Axel Springer publishers said.
Cramer, whose brother and parents were killed by the Nazis in 1942, spent six weeks in Buchenwald concentration camp after the Kristallnacht pogrom on November 9, 1938 and a year later was one of the last Jews to emigrate to the United States.
He was deputy editor of a newspaper set up by U.S. forces in Munich from 1948 to 1954, worked for United Press news agency until 1958 and then was hired by Springer where he became editor of daily Die Welt and publisher of the Welt am Sonntag weekly.
"We've lost someone who enriched and influenced the public discussion in Germany in a special way," German President Horst Koehler said. "We're grateful he found his home again in our country. He was a tireless defender of freedom and democracy."
Cramer was on the executive board of Germany's largest publisher for nearly 20 years and in retirement continued to write columns on U.S. and Israeli issues for Springer papers.
(Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Louise Ireland)