World News

Lone English Auschwitz survivor dies aged 97

LONDON (Reuters) - Leon Greenman, the only Englishman in the Auschwitz death camp, died in a London hospital on Friday aged 97, the Jewish Museum said.

Greenman’s Dutch wife Esther and three-year-old son Barney died in the notorious World War Two concentration camp.

“He recently broke his leg and was in hospital in North London when he died today,” a museum spokeswoman said.

Greenman, who survived six concentration camps and a 90 km (60 mile) death march from Auschwitz, swore during his captivity that if he survived he would spend the rest of his life telling the world what had happened to him and millions of other prisoners.

It was a promise he kept, writing a book “An Englishman in Auschwitz” and lecturing widely until very recently. In 1988 he received an honor, the OBE, for his work against racism.

Born in London on December 18, 1910, Greenman moved to Rotterdam with his family at the age of five. He met Esther van Dam, who was Dutch but lived in London, in the early 1930s. They married in London in 1935 but returned to Rotterdam to care for her grandmother. Their son Barney was born in 1940.

The Germans invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, and in October 1942 the Greenmans were taken from their home with several hundred other Jews and sent first to Westerbork and then Auschwitz, where his wife and son died in the gas chamber.

Greenman was liberated from Buchenwald on April 11, 1945 by the American 3rd Army.

He never remarried and grieved for his wife and son for the rest of his life, the museum said.

Reporting by Jeremy Lovell; editing by Tim Pearce