Antoni Dobrowolski, 8/10/12 - 21/10/12 & Wilhelm Brasse, 3/12/17 - 23/10/12

It gives me great sadness to write about the death of not one, but two, elderly Holocaust survivors that passed away just in the last few days.

Antoni Dobrowolski

Mr Dobrowolski was born in 1904 in Poland. He was not, however, of Jewish origin; his imprisonment in the concentration camp system was a result of defying Nazi orders not to teach young Poles. Elementary education was banned from the age of four, but Mr Dobrowolski was determined to educate Poles about their country and culture amongst other things.
Arrested in 1942, he was sent to Auschwitz, later followed by incarceration in Gross-Rosen and Sachsenhausen. Once liberated, he settled in Debno, Poland, as a teacher of Polish language. He later held positions as headmaster of both primary and secondary schools.
Mr Dobrowolski was recognised for being the oldest survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Unlike many Holocaust survivors who are still with us, he was not a young person when sent to Auschwitz; he was already 38. Mr Dobrowolski had marked his 108th birthday just a few weeks ago. His most famous quote regarding Auschwitz is, "It was worse than Dante's hell."

Wilhelm Brasse

Mr Brasse was born - and died - in Zywiec, Poland. He was a professional photographer, and it was probably this skill that saved his life.
After refusing to swear allegiance to Hitler, Mr Brasse was put in prison for three months. He then tried to escape to join the Polish Army in France, but was captured and sent to Auschwitz in 1940, given the number 3444. His photography skills were revealed and for the next five years he was responsible for taking 'identity photographs' of newly-arrived prisoners. He was also instructed to take photographs of subjects of Dr Mengele's medical experiments. Many of these are still on display at the Auschwitz Museum and in Yad Vashem, Israel.
Unlike Mr Dobrowolski, Mr Brasse found he could not return to his previous profession, so haunted was he by the 'dead' whose photographs he had taken. Instead, he set up a sausage casing business. He leaves behind a wife, two children and five grandchildren.

It is certainly heartbreaking that two men who saw and endured so much are no longer with us. However, it is a comfort to know they lived such long lives - 108 and 94 respectively - and were blessed with their own families.

We have lost two more witnesses to the Nazis' atrocities, and one day, there will be none, which is why it is so important we never forget. We must silence the deniers and educate them; speak out against injustice; ensure that the monstrosity of Auschwitz never, ever happens again.

I wish for Mr Dobrowolski and Mr Brasse to rest in eternal peace.