Holocaust survivor who escaped Nazi concentration camp ‘death march’ dies of coronavirus aged 96 in Israel
- Eliezer Grynfeld died in Israel last week, the country’s remembrance centre said
- As a teenager he was taken to the Nazis’ Sachsenhausen concentration camp
- He escaped captivity during a ‘death march’ and later emigrated to Israel
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
A Holocaust survivor who escaped from a Nazi ‘death march’ during World War II has died aged 96 after being infected with coronavirus.
Eliezer Grynfeld died in Israel last week, leaving two children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
As a teenager he was imprisoned in the Lodz Ghetto in occupied Poland in 1940 and later taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, before escaping when the prisoners were marched west.
After the war he emigrated to Israel and met Pope Francis during a Holocaust remembrance ceremony in 2014.
Holocaust survivor Eliezer Grynfeld (pictured) died in Israel last week after being infected with coronavirus, leaving two children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren
The Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance centre confirmed that Grynfeld had died with coronavirus, the Times of Israel said.
Born in Lodz in 1923, Grynfeld was forced to move into the Lodz Ghetto with his mother and grandparents after the German occupation which prompted the war.
Both his grandparents died at the ghetto, according to the Yad Vashem centre.
The ghetto was closed in 1944, and many of its inhabitants were sent to die in Hitler’s concentration camps.
Grynfeld was taken with his mother to Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp near Berlin, but they were separated on arrival.
The teenage Grynfeld was taken on a death march – the forced evacuation of Nazi prisoners towards the west as the Soviet army closed in on the Eastern front.
Thousands of prisoners died during the marches, but Grynfeld escaped and joined the Soviet forces as a translator.
Eliezer Grynfeld (pictured right) with his wife Rachel, whom he met at a displaced persons’ camp in Germany after World War II
After the war, he spent sometime in a displaced persons’ camp in Germany, where he met his wife Rachel. She survives him.
In 1956 the couple emigrated to Israel, where Grynfeld worked in the military industry and his mother remarried to another Holocaust survivor.
Eliezer was one of six Holocaust survivors – representing the six million murdered Jews – who greeted Pope Francis on a visit to Israel in 2014.
Israel has 13,491 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 172 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
Researchers in Israel have warned that the pandemic has sparked a rise in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories blaming Jews for the crisis.
The researchers said the conspiracy theories were a continuation of an ancient form of anti-Semitism that involves blaming Jews when ‘things go wrong.’
Coronavirus causes spike in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, researchers say
The coronavirus pandemic has sparked a rise in anti-Semitic statements blaming Jews for the disease and resulting economic crisis, researchers said today.
‘Since the beginning of the Covid -19 pandemic, there has been a significant rise in accusations that Jews, as individuals and as a collective, are behind the spread of the virus or are directly profiting from it,’ said Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress.
‘The language and imagery used clearly identifies a revival of the medieval blood libels when Jews were accused of spreading disease, poisoning wells or controlling economies.’
Kantor warned that the virus had the potential to spark populist extremism similar to that which erupted after the Great Depression and contributed to the rise of Nazism.
Researchers in Israel said the conspiracy theories were a continuation of an ancient form of anti-Semitism that involves blaming Jews when ‘things go wrong.’
They recorded examples of people pinning the source of the virus on Jews rejecting Christ, and accusing Jews of perpetrating the virus’s spread in order to profit from vaccines they would ultimately create to combat it.
The FBI has also warned against calls coming from neo-Nazis and white supremacists to spread contagion among Jews.
Researchers said an 18 per cent increase in anti-Semitic violence in 2019 continued a steady rise of recent years.
Seven Jews were killed in 2019 in more than 450 attacks across the globe against synagogues, community centers and other Jewish targets.