Last survivor of the Treblinka uprising passes away

February 22, 2016 Agencies
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The World Jewish Congress is mourning the passing of Samuel Willenberg, the last survivor of the Treblinka uprising, who died on Friday in Israel at the age of 93.


Samuel Willenberg   Photo: WJC

World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer said: “Samuel Willenberg was a hero who defied the odds and risked his life during the darkest time in modern history. He dedicated his life’s work to the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust and to honoring the Jewish people’

As the number of living Holocaust survivors dwindles, it is our duty to continue their legacy and ensure that future generations remember their sacrifices and never forget the horrors that the Jewish people were forced to endure. May his memory be a blessing.”

Willenberg was born in 1923 in Częstochowa, Poland, and was taken to the Treblinka death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1942, when he was 19 years old. He was one of the leading members of the underground revolt launched by the prisoners of the camp in August 1943, opening fire at Nazi SS forces and setting parts of the camp alight, storming the fences of the camp. Some 200 people took part in the revolt – most were killed, but Willenberg survived and managed to escape.

Willenberg later joined the Polish partisans and took part in the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. Following the war, he joined the Polish army, reaching the rank of lieutenant. His mother, who had converted from Orthodox Christianity before he was born, and his father, a teacher and an artist, survived the war by pretending to be non-Jewish Poles.

Willenberg moved to Israel in 1950, serving for some time in the Housing Ministry, and dedicating the rest of his life to teaching about the Holocaust. He was an respected artist and sculptor, whose works focused on the Holocaust, and in his adult life made frequent trips to Poland to teach children about the horrors of the war. His memoir, “Revolt in Treblinka,” was published in Hebrew in 1986 and translated to English in 1989. Until his death, Willenberg was involved in a project to establish a museum at Treblinka.

Samuel Willenberg is survived by his wife Ada, a Holocaust survivor from Warsaw, and daughter, Orit Willenberg-Giladi, a celebrated architect now working on the new Israeli embassy in Berlin.


One Response to “Last survivor of the Treblinka uprising passes away”
  1. Fiona Sweet Formiatti says:

    Baruch Dayan haEmet. May his dear memory be for a blessing. And may his example inspire all of us.

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