Roman Kent, a Holocaust survivor and president of the International Auschwitz Committee, died on Friday at the age of 92 in New York following a brief illness.
Kent was a prominent voice among Holocaust survivors who negotiated compensation for Jewish Holocaust survivors from the German government.
“From negotiating billions of dollars in pensions and compensation for Jewish Holocaust survivors from the German government, championing survivor interests with insurance companies, German industry, and eastern European governments, to advocating for Holocaust education, to taking on Facebook in demanding that they remove Holocaust denial posts from their platform, no task was too large or too demanding,” Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
“Even as his own health waned, he continued to fight against antisemitism and hatred,” he said in a statement.
Surviving the Nazi regime
Kent was born in Lodz, Poland in 1929 as Roman Kniker. The Nazis forced him and his family to live in the Lodz ghetto.
Kent survived the ghetto and several death camps including Merzbachtal, Dornau, and Flossenburg and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Kent’s father died of malnutrition in the Lodz ghetto and his mother was murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau.
In 1945, the US army liberated Kent and his brother while on a death march to the Dachau concentration camp. The pair were then reunited with their two sisters in Sweden after liberation. One of his sisters, who was severely ill, died a few months later.
In June 1946, Kent and his brother immigrated to the US where they lived with foster parents. Kent went on to graduate from university, became a successful businessman and dedicated the rest of his life to Jewish philanthropy and advocacy. He became the president of the International Auschwitz Committee in 2011.
“Auschwitz survivors all over the world bid farewell with great gratitude and deep melancholy to Roman Kent, who for many decades was a consistent and eloquent representative of their memories and their lives,” Christoph Heubner, executive vice president of the International Auschwitz Committee, said in a statement.
mvb/sms (dpa, KNA)