Roman Kent, eloquent Auschwitz survivor, dies in New York

·1-min read
Polish born Holocaust survivor Roman Kent delivering a speech in front of the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in 2015

International Auschwitz Committee President Roman Kent, who survived the horrors of the Nazi death camp as a teenager, has died in New York after a short illness, his organisation announced Friday.

"Auschwitz survivors throughout the world say goodbye with great gratitude and profound sadness to Roman Kent, who has been a constant and eloquent representative of their memories and their lives for many decades," said Christoph Heubner, vice-president of the Auschwitz committee which is headquartered in Berlin.

Kent's age was not known exactly, but according to the committee he was born in Lodz, in modern-day Poland in 1925.

In late 1939, after Nazi Germany invaded Poland, members of his Kniker family were sent to a ghetto, where Roman's father died of malnutrition in 1943.

The rest of the family were sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in 1944 where Roman was separated from his mother and sisters.

With his brother Leon, he was sent to other concentration camps before being liberated by US troops while on his way to Dachau at the age of 16.

The brothers emigrated to the United States after the war.

In 2011 Kent became the head of the International Auschwitz Committee.

The group was founded in 1952 by survivors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp with the objective "to let the world know what happened in the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau" and to look after the interests of the survivors.

A total of 1.1 million people, most of them Jews, were killed in the camp, dying either in the gas chambers or of hunger or illness.

dac/pvh/dw