JERUSALEM, Feb. 20 (UPI) — Samuel Willenberg, the last surviving prisoner of the Treblinka Nazi death camp, died in Israel on Friday at age 93.
Willenberg was taken to Treblinka in 1941, at the age of 19, and became the only person from his transport not to be executed in the gas chambers after posing as a bricklayer upon his arrival.
He was one of the few hundred prisoners who managed to escape the death camp after taking part in a revolt in 1943.
“[Willenberg] was not only the last survivor of the tribe, he had dedicated his twilight years to telling his story so that the events that he witnessed there would not be lost to oblivion,” documentary filmmaker Alan Tomlinson told the Miami Herald.
Tomlinson produced a film about Willenberg’s experience titled “Treblinka’s Last Witness,” and described him as a “dear friend and brilliant storyteller”.
Willenberg also told his story in his 1986 autobiography “Revolt in Treblinka,” in which he recalled taking part in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.
He later worked in Poland helping a Jewish organization track down Jewish children saved from Nazis by Polish non-Jews before joining the civil service in Israel in 1950.
When he retired he turned his Holocaust experience into work as a sculptor and exhibited his work internationally.
Willenberg is survived by his wife, Ada, their daughter, Orit Willenberg-Giladi, and three grandchildren.