Sunday, December 10, 2006

Auschwitz escapee hoped to warn Hungarian Jews

Rudolph Vrba, one of five Jews who escaped from Auschwitz and delivered the first report about the shocking reality of the Nazi concentration camp to the Allied forces, has died in Canada at the age of 82.
Born in Slovakia in 1924, the Holocaust survivor was arrested by the Nazis when he was 18 and was soon transferred to Auschwitz. He managed to escape past Nazi guards in April 1944 with his compatriot, Alfred Wetzler. They then delivered a detailed, eyewitness account about Auschwitz, considered the first document to have alerted the outside world and Jewish leaders about the workings of the death camps.
The report was was initially given to Hungarian Jewish leaders and was in the hands of the Allies by June 1944.
Canadian Jewish Congress chief executive Bernie Farber said: "There are very few stories from those that were actually there... his story was breathtaking".
"He had what's been described as a photographic memory," he said.
Mr Vrba fought with a partisan unit following his remarkable escape.
In 1967, he emigrated to Canada, where he became a professor of pharmacology.