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Greece’s oldest Holocaust survivor dies at 96

Representative of the Jewish community in Ioannina says Εsther Cohen, who survived Auschwitz, passed away from ‘old age’

German President Joachim Gauck, right, kisses 93-year-old Esther Cohen,, a Greek Jewish death camp survivor, during his visit at a synagoge in Ioannina, northwestern Greece, on March 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
German President Joachim Gauck, right, kisses 93-year-old Esther Cohen,, a Greek Jewish death camp survivor, during his visit at a synagoge in Ioannina, northwestern Greece, on March 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS, Greece — Εsther Cohen, Greece’s oldest Holocaust survivor, has died of “old age,” a representative of the Jewish community in northwestern Ioannina where she lived said Wednesday. She was 96 years old.

Cohen was 20 when she and other Jews were rounded up in 1944 and sent to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, in occupied Poland.

It was at the Auschwitz gates that she last saw her parents and other family members.

Only 110 Jews survived the Holocaust among some 2,000 deported from the city, whose Jewish community dates to the ninth century under the Byzantine Empire.

Esther Cohen, a Greek Jewish death camp survivor, shows her death camp number after then German President Joachim Gauck’s visit at a synagogue in Ioannina, northwestern Greece, on March 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

In 2014, during a visit to Ioannina by Germany’s then president Joachim Gauck, he met Cohen at a public event, in tears as he kissed her and begged forgiveness for the atrocities committed by the Nazis.

The moment was captured in a photograph that appeared on newspapers’ front pages around the world.

“After our deaths, people should realize that Man should not be inhuman,” she told the German president.

Some six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.

Cohen’s funeral will be held on Thursday, the community representative, Periklis Ritas, told AFP.

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