Joseph Zalman Kleinman, a Holocaust survivor who survived the Auschwitz death camp and testified against Adolf Eichmann in the Nazi commander’s trial in Jerusalem, died today, Israeli media report. He was 91.
The cause of death is not immediately released. Kleinman was one of fewer than 180,000 remaining Holocaust survivors in Israel.
Kleinman was born in Slovakia in January 1930 and was deported by Nazi Germany to the camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau at the age of 14. His father, mother and sister were killed at Auschwitz, one of the most notorious Nazi death camps in occupied Poland.
“In the summer of 1944, 3,000 young men aged 14 to 16 were gathered at Auschwitz … in tough conditions, acute starvation. We were there the whole summer and then at the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur and Simchat Torah (Jewish high holidays), nearly everyone was exterminated,” he said.
Eichmann, one of Nazi Germany’s main organizers of the Holocaust, was captured by Israeli Mossad agents outside Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1960. He was put on trial in Jerusalem in 1961 and found guilty of crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people and war crimes. He was executed the following year.
In testimony during the trial, Kleinman told the court about the conditions in Auschwitz, and how he avoided being executed as ordered by Josef Mengele, the Nazi officer and physician known as the “Angel of Death.”
Kleinman immigrated to Israel after the war.