After a short serious illness, the President of the International Auschwitz Committee Roman Kent passed away today in New York at the age of 92. Roman Kent was born in Lodz in 1929, the son of the Jewish Kniker family, who owned a textile factory in Lodz. At the end of 1939, after the German Wehrmacht invaded Poland, the Kniker family - like the other Jewish families in Lodz - was taken to the ghetto, where Roman's father died of malnutrition in 1943. The rest of the family was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944 after the liquidation of the ghetto, where Roman was separated from his mother and sisters. Together with his brother Leon, Roman lived through further concentration camps until he was liberated by American soldiers on a death march from Flossenbürg to Dachau at the age of sixteen.
Together with his brother, Roman Kent immigrated to the USA in 1946, where he lived as a successful businessman.
Commenting on Roman Kent's death in Berlin, Christoph Heubner, Executive Vice President of the International Auschwitz Committee, emphasised - Auschwitz survivors all over the world bid farewell with great gratitude and deep melancholy to Roman Kent, who had been a consistent and eloquent representative of their memories and their lives for many decades. "From an early age, Roman Kent, together with Auschwitz survivors Noach Flug and Marian Turski, with whom he was still associated from the Lodz ghetto, was committed to the health and welfare of all survivors and to the compensation due to prisoners of the German extermination machinery after their imprisonment as slaves and their forced labour. His German interlocutors appreciated his sensitive openness and his interest in a common future based on the facts of history.
On behalf of the International Auschwitz Committee and as an Auschwitz survivor, he spoke at the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz at the memorial site there. With his call for an 11th commandment against indifference, Roman Kent has written himself into the history books. Together with his wife Hannah, who was also an Auschwitz survivor, Roman Kent has been committed to memory, tolerance and anti-Semitism throughout his life. Especially in recent months, the burden on his shoulders had become heavier: The burning images of the past pushed themselves more and more into his life in the face of current developments, and the observation that the hatred of anti-Semitism and the glorification of Auschwitz were gaining more and more ground depressed and alarmed him even into his last hours. This was another reason why the future of the Auschwitz memorial and the participation of survivors in the work of the memorial were of particular concern to him: Roman Kent wrote his last letter to the Polish Prime Minister, warning against the nationalisation and monopolisation of the memorial. We will sorely miss Roman Kent.