Arno Lustiger, 88, historian and Holocaust survivor

by | May 25, 2012 | Obituaries

Arno Lustiger, a Holocaust survivor and historian who put a spotlight on Jewish resistance against the Nazis, died May 15 in Frankfurt, Germany, at 88.

Lustiger’s “greatest contribution for all time” was in “rescuing from oblivion the story of Jewish resistance in the Shoah,” said Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. “Not only did Arno Lustiger contribute greatly to the return of Jewish life in Frankfurt, he also made an important contribution to education and analysis about the darkest chapterof German history through his research on Jewish resistance and on non-Jewish rescuers of Jews during World War II.”

Lustiger, a native of Bendzin, survived six concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Buchenwald. His father and brother were murdered.

In April 1945, Lustiger escaped a death march and was rescued by U.S. soldiers. He and his mother and sisters ended up in a displaced persons camp in Frankfurt, where Lustiger became a reporter for a Yiddish newspaper. His plans to go toAmerica fell through, and he ended up staying in Frankfurt, where he helped build the postwar Jewish community as well as a successful women’s fashion business.

He sold the business in the 1980s to focus on academic work, for which he received international praise. From 2004 to 2006 he was a guest professor at the Fritz Bauer Institute, the Frankfurt-based study and documentation center on the Holocaust. Amonghis contributions are works on Jewish volunteers fighting against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War; Stalin’s persecution of Jews; and non-Jewish rescuers as well as Jewish heroism during World War II.

In his work on the rescuers and heroism, titled Fighting to the Death, Lustiger vehemently countered the common notion that Jews went “like sheep to the slaughter. (JTA)