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Holocaust survivor Sally Perel dies aged 97

The Holocaust survivor Sally Perel - known as "Hitlerjunge Salomon" - is dead.

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Holocaust survivor Sally Perel dies aged 97

The Holocaust survivor Sally Perel - known as "Hitlerjunge Salomon" - is dead. The Israeli died at the age of 97 in his home in Israel, as the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem announced on Thursday evening in Jerusalem. The native German became internationally known through his autobiography "I was Hitler Youth Salomon". In 1990, the book was also the basis for a multi-award-winning film by director Agnieszka Holland.

Perel was born in Peine near Braunschweig in 1925. After fleeing Germany and later Poland, he fell into the hands of German troops in 1941 in what was then the Soviet Union. He survived the Holocaust by adopting the identity of an ethnic German. After a year on the Eastern Front, he was sent to a Hitler Youth school. There he feared being exposed every day until the end of the war.

After World War II, Perel emigrated to what is now Israel. In 1999 he received the Federal Cross of Merit for his efforts to promote German-Israeli understanding. Lower Saxony's Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) condoled the relatives with the words: "We are all infinitely grateful to him that he reported on this time, wrote and repeatedly sought contact with children and young people."

Perel had "an incredible inner strength," said Weil. "He never forgot who he was," not even when he served in the Wehrmacht and the Hitler Youth for years and worked as an apprentice in the Volkswagen Vorwerk. "It must have been very difficult for him to pretend to be a Nazi in order to survive as a Jew." Through his reports and readings, he later taught young people tolerance and respect and thus armed them against right-wing extremist ideas.

According to the latest figures, 150,600 contemporary witnesses of the Holocaust still live in Israel. More than 1000 of them are already over 100 years old.

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