Manchester

Auschwitz death camp survivor dies aged 90

Mayer Hersch Image copyright Nigel maitland
Image caption Mayer Hersh toured schools and universities to tell of his experiences

A Jewish prisoner who survived the Auschwitz death camp for 18 months during World War Two has died aged 90.

Mayer Hersh was one of the longest-serving inmates of the extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, in which 1.1 million people were killed.

After the war Mr Hersh, who died on Saturday at a care home in Prestwich, Greater Manchester, worked as a tailor.

He was appointed MBE in 2013 for giving talks about the Holocaust to school and university students.

In 1940, at the age of 12, he was seized by the Nazis in his native Poland to work as a slave labourer with his brother Jakob, who also survived the war.

The rest of his immediate family - his mother, father, sister and three other brothers - all perished.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Prisoners were gassed, beaten, starved or worked to death at the Auschwitz camp

Mr Hersh survived eight concentration camps before being sent to Auschwitz at the height of the Holocaust, in which an estimated six million Jews died.

He encountered notorious SS doctor Josef Mengele, nicknamed the Angel of Death, who selected inmates to live or die.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Josef Mengele, who conducted gruesome experiments on twins at Auschwitz, escaped to South America after the war and spent the rest of his life there

Mr Hersh's friend and biographer David Arnold said: "He survived death marches and weighed just over four stones (about 25kg) at the end.

"It was a miracle he lived but was flown to Carlisle after the war in a British bomber."

Rabbi Arnold Saunders, of Higher Broughton and Higher Crumpsall Synagogue, said: "It must have taken a terrible toil on him to talk about his experiences.

"But he saw it as his duty to mankind so people would never forget.

About 150 people attended the funeral of Mr Hersh, who lived at the Heathfields Village care home, is survived by his wife Judith.

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