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Samuel Willenberg (1923 - 2016)

Wikimedia Commons / Adrian Grycuk

Samuel Willenberg (1923 - 2016)

Samuel Willenberg, the last survivor of the Treblinka Nazi death camp, died Friday in Israel at the age of 93.

Willenberg was the son of an Orthodox Christian mother who converted to Judaism and a Jewish father who was a teacher and a painter. Samuel was brought to the camp in 1942. On advice from another prisoner when he arrived at the camp, he posed as a bricklayer and was chosen to do manual labor. He was assigned to sort through the belongings of victims who were already killed in the gas chambers.  Both his sisters were killed at the camp.

On August 2, 1943, Willenberg participated in the revolt at Treblinka with about 300 other inmates. He was one of about 100 survivors of the uprising. He hid out in the woods with a wounded leg and eventually made it to Warsaw where he reunited with his father. He joined the Polish underground resistance and then participated in the Warsaw uprising.

After the war, he became an engineer. After he retired, he took up sculpting. He became known for his sculptures that depicted the Holocaust. His work has been exhibited internationally. He also published a memoir titled “Revolt in Treblinka” that was translated into many languages. He received many national honors from Poland including the Order of Merit.

Willenberg is survived by his wife, Ada, their daughter and three grandchildren.

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