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David Dushman (1923–2021), one of the last living liberators of Auschwitz

by Linnea Crowther

David Dushman was a Soviet veteran of World War II who was one of the last living soldiers who liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Auschwitz liberation

Dushman was a soldier in the Soviet Union’s Red Army during World War II. On January 27, 1945, as Auschwitz was liberated form the Nazis, Dushman drove a tank through the death camp’s electric fence, knocking it down and allowing ground troops to enter the compound and liberate its prisoners. Dushman is believed to be the last or second to last of the liberators of Auschwitz to die.

Fencing career

After the war, Dushman studied medicine, and he also turned to his old love of fencing. He became the coach of the national Soviet women’s fencing team for more than 30 years, coaching them to gold at the 1973 Munich Olympics. At one time, Dushman was the top-ranked fencer in the Soviet Union, and he continued fencing regularly well into his 90s.

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Dushman on his experience at Auschwitz

“Everywhere there were skeletons. They stumbled from the barracks, sat and lay among the dead. It was horrifying. We threw all of our canned food at them and drove on quickly, to keep chasing the fascists.” —from a 2015 interview for Süddeutsche Zeitung

Tributes to David Dushman

Full obituary: The New York Times

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