Photo Credit: ML Fotos
Max Mannheimer speaking about the liberation of Dachau, May 5, 2002

Holocaust survivor and speaker Max Mannheimer passed away Friday at the age of 96 in a Munich hospital, Gabriele Hammermann, director of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial said in a statement.

“The memorial and its employees are mourning a good friend,” Hammermann said.

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Steffen Seibert, a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote on Twitter that she was “mourning Max Mannheimer — Holocaust survivor, reminder against oblivion and great reconciler. We owe him thanks.”

Mannheimer had been an adviser to the German government on the design and conception of its commemorative works on the Holocaust.

He dedicated his entire life to serving as a witness to the atrocities of the Nazi Third Reich and the memories of the six million Jews whose lives were stolen by them in the Holocaust they perpetrated during World War II. After the war, he painted under the name “ben jakov” — his Hebrew name — to cope with the terrible memories, later writing a book “Late Diary.”

Of his entire family and a new wife, only he and his brother Edgar survived.

Born in the Czech Republic in 1920, he personally survived two death camps, Auschwitz and Dachau, and was a transient resident of Theresienstadt concentration camp prior to those.

After seeing a swastika during a trip to the United States in 1986 and in response, suffering a nervous breakdown, Mannheimer spent the rest of his life giving speeches in schools, universities and concentration camp memorials to ensure that the world never forgot the horror humanity was capable of. Until that point, he had remained silent about the nightmares and depression he suffered, never speaking about his experiences.

Mannheimer was a recipient of the German cross of merit and the French Légion d’honneur. To the younger generation of Germans, his message was simple:

“You aren’t responsible for what happened. But you are responsible for ensuring that it won’t happen again.”

Boruch Dayan HoEmes.

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