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Oldest Auschwitz camp survivor dies aged 108

THE oldest known survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp -- a teacher who gave lessons in defiance of his native Poland's Nazi occupiers -- has died at the age of 108, an official said yesterday.

Antoni Dobrowolski died on Sunday in the northwestern Polish town of Debno, according to Jaroslaw Mensfelt, a spokesman at the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum.

After invading Poland in 1939, the Nazis banned anything beyond four years of elementary education in a bid to crush Polish culture and the intelligentsia. The Germans considered the Poles inferior beings, and the education policy was part of a plan to use Poles as a "slave race."

An underground effort by Poles to continue to teach children immediately emerged. Dobrowolski became involved and he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz in June 1942.

"Auschwitz was worse than Dante's hell," he recalled in a video made when he was 103.

After the war he worked as a Polish language teacher and as a school principal.

Irish Independent