Auschwitz survivor from Chemnitz dies at 95


Chemnitz – The city has lost an important son. Justin Sonder, Auschwitz survivor and honorary citizen, died Tuesday noon, a few days after his 95th birthday, in a care facility in Chemnitz.

That was reported by the “Free Press” in the evening.



The then Mayor Barbara Ludwig made Justin Sonder an honorary citizen on April 21, 2017Photo: Klemens Körner

Justin Sonder was born in Chemnitz in 1925 to Jewish parents. In 1941 he began an apprenticeship as a cook, in 1943 the Gestapo took him to Auschwitz.

Sonder survived 17 selections, death transports and two death marches.

Except for his father, all 22 other relatives were murdered. His beloved mother Zita was gassed.


Justin Sonder in front of a Jewish house on Zschopauer Strasse.  Here he was imprisoned before deportation in 1943

Justin Sonder in front of a Jewish house on Zschopauer Strasse. Here he was imprisoned before deportation in 1943Photo: PASTIEROVIC

After the war he worked for the Chemnitzer Kripo until 1985. With his wife Marga (†) he had 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

At first he never wanted to talk about his fate, about Auschwitz, the hell. But almost 30 years ago he decided: The horror must be reported on. He discovered the meaning of his words and the passion to tell young people about back then.

He went to schools several times a week, even when he was over 90, reporting and issuing warnings.


His mother Zita was gassed, father Leo died shortly after the war

His mother Zita was gassed, father Leo died shortly after the warPhoto: PASTIEROVIC

For this commitment, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by the International Auschwitz Committee in 2015. In 2017 he became an honorary citizen of Chemnitz.

During a visit three years ago, Justin Sonder said to me, the BILD reporter, when asked whether – with his life story – something could still scare him today: “Yes,” said Justin Sonder, “the terror and the situation in the world scares me. We need more stability and hope for a good existence. “

A sentence that is as valid today, after the terror of Vienna, as it was then.

What was the secret of his old age? He once revealed: “I always worked, never smoked, at most drank a glass of beer. I hardly eat meat, a lot of vegetables, and an apple every day. “

BILD asked Justin Sonder three years ago if he was a devout Jew. Sonder looked at the floor and said softly. “No. God would have prevented the murder of a million children. “

But the suffering of these children must never be forgotten.

Now the last witness has fallen silent.

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