(photo credit: Courtesy)
Noach Flug, president of the International Auschwitz Committee and chairman of
the umbrella organization of Holocaust survivors in Israel died on Thursday at
age 86 in Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center.
In 2006, he was
awarded the Federal Cross of Merit by Germany’s President Horst Köhler, for
promoting mutual understanding between Jews and non-Jews and between Israel and
Germany. He was also decorated by the Polish Government.
Born in Lodz,
Poland, in 1925, Flug and his parents were forced to move into the Lodz Ghetto
in 1940, where he became a member of the Jewish underground. From the Lodz
ghetto they were sent to a forced labor camp. In 1944, the Flugs were deported
Noach Flug survived, but more than a hundred of his
relatives including his parents were murdered. He had no siblings.
was transferred to other camps and finally liberated by American troops while he
was in Ebense after previously being held in the Gross-Rosen and Mauthausen
camps. He completed his high school studies in Lodz after the war, then studied
economics in Lodz and Warsaw before migrating to Israel in
Professionally, Flug worked as an economist and a
In the diplomatic service, he worked as a commercial attaché,
with Switzerland and Germany as his last two postings.
It was somewhat of
triumph for him to serve in Germany as a representative of the State of
Following his retirement, Flug devoted the bulk of his energies
to keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive and to fighting for the rights of
He fought for restitution of Jewish community
property and for compensation to be paid to individuals. But most of all, he
fought for justice. It pained him that fellow Holocaust survivors still suffered
deprivations in Israel, and battled with government institutions to get them the
funds and services to which they were entitled, but over which a series of
governments have been foot-dragging for decades.
In addition to devoting
himself almost entirely to the welfare of Holocaust survivors, Flug was also
intensely involved in various projects aimed at perpetuating Holocaust
He was a prominent figure in the executive bodies of the
Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, the World Jewish
Restitution Organization and Yad Vashem as well as in other organizations and
institutions that deal with Holocaust-related issues.
In a letter of
condolence to Flug’s family, President Shimon Peres expressed his admiration for
the man who had been through the very depths of hell, had rehabilitated himself
and had devoted himself to the welfare of others. Peres wrote that he would
remember Flug as a man of integrity who loved his people and his
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a statement in which he
expressed deep sorrow at Flug’s passing.
Netanyahu noted that Flug had
dedicated his life to public service and had done much for Holocaust
Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev, described Flug as “first and
foremost a leader of the people who worked tirelessly for the welfare of the
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder called Flug “a
towering figure in the struggle for the rights of Holocaust
Flug cared not only about the welfare and dignity of Jews,
but of all persecuted people.
He was very vocal towards the end of last
year when certain rabbis issued edicts barring Arabs from living inside Jewish
communities or the sale of Jewish property to Arabs. Flug said that it reminded
him of the rise of Nazism when Jews were relegated to second class status and
denied the right to live as ordinary citizens of Germany.
He was buried
on Thursday evening at Kibbutz Anavim in the Judean hills west of Jerusalem.