Mordechai Ansbacher, one of last Eichmann trial witnesses, dies in Jerusalem

He was known as one of the founders of Yad Vashem, and the first director of the Holocaust Museum.

Mordechai Ansbacher (photo credit: ANSBACHER FAMILY)
Mordechai Ansbacher
(photo credit: ANSBACHER FAMILY)
Mordechai Ansbacher, one of the last witnesses of the Eichmann trial, passed away in Jerusalem at the age of 94 on Saturday.
Holocaust survivor and historian, Ansbacher survived the Theresienstadt Ghetto, and the Auschwitz and Dachau death camps.
Ansbacher was born in Würzburg, northern Bavaria in Germany. As a child, he was educated at the Jewish school in Würzburg and was a member of the city's Ezra youth movement.

During Israel's War of Independence, he fought as an IDF soldier to protect Jerusalem within three years of his being liberated from the death camps in Eastern Europe. 
During the Six Day War, Ansbacher participated in the Battle of Jerusalem and then continued with his unit to Bethlehem, Gush Etzion and Hebron, where he received the key to the lower door of the Cave of the Patriarchs. He was also the author of 100 articles on Jewish art and Ashkenazic Jewry in the Encyclopedia Judaica.
Known as one of the founders of Yad Vashem and the first director of the Holocaust Museum, Ansbacher was one of the key witnesses at the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann in the District Court of Jerusalem.
He also provided personal testimony to the prosecution of various materials, including pictures and drawings of Jewish artists created in Theresienstadt during the Holocaust.

 

Ansbacher testified, saying that he begged to be kept with his sick mother, but was taken away on a separate transport. He described his arrival at Dachau, and how SS men were singing a song about the Jews being drowned. He also described the roll calls, and how long they took because a mistake was always made. He said that there was no food on the transports, and only when they got to Auschwitz did they get a loaf of bread before being reloaded onto a cattle car.
He described the clothing, and how he took a sack to make a shirt from the cement detail. He had a very thin shirt otherwise. He had no underwear, and his shoes were wooden blocks that rubbed his feet; he did not use them. He said that they learned quickly to stick together, and if a few people could stay together, they would survive.
 
Ansbacher was buried on Monday night in Jerusalem.