Noach Flug, Holocaust victims advocate, dead at 86

Born in Lodz, Poland, in 1925, Flug, his parents were forced to move into Lodz Ghetto in 1940, where he became member of Jewish underground.

Noach Flug_311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Noach Flug_311
(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 to Auschwitz.
Noach Flug survived, but more than a hundred of his relatives including his parents were murdered. He had no siblings.
Flug 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 1958.
Professionally, Flug worked as an economist and a diplomat.
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 Israel.
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 Holocaust survivors.
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 awareness.
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 country.
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 survivors.
Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev, described Flug as “first and foremost a leader of the people who worked tirelessly for the welfare of the survivors.”

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder called Flug “a towering figure in the struggle for the rights of Holocaust survivors.”
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.