Thursday, April 30, 2009

The death of Salamo Arouch

The AP reports this morning the death of a remarkable man. During one late-night's decompressing about two months ago, I stumbled upon the movie about his life ("Triumph of the Spirit"), which focuses especially on his experiences (and those of his family, including his wife, father, and brother) in the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. I highly recommend the movie, and am saddened by Mr. Arouch's passing.

Jewish death camp boxer dead at 86

The Associated Press
Thursday, April 30, 2009 10:11 AM

JERUSALEM -- Salamo Arouch, a Jewish boxer who survived the Auschwitz death camp by fighting exhibition bouts for Nazi officers and inspired a Hollywood movie about his life, has died in Israel, the Haaretz newspaper reported Thursday. He was 86.

Haaretz did not give the cause of death of the Greek-born fighter, but quoted his daughter Dalia Gonen as saying he had been unwell since suffering a stroke 15 years ago.

It said he died on Sunday but did not say where.

Born in the Greek town of Saloniki, Arouch became middleweight champion of the Balkans, but his professional career was cut short by World War II and the German invasion of his homeland.

Like thousands of other Saloniki Jews, he and his family and friends were deported to Auschwitz.

Arouch, ordered by the Nazis to fight other prisoners for their entertainment, survived the camp. At the end of the war he immigrated to British-ruled Palestine and saw the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948.

His story was the basis for the 1989 movie "Triumph of the Spirit," starring Willem Dafoe.

Much of the film was made on location in Auschwitz, with Arouch on site as an adviser, Haaretz quoted his widow Martha as saying.

"He stayed there for three months, going through the process again with the actors," she told the paper." He was happy that something would remain of him after he passed on."

Funeral arrangements were not immediately known.

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