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Czech Holocaust survivor Petr Erben dies in Israel

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Prague/Ashkelon, Israel, April 5 (CTK) – Czech-born Holocaust survivor Petr Erben died in Ashkelon on Wednesday morning at the age of 96 years, Prague’s Franz Kafka Centre director Marketa Malisova told CTK.

Erben left for Israel in 1948. He visited Prague last time in February 2011 to attend the funeral of his friend, Czech-Jewish writer Arnost Lustig (1926-2011).

Erben went through the Nazi internment camp for Jews in Terezin (Theresienstadt), north Bohemia, and the extermination camp in Auschwitz.

“He (Erben) was a commentator of political development in the Czech Republic and Israel and a significant eyewitness of the life in Terezin, a popular goalie of the Terezin football team,” Malisova said.

Erben was born as Petr Eisenberg in a Jewish family in Ostrava, north Moravia, on March 20, 1921.

He was active in the Zionist movement from his childhood and a member of the Tchelet Lavan organisation based on the Scouts’ principles, he said in the National Memory project.

He studied at a technical secondary school in Brno. At the age of 21, he was deported to Terezin. In September 1944, he was sent to Auschwitz, a year later, he was deported to the Nazi camp in Mauthausen and then to Gusen that was liberated in May 1945.

Afterwards, Erben lived in Prague. He started working in the Zionist movement again that was striving for the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine. In 1948, he and his later wife emigrated via France to the nascent state of Israel where the communist authorities in Czechoslovakia did not permit him to travel earlier.

He worked in the building industry in Israel. Together with his wife, he was a member of the Beit Theresienstadt association that helped commemorate the camp and its prisoners.

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