United Survivors in Push for Benefits

Holocaust survivor Noah Flug, born in 1925, passed away aged 86 on Thursday; Flug, board member at Yad Vashem, was active in lobbying for compensation for Holocaust survivors from Germany.

Noah Flug, an economist who pushed Holocaust survivors in Israel to organize, died yesterday. He was 86. The Polish-born Flug was the chairman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel.

Flug was also the president of the International Auschwitz Committee, vice president of the Claims Conference, and a board member at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Noah Flug - Tomer Appelbaum - August 12 2011
Tomer Appelbaum

"Noah was first and foremost a leader of the people who worked tirelessly for the welfare of the survivors," said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. "I worked closely with Noah and saw how his personality and many talents helped promote survivors' rights. As a member of Yad Vashem's board of directors, he made an important contribution to the legacy of the Holocaust. He recognized how essential this is for future generations."

According to the deputy head of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, Ze'ev Schwartz, "to his final day Noah dedicated his adult life to protecting the rights of Holocaust survivors."

Flug was born in 1925 in Lodz, Poland. During World War II he lived in the Lodz Ghetto, where he did forced labor and took part in the youth underground. Flug was sent to Auschwitz in 1944 and from there to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp. From there it was the death march to Mauthausen, where he was rescued by U.S. troops weighing 32 kilograms.

After the war he was a leading figure among young Polish Jews. He married Dorota Tugendreich. The two finished their studies, he in economics and she in medicine, and emigrated to Israel in 1958. The couple had two daughters and four grandchildren.

Flug worked for the civil service for 30 years, as an economist at the Finance Ministry's budgets department, as an economic adviser to the Knesset Finance Committee, as Israeli consul in Zurich and as a economic counselor at the Israeli Embassy in Bonn.

After his retirement from the civil service, Flug felt he had a moral duty to rally support for Holocaust survivors. In particular, he tried to win compensation from Germany.

Officials at the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors said Flug realized that to achieve his goals he had to base his efforts on volunteerism and not the state. He sought to get Germany to pay compensation to tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors who had been left behind.

He pushed Holocaust survivors in Israel to organize, saying they should not accept the fact that the German government was not paying a monthly stipend to survivors who were not born in Germany.

Shalev said Noah "realized that the many divisions of the organizations of survivors prevented them from concentrating their efforts to make gains. He initiated the unification of the organizations, convinced Moshe Zanbar to head the center, and then replaced him. During the past decade he became a leading social figure who was accepted by the public he represented as well as the state. He always knew how to find the middle path, and because of this he made major gains for the survivors."

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said that "Noah was a man of great deeds and merit, a Holocaust survivor who became a public representative. As chairman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel he successfully administered the survivors' organizations, and in recent years significantly promoted their rights. He was a founder of the Parliamentary Association for the Promotion of the Immortalization of the Holocaust and the Rights of its Survivors. He left his mark in every organization in which he was involved."