Max Mannheimer, Holocaust Survivor Who Dedicated Life to Fighting anti-Semitism, Dies

Merkel said Germany owed Mannheimer much gratitude, calling him a 'great reconciler' for his post-war efforts.

Holocaust survivor Max Mannheimer at ceremony in Auschwitz concentration camp.
Andreas Gebert, DPA

Holocaust survivor Max Mannheimer, who dedicated his life in post-war Germany to fighting anti-Semitism, has died. He was 96.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel honored Mannheimer Saturday for his efforts to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, calling him "a great reconciler." Her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said on Twitter that Merkel is mourning his death and that "we owe him gratitude."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Holocaust survivor Max Mannheimer at ceremony marking 70th anniversary of Dachau concentration camp. May 3, 2015.
Andreas Gebert, AP

The German news agency dpa reported that Mannheimer died Friday at a Munich hospital. No cause of death was given. 

Mannheimer spent two years being held in various death camps, including Auschwitz. Most of his family was murdered in the Holocaust. After the war, Mannheimer considered leaving Germany but fell in love with a German woman, started a family and remained in Munich.

Early on, Mannheimer remained silent about his wartime experiences. From the 1980s onward, however, he dedicated his life to teaching about the Holocaust and to fighting anti-Semitism and became one of the standard-bearers in the fight against the extreme right in Germany.

He gave lectures to thousands of school children and also lectured at universities and at concentration camps. He headed the organization of former Dachau inmates and was a well-known figure in the German Jewish community.

Dachau, near Munich, was the first concentration camp set up by the Nazis after Adolf Hitler took power in 1933. More than 200,000 people from across Europe were held there and over 40,000 prisoners died there. Dachau was liberated by U.S. troops on April 29, 1945

Addressing the younger generation in Germany, Mannheimer said: "You are not responsible for what happened, but you do have responsibility to ensure that it doesn't happen again."