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Stanislaw Ryniak, 88; First Death Camp Inmate at Auschwitz

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Stanislaw Ryniak, 88, the first person imprisoned at the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz, died recently of unknown causes and was buried Feb. 20 in Wroclaw, Poland, the Auschwitz Museum announced.

In May 1940, when he was 24, Ryniak was arrested by the Nazis in his hometown of Sanok in southern Poland and accused of being a member of the Polish resistance. He arrived at Auschwitz on June 14, 1940, in the first trainload of inmates.

Although he was accompanied by hundreds of others, he was considered the first inmate because the number 31 was tattooed on his arm.

Prisoners were given tattoos in the order of their arrival, and the first 30 were for German criminal prisoners who had been designated camp guards.

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In 1944 Ryniak was moved to the Leitmeritz work camp in what is now the Czech Republic.

On his release at war’s end he weighed only 88 pounds.

“I have no idea how I survived it all,” he said in a 1995 interview.


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