96-year-old who survived four Nazi concentration camps is killed in Ukraine

People stand outdoors in front of a large photo of a man
Participants in a memorial service for Buchenwald survivor Boris Romantschenko stand in front of his photo in Weimar, Germany, on Tuesday.
(Bodo Schackow / DPA)

Germany’s Parliament on Tuesday paid tribute to Boris Romantschenko, who survived several Nazi concentration camps during World War II only to be killed last week during an attack in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. He was 96.

The Buchenwald concentration camp memorial said Monday that Romantschenko, who survived Buchenwald as well as camps at Peenemuende, Dora and Bergen-Belsen, was killed on Friday. It said that, according to his granddaughter, the multistory building where he lived was hit by a projectile.

Romantschenko was dedicated to keeping alive the memory of Nazi crimes and was vice president of the International Buchenwald-Dora Committee, the memorial said.


Opening a session of Germany’s Parliament on Tuesday, deputy speaker Katrin Goering-Eckardt paid tribute to Romantschenko.

She said Romantschenko was taken to Dortmund, Germany, as a forced laborer in 1942 and was sent to the concentration camps after an escape attempt in 1943. Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.

The incident in the hospital wasn’t Andrzej Stefanski’s first flashback. He vividly remembers Hitler’s command blasting through the radio when the Polish troops were forced to surrender: ‘Kill them all.’

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“His death reminds us that Germany has a special historical responsibility toward Ukraine,” Goering-Eckardt said. “Boris Romantschenko is one of thousands of dead in Ukraine. Every single life that has been taken reminds us to do everything we can to stop this cruel war that violates international law and to help people in and from Ukraine.”

Lawmakers held a moment of silence in memory of Romantschenko and other victims of the war.

Romantschenko “survived four concentration camps and was now killed in the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine,” Finance Minister Christian Lindner said. “His fate shows both the criminal character of Russian policy and why Germany is showing solidarity with Ukraine, why we must show solidarity.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky noted the sad irony of Romantschenko’s death.

“Just imagine how much he went through!” Zelensky said in a video address late Monday. “He survived Buchenwald, Dora, Peenemuende and Bergen-Belsen, the conveyors of death created by the Nazis. And he was killed by a Russian shell that hit an ordinary Kharkiv high-rise. With every day of this war, it becomes more and more obvious what they [Russians] mean by ‘de-Nazification.’”