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Press Information published by the International Auschwitz Committee


Raphael Esrail, Auschwitz survivor, French Vice President of the IAC and President of the Union dés déportés d’Auschwitz in Paris, has died.

Raphael Esrail of blessed memory, Image: memoiresdesdeportations.org, excerpt IAC Berlin

Raphael Esrail of blessed memory, Image: memoiresdesdeportations.org, excerpt IAC Berlin




Auschwitz survivors around the globe are deeply saddened by the passing of Raphael Esrail at the age of 96 in Lannion (Côtes d’Armor) France. At the same time they are profoundly grateful to their friend, fellow sufferer and long-time companion.

Raphael Esrail joined the French résistance as a teenager. In Lyon he forged passports and personal documents, and in this way helped to give many people who were threatened and persecuted a chance of survival. Raphael was 19 years old when the Germans arrested him in Lyon in 1944 as a Jew and a member of the résistance, before deporting him to Auschwitz via Drancy. After being sent on the death march from Auschwitz to Dachau, Esrail was liberated by American troops in May 1945.

Raphael Esrail was highly decorated with state awards from the French Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany. In Berlin Christoph Heubner, Executive Vice President of the International Auschwitz Committee paid tribute to Raphael Esrail as follows:

"After being liberated Raphael Esrail recounted his memories over many decades. It was a long time before he was able to find the words for what he had witnessed and what he and other prisoners had been subjected to in Auschwitz. Together with his wife Liliane, who also survived Auschwitz, he became a powerfully eloquent witness who deeply moved especially young people in France and Germany with the clarity, intensity and urgency of his words. In addition to this, Raphael Esrail was an inspiring and far-sighted European who was acutely aware that the people in Europe would need the memories and experiences of the résistance far beyond the lifetimes of the survivors in view of the constantly flaring threats from anti-Semitism and right-wing hatred. For very many years he gave his friends and fellow travellers among the French survivors solid support, inspired motivation and comfort.

The fact that the Union dés Déportes d´Auschwitz developed into a formidable political and educational voice is also attributable to Raphael Esrail’s personal charisma and commitment.

Particularly in the current situation of anti-Semitic and far-right attacks and conspiracy theories facing the democracies in Europe, we will sorely miss our friend and brother Raphael Esrail. We are truly grateful that we were able to stand together with him for such a long time."


For further Information

Christoph Heubner

Executive Vice President
International Auschwitz Committee
Phone ++ 49 (0)30 26 39 26 81