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Press Information published by the International Auschwitz Committee


Zofia Posmysz, prominent Polish author and Auschwitz survivor has died at the age of 98.

August 8, 2022: Zofia Posmysz, Polish author and Auschwitz survivor passed away in the Hospice of Oswiecim at the age of 98. Image: Pawelsawicki, Zofia Posmysz, Image detail: KGS / IAK Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0

August 8, 2022: Zofia Posmysz, Polish author and Auschwitz survivor passed away in the Hospice of Oswiecim at the age of 98. Image: Pawelsawicki, Zofia Posmysz, Image detail: KGS / IAK Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0




Auschwitz survivors around the globe are bidding farewell with sadness, heartfelt gratitude and great esteem, from their friend, fellow sufferer, companion and renowned writer Zofia Posmysz, who died today aged 98 in the Hospice of Oswiecim.

Born in 1923, Zofia Posmysz was an 18-year-old school student when she was arrested by the Germans while distributing leaflets in Krakow as a member of the Polish resistance. She was then deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. After being imprisoned in there for two and a half years she was then deported to Ravensbrück. Liberation came for her on 2 May 1945 as a 21-year-old young woman.

After returning to Poland and studying, she later worked as a journalist with Polish radio and began her career as a versatile writer starting with radio plays. Her most famous novel Passenger was published in 1962, based on her radio drama of 1959, Passenger from Cabin Number 45. The Polish film director Andrzej Munk based a film on this work, and it also inspired the composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg to create his major opera The Passenger. The story is about an Auschwitz survivor who is travelling to America on an ocean-going liner. On board she encounters a former member of the SS who she experienced as the head of a camp guards’ unit in the women’s camp in Birkenau. Although the opera was completed in 1968, it only premiered in a full-stage version in 2010 at the Bregenz Festival in the presence of Zofia Posmysz. Since then there have been numerous productions around the world which Zofia Poszmyz was often able to attend, and where she was honoured and acclaimed by the audiences. In addition to her radio drama, Zofia Posmysz has authored numerous other publications that bear witness to the central role the memories of her fellow prisoners and the experiences of Auschwitz have played in her life. Zofia Poszmysz was a Lady of the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest award for merit to civilians and members of the military, and she also received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

In Berlin Christoph Heubner, the Executive Vice President of the International Auschwitz Committee, paid tribute to Zofia Posmysz:

“The fact that Zofia Posmysz’s voice could be heard echoing around the entire globe was a source of great comfort and reassurance to Auschwitz survivors. Her literary works startled and inspired other prominent artists, especially because she conveyed and interpreted the emotions and recollections of many Auschwitz survivors, and gave a voice to those who were murdered in that death camp. Her Catholic faith was a constant source of strength, and this, together with her deep sense of commitment towards her former fellow prisoners inspired her to repeatedly seek dialogue with young people at the International Youth Meeting Center in Oswiecim/Auschwitz, which became a focal point in her life and something of a second home. For many years, the groups of young people she met and spoke with included trainees from Volkswagen who were volunteering in Auschwitz to preserve the Memorial. “Auschwitz never left me,” was one of Zofia Posmysz’s key statements during these talks. But she also always emphasized: “These talks with you not only give me courage, they also give a purpose to my life.”


For further Information

Christoph Heubner

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