DEBNO, POLAND – Talk about defying evil. The Nazis captured Antoni Dobrowolski in 1942 and sent him to Auschwitz to die. Somehow, this Polish teacher, the world’s oldest holocaust survivor, made it until the age of 108.
When Germans invaded Poland in 1939, they banned any type of education beyond elementary school in an attempt to crush Polish culture and intelligentsia. Defying those rules, Dobrowolski worked with underground organizations to teach children about their country’s culture and history. For these efforts he was discovered by the Gestapo and sent to a concentration camp.
Even though later in his life he described Auschwitz as worse than hell, Dobrowolski was one of the few survivors of the most criminal machine ever created by humankind. After the war, he returned to his role as an educator. An estimate 1.2 million people brought from all over Europe were killed by the Nazis in Auschwitz. Most of them were Jews and the rest political dissidents, Gypsies and homosexuals.
When asked what the secret of his longevity was, Dobrowolski replied: “There’s no recipe for that. You have to be born with it.”
He lived longer than his captors but carried the memories of horror until the last day.