THE LAST surviving Auschwitz liberator has passed away at the age of 98.
Red Army soldier David Dushman was in his early 20s when he drove a tank over the electrified fence of the Nazi death camp, helping to free those held captive by Hitler's murderous regime.
One of just 69 soldiers in his division who survived World War II, Mr Dushman suffered serious injuries, though recovered and went on to become a renowned fencer.
The soldier admitted it took several years before he and his colleagues learned the true extent of the horror of Auschwitz.
As reported by The Guardian, Mr Dushman told outlet Sueddeutsche in 2015 that on the day he and his crew liberated Aushcwitz, "we hardly knew anything about [it]"-- but say "skeletons everywhere".
"We threw them all our canned food and immediately went on to hunt down the fascists", he added.
The war hero and liberator of Auschwitz was much-loved and respected by the Jewish community for his actions during the war, and his passing was announced yesterday by the Israelitische Kultusgemeidnde (Israelite Religious Community) of Munich and Upper Bavaria.
In a statement, translated from German, The President of the Israelite Religious Community, Dr. hc Charlotte Knobloch, said it was "with great sadness that I learned of David Dushman's death".
"Every contemporary witness that leaves us is a loss, but saying goodbye to David Dushman is particularly painful," Dr Knobloch admitted.
"Dushman was at the forefront when the Nazis' murder machinery was smashed in 1945; as the 'hero of Auschwitz', he was one of the liberators of the concentration camp and saved countless lives. He was one of the last to report from his own experience of this event.
"After the war, he successfully went his way and, as the national coach of Soviet female fencers, paved the way for countless world championships and Olympic medals.
"With him we lose a brave, honest and sincere man and an honorary member of our religious community. We remain deeply grateful to him and will keep him an honorable memory."
The 'Auschwitz hero' passed away in a Munich clinic on Saturday night, 5 June.