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September 8, 2016 2:31 pm

World’s Oldest Working Journalist, 90-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor Noah Klieger, Fears Nazi Genocide Will Be Forgotten in 50 Years

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Noah Klieger. Photo: Courtesy/Israeli Jewish Congress.

Noah Klieger. Photo: Courtesy/Israeli Jewish Congress.

One of Israel’s best-known Holocaust survivors told a packed audience in Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening about his genuine fear that the Nazi genocide will not be remembered 50 years from now.

Noah Klieger expressed this concern at an event that doubled as the release of a documentary film about his having staved off the gas chambers at Auschwitz by lying to the SS about being a professional boxer and a celebration of his 90th birthday.

Klieger, who is still on the staff of the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot — making him the oldest non-retired journalist in the world — described a bleak view of the future.

“Young people don’t know about the Bar Kochba revolt, so I’m worried the Holocaust won’t be remembered either,” Klieger said, referring to the second century Judean war against the Romans. “But as an optimist — something I’d have to be to have survived what I did and be standing here today — I hope I’m wrong.”

The biographical film, which Klieger said he was seeing for the first time with the hundreds of people gathered in his honor — among them members of the Israeli government, the media, ambassadors, rabbinical leaders, fellow survivors, IDF brass and soldiers — gave a moving overview of the trials and tribulations of a Strasbourg-born Jewish boy robbed of his youth by Hitler and his henchman.

Klieger recounted that while at Auschwitz — which he called “the world’s largest cemetery, without a single grave” — he held tightly to three dreams:

The first was living through the nightmare and surviving the camp.

The second was to tell the story, even though it is a story that cannot be explained. There was no reason whatsoever for what was done. But I knew I had to tell it, and to as many people as possible.

The third was that, if I managed to accomplish the first two, I would do anything and everything to bring about the establishment of the state of Israel. I would be the most ardent Zionist I could be.

Well, I realized all three dreams.

Indeed, Klieger has spent the decades since his liberation from the camp, where he shared a barracks with the late Elie Wiesel, telling and re-telling the story of the Jewish genocide in Israel and around the world at every opportunity — in seven languages.

Klieger was caught by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz while working with the Belgian underground and French resistance to help smuggle Jewish children to safety in Switzerland. After the war, he kept his vow to Zionism, becoming a crew member on the famous ship, Exodus 1947 — turned away from Palestine by the British — and fighting in Israel’s War of Independence.

He has also been a permanent fixture at the March of the Living (MoL), the annual trip organized for students from Israel and the Diaspora to visit Poland and walk the three kilometers between the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps.

Tel Aviv-Jaffa Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau was among the attendees who spoke in Klieger’s honor on Tuesday, comparing his “dear friend, Noah” to the biblical giant of the same name.

“The first Noah emerged from the ark and got drunk,” said Lau, quoting the Torah. Lau explained that Noah had survived the flood only to be met with the loneliness of a man left with no friends or family. “But this Noah did not emerge from the Holocaust and escape into alcohol.” Instead, Lau said of Klieger, he continues to confront the demons and educate others about them.

The documentary film, “Boxing for Life,” that was screened on Tuesday at the Cinemateque in the White City, was produced for Israel’s Channel 1 by Shemi Shoenfeld and Amitan Menelzon. It was directed by Uri Borreda. The evening was hosted by the Israeli-Jewish Congress and International MoL, with the support of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, Adopt-A-Safta, the Ambassadors’ Club of Israel and the Israel Forever Foundation.

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  • Yale

    Noah Klieger is almost certainly correct, but not for the reason he would offer: By negotiating the JCPOA, Barack Obama has seen to it that the world will experience a mass killing event in the next 50 years that will replace the Holocaust as the worst crime in history.

  • Philipp

    I hope this is a joke. I highly doubt the world’s deadliest genocide will ever be forgotten. Ever. I can’t speak for the whole world, but the part I live in, Germany, is literally obsessed with the holocaust and its protagonists. If you turn on the TV in Germany, at any hour of the day, chances are higher to stumble upon a documentary about the holocaust or Hitler, than a Disney cartoon. Germans are doing their utmost to remember the crimes their ancestors have done – I would even go so far to say no other country in the world’s history has ever confronted itself with its deadly history the way Germany has been doing the last 70 years.

    • Paula Maisenhelder

      Herr Philip, you are just analyzing Deutschland relation with Holocaust. There are people in the world who insist in the Holocaust deny . The Iran leader is one of this kind of people . Today we can realize a Anti Semitic feeling in BDS moviment. The anti sionist is the same thing ! The countries in Europe are not agains countries like Saudi Arabian . This is an example of a place without respect to women and homosexuals rights . Germany does not boicot Saudi Arabian ! And Germany does not boicot South Coreia . The Muslim countries don’t respect woman rights . And there is no boicot against the Muslim countries . The BDS is very strong in Europe and United States . What is the problem that european countries have with Israel ? After the Jewish genocide and all the responsibility that the German and other European countries have about it , the BDS should be illegal !

  • Dani

    R. Meir Law has chosen very strange words to congratulate this outstanding personality. Each person has to be judged in accordance with the time he has lived. Some people manage to go beyond expectations and possibilities. The Biblical Noah did that too.

  • It is also my wish that Noah would be wrong. Though I doubt I will here in another 50 years, there are those coming through our Educational system today who will be. People like Noah will inform, teach and the World will learn. I will reinforce that learning for as long as I can.

  • Inspirational. As is my want, I have always made it a point, when I meet with Survivors, to apologise to them on behalf of what an ostensibly ‘christian’ body of people has done. For the whole of Humanity that Sin of Perpetration, Intolerance or Indifference is a stain upon our own legitimacy as human beings. So just in case I do not get the opportunity to greet you in person, I apologise to You for the inability of those 6,000,000 Murdered Jews of The Holocaust who cannot direct their appreciation and respect for what you have done and what you have achieved. In each of you the World entire has been saved.

  • richard sherwin

    what does he mean in 50 years. only some jews and all nazis and moslems remember it. most of those jews are rightwingers and pro israel. nazis still drool in delight at their good old days of success in ridding europe of jews. and moslems love to disbelieve it while planning to improve on it. as for the grandchildren of the former christians … yes, it’s a jewish conspiracy on their egotisms.

  • Jonah

    In fifty years their will be a lot of this planet missing, according to revelation. All the mountains will be moved from their present foundations. Approximately two thirds of the people on this planet will be dead. The millinial kingdom will be populated with Russians, Chinese, and others from all the nations of the world. America and Western Europe will be missing. Most of the Islamic nations who will not bow to your messia will be dead. Israel will take on its scriptural role as stipulated in the bible. The lion will lay down with the lamb. The holocaust will never be forgotten. Israel will no longer need walls or weapons. The world will virtually be at peace for 1000 years Satan is then loosed for a season to gather those who have rejected Gods kingdom on earth, their will be a finale battle as they surround an I walled Israel. Gods angels kill them all, God then raises those from hades opens the book of works and judges each and every person according to his works. The bride of the lamb ( Christians), the wife of God(Religious Israel), and the surviving millinial saints who wish to live in Gods kingdom will be exempt from the white throne judgement. The new Jerusalem then comes down on heaven as stated in Revelation and we then go into what God describes as the eturnal state.

  • Yoel Nitzarim

    Noah, may your days continue to be filled with words of wisdom; and may your prediction of the world forgetting about the Holocaust in fifty years prove to be wrong as you, yourself, so wish it to be. Perhaps your story of maintaining a life of optimism and wonder will be reflected in the story of modern Israel as a torch brings light to an unenlightened world lost still overcome by the hatred, illusion, and self-denigration of radical Islamism.

  • Thankyou, – we greatly appreciated and rejoiced over your story of Noah Klieger. As Bible-dependant Christians, we utterly deplore and grieve over the corrupt, non-Scripture-dependant Pagan-Christian junk philosophy of Augustine which soon gave birth to Islam and has nourished anti-Semitism ever since, including that of Martin Luther, whose erroneous anti-Semitic book nourished Hitler’s abominations – – –

  • Jerry Ram

    Tragically Nazi- genocide has already been forgotten.
    Ask any university student world wide, and they will be dumb founded. History is selective, very selective at the expense of Jews!

  • Bravo for Noah Klieger, his spirit, longevity, rectitude and message.But world’s oldest working journalist? New York’s Gabe Pressman is 92 and still going strong.

  • Eugene Schoenfeld

    David Perlman of the San Francisco Chronicle is well past 90.