Kazimierz Smolen, a 91-year-old Auschwitz survivor, died Friday, in a hospital in Oswiecim on the 67th anniversary of its liberation. After World War II, Smolen became director of the memorial site.
Pawel Sawicki, a spokesman for the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum, told The Associated Press that Smolen died in Oswiecim, the southern Polish town where Nazi Germany operated Auschwitz-Birkenau during World War II. Auschwitz-Birkenau became a museum two years after the war ended. Smolen served as director of the museum from 1955-1990 and continued to live in the town after his retirement, The AP reported.
Friday was the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of the camp by Soviet troops. The United Nations in 2005, designated Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. There were ceremonies across Europe marking the day.
Smolen was born on April 19, 1920, in the Polish town of Chorzow Stary. He was involved in the anti-Nazi resistance and was arrested by the Germans in April 1941. He was taken to Auschwitz in one of the early mass shipments of prisoners there. Smolen reportedly left the camp on the last transport of prisoners that were evacuated by the Germans on Jan. 18, 1945. That was nine days before its liberation.
The New York Times reported that Smolen attributed his survival to good health and extreme luck.