Slave-labor compensation fighter dead at 73

BERLIN, Dec. 27 (JTA) — Holocaust survivor Hans Frankenthal, who fought tirelessly for justice for World War II-era slave laborers, died Dec. 22 of cancer at the age of 73.

Frankenthal, who as a teen-ager was deported to Auschwitz and forced to work for the IG Farben firm, believed Jews should stay in postwar Germany.

He criticized as “pitiful” the recent $5.2 billion compensation fund created for Nazi-era slave laborers.

“He was important as a witness and as a fighter for the rights of former slave workers. We all loved him,” said Henry Mathes, who heads an organization that has fought for reparations from IG Farben.

In 1943, Frankenthal’s family was taken in cattle cars to Auschwitz. Frankenthaler and his brother, Ernst, never saw their parents again.

Both boys were selected for work by Dr. Josef Mengele and the director of IG Farben. In 1945, Soviet soldiers liberated the brothers from Theresienstadt.

Legal obstacles fed by anti-Semitism prevented them from recovering their family home or receiving reparations for their father’s butcher shop. They received instead a small sum, he reported in his book.

Last August, Frankenthal, the vice president of the International and German Auschwitz Committees and a member of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, made headlines when he was forcibly prevented from finishing his statement at the IG Farben shareholders meeting.

“When he spoke about the Nazi era and about his personal history he was often quite angry, though he surely had told all these stories again and again,” Mathes said. “In private he was such a warm, nice person. So there must have been two hearts beating in his breast.”

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