BERLIN (Aug. 23)
Karl Brozik, a longtime advocate for Holocaust survivors, has died at age 78. Brozik, a survivor of Auschwitz, passed away on Aug. 18 during a visit to Prague, according to the Conference for Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, whose Frankfurt office Brozik had led since 1987. The cause was a chronic heart ailment.
Mourners on both sides of the Atlantic joined in remembering Brozik as a tireless champion for moral justice for survivors, and as a person who knew how to enjoy life.
Though they knew of his longtime illness, friends and colleagues were shaken by news of Brozik’s death, Claims Conference spokesperson Cornelia Maimon Levi told JTA.
Despite health problems, Brozik energetically represented the Claims Conference in negotiations for reparations from the German government, Levi said. “It is really impressive how many people cherished him.”
Born in 1926 in what is now the Czech Republic, Brozik was the only memb! er of his family to survive the Holocaust. Deported from the Lodz Ghetto to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944, he joined the secret resistance movement in the death camp.
The Nazis forced inmates to leave Auschwitz on foot as the Soviet Army approached in January, 1945. Brozik survived the “death march” to Mauthausen, where he was liberated in May, 1945.
Brozik returned to Prague after the war, where he studied law and worked as an attorney and economist in an export firm, and for the
Foreign Ministry of Czechoslovakia. Brozik and his family were on a vacation near the German border in 1968 when the Soviet Army entered Prague to suppress the so-called “Prague Spring.” The family then fled to West Germany.
There, Brozik worked as a lawyer for the United Restitution Organization and the Claims Conference. In 1987, he became Claims Conference representative for Germany.
Brozik received many honors for his work, including the Wilhelm Leuschner Medal of the State of H! essen in 1997 and the Medal for Resistance Against Fascism from the Cz ech Republic in 1999. The city of Frankfurt honored him with a plaque in 2002.
“We have lost a successful fighter for justice for Holocaust survivors, a person who was committed to passing on the lessons of the Shoah to coming generations,” Saul Kagan, executive vice president emeritus of the Claims Conference, said. Kagan had worked with Brozik for more than 30 years.
Salomon Korn, a vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and liaison to the Claims Conference, said in a press release that he had “lost a good friend.”
“It is an enormous loss,” Deidre Berger, director of the Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee, told JTA. “Karl represented the generation of survivors who wanted to keep memory active in a contemporary way. He devoted his life to seeking justice for survivors and also telling the story to young people, to historians, to those who cared.”
Berger, who met Brozik while she was a journalist in Frankfurt, described him as a m! an with “a great sense of the political arena and for understanding the right moment to take action, and how to put together coalitions.”
He also had “a good sense of humor and a good Bohemian appreciation for good food and the finer things in life,” she said.
Brozik is survived by two sons.