(JTA) — Kalman Sultanik, a Zionist leader and former vice president of the World Jewish Congress, has died.
Sultanik, who also was a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council and president of the Federation of Polish Jews, died Sunday in New York. He was 97.
He was a member of the World Zionist Executive for many years representing the World Confederation of United Zionists. For four decades he served on the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel, and was chairman of the American Section of the World Zionist Organization.
Sultanik was elected vice president of the World Jewish Congress in 1977 after serving the organization in several leadership posts. Working with then-WJC president, Edgar Bronfman, Sultanik was instrumental in opening a dialogue with the Polish government in the late 1970s and, in the next three decades, laying the groundwork for the renewal of Jewish life and the restoration of Jewish properties and cemeteries in Poland.
The native of Miechow, Poland, was a Jewish community and Zionist activist prior to World War II. During the war he was part of the underground resistance against the Nazis and spent time in several concentration camps. Sultanik was sent on the death march to Theresienstadt, from where he was liberated in 1945.
Sultanik was a delegate to the 22nd World Zionist Congress in Basel in 1946, representing the survivors of the death and concentration camps in Germany. In 1947 he was elected to the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in Munich.
He was named secretary general of the General Zionist Constructive Fund in 1948. The following year he became secretary general of the World Confederation of General Zionists in Israel, and in 1952 its director.
The Polish government in 1988 appointed Sultanik to a seat on the International Auschwitz Museum Council, which he served as deputy chairman. As chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee of the Auschwitz Museum, he raised some $30 million from European governments for the upkeep of the site. He was awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Poland Reborn in 1995.
In his 70s, Sultanik earned his law degree from LaSalle University in Chicago.