World's oldest survivor of Auschwitz dies at 108

Image: Memorial to the murdered Sinti and Roma
A leaf lies on a stone lettered "Auschwitz" at a memorial in Berlin on Monday for those killed at the concentration camp. The monument will be inaugurated officially on Oct. 24.Michael Kappler / EPA
/ Source: The Associated Press

The oldest known survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp -- a teacher who gave lessons in defiance of his native Poland's Nazi occupiers -- has died at the age of 108, an official said Monday.

Antoni Dobrowolski died Sunday in the northwestern Polish town of Debno, according to Jaroslaw Mensfelt, a spokesman at the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum.

After invading Poland in 1939, sparking World War II, the Germans banned anything beyond four years of elementary education in a bid to crush Polish culture and the country's intelligentsia. The Germans considered the Poles an inferior race and the education policy was part of a plan to use Poles as a "slave race."

Underground effort
An underground effort by Poles to continue to teach children immediately emerged, with those caught punished by being sent to concentration camps or prisons. Dobrowolski was among the Poles engaged in the underground effort, and he arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz in 1942.

Dobrowolski, who was born Oct. 8, 1904 in Wolborz, a town in central Poland, was later moved to the concentration camps of Gross-Rosen and then Sachsenhausen, where he was liberated in the spring of 1945 at the war's end, according to information provided by the Auschwitz memorial museum in southern Poland.

At least 1.1 million people were killed by the Germans at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Most of the victims were Jews, but many non-Jewish Poles, Roma and others were also killed there.