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Philipp Auerbach

(1906 - 1952)

Philipp Auerbach, was born in Germany and had moved to Belgium where he became head of a chemical import-export company. After the German invasion of Belgium he was arrested and sent to Gurs and was later deported to Auschwitz. His wife, Martha, and daughter, Helen, managed to flee to Cuba and then come to the United States.

In Asuchwitz, Auerbach served as the chief chemist preparing medicines and pesticides. He attested to having been coerced into making soap from human remains. After liberation he served the first chairman of the State Federation of North Rhine and Westphalia and later as the chairman of the Association of Jewish Communities in Bavaria. In 1946 he was appointed state commissioner of the Bavarian provincial government for religious, political and racial victims of the Nazis, thereby becoming one of the first Jews to play a role in postwar German political life. He was among the first to work for the financial compensation of victims of Nazism.

In January 1951, he became a member of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. One month later he was accused of financial misconduct and forgery in regard to reparations payments. His supporters insisted that he never personally benefited from the fraud, and that he gave all the money to the victims. On August 14, 1952, Auerbach was found guilty and sentenced to two and a half years in prison by a court of five judges, three of whom had had contacts with the Nazi party. Two days later, Auerbach committed suicide. Four years later he was posthumously cleared of all charges.

Sources: Bauer, Yehuda. "The Organization of Holocaust Survivors," Yad Vashem Studies, vol. 8 (1970); Hyman, Abraham S. The Undefeated, Jerusalem, 1993; Mankowitz, Zev. "The Formation of She'erit Hapleita," Yad Vashem Studies, vol. 20 (1990); Schwarz, Leo.The Redeemers, New York, 1953

Sources: USHMM