JERUSALEM (AP) — Noach Flug, a tireless advocate for Holocaust survivors who successfully fought governments to compensate this aging and dwindling population, has died. He was 86.
The Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel said Flug died Thursday morning at Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem.
Flug "worked day and night in Israel and around the world for the good of his fellow survivors," center spokesman Uri Arazi said. "He was a man of integrity and a leader."
Born in Poland in 1925, Flug was deported from the Lodz ghetto, where he was a member of the anti-Nazi underground, to the Auschwitz death camp in August 1944. Nearly all his family was killed at that camp, but he managed to survive it and two other concentration camps.
In 1958 he emigrated to Israel, working as an economist and a diplomat.
But it was as a champion of Holocaust survivors in their fight for reparations that he left his greatest mark.
He held leading positions on the Jewish Claims Conference, the World Jewish Restitution Organization, the International Auschwitz Committee and the Israeli Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem.
Flug also served as chairman of the umbrella organization of Holocaust survivors in Israel, the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, lobbying the government successfully for larger stipends for survivors.
In 2006, Germany awarded him the country's Grand Cross of the Order of Merit for his "decades-long work on behalf of survivors of the Holocaust and his tireless efforts to promote understanding between Jews and non-Jews and between Israel and Germany."
Israel has more Holocaust survivors than any other country, some 220,000.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement expressing his "deep sorrow" over Flug's passing.
"Despite the terrible suffering he endured during the Holocaust, Noach still found the strength, dignity and determination to lead the fight for compensation, restitution and above all, for justice," said Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress.
Flug is survived by his wife, Dorota, two daughters and four grandchildren, Arazi said.