Skip to main content

See also:

Icon: Kurt Julius Goldstein

Kurt Julius Goldstein: Holocaust survivor
Kurt Julius Goldstein: Holocaust survivor

Kurt Julius Goldstein (1914–2007) was a German-Jewish journalist, radio broadcaster and author. Goldstein was born into a Jewish merchant family in Dortmund, Germany. At school, he experienced Germany's growing anti-Semitism and it had the effect of politicising him (e.g. Matthew 27: 22-26, Martin Luther's book On the Jews and Their Lies, Protocols of the Elders of Zion). In 1928, he joined the Young Communist League and two years later, the Communist Party of Germany, then headed by Ernst Thälmann. When the Nazis took power in 1933, Goldstein fled Germany. He first lived in Luxembourg, working as a gardener, then moved to France. In 1935, he went to Palestine (British-controlled pre-Israel).

A year later, the Spanish Civil War erupted and many Communists volunteered to fight in the International Brigades. Goldstein soon joined them in Spain. When the Second Spanish Republic collapsed in early 1939, Goldstein escaped across the Pyrenees border into France. Since a return to Germany was impossible, he was interned and held in Camp Vernet.

Once France fell, his situation became perilous but it was three years before he was detected by the Vichy-Nazi French authorities and deported to Germany. On arrival, he was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp, where he worked in the coal pits for 30 months. Along with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel (described in his book Night), Goldstein survived the death march from Auschwitz to Buchenwald. When Buchenwald was partly evacuated by the Nazis on 8 April 1945, Communist inmates stormed the watchtowers, killed the remaining Nazi guards and took control. Buchenwald was formally liberated by American troops on 11 April 1945. Goldstein willingly remained in East Germany after the war, working as a journalist, radio broadcaster and author. From 1945–1950, the Soviet Union used the Buchenwald camp as a NKVD special camp to imprison defeated Nazis.

In 2001, Goldstein along with Peter Gingold (1916–2006), another Holocaust survivor, began a class action lawsuit in America suing the U.S. government and the Bush family for a total of $40 billion in compensation claiming that both materially benefited from Auschwitz slave labor during the Second World War. The case was thrown out by Judge Rosemary Collyer on the grounds that the government cannot be held liable under the principle of "state sovereignty." Goldstein was chairman of the Jerusalem-based International Auschwitz Committee for many years. German politician Christel Wegner remembers the legacy of Kurt Julius Goldstein.