In last interview, Auschwitz survivor urged Palestinians “not to give up their fight”

Hajo Meyer at his home in Heiloo, Netherlands on 29 July.

Adri Nieuwhof

I mourn the loss of Hajo Meyer, a friend who fearlessly raised his voice to combat Zionism and to express his support for the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom and equality. Hajo passed away in his sleep on 23 August, just days after his ninetieth birthday.

Hajo was born in 1924 and had to flee alone from Nazi Germany at the age of 14 because the Nazis would not allow him to attend school anymore. His parents sent him to the Netherlands in January 1939.

A year later, the Netherlands was occupied by Germany. In 1943, Hajo went into hiding but was captured by the Gestapo in March 1944 and deported to the Auschwitz death camp where the Nazis tattooed number “179679” on his arm.

After the war, Meyer returned to the Netherlands where he had a long career as a physicist. He also took up making violins in his retirement.

In a previous interview with The Electronic Intifada, Hajo said: “For as long as I can, I will continue to utter my criticism of inhuman Zionist behavior.”

On 29 July, I traveled to Meyer’s home in Heiloo in the Netherlands, to discuss the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, where the tired Hajo gave The Electronic Intifada his last interview.

I asked Hajo how he felt. “I can’t answer you positively, due to old age which prevents me from any activity in supporting the Palestinians,” he replied. “To be that old comes with such great loss of capacities, it is quite a task,” he said.

He reflected on how lucky he was to survive Auschwitz with some comrades.

Reber Dosky, a Kurdish refugee residing in the Netherlands, made My Good Fortune in Auschwitz (2012), a short documentary about Hajo’s survival with his comrade Jos Slagter. In the documentary, Hajo plays one of the melancholic Yiddish tunes he used to test the sound of the violins he had made (watch it below — with English subtitles).

“Nazi criminals”

When I spoke to him, Hajo denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s accusations that the large demonstrations against Israel’s attacks on Gaza are an expression of an increasing hatred against Israel.

“If we want to stay really human beings, we must get up and call the Zionists what they are: Nazi criminals,” Meyer said. The hate of the Jews by the Germans “was less deeply rooted than the hate of the Palestinians by the Israeli Jews,” he observed. “The brainwashing of the Jewish Israeli populations is going on for over sixty years. They cannot see a Palestinian as a human being.”

While discussing Europe’s response to Israel’s policies, Hajo said that Europe should respond with “a much more large scale boycott of Israel” than a ban on settlement products. If we Europeans pretend to hold high the flag of humanity with what is happening in Gaza, Israel should be outcasted by us.”

I asked him if he had a message for the Palestinians, Israelis or human rights activists.

“My message for the Palestinians is that they should not give up their fight,” he replied. “If they give up, they might lose their self-esteem with the ongoing humiliations by the Israeli Nazis. Fight with human means. It is justified to show to the Israeli Zionists that you are a force to reckon with. Fight with stones, with weapons. Yes, also with weapons. If you don’t fight, you lose your self-esteem and will not be respected by the Israelis.”

“If we Western democratic societies don’t support the Palestinians in their fight, we must feel ashamed if the Palestinians are annihilated. The US and the European Union must show their teeth,” he added.

Hajo was one of more than forty survivors of the Nazi genocide who recently signed a letter condemning Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

In May, Hajo Meyer’s letters to his family written between July 1939 and 1945 were published in Germany.

Hajo Meyer, thank you for your humanity, your dignity, your love and your consistent support to defending human rights.




Hajo Meyer left an indeliable impression on me the one time I was privileged to meet him. His book "The End of Judaism" keeps me going when I feel the weight of continuing to explain the situation of Palestine to people who favor blame over constructive ideas. He lived what it means to be a truly alive, thinking and feeling human being to the fullest. He wrote about his experiences and beliefs and made beautiful music. Such a life so very well lived is an example for us to heed and follow, Hajo Meyer's legacy to the world.


A fine epitaph for a great man. His deep humanity is a beacon in the darkness and this article with the film should be seen by everyone.


He also said he was proud to be accused of antisemitism; it's a badge of honour that puts him in good company.
"An antisemite used to be someone who doesn't like Jews, now it's someone who Zionists don't like," he said.

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When you click on the fourth icon on the right at the bottom you activate the subtitles.


Thanks Adri for your wonderful obituary for Hajo, this great humanist. Having known Hajo for years - and having been guest at his birthday-party, August 17, I couldn't describe my fatherly friend better. Hajo was a lighthouse of humanity who managed his own suffering being transformed into love and solidarity, particularly for the dispossessed and oppressed Palestinians. He always talked about the importance of education for the Palestinians because by his own experience as an refugee boy in the Netherlands he knew its importance if it was to overcome an existential threat. His anger was the greatest when he learned that Palestinian children were hampered to go to school because of just another curfew imposed to them by the Israeli occupation army or when, or when they are force to wake up at 5 in the morning, because the road to their school is blocked by another checkpoint. Or, in Gaza, when the aggressor destroyed a school. That's why Hajo insisted that the crimes of the German Nazi didn't just begin with "Auschwitz" (and he knew, what this meant!), but by stigmatizing groups of people because of their believe or origin and to hinder their children from adequate education. I hope that an English publisher will see the great value of his "letters to his family" written between July 1939 and 1945, published in Germany (mentioned by you). I wouldn't be shy to equal these collected letters to Anne Frank's remarkable diary. For those who knew Hajo, he always will be a guide for human action. Against racism and against Zionism, which he explained well to be another form of Antisemitism. Palestinians, for Hajo, had become the Jews of Europe, oppressed by those who shameless misuse the Jewish name for Zionism. Our legacy is to keep his ideas and values alive. This is the most adequate way to honor this great friend.


Your interview is one of the best documents from Hajo's thoughts and motivations. I keep it and send it around, in Germany and in France. This is just as I knew Hajo and it brings this brilliant Humanist back to me... It was just the same Hajo as I hugged him, some 4 days before his final departure! What a giant he was! I promised him to carry on his work and Hajo, I hope, believed me... Shall it be! Please try to read his book, (Briefe eines Flüchtlings 1939-1945....ISBN 978-3-86596-538-7). If you cannot for language reasons, please David, try to convince an English language publisher to publish them in translation. The world needs to know them! For a better world!



Thank you for your kind comments, I'm glad my interview represented our friend Hajo well and thank you for sharing with others.


About three years ago, Meyer came to Canada on a speaking tour, expressing opinions much like those described above. Mainstream Jewish organizations reviled him and punished a progressive Jewish organization that sponsored him, but those willing to listen had nothing but respect.

"Never again" means for everyone -- perhaps a fitting epitaph.


Hajo Meyer quote: "An antisemite used to be someone who doesn't like Jews, now it's someone who Zionists don't like". These few words say so much which, unfortunately, most Europeans fail to comprehend. Sadly, we are too brainwashed, mixed up and kept under pressure to even bother with the Gaza's horror.

Being a British pensioner, I grew up during IRA mainland terrorism. No one ever suggested, and I would never have even thought of, bombing, shelling and destroying Belfast. What entitles the Zionists to think about such reaction let alone commiting it, and, with the approval of such a majority of Israelis?

The state has done a virtuoso performance in the indoctrination of their population to the stage that they live in a reality remote to that of their European forefathers. The 40 concentration camp survivors that railed against this latest "mowing the grass" of Netanyahu's government must be totally at a loss as to what can be done, if anything, to atone for the extent of their countrymen’s fervour for punishing the Palestinian Arabs.

Primitive hatreds bred into children, then adolescents and finally into adults, nurtured until the time comes to unleash a bestial assault on, virtually unarmed, inhabitants of a concentration enclave, must surely have no place in a modern, civilised world, especially by such an intelligent race.

Goebbels would have been so proud of Binjamin Netanyahoo.


Unfortunately, a visit to Auschwitz seems to be part of the indoctrination of Israeli youths which you speak about. We saw busloads of them there a few weeks ago, making a big show of claiming the place for themselves by wrapping themselves in Israeli flags as they visited the premises. Even if you tried your very best, it was impossible to take Auschwitz for what it was (and forget about the ongoing slaughter in Gaza for a few hours), as these youths rubbed your nose right in it.
They rudely bumped into us in corridors and stairs, and took zillions of flash photos of the two tonnes of hair of the victims, in spite of the fact that flash photography was clearly marked as forbidden throughout the site, and our own guide actually asked us not to take any photos at all in the "hair room" (can't be sure these youths received the same insructions). The Israeli youth groups generally seemed like the least moved and most disrespectful visitors present.
Everyone was visibly shocked by this behaviour: we, other groups of foreign visitors, and even the Hebrew-language guides of the Israeli groups themselves (who seemed to belong to the Auschwitz Museum).
When we thought we had seen it all, there came a group of Israeli scouts, who apparently didn't think twice about parading around the place in their military style uniforms.
These youth visits seem principly designed to reinforce Golda Meir's idea that in light of the Holocaust Jews can do what they want (and apparently everywhere they want). I cynically whispered to my family group that these youths would be killing Palestinians in a few years, and that the trip was clearly part of their training for this.
It seems to me that the Auschwitz Museum has to decide whether it wants to be a place of dignified Holocaust remembrance or the favourite theme park of Israeli youths.
For those interested in the Holocaust, we recommend Dachau in the middle of January. At least we have that memory to hang onto.

Adri Nieuwhof

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Adri Nieuwhof is a human rights advocate based in the Netherlands and former anti-apartheid activist at the Holland Committee on Southern Africa. Twitter: @steketeh