One of the few: Herman Shine who escaped Auschwitz dies at 95

Herman Shine was smuggled from Auschwitz by Polish labourer YT

A Jewish man who escaped Auschwitz thanks to a Polish labourer has died at the age of 95.

Born Mendel Scheingesicht and moving from Poland to Berlin with his family as a child, following Hitler’s invasion of Poland in September 1939, Herman Shine was arrested along with his friend Max Drimmer and other Jews, and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, 35km north of Berlin.

After three years of brutality they were sent to Auschwitz in German-occupied Poland and set to work in Monowitz, also known as Auschwitz III.

Whilst there, Mr Drimmer met Polish labourer Józef Wrona who had been taken on as civilian labour at Monowitz.

One day he overheard SS officers talking about killing the Monowitz workers and warned Mr Drimmer and offered to help him escape.

He also agreed to help Herman Shine.

Despite the enormous risk, Poles caught helping Jews could be shot along with their families, Mr Wrona came up with a way to smuggle both out of the camp by creating a cramped hiding place at a nearby construction site.

After a couple of days hiding, Mr Wrona brought the pair some civilian clothes and then led them to a hole he had cut in the camp’s wire fence.

Once outside, they headed for Mr Wrona’s family home nine miles away where they hid in a barn. 

After evading a series of raids by the SS, Mr Shine decided they should leave and, remembering a woman he had befriended some time earlier, the two men made the dangerous 100km trek to her home in the town of Gleiwitz (today called Gliwice in southern Poland).

Her name was Marianne Schlesinger and she and her family agreed to take the pair in and give them shelter. They were later offered refuge at a nearby villa owned by a rich German where they stayed until the end of the war.

In 1946, Mr Shine and Ms. Schlesinger married in Berlin before emigrating to San Fransico in the US where he changed his name to Herman Shine.

He is survived by his wife Marianne and their daughter Sonja.