He survived the Nazi terror by hiding his Jewish identity. Decades later, Sally Perel processed the experiences in his autobiography "I was Hitler Youth Salomon". Perel has now passed away at the age of 97.
The Holocaust survivor Sally Perel - known as "Hitlerjunge Salomon" - is dead. The Israeli died at the age of 97 in his home in Israel, as the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem announced on Thursday evening in Jerusalem. The native German became internationally known through his autobiography "I was Hitler Youth Salomon". In 1990, the book was also the basis for a multi-award-winning film by director Agnieszka Holland.
Perel was born in Peine near Braunschweig in 1925. After fleeing Germany and later Poland, he fell into the hands of German troops in 1941 in what was then the Soviet Union. He survived the Holocaust by adopting the identity of an ethnic German. Under the name of Josef "Jupp" Perjell, he served as an interpreter for the Wehrmacht and completed an apprenticeship as a toolmaker at Volkswagen in Braunschweig in 1943. After a year on the Eastern Front, he was sent to a Hitler Youth school. There he feared being exposed every day until the end of the war.
After the Second World War, Perel emigrated to what is now Israel, where he autobiographically reappraised his assumed identity. Later, in lectures and discussions, he campaigned primarily for young people from Germany and Israel to get together. In 1999 he received the Federal Cross of Merit for his efforts to promote German-Israeli understanding. Since 2013, the works council and management of the Volkswagen plant in Braunschweig have awarded the Sally Perel Prize to initiatives that promote respect and tolerance.
Lower Saxony's Prime Minister Stephan Weil condoled Perel's family with the words: "We are all infinitely grateful to him for reporting and writing about this time and for repeatedly seeking contact with children and young people." According to the latest figures, 150,600 contemporary witnesses of the Holocaust still live in Israel. More than a thousand of them are already over 100 years old.