“Today there are very few of us left to bear witness to the horrors of the German concentration camps. I feel that it is my duty to spread the knowledge of this tragedy. It is painful to remember. Yet it must be done.”
On October 26, 1942, Norwegian medical student Robert Savosnick (born in Trondheim in 1915) was arrested and, one month later, he was one of 532 Jews deported on the SS Donau. The next two and a half years of Savosnick’s life were lost in an existence of torture, brutality, and human degradation. He spent a year incarcerated in Auschwitz, and a further ten months clearing the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto. Together with thousands of Jewish prisoners, Savosnick was taken on a death march, eventually arriving in Dachau. He was liberated in the subcamp of Allach in April 1944. Robert Savosnick returned to Norway and completed his medical studies, becoming a much-loved pediatrician in his hometown of Trondheim. Yet his experiences during the Holocaust remained so vivid that a smell, a sound, a German voice caused him to relive the nightmare. Savosnick was one of the very few Norwegian Jews who survived the camps and could testify to the horrors. “I feel it is my duty to those who did not survive to pass on information about what occurred,” he said. Guided by this sense of duty, he spoke publicly about his experiences, responded to antisemitic articles in the press, and committed his story to paper. With the assistance of prize-winning Norwegian journalist Hans Melien, and with historical annotations, I Did Not Want to Die: From Norway to Auschwitz depicts his unique journey and records the experiences of Norwegian Jews during the Holocaust. Hence, recently, the Norwegian branch of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register declared Savosnick’s history part of Norway’s documentary heritage.