Boris Romanchenko was killed on Friday when a Russian shelling hit his Kharkiv home. The 96-year-old was a Holocaust survivor and had survived four concentration camps, including Buchenwald, Peenemuende, Dora and Bergen-Belsen. He is being mourned by those who knew him.

His death was announced on Monday by Germany’s Buchenwald concentration camp memorial institute. According to reports by his family, Romanchenko was killed when his house was hit by Russian artillery fire. In a series of tweets, the memorial institute staff said they were deeply disturbed by the Holocaust survivor’s death.

They said, “According to his granddaughter, he lived in a multi-storey building, hit by a shell. Boris Romanchenko worked intensively on the memory of Nazi crimes and was vice-president of the Buchenwald-Dora International Committee.”

Boris Romanchenko Holocaust survivor
Boris Romanchenko (second from the right) was killed when a Russian shelling hit his home in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The 96-year-old was a Holocaust survivor (Credit: Twitter)

Boris Romanchenko’s death was also remembered by the mayor of Lviv, Ukraine, in his Telegram post. Mayor Andriy Sadovy said, “He was killed by a Russian missile in his apartment during a ‘denazification operation. The new fascists continue the work of Hitler.”

While Romanchenko’s family reported his death to the memorial institute, they have not issued an official statement about the passing of their loved one because of the Ukrainian invasion.

Born in Bondari in 1926, Romanchenko was taken as a prisoner of war in 1941 by the German Nazi regime. Then, the German forces had launched Operation Barbarossa, which specifically targeted the Soviet Union. In 1942 he was deported to the Dortmund concentration camp and was forced to work in a mine.

Boris Romanchenko tried to escape Dortmund and was almost successful. The Ukrainian man was caught as he was about to board an eastbound train. In January 1943, he was deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp.

Before the end of World War II, Romanchenko was also held at the Peenemünde, Mittelbau-Dora and Bergen-Belsen camps. At Peenemünde, he worked on the V2 rocket program. On April 14, 1945, Romanchenko was liberated by U.S. and British forces. According to the Holocaust survivor, the troops saved him just before he and other survivors were going to be forced to eat poisoned food by Nazi officers.

In a 2004 interview, he recalled those early days of World War II and the Holocaust and said, “The war had completely surprised us, I wasn’t able to flee.”

According to those close to him, Romanchenko was very invested in remembering the Holocaust and making sure future generations knew the horrors that happened in concentration camps. In 2012, he attended a ceremony remembering the closing of the Buchenwald concentration camp and read the camp’s oath. He said, “creating a new world where peace and freedom reign.”

In 2018, he went back to the concentration camp for the 73rd anniversary of Buchenwald’s liberation by U.S. troops, according to a Kharkiv newspaper. Romanchenko was one of three survivors from the countries of Ukraine and Belarus.

The newspaper said, “The event was attended by the last surviving Buchenwald prisoners from Ukraine and Belarus — Borys Romanchenko from Kharkiv, Oleksandr Bychok from Kyiv and Andriy Moiseenko from Minsk.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also tweeted about the Holocaust survivor’s death. He called it an “unspeakable crime,” and said, “survived Hitler, murdered by Putin.”

According to reports, over 500 people have been killed in Kharkiv since the Russians started their Ukraine invasion on Feb. 24. The Ukrainian city is 25 miles from the Russian border. Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously called his invasion a “denazification.” He has claimed that Ukraine is committing genocide against the Russian speaking population.

These claims have not been proven.