Dugo Leitner Cause Of Death
David Leitner, a remarkable Holocaust survivor, has sadly passed away at the age of 94. He left behind a unique and widely-marked tradition of eating falafel each year to commemorate his 1945 march from Auschwitz concentration camp to freedom.
Affectionately known as “Dugo,” David Leitner, originally from Hungary, began this meaningful tradition upon his arrival in Israel in 1949. Every year on January 18, he would have falafel, a symbolic reminder of the tragic events that unfolded during the death march from Auschwitz.
During the march through the freezing lands of Nazi-occupied Poland, hunger consumed the underfed and desperate inmates, including Leitner. His mind would wander back to the memory of his mother’s bilkalach, a beloved food in Central Europe, as he endured the hardships. Tragically, he would never see his mother again, as she and his sisters were tragically killed upon their arrival at Auschwitz in 1944.
It was in Jerusalem in 1949 that Leitner first encountered falafel, and the taste immediately brought back memories of his mother’s bilkalach and the death march. While the savory falafel balls were different from the fluffy bilkalach, the significance of the food was enough for Leitner to make a heartfelt decision. From that point on, he would eat a portion of falafel on January 18 each year, using it as a way to honor his family and all the victims of the Holocaust.
Initially, Leitner’s annual falafel ritual was a private affair at a nearby eatery near his moshav Nir Galim, close to Ashdod. He wanted to be alone with his thoughts during this poignant moment. However, over time, the symbolism of his act resonated with his family and friends, and word spread, eventually reaching the media.
David Leitner’s legacy will forever be tied to this touching tradition, reminding us of the resilience and strength of survivors and the importance of remembering the atrocities of the past. He is survived by his loving family, including two daughters, numerous grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, who will carry on his memory with pride.
What Happened To Dugo Leitner?
David “Dugo” Leitner, a resilient Holocaust survivor who established an unconventional tradition of commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day by indulging in falafel, passed away at the age of 93 on Thursday morning, coinciding with the solemn fast of Tisha Be’av.
The funeral service to honor his memory will take place on Thursday evening at the Nir Galim cemetery. His passing was marked with a profound symbol of his indomitable spirit—the number B-14671, a tattoo etched into his arm during his dark days in the Auschwitz camp, a poignant reminder of the horrors he endured.
Leitner’s unique tradition was an expression of triumph over the harrowing past. On January 18, 1945, as a 14-year-old prisoner at Auschwitz, he was among the multitude forced to endure the merciless death march through snow-covered terrain. Despite the appalling conditions, Leitner found solace in thoughts of his mother’s cherished bilkalach, those delightful golden bread buns from his Hungarian homeland and Central Europe.
Remarkably, amidst the suffering and despair, Leitner survived the death march, earning the endearing nickname “Dugo.” Following the Holocaust, he sought a fresh start and eventually made his way to Israel.
In a serendipitous encounter during his first visit to Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market, Leitner’s life took a remarkable turn when he tasted falafel. The fried balls of falafel evoked memories of the past, transporting him back to the dreadful march and his dear mother’s kitchen. From that moment on, a beautiful tradition was born.
Every year, on January 18, Leitner celebrated his liberation by savoring two portions of falafel, a practice that gained popularity as “Dugo Day” in Israel. His legacy expanded far beyond, captivating the hearts of hundreds of thousands of school children who honor him annually by relishing at least one falafel portion on this special day.
In 2021, the celebration even reached beyond Israel’s borders, with embassies in London and Warsaw offering free falafel to locals while sharing Leitner’s extraordinary story, creating an international bond through this quintessentially Israeli dish.
With the passing of time, the tradition grew, attracting the participation of many esteemed Israelis, including presidents, IDF chiefs of staff, and public figures from diverse backgrounds.
President Isaac Herzog paid a heartfelt tribute to Leitner on Twitter, acknowledging his survival of the Auschwitz camp’s death march and his instrumental role as one of the founders of the Nir Galim village. The joyous tradition of eating falafel in the bustling Mahane Yehuda market has become a symbol of victory for Holocaust survivors, cherished both in Israel and around the world.
How Did Dugo Leitner Die?
David “Dugo” Leitner, a courageous Holocaust survivor, peacefully passed away at the age of 93. As a teenager, he endured the harrowing Nazi death march from Auschwitz, leaving an indelible mark on history.
His funeral will take place on Thursday evening at 6:00 PM in the serene surroundings of the Nir Galim synagogue’s funeral home. In a poignant reminder of his tragic past, the announcement bore the haunting number B-14671, the very tattoo etched into his arm by the heartless Nazis.
Dugo’s journey brought him to Israel, where he played a vital role as one of the founders of Moshav Nir Galim, contributing to the establishment of a vibrant community.
His remarkable story captivated hearts far and wide. As a young 14-year-old amidst the death march from Auschwitz, Dugo marched alongside 60,000 fellow Jews, enduring fatigue and starvation. In those grueling moments, his mind clung to the hope of one day savoring the cherished “bilkelach” rolls in the Land of Israel.
When he eventually arrived in Jerusalem and strolled through the bustling Machane Yehuda market, he encountered falafel—an encounter that triggered memories of the bilkelach and the resilience that kept him going during the darkest times. From that day on, every January 18, the day of his liberation, Dugo celebrated his precious life by savoring falafel, proclaiming, “The people of Israel live and eat falafel!”
In 2016, the House of Testimony in Nir Galim initiated “Operation Dugo,” inviting the public to join Dugo in this heartfelt tradition. Since then, year after year, countless people in Israel and beyond have united with Dugo, partaking in the symbolic act of consuming falafel to honor his resilience and the resilience of the Jewish people.
Dugo’s legacy continues to shine brightly, inspiring generations to remember the past, embrace life, and cherish the cherished tradition of celebrating survival through the simple joy of falafel.
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