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Rudy Kennedy (October 27, 1927 – November 10, 2008) was a British rocket scientist, Holocaust survivor, and a protester for Jewish causes. He spent a substantial period of his youth in German concentration camps of Auschwitz, Mittelbau-Dora, and Bergen-Belsen. After liberation, he worked as a rocket scientist and led the campaign for compensation for the survivors of the German policy of "extermination through labour".[1]

Early life[edit]

Kennedy was born on October 24, 1927 in Rosenberg (now Olesno, Poland), a place near Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland). He was six years of age when Hitler was elected and had to face antisemitism and physical attacks from other boys when he went to school, as he was the only Jewish boy in class. After fighting back against boys from the school who had attacked him, Kennedy's father then enrolled him to an all-Jewish school in Breslau. Rudy's whole family, which consisted of his father (Ewalt), mother and a younger sister (Kaitie), were moved to the ghetto in Breslau in 1939. By 1941, Kennedy started working as an electrician with his father.

Rudy's family was forcibly relocated by the Schutzstaffel (SS) to Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943. At his father's direction, he lied about his age at the concentration camp—claiming to be 18 years of age although he was just 15. His sister and mother were immediately sent to a gas chamber and killed, while Rudy and his father were employed for work. Rudy's father was sent to IG Farben rubber factory, while Rudy was put to work working on building roads (where the life expectancy was 6 weeks at most). Rudy's father managed to get him a job in the IG Farben factory where he quickly identified a fault with an electrical system and was kept on to work indoors working for Siemens. Two months later, Rudy's father was killed by the SS when he collapsed due to exhaustion and was deemed "unfit for work", sent to the camp hospital and given a phenol injection. Rudy endured cruel beatings at work and realized that he too would be killed if his work wasn't good enough.[2]

As the Soviet Red Army approached, the SS evacuated the camp in January 1945. Rudy was sent to Mittelbau-Dora to work in a missile factory where he joined a group of prisoners who tried to hinder the production by urinating or throwing sand into the rocket guidance systems.[3] In April 1945 he was sent to Bergen-Belsen where he was deprived of food and survived only by eating grass. Though the British liberated the camp, they didn't know what to do with the thousands of diseased prisoners, but they didn't want them to go out and mix with the general population. Rudy escaped from the camp with 5 other inmates and they made their way to Hannover.

He married Gitti and had two surviving children (Katie and Steve) at the time of his death.[1]

Post-World War II career as a rocket scientist[edit]

Rudy emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1946. He attended college and started working for English Electric as a rocket scientist. He left the company to participate in a joint venture in rocketry and medical engineering with Rolf Schild and Peter Epstein, giving birth to Huntleigh Electronics, a £200 million company. Rudy setup his own company, named Digital Electronics in the 1970s. After selling Digital Electronics, he worked as a board member of Roche Pharmaceuticals.[1]


Rudy founded Association of Claims for Jewish Slave Labour Compensation[2] and led the campaign in the 1990s that put pressure on German companies that had co-operated with the Nazi's "Extermination through labor" program to admit responsibility and pay reparations to those who had been forced to work as slave laborers. A BBC Storyville documentary, I Was a Slave Labourer followed the progress of the campaign.[4] Among the companies accused of complicit with the Nazi policy and targeted by the campaign were IG Farben, Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz. The campaign group were approached by a firm of class-action lawyers who held that they could obtain damages in the US courts against the companies who were complicit with the Nazi policy. The lawsuit saw only partial success for the plaintiffs; the companies agreed to pay a maximum of £5,000 to each survivor for their sufferings in the concentration camps as "a goodwill gesture" without any legal responsibility to do so. Some of the American lawyers who originally promised to act free of charge, accepted millions of dollars for themselves. Kennedy was dissatisfied with the deal and continued campaigning, speaking at public meetings and protesting at IG Farben shareholder meetings until he started suffering from Alzheimer's.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Rudy Kennedy: Holocaust survivor, scientist and campaigner". London: Times Online. March 3, 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Rudy Kennedy". Imperial War Museum, London. Retrieved 29 November 2009. 
  3. ^ Cowan, Rex (March 8, 2009). "Lives remembered: Rudy Kennedy, Joan Turner and Sir Charles Gordon". The Times (London). Retrieved 22 December 2009. 
  4. ^ "I WAS A SLAVE LABOURER". BBC Storyville. Retrieved 29 November 2009. 

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42 news items

The New Orleans Advocate
Tue, 23 Feb 2016 12:26:15 -0800

Photo provided by Jackie Elliott -- From left are John Olinde, president of the Rotary Club of New Orleans; Canadian visitor Beverly Thornton; and hostess Gayle Dellinger of the New Orleans Rotary Club, who held a wine and cheese party for the visiting ...

FOX 10 News Phoenix

FOX 10 News Phoenix
Mon, 24 Aug 2015 17:33:45 -0700

The remains of WWII veteran Mildred Rudy Kennedy will also be escorted to Arlington. Her ashes have been held at a Valley Mortuary for more than 20 years, the group hopes to reach Arlington by Sunday. Fuller's remains are being escorted by his best ...


Tue, 23 Dec 2014 02:05:43 -0800

Menanti 'Chemistry' Rudy-Kennedy. Kukuh Setiawan. Selasa, 23 Desember 2014 − 17:02 WIB Menanti Chemistry Rudy Kennedy Ekspektasi tinggi diarahkan kepada pemain asal Liberia Sengbah Kennedy setelah resmi dikontrak Arema Cronus berdurasi ...


Mon, 05 Jan 2015 03:05:56 -0800

Bola.net - Tim pelatih Arema Cronus mengaku tak ada masalah dengan kondisi fisik duo Liberia mereka. Asisten pelatih Arema, Joko Susilo yakin kondisi Ablode Yao Rudy dan Sengbah Kennedy tak bermasalah. "Tes medis mereka kemarin kan hanya ...
The Reminder
Tue, 07 Jul 2015 20:33:45 -0700

... Chubb Bdm.M J Sing/ Dbls #1 /Mix Dbls. #2 Rudy Kennedy Bdm.M J Sing/ Mix Dbls. #3 Trevathan Nasee Bdm.M J Sing/ Mix Dbls. #3 David Ross Bdm.M J Sing/ Mix Dbls. #3 Fabian Harper Bdm.F Y.Sing/Dbls/Mix Dbls. Amber Harper Bdm.F Y.Sing/Dbls/Mix ...


Fri, 19 Dec 2014 23:22:03 -0800

Bola.net - Arema Cronus akhirnya mengakhiri perburuan pemain asing mereka. Sabtu (20/12) ini, mereka memastikan bakal mengontrak duo Liberia, Sengbah Kennedy dan Ablode Yao Rudy. "Dengan mempertimbangkan roadmap Arema ke depannya dan ...

Center for Research on Globalization

Center for Research on Globalization
Sun, 26 Apr 2015 08:22:30 -0700

It was heated and hygienic,” Ambros explained, although Rudy Kennedy, who worked as a slave laborer for IG Farben when he was a teenage boy, remembered conditions rather differently. The slave laborers were served soup at lunchtime, soup with a ...
Nowa Trybuna Opolska
Wed, 04 Feb 2009 05:40:36 -0800

Zmarły w wieku 81 lat Kennedy tak naprawdę nazywał się Rudy Karmeiński i urodził się w Oleśnie. Zmarł Rudy Kennedy - oleski świadek Holokaustu. Rudy Kennedy zmarł w Londynie. O jego śmierci poinformowała niemiecka strona internetowa Olesna ...

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