05 Jun 2021
IOC President Thomas Bach has extended his deepest condolences to the family and friends of Russian fencing great David Dushman, who died on Saturday 5 June 2021 at the age of 98. Dushman was a legendary fencing coach and the last living liberator of the Auschwitz concentration camp. The IOC President and Dushman knew each other from 1970 on, when Thomas Bach was a junior fencer and David Dushman one of the world’s greatest fencing coaches.
“The death of David Dushman has deeply saddened me. When we met in 1970, he immediately offered me friendship and counsel, despite Mr Dushman’s personal experience with World War II and Auschwitz, and he being a man of Jewish origin. This was such a deep human gesture that I will never ever forget it,” said the IOC President.
In 2015 and 2019, Bach invited Dushman to the IOC headquarters in Lausanne. “My biggest dream and hope for future generations is to live in a world where there is no war,” Dushman said during his first visit. “I urge Thomas Bach and the IOC do everything they can to use sport as a way to spread peace and reconciliation around the world. War is something that should never happen again.”
Dushman was not only a legend on the fencing piste, he was also a major in the Russian Army during the Second World War, and on 27 January 1945 he was one of the soldiers who came to liberate those imprisoned in the concentration camp in Auschwitz.
After studying medicine and sport, Dushman became the best fencer in the Soviet Union in 1951. He later became coach of the Russian capital’s elite club, Spartak Moscow. For almost four decades, from 1952 to 1988, he coached the women's national team of the Soviet Union in fencing and trained top-class female athletes. Many Olympic champions went through his school. The best known was Valentina Sidorova, who won gold and silver Olympic medals. During the Olympic Games Munich 1972, Dushman counted two gold, two silver and three bronze medals from among his different fencers. Until the age of 94, he still went almost daily to his fencing club in Munich to give lessons to his fencers.