Holocaust survivor who inspired Life is Beautiful mourned

The film won three Oscars

The film won three Oscars

The Holocaust survivor whose experience inspired the Academy Award winning film Life is Beautiful has died at the age of 91.

Rubino Romeo Salmoni's memoir of his time in Auschwitz, "In the End, I Beat Hitler," was adapted for the 1997 film, which followed a father and son in the concentration camp.

The heartbreaking story, in which the father pretended that the horrific experience was a game, to help his son fight for survival, won the top prize at Cannes in 1998. Its star, Roberto Benigni, won the Best Actor Oscar for the film.

Mr Salmoni, who died in Rome, lost two brothers in Auschwitz. But after he became a grandfather for the 12th time he wrote: "I think I can say I ruined Hitler's plan for me."

Mr Salmoni was described as "a great man" by the mayor of Rome. Gianni Alemanno added: "With his courage and determination [he] managed to save himself from the hell of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

"Romeo was an example for young people and for the whole of Rome."

The Central Council for Jews in Germany said Mr Salmoni's death represented a "great loss" to humanity.

    Last updated: 10:34am, July 13 2011