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89-year-old scholar who fled Nazis dies after subway shove from rushing commuter

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The New York Times calls Dr. Kurt Salzinger’s death “a tragic end to the everyday jostle of straphangers,” which the New York Post paints as “a daily underground hazard.”

His stepdaughter calls it “a complete disregard for the elderly,” per the Times. Salzinger died on Oct. 27, after he was shoved to a subway platform in New York City’s Penn Station by a fellow commuter rushing to catch a train to Brooklyn.

When that man stuck his arm out as he sped by, he knocked over both Salzinger, 89, and his 85-year-old wife, Dr. Deanna Chitayat, and Chitayat describes seeing her husband lying there, “like a dead man, not moving,” per the Post. Salzinger, a psychology scholar who’d fled from the Nazis in the late ’30s, had hit his head during the fall, and he suffered bleeding on the brain. He then came down with pneumonia and died on Thursday, almost two weeks after that push.

Related: Holocaust survivor 4 minutes late to synagogue, ‘I survived the second time’ 

Chitayat is sure the impatient commuter knew what he’d done, even if it was accidental. “He stopped and looked at Kurt and saw him [lying] there and then jumped into the car,” she tells the Post of their ill-fated shopping trip, which was meant to include a stop at Macy’s in Herald Square. “I don’t think he meant to kill him, but he killed him.”

The Times details the “inveterate punster’s” amazing backstory, which included a 2.5-year escape with his family from Austria in 1938 through a Jewish underground network, which culminated in a railroad ride to Japan, a boat trip to Seattle, and a cross-country journey to New York City, where the Salzingers settled down.

“He survived the Nazis, but he didn’t survive going to Macy’s,” a neighbor tells the Post. There’s reportedly no video of the incident, which the NYPD is investigating.

(A heated argument on a NYC subway platform ended in one woman’s death.)

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