Miles Lerman, a resistance fighter against the Nazis in Poland and a founder and chairman emeritus of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, has died. He was 88.

Lerman's wife, Rosalie, confirmed that he died Tuesday at his home in Philadelphia.

Lerman was a member of a prosperous Jewish family in southern Poland whose flour mills were seized by the Nazis. Lerman escaped from a slave labor camp and fought the Nazis with other partisans for nearly two years in the forests of Poland.

"Our job was to raise havoc, to raise hell with them and survive," he once told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Lerman and his wife immigrated to New York City in 1947. He eventually started a home heating oil business that grew into a major distributorship, and invested in real estate.

Lerman was involved in the Holocaust Museum from the planning stages. Appointed to its governing board by President Jimmy Carter, he was reappointed by every president since.

He also led efforts to build a memorial at the Belzec death camp in Poland, where his mother died. He later had an audience with Pope John Paul II, at which they discussed the project.