Holocaust survivor shares his story in Sioux Falls
A Holocaust survivor visited Sioux Falls to tell his story of “Survival and Triumph.”
The Chabad Jewish Center of South Dakota hosted 101-year-old Holocaust survivor Joseph Alexander at the Denny Sanford Center in Sioux Falls.
Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz provided an opening speech connecting the past with today.
"How is it possible that the Holocaust happened 80 years ago, with the assistance and support of the highly educated. And how's it possible that now, less than 80 years later, within living memory of those evils, when survivors still walk the face of this earth, we are seeing a resurgence of this ancient hate," said Alperowitz.
Alexander is the survivor of twelve internment camps that he endured over the course of six years.
He grew up in a small town in Poland with his family until 1939 when it was invaded by German troops. He was quickly taken away from his family and moved to his first internment camp.
Alexander said the first seven camps he endured had different focuses of hard labor. One day, however, a train arrived at his camp.
“It wasn’t a passenger train, you know. A cattle-car train and they would put 30 to 40 people in one boxcar. And the destination you were going takes five to six hours at the most. We were riding around for three days. No food. No water. No facilities. And we arrived in Auschwitz,” said Alexander.
Alexander survived the box train ride when others did not. Upon exiting he came face to face with ‘Dr. Death’ himself.
“Whoever could walk, you walked out, and you were lined up in rows of five. And I met Dr. Josef Mengele. Dr. Mengele called Dr. of Death. He selected people for human experiment or for the gas chamber,” said Alexander.
Alexander said he survived because of his faith and unwavering determination to survive.
He said every time he visits the camps, he is asked the same question.
“People ask me, why? Why did you come back? So, you know what I told them? I came back because I survived. Hitler didn’t,” said Alexander.
Alexander now travels the world telling his story. He often visits high schools and elementary schools because he says kids are the future and need to know the story.