Survivors' Stories

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
Elie Wiesel

Alexander Spilberg

  • From: Transylvania
  • Liberated from: Austria (Gunskirchen- On a Death March)
  • Deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau from: Romania/Hungary (Kolozsvar)
  • Current Location: Canada
  • Year of birth: 1930

Brief Bio

Alex was born in 1930 in Transylvania to a poor religious family. He was the oldest of five children. 

In 1941, the Hungarians took control of Transylvania and gradually placed restrictions on Jews’ education and businesses. Life for Alex’s family became even more complicated in 1942 when his father was deported to a forced labor camp. The family’s financial strains intensified, and Alex often went to bed hungry. 

In Spring 1944, Jews were rounded up and taken to the Kolozsvar Ghetto. In April 1944, they were packed into cattle cars in unbearable conditions. The trains had little ventilation and packed so tightly that movement was nearly impossible. They traveled for four excruciating days without food, water, or the faintest idea of their destination.  

When the train reached Auschwitz, SS soldiers instructed all Jews to leave all belongings and line up. Selection took place, ordering some to go left while others to the right, unaware that this decision would seal their fate. Anyone deemed unfit for slave labor would be sent to their cruel death in the gas chambers. Arrival at the camp would be the last time Alex would see his mother, brothers, and grandparents. 

When Alex arrived at his barrack, prisoners informed him that this was an extermination camp. Alex witnessed extreme cruelty. He remained in the camp until the Winter of 1945. Towards the end of his stay in Auschwitz, the prisoners heard explosions in the distance sparking hopes of liberation. Instead of being liberated, the prisoners set on a death march. They marched in the bitter cold and eventually arrived at Mauthausen concentration camp. Alex remained in Mauthausen for two months until he was sent on another death march. Whoever survived the six-day march arrived at Mauthausen subcamp Gunskirchen. Alex was liberated from Gunskirchen on May 4, 1945. 

Alex returned home after liberation, but nothing remained of the life he once knew. Lack of paperwork forced Alex to emigrate to Canada instead of the intended US, where he still resides. Alex met his wife Sarah and had four daughters. After Sarah passed, Alex married his second wife, Miriam, who had three children. Together, they have 16 grandchildren. Alex was the sole survivor of his family.

 

What does Auschwitz mean to you? 

Auschwitz was the worst nightmare.  If there was a hell, it was Auschwitz.

My message for future generations is …

My hope is that future generations won’t have to experience anything like this.  Most important, be vigilant, speak out, take action, unite. Never again.

Who is accompanying you on this journey?

I am accompanied by my daughter Lisa.  She always took a special interest in my history and feels very strongly that my story must be told.