Holocaust survivor details life in concentration camps during ASU speech

A 101-year-old holocaust survivor gave a speech at Arizona State University on Feb. 18.

During his speech, Joseph Alexander talked about his time in more than a dozen different concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

A tattoo on Alexander's arm reads 142854: that was the number that replaced his name. Now, it's a constant reminder of what Alexander went through.

"Couldn’t be any worse," said Alexander. "That is the worst thing that anybody could go through."

As a teenager, Alexander arrived in Auschwitz when a man by the name of Dr. Mengele called for a lineup and assigned some to the gas chamber and others for human experiments. That was a moment that Alexander said could have ended his life.

"If I would have listened to him and gone to the left, I would not be here talking to you," said Alexander. "To me, it was as if I was reborn again."

Alexander is now one of the few still-living Holocaust survivors. He says he lives to tell his story, as education is the way to prevention.

"It's our job to let them know what happened. Why? So that it doesn’t happen again," said Alexander.

Joseph Alexander

Joseph Alexander

Rabbi Shmuel Tiechtel is the executive director of Chabad at ASU’s Jewish Student Center. Bringing 600 people was an opportunity to learn, reflect, and remember.

"I feel it connects the past, the present and the future," said Rabbi Tiechtel. "How important for me that my children know what happened to my grandparents, to [Alexander] and to so many people, so they could then learn the lessons from what happened."

Alexander’s message to younger generations: this world needs more kindness as hate makes you sick.

"Doesn’t matter if you're Jewish or not Jewish to anybody, just be a nice human being," said Alexander.

At 101 years old, Alexander says there isn't a secret to living a long life, but he wants to spend all the time he has.