Alexander Kimel was born in Podhaje, Galiza, in the late 1920s. In 1940 Kimel’s family moved to the ghetto of Rohatyn, to avoid the Red Army, who where advancing.
Ghetto life was draining, with Kimel being forced to do hard labour everyday. Between 1941-1943, 9,900 out of 10,000 Jews were killed in the ghetto. There were also extreme sanitation issues, resulting in the death of Kimel’s mother and hundreds more.
In May 1943, Kimel ran away, just one month before the ghetto and everyone in it was destroyed. Kimel lived in surrounding villages and forest before coming to America.
Kimel is still alive and living in America. He attended the 70-year anniversary of the Holocaust service at the New Synagogue of Fort Lee (2010). When asked what he learnt through the Holocaust, he replied,
“We have to be tolerant. I don’t care if you’re Catholic, Muslim or something else, as long as you’re a decent human being. That’s really what it is.”
Image curtsey of Holocaust Survivors.