We first met Yechiel Alexander in 2014 at the March of Life in Mauthausen, which was closely linked to his personal story: after the liquidation of the Litzmannstadt ghetto near Łódź in 1944, Yechiel was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he survived the hardships of the camp and numerous “selections.” But the worst experience for Yechiel were the death marches. On January 20, 1945, prisoners were sent on foot from Auschwitz to Gliwice, 60 kilometers away. From Gliwice, he was transported to Mauthausen in an open cattle car in the freezing cold. At the end of April 1945, Yechiel again had to endure a death march of three days to Gunskirchen, on which 1,500 prisoners died. After the liberation by the American Army, he moved to Israel, where he joined the Palmach and participated in the War of Independence in the rescue of the “Burma Road” to Jerusalem.
Yechiel Aleksander is survived by three children, ten grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. We will not forget how his entire family joined him on the stage at the closing ceremony of the March of the Nations in Jerusalem in 2018 in front of 2,000 Holocaust survivors and passed the torch of remembrance to the younger generation. Yechiel once said, “I was on two death marches, but have already been on five Marches of Life.” We shall miss him. May his memory be a blessing.