Dr. Alexander White speaks of his Holocaust experience

On March 16, Xavier heard a first-hand account of the horrors of World War II.

Dr. Alexander White, a Schindler’s List Holocaust survivor, visited Xavier with an important message for students.

Awakened by the sound of bombs, Dr. White remembers the events that occurred 70 years ago, when the Nazis invaded his homeland of Poland. He spoke in great detail about the mass killings of young Polish Jews. White and his family spent months upon months trying to hide from the Nazis, but eventually were found. White was taken from one concentration camp to another.

Perhaps the most important part of Dr. White’s message came with the story of the last time he would ever see his father. They were being split up, his father on his way to Auschwitz while Dr. White stayed in the camp. Dr. White recalls the last words his father said to him, ‘I pray to God you survive; if you survive I have one request of you; promise me you are going to be a mensch.’ A mensch is a decent human being. Dr. White made the same request of us. He said they if we can be decent humans, we can change the world and make it a better place.

After Hitler and the Nazis fell, Dr. White set out to live the rest of his life. He was determined to complete his education and make a living. White became a U.S. army doctor, thus earning his citizenship. Dr. White survived the holocaust, a heart attack and three operations. He said, “I’m still here now. Which means the Almighty wants me to talk to you”

Dr. White spoke about much more than his Holocaust experience. He reminded people of the similarities between when the Nazis were in power and the political climate today with the controversy concerning Syrian refugees.  Dr. White believes the events of the Holocaust could have been prevented if only people did not insist on remaining indifferent. It was because countries like the United States decided not to concern themselves with the situation quickly escalating in Nazi Germany that Hitler was able to rise to power and follow through with his plan of preserving and “protecting” the Aryan race. When groups like the Jews were being targeted, America along with other countries shut their doors to those in desperate need of refuge.

Today, the terrorist organization known as ISIS continues to grow in power and its leaders are determined the “cleanse” society by eradicating anyone who believes contrary to their ideology, as Hitler and the Nazis intended to do with anyone who did not fit their profile. Now in a state of emergency, Syrians are desperate to flee a country infested with war and famine. Unfortunately, the United States and countries in the European Union have once again shut their doors to men, women and children simply trying to escape death.

What Dr. White has experienced is unimaginable, and the very thought that the situation is happening again is sickening. But if we can seriously take his advice we can make the world a safer place. So in the words of Dr. White, remember: do not remain indifferent, and be a mensch.

A Quick Interview With Dr. White

SS: What was your day-to-day life like before the Nazis invaded Poland? Did you experience anti-Semitism growing up even before the holocaust?

AW: “I went to school. I was busy, I did not like school. The kids were never taught tolerance. We had wonderful teachers, but no one taught tolerance. I was harassed at school by the other students. They would tease me for being shorter and younger. They would push me around because I was different. Can you imagine being treated like this and only being 7 years old?”

SS: Is it difficult for you to talk of these events?

AW: “I would initially break down. But I got over it because it has now been 70 years.”

SS: How is your life here in Phoenix?

AW: “Phoenix life couldn’t be better! I worked hard to be certain my wife and kids would be able to retire comfortably. I regret not spending more time with my family. I was working like a horse, and my wife had to do everything. This is the one regret I had.”