Alexander Levin

Alex Levin was born in 1932 in Rokitno, Poland. He was 7 years old when the war began.

In August, 1942, the Jews were ordered to gather for deportation. People began to run, sparking the Nazi Police to shoot. Many were killed, and those who survived were deported. Alex and his 17-year-old brother Samuel fled into the woods – they never saw their parents or younger brother again.

They met a few other escapees in the woods, and eventually, Alex joined a group and lived in a a shelter of their own making in the woods– they called it the cave. It had bunk beds, a fireplace, and a small well outside. Fear of being caught and hunger were ever present.

They subsisted through their wit, stealing from farms, eating food from the wild, and making footwear from any available materials. Two of their group died of malnutrition and hypothermia.

In January, 1944, the Red Army liberated Rokitno. Alex, having lost his parents, was taken in by the Red Army as an orphan, helping in the pharmacy and mailroom.

Alex moved to Moscow and was accepted into a military school and engineering school, but was held back because he was a Jew. Moreover, the KGB suspected him of being an Israeli spy when they discovered that Alex’s two brothers moved to Israel. In 1975 he immigrated to Toronto alone, without his wife and daughter, but reunited with them after 5 years.

Immediately, Alex began taking English classes and found a job as an industrial engineer. Fifteen years ago, Alex joined a group of survivors and visited Rokitno. There, they held a memorial ceremony at the mass grave of the people massacred in the square while trying to escape. Alex speaks to thousands of students each year about the Shoah and has had his memoirs published by the Azrieli Foundation called “Under the Yellow and Red Stars”.

Alex has 1 daughter and two grandchildren.