The Kidnapping of Alex Danzig: A Loss for Holocaust Education and Jewish-Polish Relations
The recent attack by Palestinian Hamas militants in Israel has resulted in the kidnapping of Alex Danzig, a 75-year-old scholar and historian of the Holocaust. This incident has caused distress and sorrow, particularly in central and eastern Europe, where Jewish connections and memories of the Holocaust are strong. Alex, who has dedicated the last 30 years to educating Jews and Poles about the Holocaust, has not been heard from since the attack on October 7th. His disappearance holds a bitter irony, as his older sister is a Holocaust survivor who was saved by a Polish family during World War Two.
Background and Education:
Born in Poland in 1948, Alex’s family emigrated to Israel in 1957. He served in the military, fought in several wars, and joined a left-wing youth organization before obtaining a degree in history. His interest in the Holocaust was sparked during a trip to Poland in 1986, where he visited Auschwitz, a Nazi death camp. This experience fueled his passion for educating others about the Holocaust, especially focusing on the complex Polish-Jewish relations during that time.
Holocaust Education and Impact:
Alex Danzig dedicated his life to leading tours to death camps and educating Israeli and Polish students about the Holocaust. His close friend and former colleague, Orit Margilot, describes him as the most knowledgeable person she knows. Alex is known for his ability to break down barriers and connect with young people, often using references to their favorite football teams. His impact has been significant, as he has managed to open hearts and foster friendships between Polish and Jewish communities.
Personal Life and Disappearance:
In addition to his intellectual work, Alex also enjoys working on the land and divides his time between lecturing and his home in the kibbutz. It was from his home in Nir Oz, a kibbutz close to Gaza, that he disappeared during the Hamas attack. His son, Mati, who also lives in Nir Oz, survived the attack with his family and is currently in the Red Sea resort of Eilat with other survivors. Mati described the events of that day, recounting the initial alert they received, which they initially mistook for a rocket attack.
The kidnapping of Alex Danzig, a respected historian and Holocaust educator, is a significant loss for Holocaust education and Jewish-Polish relations. His dedication to educating others about the Holocaust, particularly the complexities of Polish-Jewish relations, has made a lasting impact. As the search for Alex continues, his family, friends, and thousands of students who adore and love him anxiously await his safe return.