Alexander Donat

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Alexander Donat
BornMichał Berg
Warsaw, Poland
Died16 June 1983(1983-06-16) (aged 77–78)
New York City, New York, U.S.
OccupationJournalist; author

Alexander Donat, also Aleksander Donat in Polish (1905 – 16 June 1983), was a Holocaust survivor imprisoned at the Lodz Ghetto and several Nazi concentration camps during the occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany in World War II. After the war, Donat, a chemist by training and journalist by profession, emigrated with his family to the United States, settling in New York City. As an eye witness to the Holocaust in Poland, he went on to write about his wartime experiences, collect documents, and publish the narratives of others.[1]


Alexander Donat was born Michał Berg in the Polish capital Warsaw,[2] where he lived until World War II. He was a publisher of a daily newspaper there, had married, and became a father in 1937 to a son William. Following the Nazi German invasion of Poland Berg (Donat) and his family were forced into the Warsaw Ghetto. From there, he was deported to several slave labor and concentration camps including Majdanek. Michał Berg met a prisoner whose real name was Alexander Donat at Vaihingen concentration camp. They secretly agreed to switch their names for a prisoner transport. Soon thereafter the real Alexander Donat was murdered. Berg decided to keep Donat's name as his own forever.[2] Donat feared that, "should the Nazis be victorious, 'future generations will pay tribute to them'" similar to Homeric Greek crusaders. He was liberated from Dachau by American troops and returned to Warsaw, where he found his wife and their son, whom the Polish rescuers had placed in a Catholic orphanage. The Donats went to the United States and opened a printing business.[3][4]

In 1977, Donat helped start "The Holocaust Library", a non-profit program to launch books that condemn persecution and tell of the personal experiences of the Jews during the Second World War. He died of a lung disease at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.[4]

His son William Donat was a noted publisher, President of Waldon Press, and a graphic artist. He died on November 5, 2009.[5]


  • Jewish Resistance (1964)
  • Holocaust Kingdom (1965)
  • The Death Camp Treblinka: a documentary (1979)


  1. ^ Eric J. Greenberg (May 5, 2000), Selective Memory? Archived 2016-09-24 at the Wayback Machine The Jewish Week.
  2. ^ a b David Patterson; Alan L. Berger; Sarita Cargas (2002). Donat, Alexander see: "Michal Berg" (Google Books). Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 1573562572. Retrieved 5 August 2014. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  3. ^ Laura Jockusch, Collect and Record!: Jewish Holocaust Documentation in Early Postwar Europe Oxford University Press (Google Books preview). Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  4. ^ a b The New York Times (June 19, 1983), Obituary, Alexander Donat.
  5. ^ The New York Times (November 5, 2009), Obituary: William H. Donat (son of Alexander). Death notice reprinted by (September 6, 2013).