The cover of Alexander Donat's book titled Holocaust Kingdom (1965, first print)
16 June 1983|
New York City
Alexander Donat also Aleksander Donat in Polish (1905 – 16 June 1983); was a Holocaust survivor imprisoned at the Warsaw Ghetto and several Nazi forced labor and 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. He wrote Jewish Resistance (1964), Holocaust Kingdom (1965), and The Death Camp Treblinka: a documentary (1979), a series of memoirs devoted to these traumatic events.
Alexander Donat was born Michał Berg in the Polish capital Warsaw, 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 forced labor and concentration camps including Majdanek. Michał Berg have 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. Donat feared that, "should the Nazis be victorious, 'future generations will pay trubute 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.
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.
His son William Donat was a noted publisher, President of Waldon Press, and a graphic artist. He died on November 5, 2009.
- Eric J. Greenberg (May 5, 2000), Selective Memory? The Jewish Week.
- Amazon.com, Jewish Resistance by Alexander Donat (Author) Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization (1964).
- Donat, Alexander, Holocaust Kingdom, ISBN 978-0805250015, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1965.
- Alexander Donat (1979). The Death Camp Treblinka: A Documentary. Berlin: Schocken Books. ISBN 0805250085. LOC 79-53471. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
The eyewitness articles... include some of the Polonophobic aspects of contemporary Holocaust lore... [i.e. Tanhum] Grinberg, having arrived well after the fact, [could not] possibly know the identity(-ies) and motive(s) of the killer(s).
- David Patterson; Alan L. Berger; Sarita Cargas (2002). Donat, Alexander see: "Michal Berg" (Google Books). Encyclopedia of Holocaust Literature. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 1573562572. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
- Laura Jockusch, Collect and Record!: Jewish Holocaust Documentation in Early Postwar Europe Oxford University Press (Google Books preview). Retrieved September 7, 2013.
- The New York Times (June 19, 1983), Obituary, Alexander Donat.
- The New York Times (November 5, 2009), Obituary: William H. Donat (son of Alexander). Death notice reprinted by Legacy.com (September 6, 2013).
- Barbara Engelking-Boni, Jacek Leociak, The Warsaw Ghetto: A Guide to the Perished City. Yale University Press (Google Books preview). Retrieved September 7, 2013.
- Joshua D. Zimmerman, Contested Memories: Poles and Jews During the Holocaust and Its Aftermath Rutgers University Press. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
- Henryk Grynberg, "My, Żydzi z Dobrego" Kanadyjska Fundacja Dziedzictwa Polsko-Żydowskiego, Montreal. Retrieved September 7, 2013.