Alex Friedman, a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to America after the 1956 Hungarian uprising, died Aug. 18. He was 93.
Friedman was born Sándor Friedman on March 21, 1921, in Kiskunfélegyháza, Hungary, to Mihaly and Rachel Friedman. He was the youngest of six children in an Orthodox family.
On March 19, 1944, Germany invaded Hungary, and by April all the Jews in Kiskunfélegyháza were ordered to wear yellow stars and relocate to the ghetto. Friedman, 19 at the time, and his parents moved into one room. “Everybody was thinking — though no one was saying it out loud — that they brought us to the ghetto to kill us,” he told the Journal in a 2012 interview.
In November 1944, Friedman was taken to Dachau and then sent to Mühldorf, a Dachau subcamp. He remained there for five months, until the camp was liberated by American troops on May 1, 1945.
Friedman spent three months in the Feldafing Displaced Persons camp.
In August, Friedman returned to Kiskunfélegyháza and moved into his sister’s house. She and all his siblings, as well as his parents, had been killed in Auschwitz, with the exception of his brother Naftoli, who was liberated from Mauthausen and who lived with Friedman until Naftoli’s death in 1987.
It was in Kiskunfélegyháza that he was introduced to Eva Goldman, who had spent more than a year in Auschwitz. The couple married on Dec. 4, 1945. Their son, Andrew, was born on April 26, 1947.
After the communists came to power in 1949, the family settled in Budapest. But on Dec. 4, 1956, after the Hungarian uprising, they walked all night until they reached Austria. In January 1957, they arrived in Los Angeles with little money and no English.
Friedman found work as a typewriter repairman. He saved money and, after two years, began buying convenience stores, accumulating seven. In 1978, at 57, he retired, renting out the stores and making other real-estate investments. His wife died in 1998.
Friedman was the president of numerous L.A. synagogues, including Congregation Machzikei Hadas and Congregation Anshei Sfard. He was also the heart and soul of Congregation Bais Naftoli, which was named after his brother.
Friedman is survived by his son, Andrew, four grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.