Credit: Performing Arts Center Instagram

After facing six years of forced labor, a dozen concentration camps and a death march, Holocaust survivor Joe Alexander will be sharing his story with a new generation of students at Cal Poly.

Hosted by Chabad of San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly, Alexander will take the stage at the Performing Arts Center to discuss the hardships and preservation necessary for surviving the Holocaust. 

The event will take place on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. Tickets are free for Cal Poly students, and set between $9-$23 for anyone else interested in attending. 

By sharing the detrimental reality of the Holocaust, Alexander aims to educate future generations.

Alexander told Fox 11 Los Angeles that he used to think antisemitism would disappear over time. Now, he says, “It’s growing. The only thing you can do is educate.”

Born in 1922, Alexander grew up in Kowal, Poland until the Nazi Germany invasion in 1939. As a teenager, Alexander endured multiple concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau and Dachau. 

From building sewers and an airport to laying railroad tracks, each arduous task took a physical toll, including blood poisoning, skin maladies and typhus, according to Woodbury University. Alexander’s daily struggles consisted of starvation, severe illness and forced labor; all while being stripped of his name. 

Permanently inked on Alexander’s forearm is a constant reminder of the dehumanization he suffered — the numbers “14284” remains from his imprisonment in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

“When I got this tattoo, I lost my name,” Alexander said in an interview with CBSNews LA. “So, when I look at it every day it’s a reminder that I got my name back.”

Alexander was the only person in his family to survive the Holocaust. He lost both parents, three sisters and two brothers.

Celebrating 100 years of life, Alexander reflects on the strength and determination contributing to his survival. Throughout the adversity, Alexander says he always held on to hope. 

“What got me through is, I never gave up. I never lost hope,” Alexander has said. “I always say: ‘I may have a bad day today. Tomorrow will be a better day.”

In an interview with Fox 11 Los Angeles, Alexander described the devastating impact of spreading anti-semetic messages. He recalled how in Germany, antisemitism began with Jews not being able to attend school, then no longer holding a job, eventually expanding to the Holocaust. 

“Words spread — millions of people can hear,” Alexander said.

Rabbi Chaim Hilel with Chabad SLO says that Alexander’s speech is a significant step towards educating the community “to learn about this part of recent history and understand why it is so important to stand up to hatred in all forms.” 

The event will be held in the Harold Miossi Hall of the Performing Arts Center on Sunday. To reserve tickets, visit or