My savior Yan Bystran, Slovakian. Photo made in Bratislava in 1960.
Interviewer: Martin Flekenstein
Date of interview: December 2006
Mr. Alexander Singer is from a well-known rabbinical family, which before World War II was active in what is today Slovakia. He grew up in an Orthodox family, which paid strict heed to adhering to customs and traditions.
He received the highest possible religious education. But already before the war, it was clear to him that he, a rabbi's firstborn son, would not be following in his father's footsteps.
This is a photo of me, Alexander Singer. It was taken in Bratislava in 2001.
The revolution in 1989 didn't bring any changes to my life. Nothing. Practically the same.
As a retiree, I'm still employed part-time. In my spare time I read, listen to the radio and watch television. I watch the news on various TV stations.
For example the BBC seems to me to be quite anti-Jewish. When Palestinians blow up a bus with Jews in it, they don't devote much space to this information.
This is a photo of me, Alexander Singer. I’ve got the coat slung over my arm.
Standing beside me is my friend, Schönfeld. He was from Nove Zamky.
During the war they deported him from Budapest, and he died, alas. The picture was taken in 1938, in Bratislava.
The way I got it was that a friend of mine sent it to Prague.
In 1939 I left for Budapest, because I couldn't stay in Samorin. Some people were yelling at me: „Csehúny, miért nem jött haza szeptemberben?“
This is my high school graduation photo.
After the war I had almost no photographs, and so I went to the Mindszetnty Photo Studio in Bratislava, where they’d taken our graduation photos.
It was my photo for the class graduation tableau, and I asked them for it.
In my youth I was a member of Mizrachi in Bratislava. The youth group was named Bené Akibah, Akiba's Sons.
This picture was taken in Tatranska Lomnica on 2nd July 1938. It’s of me, Alexander Singer.
After the school year ended, I got a vacation from the Ministry of Education and National Enlightenment.
I won in a language contest, in French. They put me up in the town of Kezmarske Zlaby, and from there I used to walk to Tatranska Lomnica.
It was complicated for me to transfer from the yeshivah to high school, because I was missing a basic secular education.
This is a photo of me, Alexander Singer. It was taken in Kezmarok in 1918. I got the photo after the war, in Samorin. They found it in the Nagymagyar - Zlate Klasy ghetto, where my parents must have lost it.
I was born into the worst poverty, in 1916, in Kezmarok. My parents named me Alexander, Jewish name Shmuel.
With my father I spoke mostly German, but with my mother Slovak as well. I spent my early childhood in Kezmarok. Later, in 1926, we moved to Samorin, where my father became the head rabbi.
This picture was taken in the 1930s in Bratislava, and is of me, Alexander Singer.
In Bratislava I at first studied yeshivah, and then I also completed a secular, high school education.
I finished yeshivah in Bratislava without graduating, I didn't need it, because I transferred to secular studies.
I didn't have a penchant for being a rabbi. My father took it very hard, because I was the oldest son. In time he calmed down, because I had brothers who were better suited for this position. Mainly Israel.
This photo was taken in 1942, and shows my father, rabbi Abraham Jakob Koppel Singer.
The picture was taken by a Hungarian gendarme before the deportations in Samorin, in Hungarian Somorja.
That’s why my father looks so devastated and worried in it. It’s the last photo of him. He was killed in 1944 in a gas chamber at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Unfortunately, it’s the only photograph of my father that I have. I got it after the war, from the gendarme that took it.
This photo was taken in the 1970s.
In the background is the Samorin synagogue, of which my father was the last rabbi.
The building deteriorated from the year 1944, when they rounded up and deported the entire community.
Luckily it wasn’t demolished, like many synagogues in Slovakia. About a decade ago, some man bought it, and had it renovated. It currently serves as a gallery and concert hall.
Before the war we lived in Samorin at 4 Hlavna St.