Former St. Louisan Alex Deutsch, 97, survived Shoah, later honored by German city

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Alex Deutsch, a native of Berlin who survived Auschwitz and lived in St. Louis for 22 years, died Wednesday, Feb. 9 of complications from a grave illness, according to family members. He died at his home in Wiebelskirche, Germany.

Mr. Deutsch’s nephew, James S. Deutsch of St. Louis, recalled that his uncle owned a grocery store during his time in St. Louis. After the death of his second wife, Alex Deutsch returned to Germany and married his third wife, Doris. The couple regularly returned to St. Louis for family b’nai mitzvahs and weddings. “He was considered to be the ‘father-grandfather figure’ to everyone in the family, and was deeply loved by all of us,” James Deutsch recalled.

Alex Deutsch was born in Berlin in 1913, the eighth child of Jewish parents. In 1943, he and his family were seized and deported to Auschwitz, where his first wife and their three-year-old son were murdered by the Nazis. Deutsch survived hunger, abuse and forced labor at the infamous Nazi death camp in Poland, where over 1 million people, most of them Jews, were systematically murdered.

In 1946, Mr. Deutsch moved to St. Louis, where he and his second wife opened a grocery store. After the death of his second wife and an armed robbery at his store, Mr. Deutsch moved back to Germany, settling in the town of Neunkirchen in 1978. He married his third wife, the former Doris Loth, the widow of another Auschwitz prisoner. She survives Mr. Deutsch.

The local newspaper in Mr. Deutsch’s adopted town paid tribute to his concern “with the ramifications of extremism, hate and violence,” noting that in numerous lectures he became an advocate for students and adults alike. In tribute to his efforts, a school in Wellesweller, Germany was named the Alex Deutsch School.

In recognition of Mr. Deutsch’s efforts to combat hatred and bigotry through lectures and personal example, Mayor Jurgen Fried of the town of Neunkirchen honored him with the Neunkirchen Citizen’s Medal. “We lose a great role model with his passing, but his name and his work will forever remain in our memory,” Mayor Fried told the town newspaper. In addition to the Neunkirchen Citizen Award, Mr. Deutsch received the Service Cross and the First-class Federal Cross of Merit, among other honors and tributes.

Mr. Deutsch was buried Feb. 15 at the Jewish cemetery in Neunkirchen. A special memorial service was planned to take place at a later date at the Alex Deutsch School.