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Honoring Alter Wiener, Holocaust Survivor and Author

Post Date:01/03/2019 8:45 am
Headshot of Alter WienerOur community suffered a true loss last month when Alter Wiener — a Holocaust survivor, author, and Hillsboro resident — died at the age of 92 after being hit by a car.

He lived near Orenco Station and so many people in our community loved and respected him. He shared his life story to connect with people and to help keep the tragedy of the Holocaust from fading.

Alter was born in Poland, where he lived with his parents and brothers until Nazi soldiers took him from his home when he was 15. He was held in five different camps for more than 1,000 days.

During his time in captivity, 123 members of Alter’s extended family were killed. Only five cousins survived and, of his immediate family, Alter was the only one still alive.

He suffered physical and psychological abuse and starvation in the camps. Alter weighed 80 pounds when Russian soldiers freed him.
Alter Wiener speaking to students
It wasn't his way to seek revenge or turn bitter, however. Instead, Alter "dreamed of a world without hatred." He spent the rest of his years inspiring hope and gratitude. Alter said he felt "a moral obligation to share his story with as many people as possible" so no one would forget the tragedies of the Holocaust.

After living in New York — near his surviving cousins — Alter moved to Hillsboro in 2000 because his son lived here. He wrote his autobiography, From a Name to a Number, to keep the lessons of the Holocaust from fading. Alter shared his story with nearly 1,000 audiences at schools, universities, libraries, churches, book clubs, prisons, and community organizations.

Some of his most meaningful work in our community was the time Alter spent talking with children in Hillsboro schools. His first presentation, back in A memorial for Alter Wiener at the Brookwood Library2000, was to Century High School students.

He also spoke to crowds at the Hillsboro Community Senior Center and at Brookwood Library, where staff honored Alter last month with a display of materials written by Holocaust survivors, including Alter's own book.

With so few Holocaust survivors left, we're especially sorry to have lost Alter — a man who was as significant to the world as he was to Hillsboro. We are grateful that he called our community his home.

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