Sunday, March 26, 2017
Holocaust survivor and sculptor Alfred Tibor died one week ago on 18 March.
Tibor was born Alfred Goldstein in Konyar, Hungary in 1920. Denied formal training because of his Jewish faith, he taught himself gymnastics in high school. "The more they were pushing me down and degrading me, the more I wanted to be better than others," he said. "I wanted to prove it: I am not a dirty Jew; I am a boy, and I have ambition."
Tibor eventually qualified for the Hungarian team for the 1936 Summer Olympics, but when he went to register for the team, he was denied when the team discovered he was Jewish. Tibor was not allowed to compete as a member of the Hungarian team in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. "I was kicked out. I was kicked out because I was Jewish," Tibor said. "That time, the sky was falling apart."
In 1940 Tibor was forced to be a slave laborer for a Hungarian Army labor battalion. Eventually he was captured by the Soviet Army and spent six years as a prisoner in a Siberian prison camp. Of the 273 men in his labor battalion sent to the prisoner-of-war camp, he was only one of two to survive.
After his release (in 1947!), he worked for nine years as a government exhibition designer. In 1956, two months after the Hungarian Revolution, he fled the country with his wife and two children because he feared a return of anti-Semitic sentiment. They emigrated to the United States in 1957, where he worked as a commercial artist in Miami for 16 years until moving to Columbus, Ohio, to pursue sculpture full-time.