“I saw how the kids really felt what I went through, and I said to them because I look at you I’m going to live forever.”
Joe Mandel was born in 1924 in Ruthenia, Czechoslovakia later ceded to Hungary. For Joe and his family, absorption into Hungary insulated them from the harshest realities of the Holocaust. But in 1944, the Germans invaded, and occupied Hungary and Joe was taken as a forced labourer while much of his family was deported to Auschwitz. Joe was in Mauthausen, Dachau, and Gunskirchen, where he was liberated by the Americans on May 4, 1945. After the war Joe lived with his surviving siblings in Budapest but left for Canada in 1956, during the Hungarian Revolution. In 2012, Joe joined the March of the living the same year US liberators were invited on the trip. There Mandel met Mason (Mickey) Dorsey, a veteran of the 71st Infantry Division, the man who blew open the gates of Gunskirchen in Austria. The two men shared an emotional embrace.