Charleston Holocaust Survivor dead at 95

A Charleston Holocaust survivor, Joe Engel, has died at the age of 95.
Published: Nov. 27, 2022 at 12:54 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 27, 2022 at 6:49 PM EST

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Charleston Holocaust survivor, Joe Engel, has died at the age of 95.

The polish native is remembered as a community leader and was outspoken about his experiences during World War II.

He often shared the atrocities he saw first-hand with students and the community at large in the hopes to make sure history never repeats itself again.

As a teenager, Engel spent time at two of the most infamous death camps during the Holocaust, Birkenau and Auschwitz, according to his obituary.

During the “death march”, the forced evacuation of millions of prisoners as Allied forces moved in, Engel was able to escape by jumping out of a cattle car and hiding in a snowbank.

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Engel eventually made his way to Charleston in 1949 and opened up a dry-cleaning business on King Street, Glamour Cleaners.

Representative Wendell Gilliard, who spoke alongside Engel during a 2020 anti-hate rally, sent his condolences.

In a post he wrote, “[w]hen I was a young man I would always stop in his store to talk with this very humble gentleman he would always tell me some of his life experiences... thanks for the invaluable lessons, may God bless you my friend.”

Engel is survived by his five nieces and nephews as well as other extended family.

His full story lives on in the College of Charleston’s Jewish Heritage Collection. You can find the three-hour interview from 1997 and the transcript here.

A funeral is scheduled for Monday, November 28 at the Synagogue Emanu-El Cemetery.