Shmuel Alexander (Sandor) Katz was born in Vienna, Austria, to parents of Hungarian origin. Following the Anschluss, Austria’s annexation by Nazi Germany in March 1938, the family relocated to Hungary. He attended school, studied the piano, and became a member of the Zionist youth movement HaNoar HaTzioni. After the Nazi invasion of Hungary in 1944, he was deported to a forced labor camp in Yugoslavia from which he escaped to Budapest where he was among the thousands of Jews hidden in the "Glass House" shelter operated by Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz, until the arrival of the Soviet Red Army in mid-February 1945.
In Budapest, Katz joined the youth movement Hashomer Hatzair. He began studying architecture there in the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. In 1946, in the framework of the Aliyah Bet illegal immigration, he sailed aboard the Knesset Israel which was apprehended by the British and its passengers interned in a detention camp on Cyprus.
In 1947, Katz secured a legal immigration certificate as a member of the “First of May” nucleus group of Hashomer Hatzair. The group did its pioneering training at Kibbutz Eilon on the Lebanese border, and on October 8, 1948, became the founders of Kibbutz Ga'aton in the Western Galilee, where Katz spent the rest of his life. He designed the kibbutz dining room whose interior features Hungarian folkloristic wood carving.
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