Emotional Evening with Holocaust Survivor at JCC

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Emotional Evening with Holocaust Survivor at JCC

A guard tower outside Dachau.

A guard tower outside Dachau.

kconnor (via Morguefile)

A guard tower outside Dachau.

kconnor (via Morguefile)

kconnor (via Morguefile)

A guard tower outside Dachau.

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On February 3rd, I experienced a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at the Robert R. and Jean S. Sturtz Theater at Jefferson Community College. The speaker was an author, a poet, a chemist and one of the few remaining living Holocaust survivors. Inge L. Auerbacher, 80 years young, shared her miraculous childhood experience as a young Jewish child in Nazi Germany as she escaped death.

Ms.Auerbacher was just a little girl when the world turned upside down. Ms. Auerbacher spent three years inside Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Life in the camp left the captives beaten and starved. Over the course of World War II, 15,000 children went through this camp but she was fortunate enough to be part of the meager 1% that survived. Ms. Auerbacher has published a number of books including “I Am A Star,” (as in the Star of David) and was kind enough to bring roughly 100 copies for those in attendance at JCC.

Following the liberation from the camp by the Russians her life was forever changed. She suffered bouts of tuberculosis as a result of the horrific conditions within in the camp. Following her captivity she immigrated to America to become a very successful chemist, accomplished writer and honored with numerous awards. She never married and had no children. She informed us it was because the men were afraid of marrying a sickly woman, but assured us that she has since been cured.

For me the most eerie feeling was when she pulled a small six pointed gold star from behind the podium. It was a reminder that those who originally wore the star were marked for death thus making the Holocaust even harder for people to even deny its existence. Despite the fact that she was only six years old when she first wore the star, she knew she was marked different. Although Ms. Auerbacher discussed how horrifying the realities of her childhood she still remained positive about how lucky she was and grateful for those who tried to help her.

Her overall goal in speaking to audiences about such terrible events?  That we would never forget, as indicated in a quote from her book:

“We must speak out against evil and injustice. Let us build bridges of understanding and love to join mankind in every land. My hope, my wish, and prayer is for every child to grow up in peace without hunger and prejudice.”

[We do not normally offer commercial links within our work, but Ms. Auerbacher’s book is available here: http://www.amazon.com/I-Am-Star-Child-Holocaust/dp/0140364013 –Ed.]