Inge Auerbacher will share her harrowing experience of being a child in a Nazi war camp, when she speaks at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Nov. 24 in the Apache Rooms of Rogers Student Center and at 11:15 a.m. in Wise Auditorium.
The event, hosted by Phi Theta Kappa (international honors society), will be open to the public and free, though donations will be requested for the H.U.G.S. (Help Us Graduate Successfully) program which assists needy or underprivileged students and their families.
Gigi Delk, faculty adviser for PTK said, “This may be the only chance for many on our campus and in our community to speak to a Holocaust survivor in person; to expe- rience the past through a survivor’s eyes.”
Jae Jerkins, professor of World Religions said, “As a professor of religion here at TJC, I welcome Ms. Auerbacher’s visit as a living testament to the atrocities of the Holocaust.”
Auerbacher was only 3 years old when massive riots against Jews in Germany and Austria broke out in 1938, where she and her family were forced to hide in a backyard shed to survive. Her father and grandfather, along with any other male Jews over 16, were taken to Dachau concentration camp. Both men were released after only a few weeks.
At the age of 6, Auerbacher was forced to wear a Star of David ( Jewish holy symbol) and take a train to Stuttgart to attend a Jewish school.
By the end of 1941, her grandmother and other members of her family were sent to Latvia or Poland to await death by firing squad. A year later, she and her parents were sent to a concentration camp in Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.
Over 140,000 people were sent to Terezin, More than half were sent to gas chambers and a third died of malnutrition. Out of 15,000 children, Auerbacher was among the one percent who survived.
At the age of 10, Auerbacher and her parents were liberated by the Soviet Army and immigrated a year later to America.
She spent two years in the hospital due to disease caused by malnutrition. After fighting to regain her strength, she graduated with honors from Bushwick High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., and later received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with post-graduate work in biochemistry. She has worked for 38 years as a chemist, published poems and articles, and has spent the last 33 years speaking on her experiences as a Holocaust survivor.
She has spoken on topics such as overcoming prejudice, a deadly illness, and rejection; celebrating diversity and tolerance for other ethnic and racial groups; and the Holocaust through the eyes of a child.
Fliers are being passed around to members of faculty and local businesses as an open invitation for the community to come and hear Auerbacher speak. Some invitations, such as to the local Jewish community have been delivered directly.
Rabbi Neal Katz, of the congregation Beth El said, “With each passing year, the opportunity to meet an actual Holocaust survivor diminishes. It is so important to hear first-hand accounts of the horrors of the Holocaust, so that their stories and words and lessons are part of our own memories. We may be the last generation to witness such speakers and this is all the more reason to come out and hear Mrs. Auerbacher. The stories of Holocaust survivors certainly speak to the Jewish community in a special way, but the messages that they teach are for all of humanity. I hope some of the TJC students will appreciate this speaker as a rare and precious opportunity to hear such a presentation.
Information about Inge Auerbacher, including some of what is listed here, may be found on her website at Ingeauerbacher.com.