By Andrea Jimenez
“What is it being Jewish? It’s a religion not a race,” said Inge Auerbacher, a Holocaust survivor who shared her story on Thursday evening in the BSC.
Hillel Organization of Jewish Students hosted an event for Auerbacher to tell students and faculty about her experience as a survivor in the Holocaust.
“It was one of the biggest tragedies of all history especially for the Jewish people,” said Auerbacher. “Any genocide is terrible.”
Auerbacher is also an author and inspirational speaker. She has written four books about her life-story.
Auerbacher was the last Jewish child born in Kippenheim, Germany. When she was a child she spent three years imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp in Czechoslovakia where out of 15,000 children, barely 1 percent survived.
“If you can hear it through the mouth of somebody who was there that’s very important,” said Auerbacher. “You can ask questions, it’s not made up.”
During Auerbacher’s presentation she recalls her deportation in 1942 to the Terezin concentration camp. She was only 7 years old; the youngest in a transport of roughly 1,200 people.
Auerbacher explains that she had once asked a young girl, who was watching her Jewish friends being taken away to the camps, what she had thought about the situation. The young girl responded, “‘I just wanted to look.'”
Auerbacher goes on to explain why people’s inaction had such a negative affect.
“That was the problem; everyone just stared and did nothing,” said Auerbacher. “People saw us-it happened in broad daylight and no one said a word.”
College of Science Dean, Brian Jersky, who attended the event, also found the silence of those watching the Jews being taken away interesting.
“What was most interesting was her insistence that if only people had intervened more forcefully early on, the process might have been stopped,” said Jersky.
Auerbacher showed very exclusive photos of the Holocaust during her presentation, one specifically of Auerbacher holding her most prized possession, her Olympic doll.
“I gave her the name Marlene because my mother was very fond of movie stars,” said Auerbacher.
Marlene Dietrich was a famous German actress and singer in the 1930’s and, according to Auerbacher, “she was a world famous movie star much bigger than Britney Spears.”
The doll is the only object that survived in all her years of incarceration. A few years ago, Auerbacher donated the doll to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
After her emigration to the U.S. in 1946, Auerbacher worked as a research chemist for over 38 years. Auerbacher has been lecturing on the Holocaust since 1981, and has spoken to thousands of people in the USA, Canada and Germany.
“I personally have never had the opportunity to hear a Holocaust survivor,” said Dana Feuer, first-year architect student and Hillel member. “It’s probably one the last opportunities that you might have to hear something like that.”
Dana Feuer explains that Auerbacher’s charisma is what stood out to her the most.
“It’s not something that you would expect,” said Dana Feuer. “You would think that she might still be sad or bitter, but she’s more thinking about taking that experience and maybe making the world a better place.”
Auerbacher kept her audience entertained with the fonder memories of her childhood. During her presentation she told the audience about the commonality of her name.
“When I went to school [and] the teacher said ‘stand up Inge’ all the girls would stand,” said Auerbacher. “[It was a] very popular German name.”
Jennifer Vaughan, a Holocaust activist who found Auerbacher on a Facebook Holocaust Group, attended the event and was very excited to meet her in person for the first time.
“She’s very strong and communicates well with the crowd,” said Vaughan. “She impacts so many people.”
Auerbacher concluded her presentation by answering questions from students and having a book signing. She will continue her week with appearances at other local campuses and museums to share her testimony.
Hillel annually hosts a campus field trip to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles during the spring quarter for those interested in learning more about the Holocauw
“Never again should an atrocity like this ever be tolerated,” said Doron Feuer, president of Cal Poly Pomona’s Hillel. “It is our continuous obligation to do everything in our power to make sure this never happens again to any nation of people.”
Michelle Araki/The Poly Post
The Holocaust: A survivor’s tale
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