Holocaust Survivor Speaks At Limestone College

Thursday, November 3, 2016 - 3:45pm
Holocaust Survivor Speaks At Limestone College

Inge Auerbacher was just 7 years old when she and her family were rounded up by Nazis and taken to the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.

During a talk at Limestone College Wednesday night, Auerbacher shared the story of her life and presented a slideshow of pictures from before and after her time at Terezin, one of the many transit camps where Jews were taken before being shipped to killing centers like Auschwitz.

Auerbacher, now 81, was in first grade when her schooling was disrupted by the beginning of the Holocaust. She spent three years in Terezin, where only one percent of the 15,000 children survived.

“Those eyes still haunt me because their story was mine and mine was theirs,” Auerbacher said.

In 1942, when Auerbacher was taken to Terezin, she was the youngest of the 1,200 Jews on the transport train. She was separated from her mother and remembers walking two miles from the train to the camp while onlookers stood by and did nothing.

“It was broad daylight, so people saw us marching into the camp and didn’t care,” Auerbacher said.

Of the 144,000 people at Terezin, two-thirds were sent to other concentration camps and many of those remaining died from malnutrition, Auerbacher said.

Auerbacher, her mother and father were freed from the camp when the Russian Army liberated it in 1945. The family immigrated to America in 1946.

While Auerbacher and her parents survived the camp, they learned more than a dozen family members had been killed.

“When we were released, it wasn’t a time of jubilation,” Auerbacher said. “We knew most of our family wouldn’t return.”

Limestone juniors Aaliyah Howell and Ashley King said they were struck most by hearing Auerbacher talk about her mother and father, and by the fact that they weren’t killed or permanently separated in the camp, which was common practice.

“I thought it was really good listening to her and actually hearing the story about her family,” King said. “I expected to hear that while they were in there her parents died. She actually got to stick with her mom and dad and went back to visit the places where she used to live.”

Howell said she wanted to hear Auerbacher speak because there are still people who deny the Holocaust ever happened.

“There are so many Holocaust deniers, and we got to see the truth to it,” Howell said. “It wasn’t a lie. It actually happened. It was a true story and it was actually a tragic time.”

ACCOMPANYING PHOTO: While at Limestone on November 2, Holocaust survivor Inge Aurbacher shows the yellow badge she was forced to wear as a child in late 1930s Germany. Photo by John Byrum, Spartanburg Herald-Journal.

(Article written by Allison M. Roberts, Spartanburg Herald-Journal.)