NEWBERRY — A crowd of 185 students, professors, and members of the community gathered at the Black Box Theatre at Newberry College at 7 p.m. Monday to witness a personal account of the life of a Holocaust survivor.
Inge Auerbacher, originally from Kippenheim, Germany, shared her personal experiences as a surviving child of the Holocaust during the Second World War.
An author and inspirational speaker, Auerbacher travels all over the world telling her story of survival and sharing her recorded accounts through her books “I am a Star,” “Beyond the Yellow Star to America,” and “Finding Dr. Schatz.”
Born in Germany on Dec. 31, 1934, Auerbacher was the only daughter of Berthold Auerbacher, a soldier in World War I and successful textile merchant, and Regina Auerbacher. Being the very last Jew born in her village, Auerbacher was not yet four years old when the first riots of the Holocaust broke out on the days of November 9th and 10th in 1938.
Auerbacher described her town as “standing in a sea of glass” as a result of the destruction she witnessed in the first days of the Holocaust. After her father was initially transported to a concentration camp and then allowed to return home, she and her family moved out of their village in 1939 just before all of the Jews were forced out of her town in October of 1940.
Auerbacher described being transported in groups of over 1,000 people and being forced to wear a yellow star on her left side above her heart adorned with the word “Jude” to signify that she and her family were Jewish.
Being the youngest in her transport, Auerbacher remembered getting off a train and being told to march until reaching Theresienstadt, a ghetto in Czechoslovakia, on Aug. 22, 1942 where she and her family stayed until being liberated on May 8, 1945.
Of all the things taken from Auerbacher and her family, the one item that never left her was her doll. Named Marlene after the famous movie star Marlene Dietrich, the doll was the only item not taken when she and her family entered the ghetto where they would stay for three long years.
Along with her doll, Auerbacher also spoke of befriending a Christian girl, Ruth, in the ghetto that gave her clothes for Marlene sown from rags by the girl’s mother. Eventually being led away to her death in Auschwitz, Ruth had a lasting impact on Auerbacher’s experience in the ghetto.
Overall, Auerbacher compared her experience in Theresienstadt as being trapped in an elevator, feeling like no one on the outside knew they were there, nor cared. Since being liberated in 1945, Inge Auerbacher traveled to America where she continued her education at the age of 15 and eventually attended Queens College and received a degree in Chemistry.
Her story seemed to touch the hearts and minds of many people in the audience, especially Brandi Pearson who had prior education about the Holocaust before hearing Auerbacher speak.
“It’s amazing to hear an actual survivor give their take on what happened. It’s much different than reading from a textbook. She is an inspiration.” Pearson said.
Auerbacher claims she is blessed and when asked how she feels about the Holocaust today, she stated “I do not forgive, but I do believe in reconciliation. If the people watching this happen had done something instead of being complete bystanders, there would have been a very different outcome.”
Katie Inman is a Junior at Newberry College majoring in Communications.