“I remember as a little girl waiting impatiently for my birthday to arrive. My childhood birthdays were always very happy and special. That is, until my eighth birthday. I was seven years old in 1942 when I was sent with my parents to a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. My next three birthdays marked the years of a nightmare.”*
Every now and then, we come across a rare find. This year, our rare find is Holocaust survivor Dr. Inge Auerbacher, who will be speaking at our Southeast and Midwest events. It is worth the trip to give your children and teens the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear “living” history.
Dr. Auerbacher will be sharing her compelling story of her three childhood years spent in the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Her vivid memory recounts the story of her as a seven year old who witnessed life’s darkest, most horrific moments. Through dreadful diseases and mass starvation, Dr. Auerbacher amazingly maintains a wonderful, loving persona which instantly draws you into her friendship and vast “adopted” family.
Not letting her torment from childhood hold her back, Dr. Auerbacher has gone on “to being a chemist, world traveler, travel writer, and avid photographer. Inge is also a writer. More than fifty of her poems and numerous articles have been published.” (Auerbacher, 2006, p. 87, inside back cover)
While not wanting to tell you her whole story—since Dr. Auerbacher is the very best at that—we can encourage you to come to hear her present it herself. In 1981, she began traveling and lecturing about the events in her life in an effort to educate people about the Holocaust so history does not repeat itself and to convey her main message of “We shall never forget.”
She visited with us as our Texas and California events in 2015. Seats were filled with hundreds of homeschooling families who sat in complete silence, listening to Dr. Auerbacher’s account of her childhood story. She loves to interact with children and encourages them at the end of her lecture to ask her questions. At the events last year, children lined up eagerly asking her questions as many were curious about her childhood and wanted to know more even after her lecture was over. Dr. Auerbacher has great rapport with children and loves to answer all their questions, while being sensitive to the fact that they are indeed children.
Many children asked her questions about what she had to eat while in the concentration camp. In her book, I Am A Star, she describes how they stood in long lines waiting for “coffee, a muddy-looking liquid, which always had a horrible taste. Lunch was a watery soup, a potato, and a small portion of turnips or so-called meat sauce; and dinner was soup. By the time the people reached the barrels from which the food was ladled out, they were so hungry and exhausted that they immediately gulped their portion down.”
Some children ask about her birthdays. In I Am Star, she gives account of her eighth, ninth, and tenth birthday gifts while in Terezin: “Birthdays presented a special challenge. One year, I received a potato cake the size of my palm, prepared from a mashed boiled potato with just a hint of sugar in it. Another year Marlene, my doll, was given a new outfit sewn from rags. On my tenth birthday my gift was a poem my mother had written especially for me.” Children walk back to their seats with looks of disbelief and hopefully a greater appreciation for what they have in their own lives.
It is truly a great learning experience to hear all that Dr. Auerbacher has overcome during her younger years. Her story is so compelling that “The Star on My Heart” theatrical play was written by Angela Milora-Hansen to depict Dr. Auerbacher’s life. After attending the play, Ohio Senator Kenny Yuko summed up Dr. Auerbacher’s life: “The Nazis tried to destroy Inge’s life, but they could not break her spirit.” (Facebook post by Senator Kenny Yuko, November 20, 2015).
We encourage you to come hear Dr. Auerbacher and meet her in person in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Come hear Dr. Inge Auerbacher:
*Auerbacher, Inge. I Am A Star. United States: Puffin Books, 1993, 2006.