One of the few remaining Holocaust survivors, Dr. Inge Auerbacher shared her struggles as a Jewish child in Nazi Germany in “Beyond the Yellow Star,” the keynote address at the sixth annual Diverse Students Leadership Conference, held Tuesday at Saint Mary’s College.
Auerbacher said she was born into Europe at a time of great strife.
“A period of time between 1938 and 1945, when the world was amuck,” Auerbacher said, “that period is called the Holocaust.”
Auerbacher began her story with the extraordinary circumstances of her birth. The doctor who delivered her wore a Nazi uniform. At the time of her birth, the doctor was still tending to Jewish patients.
“I was brought into this world by a Nazi,” Auerbacher said.
As a child, Aucherbacher said she was surrounded by Christian friends, and there was little attention drawn to her religion. She was shocked when the community became hostile and her father was sent to a concentration camp along with the other local men.
While Jews were forced to wear yellow Stars of David, setting them apart for harassment and oppression, Auerbacher said she was able to give the symbol a different meaning. She said it offered a reminder that everyone is unique — a star.
“You can turn that negative symbol into something positive,” Auerbacher said.
A year in a concentration camp was a taxing experience for Auerbacher, especially as a child. During these times, Auerbacher said her faith played an important role in her survival, reminding her of what it means to be human.
“They may take away my country and my clothes,” Aucherbacher said, “but they can’t take away my faith.”
After surviving the traumatic ordeal of the Holocaust, Auerbacher moved to America and became a successful chemist, eventually devoting her life to educating the world about the Holocaust and how to prevent history from repeating itself.
Saint Mary’s junior Colleen Golden said Aucherbacher’s story had a profound effect on her.
“Her story was the most powerful I’ve heard in a long time,” she said. “I will remember this experience forever.”
Auerbacher’s said her experience should remind people about the dangers of hate and division among people.
“There is only one race — human,” she said.