“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.”*
Dr. Auerbacher with her parents and grandparents
We had booked Dr Auerbacher to come to tell her story to attendees of or 2015 Eucharistic Convention. An unfortunate accident meant she was unable to make the trip to New Zealand that year which was disappointing not only for us but also for Dr Auerbacher – she was devastated to say the least.
Bob and Freda Narev from Auckland came to our rescue that year as they told their story as Holocaust survivors; you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium during their presentation.
In 2010 Holocaust survivor Magda Brown shared her story with us – she brought listeners to tears. I mentioned to Dr Auerbacher that with Magda and the Narev’s having told their stories perhaps having her talk to us as well might be a repetition of what she might have to share with us. Dr Auerbacher made the point that all stories are personal and that in her opinion it is most important that all who are willing to speak about their experiences in Concentration Camps should be given the opportunity to do so before there are none left to tell the story. I couldn’t agree with her more – so welcome aboard our 2017 Eucharistic Convention guest list Dr Auerbacher – we are so lucky that you are prepared to come half way around the world to talk to us in little old New Zealand.
Here is how Dr Auerbacher responded to our invitation for her to join us in 2017:
“Dear John: Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your invitation. I feel so blessed. I would like to join you in 2017. The people you have selected to speak at your 2017 Eucharistic Convention are amazing, and I would be so honored to join them. It is a once in a lifetime group to celebrate the face of our ever-loving God on us. Much love and blessings, Inge”
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.”
Complete silence, listening to Dr. Auerbacher’s account of her childhood story is common no matter the audience. 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 to hear Dr Auerbacher and meet her in person in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Here is a recent interview with Dr Auerbacher that you might enjoy