Inge Auerbacher at Bucknell.

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Author, lecturer, and retired chemist Inge Auerbacher, the last Jewish child born in the German village of Kippenheim in 1934, was the speaker at Bucknell's Kristallnacht observance held on Nov. 9 at the Elaine Langone Center.

Kristallnacht, or the "Night of the Broken Glass," occurred on Nov. 9-10, 1938, in Austria and Germany when Nazi soldiers and ordinary citizens ransacked Jewish homes and synagogues, destroying everything in their wake. Nearly 1,700 synagogues were burned or desecrated, and 30,000 Jewish men were fettered and deported to concentration camps. The Nazis left the streets littered with broken glass.

A group of Bucknell students lit candles to remember all of the potential and promise of those who died during the Holocaust.

Reminded of the horror
Barely four years old at the time, Auerbacher, said that she distinctly remembers everything that happened that night. She said, "Every time Nov. 9 comes around, I get a cringe in my stomach because it reminds me of the horror. I spoke in 36 different places in Germany this year. Why do I do this? Because 11 million people were slaughtered, six million of them Jews, and three million, children whose eyes haunt me. I feel compelled to keep their memory alive."

Auerbacher presented a slide show, including rare photos of Jewish deportation in 1940. In 1941, the schools in her town were segregated, and she was not allowed to attend school with Christians. So, she took the train to Stuttgart to attend a Jewish school. The transports started that year, and everyone in her school was sent to Latvia or Poland, where they were killed. Auerbacher was the only child in her school to have survived the Holocaust. Her grandmother also was sent to Riga, Latvia, where she was shot and buried in a mass grave with thousands of other Jews.

13 family members perished
A total of 13 close family members perished, although Auerbacher and her family lived through the war, despite the dire conditions they endured during their internment in Terezin in Czechoslovakia. She recalled living with rats, fleas, and lice and suffering from scarlet fever, tuberculosis, and malnutrition. Only 1 percent of the children living in Terezin survived the war.

Auerbacher praised her grandmother's friend and maid, Theresa, who went into their home after they had been deported and saved their photo albums and prayer books. However, she was mistakenly killed by a soldier's bullet during the liberation. Auerbacher ended her presentation with a photo of Theresa's grave, calling her a "righteous Gentile." Recalling her grandmother and her good friend, Auerbacher said, "If there is a heaven, and I hope there is, there you will find a Jewish woman killed by the Nazis and a Christian woman killed by the war walking hand in hand."

Posted Nov. 10, 2006

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