The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Community

November 16, 2012

Holocaust survivor: ‘I must have dreamt all this’

SHARON — Three million eyes haunt Dr. Inge Auerbacher.

They belong to the 1.5 million children who were killed during the Holocaust. They were the kids who didn’t make it out alive.

Auerbacher, now 77, is one of the lucky ones. She survived the terrors and was in Sharon Wednesday to tell her tale of surviving the horrors of the Holocaust.

Sometimes she thinks, “I must have dreamt all this, I couldn’t have been there,” she told a packed forum Wednesday at Forker Laboratory of Penn State Shenango in Sharon.

Auerbacher told her story and showed photos and artifacts like the yellow star of David she was required to wear when she was a little girl.

Born Dec. 31, 1934, in Kippenheim, a small village in southwest Germany near the Black Forest, Auerbacher was delivered by a doctor who was a Nazi. Despite his allegiances he gave her mother Regina Auerbacher good care.

Auerbacher’s father, Berthold, was a World War I veteran who served with the German army and was awarded the Iron Cross.

He was a successful textile merchant and the family lived a comfortable life in Kippenheim, Auerbacher remembered. She was the last Jewish child born in the village, she said.

“We considered ourselves German,” she said.

Her childhood changed for the worse on Nov. 9 and 10, 1938. Known as the “Kristallnacht” – the “night of broken glass” – it was the start of Nazis’ persecution of Jews in Germany.

Police took Jewish males taken into custody and Jewish homes and mobs ransacked businesses on those nights. Inge’s father and grandfather were arrested and every window of their home was broken.

Both were released after two weeks of terrible treatment and the family sold their house and moved to Jebenhausen, where Inge’s grandparents lived.

Her grandfather died in 1939, of what Inge described as a “broken heart.”

He was broken both physically and spiritually, she said.

By September 1941, Inge, then 6, was taking a train by herself to attend school, and she was forced to wear the yellow star of David on her right breast, where it loomed large on her little frame.

She remembered a woman who left a bag of rolls next to her during one of the train rides in a simple show of kindness.

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