DENVILLE, NJ-- Valleyview eighth graders were treated to an afternoon of learning recently when they celebrated Author's Day. The students met with Inge Auerbacher, a survivor of the Holocaust.
Auerbacher was born in 1934 and grew up in a town in southern Germany near the Black Forest called Kippenheim.
As she tells her story to the students, she had a very happy childhood. However, in 1935, when Hitler stripped the Jews of their citizenship, her family knew that changes would be coming.
After Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938, both her father and her grandfather were sent to concentration camps. Although ultimately released, her grandfather died soon after from what Auerbacher believes was a broken heart. They were proud German citizens and he couldn't believe they were being betrayed by the Third Reich.
Auerbacher and her parents and grandmother received their "Notice of Resettlement" in August, 1943. They were deported to Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.
Auerbacher describes to the students the harsh conditions in which she lived over the next three years. They were liberated on May 8, 1945 by the Russian army. Nine months later, Inge and her parents left Germany for the United States to live with her mother's brother. She ultimately graduated from Queens College in New York with a BS in Chemistry and she worked in scientific research for more than 38 years.
"It's important for children to hear about this time in our history. Even though some of the facts are hard to hear, knowing helps with remembering. I received a kind note Risa Kallas, a nurse at Riverview Elementary here in Denville who said this: "As a second generation Jew whose grandparents and extended family fled Nazi territory in the 1930's, I personally appreciate all efforts made to make sure the new generations of our children in America are aware of what happened then." Marian Lezgus, Valleyview's Librarian, shared.
After speaking to the entire 8th grade, Auerbacher then visited the students in their language arts classes where they have been reading her book, I Am a Star. They loved her message of standing up for what you believe in and protecting those who don't have a voice or whose voice was taken from them.
"Reading is a skill that everyone needs regardless of where your life path takes you. I have long been an advocate of reading in my many years here at Valleyview and in my many roles. Once a child learns to read they have the power to do just about anything," Lezgus said.