Inge Auerbacher, Holocaust survivor and author, coming to Tolerance Week
SIOUX CITY -- Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher’s book “I Am a Star” has been in print for decades, during which time the author herself has become an ever-brighter star, traveling extensively to speak about her life. She went on to write half a dozen books, and has become a celebrated and prolific public speaker.
Auerbacher, who at age 83 still maintains a busy speaking schedule, will return to Sioux City to be on hand for Tolerance Week events.
Writing for young people
Born to a Jewish family in German in the mid-1930s, Auerbacher’s writings detail her experience at the Theresienstadt (Terezin) concentration camp near Prague, where she was imprisoned from 1942 until the camp was liberated by Russians in May 1945. Conditions at the camp were squalid, and pests and disease were rampant.
Amazingly, Auerbacher and her parents survived their incarceration, as did her beloved doll, Marlene ( Marlene now resides in the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.) After immigrating to the U.S. after the war, Auerbacher went on to a 38-year career as a chemist.
Decades after the atrocities of the Holocaust, she began writing and compiling poems and prose about her life’s story, with some broader historical context added in.
Though there are few subjects more gravely serious than the Holocaust, Auerbacher said her aim has been to share her piece of that history with students.
“It was basically written for young people, but even in colleges they read it,” Auerbacher said.
During her career as a writer, Auerbacher has enjoyed at least one of the trappings of notoriety -- being noticed in public by a fan.
“I came home on a bus, right, from Penn State University,” she said. “And I’m sitting in one row, and there’s somebody across from me, and I talk to people. And we started talking, and guess what? She read two of my first books! And she told me what she remembered, and she read them a long time ago, but she liked my writing and my story.
“And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s me!’”
Though it may seem unusual to follow a career in hard science with a second career writing poems, Auerbacher sees nothing unusual about it.
“There was a very famous chemist who became a very famous writer,” she said. “I always wrote -- see I was sick for many years in my life after the war, unfortunately, and all I could do was keep myself busy, and I started to write!”