Holocaust survivor warns that history is repeating itself

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Holocaust survivor Irving Roth spoke about his experiences in Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps Tuesday night. The event was sponsored by Christians United for Israel, an organization that supports the goals of Israel and the Jewish people.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

A survivor of the Holocaust warned UT students that the same circumstances that led to his people’s treatment by Nazi Germany were being mirrored today.

Irving Roth, survivor of both the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps in Nazi Germany, gave UT students a firsthand account of his experience Tuesday night. Roth was hosted by the Longhorn branch of Christians United for Israel, an organization that intends to rally Christians around the cause of supporting Israel.

After growing up in a democratic Czechoslovakia with a nanny and a business-owning father, Roth said he saw his world slowly ceded to German anti-Semitism.

“It’s summer of 1939,” Roth said. “I see a sign, and it says: Jews and dogs are forbidden to enter.”

Roth said this was the beginning of a downhill slide. Between 1939 and 1941, he saw his family’s belongings, friends and his father’s business disappear.

He said his whole life was permanently changed in May of 1944 when, at the age of 14, he saw his extended family murdered.

“I look ahead, and I see distant flames coming out of chimneys,” Roth said. “Twenty-four hours after I arrived in Auschwitz, I had no grandfather, I had no grandmother, I had no aunt and my 10-year-old cousin was nothing but smoke and ashes.”

Roth was rescued from Buchenwald April 11, 1945. Roth said two American soldiers first discovered his camp.

“You may not know what the messiah looks like,” Roth said. “I do. The two of them.”

Roth said he sees the same demonization of Jewish people that enabled his persecution taking place today. He cited anti-settlement demonstrations at UT and other campuses.

Roth said he sees America’s university system supporting professors hostile to the Jewish people and manufacturing a situation dangerous to Israel and Western ideals.

“The reason I give a chronology is to give a step-by-step process of how you go from a society that is inclusive to a society that is murderous,” Roth said.

After his speech, Daniela Medellin, president of Christians United for Israel, agreed with the ideas Roth presented in his speech.

“I do feel there is a core presence at UT of students and professors who speak out against Israel,” Medellin said. “They don’t accept the state of Israel.”

Jeremiah Nasiatka, the organization’s national campus coordinator, said its main stance is for the state of Israel as a democratic society.

At the end of the day, Roth said, his vision was one of acceptance.

“My perfect world is where I can be different from the majority and not be called ‘the other,’” Roth said.

Printed on October 24, 2012 as: "Survivor issues warning: Holocaust survivor concerned treatment is being mirrored"