Inge Auerbacher was born in Germany and, from 1942-1945, at the age of seven, spent three years in the Nazi Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.
On November 10, 1938, her father and grandfather were arrested and taken away during the chaos of Kristallnacht, the Night of the Broken Glass, and sent to the Dachau concentration camp. Auerbacher, her mother and her grandmother were able to hide during Kristallnacht and were not harmed. A few weeks later her father and grandfather returned home, but her grandfather died shortly after in May 1939.
Auerbacher’s father was a soldier in the German Army during World War I. He was wounded badly and consequently awarded the Iron Cross for service to his country.
At the Terezin camp approximately 150,000 people were imprisoned during World War II – 15,000 of whom were children. Approximately 88,000 were sent to the gas chambers in Auschwitz and 35,000 died of malnutrition and disease. Auerbacher and her family were among the one percent who survived.
After being rescued by the Red Army in 1945, Auerbacher and her family immigrated to the United States in 1946. She graduated from Queens College in New York City with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and worked for 38 years as a research chemist. Today she enjoys traveling and sharing her story with students worldwide.
Auerbacher is the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and an honorary doctorate from Long Island University.
She tells her life story in three books: I am a Star- Child of the Holocaust, Beyond the Yellow Star to America and Finding Dr. Schatz - The Discovery of Streptomycin and A Life It Saved.
She has also reached out to the African-American community by writing about her friends, Mary and Martha DeSaussure, pioneering track stars of Brooklyn, in her third book Running Against the Wind.
As a Holocaust survivor her spirit and achievements are truly remarkable. Phi Theta Kappa Academy participants will be moved by her unique experiences and insights as they explore the frontiers of diversity and inclusivity.