Children of the Holocaust

Photograph

Inge Auerbacher

Born December 31, 1934 in Kippenheim, Germany

Inge, the only child of Regina and Berthold Auerbacher, was born a year after the Nazis came to power. She lived in a small village in southern Germany where her father had his own textile business. Inge's father, a soldier in World War I, had been badly wounded and received the "Iron Cross" for bravery.

On the night of November 9-10, 1938, just before Inge's fourth birthday, countrywide acts of terror and destruction were carried out against Germany's Jews. Inge's father was arrested and sent to a concentration camp. After his release a few weeks later, the family realized the need to leave the country, but they had nowhere to go. They moved to her mother's home town. Inge's grandfather soon died, hurt by the country he loved so much.

Harsh restrictions were imposed and life became increasingly difficult. A former servant provided them with food. Inge could no longer attend the local public school. Six year-old Inge had to walk two miles to a larger town to catch a train in order to attend a Jewish school in Stuttgart. In 1941, she was forced to wear the yellow star, and was taunted by the other children on the train.

In late 1941, Inge, her parents and her grandmother were told to report for "resettlement." Her father, a disabled World War I veteran, obtained a postponement, but her grandmother was sent to Lativa where whe was murdered.

On August 22, 1942, Inge and her parents were arrested and deported. Forced to leave all their possessions behind, they were sent to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia. Inge and her parents were sent to the disabled war veterans' section of the ghetto where they were allowed to stay together. Conditions were horrendous. Food was scarce, sanitation was poor, and heating was inadequate. The ghetto was infested with disease-carrying vermin. Always hungry, Inge and her parents constantly lived with the fear that they would be deported to the death camps in Poland. In the spring of 1945, the Germans began building gas chambers in Theresienstadt, where they planned to kill all the remaining Jews. But on May 8, 1945, Soviet troops entered the ghetto and ten year-old Inge and her parents were freed.

Of the 15,000 children who had been imprisoned at Theresienstadt, only 100 survived. The Germans and their collaborators murdered 1.5 million Jewish children in the Holocaust.