“We must speak out against evil
and injustice. Let us build bridges of understanding
and love to join mankind in every land. My hope, my
wish, and prayer is for every child to grow up in
peace without hunger and prejudice.”
Am A Star” published by Penguin Putnam, Inc.
Inge Auerbacher was the last Jewish child born in Kippenheim,
a village in South-Western Germany located at the foot of
the Black Forest, close to the borders of France and
Switzerland. She was the only child of Berthold and Regina
Auerbacher (nee’ Lauchheimer.) Both of her parents came from
observant Jewish families who had lived for many generations
Inge’s father was a soldier in the German Army during WWI.
He was wounded badly and consequently awarded the Iron Cross
for service to his country. Inge’s father was a
textile merchant and the family owned a large home in Kippenheim.
Christians and Jews lived peacefully together until the
massive riot against the Jews in Germany and Austria on
November 9-10, 1938. Inge was only three years old, but her
memories of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) are still
vivid. Her maternal Grandparents had come to visit. They
lived a few hundred miles away in Jebenhausen, an even
smaller village than Kippenheim. Her Grandfather was
arrested in the synagogue while saying his morning prayers.
Her father, grandfather and other Jewish males over the age
of sixteen were sent to Dachau concentration camp. Every
window in their house was broken. They had to hide in their
backyard shed to save themselves from the rioting mob. Their
beloved synagogue was severly damaged. Miraculously, both men
were released from Dachau after a few weeks. They had both
been treated very badly.
Inge’s family sold their house, and moved in with her
grandparents in Jebenhausen in 1939. Here Inge had many
Christian friends. Her grandfather soon died of a broken
heart both spiritually and physically. He was bitterly
disappointed in the country he loved.
Inge was only allowed to attend a Jewish school located a
train-ride away in Stuttgart. She was forced to wear a
yellow Star of David as a six year-old child. Her school
career ended after six months when the transports to the
All doors to the free world had been shut. There was no way
to escape. The Holocaust was in full swing by the end of
1941. Her grandmother and other members of her family were
sent to Riga in Latvia, where death by shooting awaited
them; others were sent to Poland never to be heard of again.
Inge and her parents were deported in August, 1942. She was
seven years old; the youngest in a transport of about twelve
hundred people. Their destination was the Terezin (Theresienstadt)
concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. She arrived clutching
her beloved doll, Marlene.
Terezin was selected by the Nazis as a transit camp before inmates were to be deported to killing center further East,
like Auschwitz. It consisted of large brick barracks,
underground cells and broken down houses. It was sealed off
from the outside world by high walls, wooden fences and
barbed wire. Inge’s life in Terezin was a nightmare. Death, fear and
hunger were her constant companions. She saw most of her
friends sent to the gas chamber in Auschwitz. She contracted
serious illnesses and spent months in the so-called hospital.
She was in Terezin when the International Red Cross came to
inspect the camp. Inge also remembers when the children’s
opera “Brundibar” was performed.
Between 1941-1945, a total of 140,000 people were shipped to Terezin; 88,000 were sent primarily to the gas chambers in
Auschwitz, and 35,000 died of malnutrition and disease in
Terezin. Of the 15,000 children imprisoned in Terezin, Inge
is among the one percent that survived.
After three long years, liberation came by the Soviet Army
on May 8, 1945. Inge was 10 years old at the time.
Miraculously, Inge and both her parents survived. Marlene,
Inge’s beloved doll also made it through the terrible times.
After a short stay in a Displaced Persons’ camp in
Stuttgart, they returned to Jebenhausen. They learned that
at least thirteen close relatives were slaughtered by the
Nazis as well as many more of her extended family.
Inge and her parents immigrated to America in May, 1946.
Inge was stricken with a deadly disease caused by years of
malnutrition in the concentration camp. She was hospitalized
for two years, and fought a valiant battle for many years to
regain her strength. Although she had lost many years of
schooling she graduated with honors from Bushwick High
School in Brooklyn, New York after only three years in 1953.
She completed a college degree (BS in Chemistry) in 1958,
and continued with post-graduate work in Biochemistry. Inge
worked for over 38 years as a chemist with prominent
scientists in research and clinical work.
Inge’s hobby is writing. More than 50 of her poems and
numerous articles have been published. She was silent about
her war experiences until 1981, when she wrote the lyrics
“We Shall Never Forget.” The music was written by her
Christian friend, Rosalie Commentucci-O’Hara. This was the
only original song presented at the first "World Gathering of
Jewish Holocaust Survivors" in Jerusalem in 1981. More of her
lyrics have been set to music by James Donenfeld, Barney
Bragin and Cantor Sol Zim. Some have been recorded.
Inge has been lecturing on the Holocaust since 1981, and has
spoken to thousands of people in the USA, Canada and
Germany. She is fluent in German and English. Her audiences
consist of school children, college students and adults of
any ethnic background.
She has appeared on many radio and television programs both
in the USA and abroad. Prize-winning documentary films have
been made about her, which have been shown in the USA and
all over the world.
Her most recent film: "The Olympic Doll" based on her book
"I Am A Star" was especially made for middle school children
as a lesson of tolerance.
Inge is the Author of the following best-selling and
She has been awarded the following prestigious
her work teaching tolerance and human rights:
Ellis Island Medal of Honor-1999
Louis E. Yavner Citizen Award- 1999
Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa, Long Island
Her hometown, Kippenheim has instituted the Inge Auerbacher
Prize awarded to students and institutions promoting
tolerance and human rights.
(This award is sponsored by D.I.A. (German-Israeli Workman’s
Circle. Martin Gross, President.)
The award was given for the first time to Karl Kopp,
Principal of the Kippenheim School and the Kippenheim School on July 4th, 2001.