Apr 27, 2010

Visit to Auschwitz comes to life when survivor visits

by Abby Armbruster

Junior Erin Logan looked out at the land and could see for miles. The grass was beautifully green, she said, and the area was gorgeous.  It was hard for her to believe that the same place that was so beautiful now used to be the harshest death camp of the Holocaust — Auschwitz.

“It is hard to imagine that all of this is going on while the sun is out,” Logan said. 

Holocaust and Auschwitz survivor Irving Roth visited Liberty University to discuss his story with students on Thursday, April 22. 

Ever since Logan was little, she would read about World War II, and she had an AWANA leader whose family had to escape from Holland because of Adolf Hitler’s reign.  

“I think you can learn a lot from looking back,” Logan said. “I don’t want to forget it.” Roth gave students a similar message.

Logan visited the death camp in Poland in 2006, and said it was a good experience for her to take in. In two short years, over one million people died within Auschwitz’s walls. 

“We went through the gate, and that got a lot of us because (the sign) says, ‘Work and you shall be free’ and obviously, we knew that they worked hard and were never free,” Logan said. 

Logan, along with 17 other people, saw the train tracks that led to thousands of people being killed per day. Roth described the train that took him to Auschwitz as a cattle car, with 90 people per boxcar and no windows or bathrooms. He traveled on the train for three straight days.  Logan saw the barracks that housed people, with Jewish people staying in wooden barracks, and the non-Jewish people, who stayed in brick barracks. 

Roth said staying in the barracks was like staying in “wooden shelves” instead of bunk beds. About 1,000 people could stay in each barrack, according to Logan.  Normally, four people would share each bunk bed.

One building that many survivors forget to mention is the bathroom house, which Logan described as rows of benches with holes cut out in the middle of them.  The holes were so close together that every time a person would use the bathroom, he or she would be touching someone else who was using the toilet. Because of the lack of nutrients, Logan said prisoners would be on the toilet more often than the average person, and she could not imagine what it actually smelled like during the Holocaust. 

Auschwitz held one room full of shoes, and one room full of hair that was shaved from whomever entered the camp.  What stood out to Logan was the fact that there was a long red-haired braid among all of the rest of the hair, which obviously was not from someone who was Jewish. 

“What I would like to do tonight is take you through a journey,” Roth said as he began his speech, but Logan was remembering her own journey where she walked the same path Roth had nearly 60 years earlier. 

 

Contact Abby Armbruster at

aarmbruster@liberty.edu. 


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