Inge Auerbacher: A Voice for Justice and Reconciliation, Part 4

After leaving Terezin, Inge and her parents returned to Jebenhausen, her grandparents’ village, in the hopes that they would find that her grandmother was still alive. They found strangers living in her house, and learned that the people on her transport were taken to a remote forest near Riga, Latvia and shot, after first being forced to dig their own mass grave. Many other relatives were also murdered by the Nazis. After learning this horrible news, Inge’s parents decided to leave Jebenhausen as soon as possible and moved to another town called Goeppingen, where Inge’s father began to rebuild his textile business. The people in the town treated Inge and her family well, though Inge felt that she had to conceal her Jewish identity with the children she befriended. Eventually her parents felt that they had no future in Germany, and in May 1946, the family boarded a ship to New York, along with other refugees.

The Auerbacher family lived with relatives as Inge’s parents struggled to find work and to learn English. Inge attended school for the last two months of the school year and had a difficult time adjusting to the language and culture. It was a very lonely time for her, since she had difficulty communicating with the other children and was unfamiliar with their games.

Inge and her mother in the children's hospital.
Inge and her mother in the children’s hospital.

To make matters worse, Inge was suffering from a severe cough that would not subside and unusual fatigue. Her mother, knowing that Inge had tested positive for tuberculosis while in Terezin, brought her to a doctor. Inge was then examined by a lung specialist and immediately admitted to the children’s hospital, where she was placed in the tuberculosis ward. She remained in the hospital for nearly two years, and very rarely was allowed to go home for a short visit. In the hospital, Inge’s English language skills developed greatly and she and the other children were taught many different subjects from visiting teachers. Inge worked hard to improve her English and struggled with math, and in the hospital she discovered an intense love of science, which she would later pursue as a career. She hoped to become a medical doctor, though the worsening of her tuberculosis would force her to revise her plan.

2 thoughts on “Inge Auerbacher: A Voice for Justice and Reconciliation, Part 4

  1. This story of incredible survival has had many moments of shock and sadness, and even though this chapter of her story takes place after the war, the shock and sadness continue. How crushing that her grandmother suffered such a fate. It is no wonder they left for a new home, and then for a new country. And how sad that she fell ill and once again had to live away from home. But this time her family could visit – and the war was very much over.

    Eager to see the next installment!

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment and for following Inge’s story. As you point out, the shock and sadness continues after the war. I am truly in awe of Inge’s resilience and strength in the face of so many daunting obstacles.

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