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UNC gets a visit from Holocaust survivor

Holocaust survivor Irving Roth speaks to community members in Dey Hall in 2010. He was brought to campus by Christians United for Israel. 

Holocaust survivor Irving Roth speaks to community members in Dey Hall in 2010. He was brought to campus by Christians United for Israel. 

Correction (October 27, 12:34 a.m.): Due to a reporting error, this story incorrectly states the date of Irving Roth’s liberation from Auschwitz. The liberation happened April 11, 1945. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

The present is the optimal time to change the past.

That was the message Holocaust survivor Irving Roth shared with attendees Monday night in an event sponsored by Christians United for Israel, a national and campus organization.

Roth told his story to a crowd of about 45 in Dey Hall.

The story began with Roth’s explanation of the methodical mass-murdering in Europe during the twentieth century.

“There is one word that describes this whole process: demonization,” he said.

Roth continued to describe his own personal experience in his native country, Czechoslovakia.

“Basically what they did was they took the Jew as immoral.”

Despite growing up in what Roth called a “wonderfully perfect world,” he soon met the horror of the Holocaust.

During the summer of 1939, Roth read a sign on the park’s gate that read: Jews and dogs are forbidden to enter.

“I now knew I was being persecuted,” he said.

Wearing a yellow star, Roth became not only the property of the government, but part of its demonization.

“They didn’t see me — I was invisible,” he said.

When he was 14, he was transported to Auschwitz. After traveling for three days, flames coming out of chimneys and guards with machine guns welcomed him to the camp.

He was soon separated from his grandparents and aunt. He later asked fellow inmates what had happened to his relatives.

The reply: “See that smoke? That’s them.”

On April 10, 1935, American planes raided Auschwitz.

Roth, along with 10,000 others, was relocated and provided with food and clothing.

He had reached his 15th birthday. He remembers wanting to live until 16 or 17 because of his life treatment.

“Nobody wants to kill me — they want to take care of me,” he said, recounting the thoughts he had after leaving the concentration camp.

Finishing his story, Roth described the importance of the individual who is willing to help —­­ someone willing to stick their head out and say what is happening is evil.

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Steven Patton, the organization’s campus vice president, said the group is educating and informing students on the importance of Israel.

“I want to do something for Israel that no one wants to do,” said Brooke Bradley, president of the new student organization.

Roth closed his speech with a personal reflection.

“I don’t believe in miracles — I depend on them.”

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