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Concentration camp survivor talks terrorism

Irving Roth tells of his survival during the Holocaust Monday evening.
Irving Roth tells of his survival during the Holocaust Monday evening.

The event was co-hosted by Christians United for Israel, UNC College Republicans and UNC Hillel.

Junior Jake Riggs, outreach chairperson of College Republicans and vice president of Christians United for Israel, said Roth previously made a visit to UNC in 2010.

Riggs said he thought Roth was well received because students are interested in hearing the testimonies of Holocaust survivors.

“A lot of people in our generation are really interested in it because we know how quickly this resource is disappearing and how important it is to hear it quickly,” Riggs said.

Roth said he noticed anti-Semitism beginning to appear in his home of Czechoslovakia when he was 10 years old and signs were posted outside of his favorite park: “Jews and Dogs Are Not Allowed.”

Roth said he and his family were taken to Auschwitz in 1944 when he was only 14 years old.

Upon arrival at Auschwitz, Roth said everyone was split into two lines. The line on the left, including Roth and his brother, went to work in the camp. The line on the right, including his grandfather, grandmother, aunt and 10-year-old cousin, was sent to the gas chambers, and in a few hours there was nothing left of his relatives.

“Auschwitz was capable of converting human beings to ashes,” Roth said.

Frank Pray, chairperson of College Republicans and president of Christians United for Israel, said Roth’s presence on campus was a good method to bring the events of the Holocaust into perspective.

Roth said when atrocities occur in Israel, they’re ignored, but when attacks occur in France, as they did on Friday, the international community takes notice.

“Terrorism is wrong everyplace,” Roth said. “It doesn’t matter. Until we the people of the world realize that and do something about it, it will continue. We need to get rid of the concept of terrorism as a political tool, and unless we do it everyplace — useless. It will continue.”

Roth said the location, ethnicity or religion of a person should not cause anyone to ignore an act of terror.

“This will continue until the world realizes that every single human being’s life is of consequence,” he said.

“Whether it’s a Jew, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim or Hebrew, and unless these people realize and do something about it, my friends, we are doomed.”

Pray said some students said they did not enjoy how politicized the event became when Roth spoke about current issues in Israel, but Pray believes talking about current politics is an important aspect of learning about the Holocaust.

“He really shows us how there are some nations that are like that again today, and if we aren’t careful and if we aren’t ever vigilant against it, it could happen again,” Pray said.

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