Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivor To Speak To Appalachian Students On Sept. 17

Published Friday, September 11, 2015 at 1:01 pm
susan Cernyak-Spatz_Web


Auschwitz survivor and Professor Emerita of German Literature at UNC-Charlotte, Susan Cernyak-Spatz, is coming to ASU to give a presentation titled “Perpetrators Through the Eyes of the Victims.” The presentation is on Thursday evening, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m. in the Belk Library in room 114 and will be free and open to the public.

“It’s great to have a witness speaker of this caliber,” said Director of Global Studies Alexandra Hellenbrand. “This presentation is going to touch on a number of aspects of our lives in the modern world. Humans need to listen to stories from people who have witnessed and suffered through such hardships and only she can tell it the way she can.”

Cernyak-Spatz was born in Vienna in 1929 with her family. During her life in Germany she witnessed Hitler’s rise to power and the birth of the 3rd Reich. To escape German tyranny, her family moved to Prague in 1938 but she was arrested not long after the German invasion of Poland. She was deported with her mother to a concentration camp. While in camp she suffered under the hands of German guards and disease and lost her mother in the Theresienstadt ghetto.

Despite these hardships, Cernyak-Spatz was able to secure a job in the camp’s administration office thanks to her ability to speak multiple languages, including English, French, Czech and German, allowing her to escape many of the camp’s deadlier labors.

After the war, Cernyak- Spatz moved to the U.S. in July 1946. There she worked under the prominent author and German Literature scholar Ruth Klüger, another Holocaust survivor. Under his direction, she compiled a dissertation on German Holocaust literature in 1971 and published her memoir in 2005.

“We want our students to get a global picture of the violence of history and religion in the world,” said Dr. Kevin Schilbrack, director chair of philosophy and religion. “It’s hard to imagine seeing that violence other than through the eyes of somebody who has witnessed those horrors firsthand.”

This presentation is co-sponsored by the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace studies, Philosophy and Religion, Departments of History, the Global Studies Program, the Temple of the High Country, and the ASU chapter of Hillel.

For more information, call 828-262-2311 or email [email protected]



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