In Germany, Knesset speaker gifts German-American Holocaust survivor her family tree
Israel’s Knesset speaker honored a German-American Holocaust survivor in Berlin Wednesday with an unusual present during commemorations for International Holocaust Remembrance Day: her paternal family tree, dating back to 1660.
Inge Auerbacher, 87, who was deported with her parents when she was seven from Germany to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, met with Speaker Mickey Levy during a dinner hosted by Bärbel Bas, the president of the Bundestag, or German parliament.
“I am proud to give you your family tree dating back centuries,” Levy told Auerbacher, a chemist and author of six books who now resides in Queens, New York. “On behalf of the Knesset and the State of Israel, I thank you for not giving up, for courageously turning your life story into a touching moment.”
“Todah rabbah, wow, wow,” said Auerbacher, using the Hebrew words for thank you very much and seemingly overcome with emotion in a video of the event shared with the Forward.
The family tree was printed on a scroll with the help of ANU – The Museum of the Jewish people in Tel Aviv. Staff there researched Auerbacher’s lineage and also attached a short blessing to the scroll from the chair of the museum’s board of directors, Irina Nevzlin, who is married to former Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
Levy is expected to speak at the Bundestag’s plenum on Thursday, becoming the first speaker of the Israeli parliament to address the body. German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will be in attendance. At the conclusion of his remarks, Levy will recite Kaddish, the Hebrew prayer for the deceased, in honor of the six million Jews who were perished in the Holocaust, a spokesperson said.
Auerbacher is also scheduled to speak at the event.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly for Jan. 27 each year, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and death camp.
“It is our duty to remember our six million brothers and sisters who were murdered in the Holocaust by the Nazis and to fight at all costs antisemitism and Holocaust denial,” Levy said in a statement.