On Thursday night, more than 90 students and staff gathered in the library gallery to hear a powerful story. This story was the life of Irving Roth, a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, told by the man himself. Roth is the Director of the Holocaust Resource Center at the Temple Judea of Manhasset and a close friend and supporter of Christians United for Israel. Though in his nineties, he still travels the world sharing his experience and helping people understand the lessons that we should take from the Holocaust.
He opened with a description of his hometown of Kosice, Czechoslovakia, which was filled with movie theaters, parks, stores, beaches, and a brand-new school, which opened the year he started school. “I was sure the reason they built the new school was that I was beginning my education… not true.” He joked. At only six-years-old, he did not know what was going on in Germany that year.
He remarked on his perspective as a child, “My world is very limited but wonderful. I don’t really know there are people who are doing things which aren’t so nice. I don’t really know that the end of 1932 the people of Germany had an election and in January 1933 a new government was formed in Germany… a government that proposed some wonderful stuff like a car in every garage, like a job for everybody, like taking their economy which is in shambles and building it up, wonderful ideas, but at the same time they also said the reason we have problems in Germany, the reason we have inflation, the reason we have depression, the reason we have unemployment is the fault of a particular set of people and the only solution to our problem, to achieving greatness is to get rid of these people.”
After the crushing defeat of World War 1, the German people sought someone to blame for their loss and for the economic disasters it caused. Roth emphasized how the German leadership fabricated the guilt of the Jews, but “they said it loud and clear.” Roth explained how the German people and even the British and American leaders knew and were aware of the oppression of Jews from the beginning. Even those who had been friends of Roth and his family joined the boycotts and refused to socialize with them; one friend of his father took over their family’s business.
The boycotts alone could not accomplish the Nazi agenda because of the quotas the United States and other countries had for how many immigrants they would accept from a particular country. There was nowhere for the Jewish people to go. In 1939, the British lent to the Jewish a portion of the land that had been Judea, but they only let about 15,000 a year- a small fraction of the nearly 10 million Jews residing in Europe.
Roth mentioned historian Christopher Browning’s book Ordinary Men, which tells the story of lawyers, doctors, professors, and other men who willingly joined the police battalions that ravaged Eastern Europe mass-murdering Jews. This is often referred to as the “Holocaust by bullets.” It was during this phase that the Roth family moved to Hungary.
“When one speaks of the Holocaust one needs to understand it was a transformation of society.” As he began to share his own experience of the Holocaust, with remarkable expression and sincerity, the faces around the room changed. In the Spring of 1944, the trains came into Hungary and took 437,000 Jews from their homes and brought them to the extermination camps. Roth’s brother and grandparents died in Auschwitz, but Roth himself was eventually moved Buchenwald where American soldiers came for them on April 10, 1945.
The full account of his story must be told in his own words. This video is one of his many recorded talks; the part that features Roth begins at 48:27. He also wrote a book titled Bondi’s Brother: A Story of Love, Loss, Betrayal and Liberation.
He concluded his story back in the Hungarian village he had been taken from. He asked around if there were any surviving members of the Roth family. Walking into the kitchen, Roth saw his mother. “Me being sophisticated and all said, “Hi mom.” Her reaction wasn’t quite so… She couldn’t catch her breath, she almost fainted out of sheer joy. My parents survived. I will tell you how they survived because it is important to understand” He told the room.
His parents survived because a Christian woman created a hiding place for them in her one-bedroom apartment. Though her husband was a Hungarian Nazi soldier, she managed to keep them concealed.
“It is possible to help. In fact, if you go to Jerusalem today you will find names of people next to each tree along the walkways, 25,000 of them who actually went out and saved the Jews. Of course, there were over a half a billion who did nothing, who participated in fact.”
On the creation of the Jewish state by the United Nations in 1948, Roth stated “The solution to the Jewish problem solved…. Almost.” He raised his voice and declared, “Wrong! Wars continued, the destruction of the Jewish people is the mantra of countries like Iran and Syria.”
He told how they have “taken a page from the history books, from Germany” and learned how to use hatred and lies to turn countries against the Jewish people.
He quoted a slogan, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” He paused then added sadly, “But there is a thin sliver that the Jews occupy. They live there, they produce there. They took the desert and made it bloom. They took the hillside, and got rid of the rocks and built vineyards. But they’re evil. So, what if it’s not true? Who cares?… You know the sad part? People believe it.”
He ended with this, “We mustn’t let that happen again. I come to you with eight-million other Christians in America who join-together and stop the lies, whether they come from Iran, Syria, or Berkley, California…. I come to you with a plea, join CUFI. Together there is strength. Unlike in the 1930s and 40s when the Christian world was asked, “Help us, do something.” They said, “It’s not our problem.” [This is] not true today. Eight-million.”
CUFI President Emily Bernard states, “CUFI exists to stand up for truth and we are open all year to having students join us.”
Regent University’s chapter of CUFI meets monthly and most of their events are open to all members of the Regent Community. If you want to receive updates on CUFI events email Emily Bernard at email@example.com or follow the official Instagram @ru_cufi. Registration is currently open for CUFI’s DC Summit happening this summer. This is a great opportunity to learn more about how to support Israel as a Christian.