Holocaust survivor speaks at University of Oklahoma
Irving Roth, the director of the Holocaust Resource Center at the Temple Judea of Manhasset, N.Y., spoke at the University of Oklahoma Tuesday night. During the latter part of World War II, Roth survived internment at Buchenwald and Auschwitz, two of the most notorious Nazi death camps.
NORMAN — When Irving Roth was 14 years old, his grandparents were murdered.
Not long afterward, his brother was killed, as well, leaving the teenager separated from his parents, frightened and alone in a country that was not his own.
They were only three among millions who fell victim to what Roth called “the most vicious, horrible, bloody part of the 20th Century.”
“While it may be inconceivable, it actually happened,” he said.
Roth, the director of the Holocaust Resource Center at the Temple Judea of Manhasset, N.Y., spoke Tuesday night at the University of Oklahoma. During the latter part of World War II, Roth survived Buchenwald and Auschwitz, two of the most notorious Nazi death camps.
At the onset of the war, Roth, who is Jewish, lived with his parents in
“He had decorations from side to side,” Roth said.
A shifting mood
But as the war progressed, the mood in Roth's homeland began to shift. Slovakia became an autonomous state and allied itself with Nazi Germany. The new government adopted policies toward Jews similar to those in Germany.
At the time, Roth was a boy with little understanding of geopolitics. His government's message hit home one morning in the summer of 1939, when he went to a park to play with his friends, only to find a sign on the gate saying “Jews and dogs are forbidden to enter.”
Soon, Roth was told he couldn't go out at night because Jews were under an enforced curfew. He was forced to turn over his sheepskin coat, which had been deemed a luxury item and was therefore off limits to Jews.
So Roth and his family fled to Hungary, which, though it was a member of the Axis Powers, opted to use Jews as forced laborers rather than exterminating them. But that policy didn't last, and by the spring of 1944, Hungarian police began to round up Jews and ship them to concentration camps.