Signposts along the road to Auschwitz 90yearold Holocaust survivor Irving Roth tells

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By adopting the IHRA definition, Canadian universities have a real chance to tackle anti-Semitism Saskatoon artist’s portraits honour Holocaust, residential school survivors Holocaust survivor speaks to students about his memories of life in a concentration camp Q: You’ve made it a mission in your life to keep these stories going. But in 50 years — when there likely won’t be anyone with first-person stories of the Holocaust to tell — how do you keep those stories alive for your grandchildren and great-grandchildren?A: About 20-some-odd years ago, I thought about it, because about 20 years ago I was 70 years old, so that’s not exactly a teenager. So I said “what will happen when we are gone?” I put together an idea, something called Adopt A Survivor. The way the program works is young people … adopt a survivor. They meet, they talk, they take notes, they ask questions … and the objective is for this young person, now, to speak for this survivor when the survivor can no longer speak. So this young person can tell his children or grandchildren about his adoptee.Q: In another interview you said a family member told you to let everything that happened in Germany “sink into the ocean” — yet you’ve done the exact opposite. What pushed you to speak out so much?A: If I say nothing, and the Holocaust becomes a footnote to history, and if it’s forgotten, it means the people who were murdered never existed. If I forget my grandfather — who I admired greatly — he never existed. And that would be getting rid of him, killing him, a second time. He lived, he was murdered, but he left a legacy. So I must talk about him. It’s something of value to me, so I must tell people about it. He was my idol, and at age 63 or 64 he was murdered … because he was a Jew. To me that’s very important, that his spirit and soul and his influence is still with me.Q:Tell me about him — what are the memories that you hold onto?A: Memories of moments that I spent with him. At our dinner table. Comments he made. His relationships with other people. That’s very important to me. I look at some of his thoughts, the gentle nature of my grandfather.Q: With all of the talks you’ve given, what sticks with you most from audience responses?A: About 20 years ago, I was giving a talk to a bunch of fifth-graders. And one of the fifth-graders raises his hand and says to me, “You know, if you see something wrong, and you stand by and do nothing, you’re helping the bad guys.” I thought it was brilliant. And that’s what we have to understand. And that’s my objective.maolson@postmedia.com Holocaust survivor Irving Roth’s story is tragic, powerful — and if he has his way, won’t ever be forgotten.Roth, 90, is the director of the Holocaust Resource Centre at the Temple Judea of Manhasset in New York. In 1944 a young Roth was captured and taken to the Nazi death camp Auschwitz. He survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald to be reunited with his parents in 1945, but most of his family — his cousins, his grandfather, and his brother Bondi — did not.Roth has spent decades as a Holocaust educator, speaking to audiences around the world about his life and experiences. He’ll be in Saskatoon to speak at TCU Place on Sept. 17 and in Regina at the Conexus Arts Centre on Sept. 18. He spoke to the StarPhoenix ahead of his talks.Q: You’ve been a Holocaust educator and activist for decades. Has the conversation changed for you?A: The question was always, from my perspective at least … how is it possible in the 20th century, people would elect a government where one of their major missions was the destruction of its citizens, or a particular group of citizens? … how the general public accepted it and effectively voted them into power in 1932. To understand that process is important. And as soon as that happened, there were what I call signposts along the road to Auschwitz … step by step, the oppression gets bigger and bigger and bigger, and no one seems to care.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.Q: Is that something you’re seeing more of?A: I see much, much more now than I did 20 years ago. Today, not only the European college system but the American and Canadian college system has professors that are teaching anti-Semitism. That’s scary … the college students of today, in 20 years, will be running America, Canada, England, and so on. And that’s very scary. Not necessarily for me — I’m 90 years old — but for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.Related

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