Albert Rosa, a survivor of the notorious Auschwitz death camp who went on to fight the Nazis with the U.S. military during World War II, shared his story Wednesday, Feb. 24, at the Lory Student Center Theater.
Rosa, now 91, and his family were transported to Auschwitz in 1943 after Germany invaded his native Greece. Of the eight children in the family, only Albert and one sibling survived the ordeal; Albert vowed to avenge his family given the chance.
The opportunity came after American troops liberated the camps in 1945. He fought alongside the Allies and earned five medals, including the Purple Heart.
After the war, he and his wife, also a Holocaust survivor, emigrated to America, but he never spoke about his experiences until recently.
“There are ever fewer opportunities to hear from the survivors themselves,” said Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik, lecturer in the philosophy department, director of the Chabad Jewish Center of Northern Colorado and faculty advisor to Chabad at CSU. “We are very honored and fortunate to have Albert Rosa here to share his remarkable story, and I encourage everyone to be part of this historic and not–to-be-missed event.”
Rosa’s appearance is sponsored by Students for Holocaust Awareness as part of the 19th annual Holocaust Awareness Week Feb. 19-26. Several events are planned throughout the week to serve as both a reminder of the victims lost and to educate the community about the Holocaust’s historical significance.
Holocaust Awareness Week is sponsored by Students for Holocaust Awareness, in conjunction with Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, Chabad Jewish Student Organization, ASCSU, Alpha Epsilon Pi.
Denise Negrete, a freshman from El Paso studying biomedical engineering and the vice president of Students for Holocaust Awareness, helped organize this year’s Holocaust Awareness events and said she is looking forward to Rosa’s speech.
“It’s important to hear about how the Holocaust affected everyone, especially with everything going on in the world today,” she said. “It’s not just about the Holocaust, but all genocides everywhere, and how we can help others if we see it happening again. This really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students and the entire Fort Collins community.”
Additional events throughout Holocaust Awareness Week include:
A Field of Flags beginning Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. Flags honoring those who died during the Holocaust will be planted on the Lory Student Center plaza and remain in place through the memorial on Feb. 26. The flags each represent 5,000 victims and will fill the grassy space between the LSC and Engineering.
A Litany of Martyrs held 10 a.m.-3 p.m. throughout the week in the Lory Student Center Flea Market by the Bookstore. During this time, volunteers take turns reading names of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Community members are welcome to volunteer for this event and can sign up online.
Life Reborn: From Europe to America, noon-2 p.m. in LSC Room 382. Rabbi Jack Gabriel is the son of Polish Holocaust survivors, and was born in a Displaced Person’s Camp in Santa Maria De Leuca, Italy. Raised in the United States, he has a foot in both worlds. For Holocaust Awareness Week, he will tell stories of his family’s losses, their amazing escapes, and lessons he has learned from his parents, his aunt and his cousins. There will be time for questions and answers throughout the session, and Rabbi Gabriel will also share some beautiful, related music during this unique presentation.
The Oscar-winning film, Life is Beautiful, shown at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, in the LSC Theatre. This 1997 Italian tragicomic comedy-drama film co-written and directed by star Roberto Benigni. Benigni plays a Jewish Italian book shop owner, who must employ his fertile imagination to shield his son from the horrors of internment in a Nazi concentration camp.
On Friday, Feb. 26, a short Memorial Service at 2 p.m. at the Field of Flags. Following the service, volunteers will retire the flags.
All events are free and open to the public through funding provided by the Associated Students of Colorado State University, Hillel of Colorado and Chabad.