Holocaust survivor Irving Roth emphasizes conscious compassion

Jorge Espinoza

Students for Holocaust Awareness hosted Irving Roth, 90, a Holocaust survivor who survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps, as part of the 22nd Annual Holocaust Awareness Week Wednesday evening. 

The event was sponsored by the Associated Students of Colorado State University, CSU Hillel, Chabad at CSU, Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi and Alpha Epsilon Pi. 

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Denise Negrete, president of the Students for Holocaust Awareness, said that it’s important to remember the mistreatment of the Jewish people and other groups, especially with the changing political climate and the declining population of Holocaust survivors. 

“He’s 90 and he was 14 when he was in the camps, so it’s becoming more and more rarer,” Negrete said. “We just want to give the people at CSU the perspective just so they can do things that they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to.”

Roth said that the Holocaust was a systematic process created by average people. 

 “The Holocaust itself was a step-by-step process,” Roth said. “It was designed by people; scientists, engineers (and) doctors were involved.”

One of Roth’s main points of the night was defying evil, and that everyone can do something to not be bystanders. 

“When you see evil you don’t stand by and do nothing,” Roth said. “You can always do something.”

Prior to the event’s question and answer session, Roth invited Leila Morrison, a 96-year-old World War II Army nurse, up to the stage. Roth thanked Morrison for her service aiding the liberation of concentration camps.

“We can do it if we all decide that there is enough place on the globe for all of us to live in harmony. It’s a conscious decision on the part of humanity: once we decide that all problems can be solved.” Roth Irving, survivor of the Holocaust.

Roth encouraged people to listen to each other as solutions to current issues. He said that while humans do not have the perfect solution to everything, listening to one another and compromising can help solve today’s problems.

Roth said that there is a place for everyone, but it is a conscious decision to make room for everyone. 

“We can do it if we all decide that there is enough place on the globe for all of us to live in harmony,” Roth said. “It’s a conscious decision on the part of humanity: once we decide that all problems can be solved.”

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Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik said the turnout for the event gives hope to a better future.

“It really gives us hope and comfort that people share their vision and the idea of having that responsibility to make a difference in the world, that we can’t just sit back as bystanders,” Gorelik said. 

Gorelik added that the event allowed participants to learn and remember the Holocaust as a way to create a better future.  

“They came to learn and remember, and that’s really the only way we can make sure that not only does the world repeat itself but that it becomes a better world for all,” Gorelik said.

Jorge Espinoza can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @jorgespinoza14.