The story of Esther Bauer comes as the witness of a young woman who saw the rise of the Third Reich and the Jewish Holocaust. She endured the imprisonment of her parents, the murders of her husband and mother, and herself being a prisoner in a series of concentration camps including Auschwitz.
Northeast State welcomes Bauer to campus on March 20 for a free lecture at 7 p.m. in the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts on the main campus in Blountville.
In her unforgettable and moving lecture, Bauer recounts her harrowing experiences as a Holocaust Survivor. She shares the story of her amazing, educated, and liberated mother, Dr. Marie Anna Jonas, who was a medical doctor who was stripped of her ability to practice by the Reich Citizen Law against Jews. It did not matter that her mother had received the honor cross (Ehrenkreuz) for her services treating German soldiers during World War I.
Born in Hamburg, Germany in 1924, Bauer grew up to see the rise of National Socialist Party and Adolph Hitler. Her father, Dr. Alberto Jonas was the principal of the Jewish Girls School, and her mother was a medical doctor. On July 19, 1942, Esther, her mother, and her father were deported to the Theresienstadt Jewish ghetto in Czechoslovakia, where from one minute to the next they were prisoners. Bauer’s father died only six weeks later of meningitis.
After two years at Theresienstadt, she married because her then friend, not yet husband, got the order to be sent with many others to the city of Dresden to build up a new ghetto. He and the other men wound up in the dreaded Auschwitz camp. After the men had left, their spouses were told they could go voluntarily after their husbands. Bauer went and landed in Auschwitz where her husband was murdered. In October 1944 her mother was herself deported to Auschwitz and later murdered there.
Bauer survived and was later sent to a women’s labor camp in Freiberg, a satellite camp of Flossenbürg concentration camp. She was later transported to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria as the Allied forces closed in on Berlin. U.S. troops liberated Bauer and her fellow prisoners from Mauthausen on May 5, 1945.
So exuberant upon being liberated, Bauer made a vow to “live each day, have fun and be a human being.” Her bounding energy and joy for life is infectious, and will leave you filled with respect, awe, and appreciation for the indestructibility of the human spirit. She speaks to students as often as she can so that they will “learn what happened, and see to it that it never happens again.”