by Deborah Keller
Lake Lure- Over one hundred people with standing room only packed the Mountains Branch Library to hear ninety two (92) year old Holocaust survivor Walter Ziffer speak for over an hour today. It was a humbling experience to be in the presence of a man who survived such an atrocious time in history.
Dr. Ziffer, born in 1927 in the Czech Republic, endured and survived life in seven different Nazi slave-labor concentration camps as a teenager. His talk was based on remembrances and reflections on that experience. He also is an avid human rights advocate and talked of the importance of standing up for ethical treatment of all peoples.
In March 1939 Czechoslovakia was occupied and 180,000 more Jews came under Hitler’s rule. Then came Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. On September 1, 1939 WW II broke out. The Holocaust and 6 million Jewish dead followed. It is his mission that this will not be forgotten.
Dr. Ziffer has authored several books about his experiences during the Holocaust, and about Judaism and early Christianity. (available through Amazon or your local library) He received an engineering degree from Vanderbilt University, two master’s degrees from the Graduate School of Theology of Oberlin College and a doctorate in theology from the University of Strasbourg, France. Dr. Ziffer has taught at the University of Maine, UNC Asheville and Mars Hill University, as well as at theological seminaries in Europe and the United States.
He is a retired Biblical Studies and Theology professor, having taught in France, Belgium and the US for many decades. As a Jewish secular humanist and Holocaust survivor from Czechoslovakia, his native country, his major interests lie in Jewish-Christian dialogue and human rights across the globe. He advocates for the latter by sharing his life experiences in middle and high schools, universities, churches, synagogues and other educational venues on invitation.
Great thanks go to the Lake Lure Mountain Branch Librarian Maria Davis and the Heritage Program who made this program possible.