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The Battalion

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Unique perspective on a terrible tragedy

Bert+Romberg+spoke+of+his+experience+as+a+Holocaust+survivor+from+Germany.
Photo by Photo by Taylor Fennell

Bert Romberg spoke of his experience as a Holocaust survivor from Germany.

As part of the Reiser Speaking Series, the Texas A&M Hillel organization hosted Holocaust survivor Bert Romberg in Rudder Theatre on Thursday evening. Around 85 people attended the event, which included a question and answer segment at the end.
Bert Romberg was born in Astheim, Germany in 1930, just before the Nazi regime took power. He lived with his mother and sister, Magie, for the early years of his life. In his speech, Romberg discussed how Hitler took advantage of the worn-down German citizens after World War I and promised “to make the country great again.”
“The leadership [of Hitler] began to preach gospel that says, ‘Let us lead you out of this, we will make you great again, we will give you jobs, we will bring you prosperity and Germany will again be a leader in the world,” Romberg said. “Nazi propaganda that was being put out said, ‘The Jews are our enemies, they’re our internal enemy.”
Romberg said the Nazi regime blamed Jews for Germany’s misfortunes and created laws that made it impossible for Jews to continue living normally. These laws caused hardships by stripping away Jewish rights to work, education and police protection. Romberg said he saw this adversity by watching his mother.
“Mother was faced with serious problems,” Romberg said. “Commercially, the business was going to fall about and collapse around her, and the neighbors who used to be her friends [would] no longer trade with her or pay back [their debts].”
As she realized the danger approaching her family, Romberg’s mother decided to apply for a visa to work in Great Britain. She sent her two children to the Kindertransport, a rescue mission of thousands of Jewish children, which allowed them to stay with private English citizens. From there, Romberg and his sister were separated into different foster families.
“For every child that got out onto the Kindertransport, 150 died for the next six years,” Romberg said. “That’s how lucky we were.”
Per British Parliament, the refugees were to be taken care of at no cost to the treasury, which left foster homes responsible for the Jewish children. Romberg’s foster family, the Sheppards, taught him to speak English and gave him piano lessons.
“They shared what nothing they had with me,” Romberg said. “They were kind and good to me. It was a good life.”
Romberg received a scholarship to complete his education at Battersea School and after
British law gave more freedom to Jewish refugees, Romberg was reunited with his mother and sister. He left for the United States in 1945, where he got a degree in mechanical engineering.
Graduate student Colleen Lambo attended the event and enjoyed hearing a new side of the story she has heard for so long.
“I thought it was a really interesting and unique perspective,” Lambo said. “I am used to hearing the stories of the concentration camp victims, but to hear someone who was so successful escape and so thankful about it, was really great.”
Philosophy senior Jonathan Martinez said although the point of view was different, the story was still incredibly sad.
“His story is quite a different one than what you normally would hear from speakers who talk about the Holocaust, but even though it turned out notably better than a lot of the other situations that occurred, it’s still quite heartbreaking to see all the crimes that were occuring,” Martinez said.
Rabbi Yossi Lazaroff, Director of the A&M Rohr Jewish Center, said students should take the opportunity to attend events like this because they will not always have the opportunity to do so.
”It’s important for people to be able to hear firsthand from a survivor, because over the next ten years there may not be any survivors left,” Lazaroff said. “I support any Jewish events that happen here on campus [because] I am the only rabbi at Texas A&M on campus, and events like this are important to support.”

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