Irving Roth: ‘You can always do something in the face of evil.’

Each speaker that CSU welcomes for Holocaust Awareness Week brings a lesson listeners should not forget. This year’s guest, Irving Roth, delivered a powerful testimony filled with tragedy, warmth and even a little humor.  

At 90 years old, Roth, commanded the stage in the LSC’s Grand Ballroom for two hours reflecting on his childhood in Czechoslovakia before the Nazi’s ripped his homeland and his family apart. In May of 1944, at the age of 14, Roth was forced onto a cattle car and shipped to the gates of Auschwitz.  

“That night in that train, within 24 hours, 3,700 Jews were turned into ashes,” Roth said. “three hundred were kept alive, and I was one of them.”

Holocaust survivor Irving Roth speaks to the CSU campus as during Holocause Awareness Week. February 20, 2019

Roth told the audience that it took not one miracle but many that to keep him alive, even after he was transferred and eventually liberated from Buchenwald. But little did Roth know that while he spoke to the audience in the LSC, a special guest sat amongst the attendees.  

Leila Morrison, 96, was a nurse in the U.S. Army during World War II and was amongst the liberators who rescued Roth from Buchenwald on April of 1945. Morrison was brought onto stage and Roth embraced her as the audience stood up to witness a “thank you” over seven decades in the making.  

Roth touched on the importance of making sure there are surrogate survivors to keep history alive and that there is always light in darkness we just have to find it.  

“You can always do something in the face of evil,” said Roth. “And you must.” 

Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik echoed Roth’s emphasis on doing our duty to pass history down to future generations.  

“CSU has been privileged and we are very fortunate to have a survivor here,” said “The question therefore asked is what can we do to remember, and the answer is in this room and we will find ways to keep history alive through living testimony.” 

Roth has since paid many visits to Auschwitz and Buchenwald and continues to share his story. His faith remains unshaken as well as his sense of humor. 

“I’ve kept my faith,” said Roth. “My faith in man is questionable, my faith in God is A-OK.”