Recounting his experience during World War II as a German-Jew to CSUN students Friday, Dr. Henry Oster told his story of being deported from Cologne, Germany, through ghettos and camps and coming out a survivor.
Oster, along with the help of New York Times writer Dexter Ford, retells his story of being a boy during the holocaust in his book “The Kindness of the Hangman.”
“My story is one of many, but the exception is I would not know until 2011, to be the sole survivor of the 2,011 Jews deported from Cologne,” said Oster.
Being one of the few who survived, knowing that many of those survivors would not be willing to share their experiences and that many others just want to forget, Oster decided to tell his story.
Oster said he would have never written his story if it weren’t for Dexter Ford who was Oster’s patient at the time. Oster was an ophthalmologist.
“Dexter was to be my patient and one day he discovered the number on my arm and was curious enough and new about the meaning of it and he said ‘oh you have to write a book'” said Oster.
During the lecture, Oster recounted his first time experiencing anti-Semitism, the selections that almost always happened in the “darkness of night and with a German shepherd,” his time in Auschwitz and the moment he saw tanks and the people who would liberate him.
Many students taking classes in Jewish studies attended and also others from the Northridge community to hear Oster’s story.
Milly Lopez, sophomore public health major, attended because she was interested in what he would have to say.
“He was the last survivor and he shared with us his story, it was touching,” said Lopez.
Taking 6-7 years to write, Ford said it was hard waking up in the mornings and deciding to write the story because of the content but Oster was inspiring- “he sees everyday as a gift.”
Oster explained how he would not let what happened to him dominate him.
“Hate will simply eat you up from the inside out and I will not give them the satisfaction,” said Oster.