Bethany College’s graduation ceremony on May 11 was special for many reasons.
Not only was it the college’s 179th Commencement Ceremony, but it also honored alumnus Judge Thomas Buergenthal, class of 1957, who addressed the Class of 2019.
According to a press release from Bethany College, Buergenthal is one of the youngest survivors of the Auschwitz and
Sachsenhausen concentration camps.
“I cannot think of anything I achieved in my own life in which I was not helped by someone else,” he said during his keynote address. “No one is self-made in the sense that he or she wasn’t helped by others to achieve who they have become.”
The Bethany Board of Trustees had one more honor to bestow upon the human right’s advocate on his 85th birthday.
The Board announced it established a new scholarship in Buergenthal’s name.
“His life is a testament to the human ability to overcome horrific conditions and then to dedicate one’s self to improving those conditions for others,” said Kayce Mobley, assistant professor of political science, during her introduction of Buergenthal.
During his speech, he shared how being “self-made” is often a myth and how everything he’s achieved has come with help from someone else.
Buergenthal arrived at Auschwitz at age 10 after already surviving two ghettos and a labor camp. According to a press release, he was separated from his father and sent to a gas chamber. A random act of one of the SS officers saved Buergenthal’s life, as the officer altered his card that said he was being sent to the chamber.