When Rosalyn Kirkel was 4 years old, an unfamiliar man came to take her from her family.
The man, a Lithuanian Jew, was Kirkelâ€™s father.
Having survived the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, he had come to reclaim his child from the family that had cared for her. The man came with an officer in the Russian secret police to take Kirkel from the family she had been raised believing was her own.
As an infant, Kirkelâ€™s parents had given her to the family to aid her escape from Nazi raids of their ghetto. While Kirkelâ€™s father survived the holocaust, her mother did not.
Kirkel shared her experiences Monday night with about 200 students and community members in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom as part of the Universityâ€™s 14th annual Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Week.
She spoke as a part of the weekâ€™s kickoff event: a panel of holocaust survivors hosted by the Jewish campus organization Hillel and the CSU Students for Holocaust Awareness.
Kirkel shared the stage with Estelle Nadel, who was only 6 years old when Nazi soldiers killed her father and sister while transporting them to Auschwitz, Poland.
Nadel and her brother survived together in hiding for many years before their discovery by Polish police and the Nazi Gestapo.
They were taken to a jail but were able to escape through the bars in the windows and through the pure will to survive made it back to their few living family members still in hiding.
The family struggled for months to avoid both Nazi forces and violent local anti-Semites before landing in New Jersey on April 1, 1947.
Kirkel, too, made her way to American shores.
â€œWe got off the boat, my fatherâ€™s feet touched the ground and he kissed the ground of America,â€ Kirkel said. â€œWe were in America, where there was freedom and opportunity.â€
Audience members at the event said they were inspired and touched by the womenâ€™s stories.
â€œWe can definitely learn to be more tolerant and learn that one word and small little things can spark an entire change in the world, either good or bad,â€ said Kelly Hennegan, a senior technical journalism major.
_Staff Writer Jordyn Dahl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. _
Holocaust Memorial Week Events
Free showing of â€œDefiance,â€ a movie of three brothers who fight for Russia after they escape Nazis
When: Tuesday, March 2 at 7 p.m.
Where: LSC Theater
Litany of Martyrs: volunteers reading names of all those who died in the Holocaust
When: Tuesday, March 2 through Thursday, March 4, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: LSC Sunken Lounge
Paula Burger Art viewing and Lecture: survived holocaust and is a painter in Denver
When: Wednesday, March 3, 6 and 7 p.m.
Where: LSC Theatre
Panel on Genocide: Omhagain Dayeen, Michael Ditchfield, Timothy R.W. Kubik
When: Thursday, March 4, 7 p.m.
Where: LSC North Ballroom
Memorial Service: concludes Week of Remembrance, service to remember the victims with readings, songs, candles and prayers
When: Friday, March 5, 4 p.m.
Where: LSC Grey Rock Room
Shoe Project/Old soles for new hope: donation of gently worn shoes to donate in remembrance of the victims of genocide
When: People can donate at any of the events of Holocaust Awareness Week