Friday, January 28, 2011
Holocaust survivor Henry Oertelt, who was awarded an honorary Ph.D. from St. Cloud State in 2006, died Thursday at his home in St. Paul.
“Henry was a good friend of St. Cloud State and shared of his time and his life story many times on this campus,” said Criminal Justice Professor Barry Schreiber, who nominated Oertelt for the honorary doctorate. “We were proud to have St. Cloud State offer Henry its highest award.”
The author of "An Unbroken Chain: My Journey Through the Nazi Holocaust" frequently shared his inspiring story with Minnesota students of all ages, including several presentations at St. Cloud State. In 2007 he recorded his book at KVSC studios into a 12-part podcast. In it he recounts his youth in Berlin during the rise of Hitler and the Nazis, his incarceration by the Gestapo in five concentration camps, and his eventual rescue by U.S. soldiers who were liberating Europe in April of 1945.
“Our students, our school and the community at large have benefited from Henry’s eloquent and courageous testimony of survival,” said Rabbi Joseph Edelheit, director of religious studies at St. Cloud State. “His death at the age of 90 reminds us that the generation of those who have survived will all soon die out, and their story will no longer be able to be uttered as an “I.”
“We were honored to have Henry read his book for the audio podcast made available to listeners around the world,” said Schreiber, who has incorporated the Oertelt podcast into his teaching.
“We will miss him and are better people for his having shared part of his life with us,” Schreiber said.