The lucky child surviving from Auschwitz – Thomas Buergenthal.

February 2, 2015 American University Washington College of Law hosted Thomas Buergenthal, Judge (Ret.), International Court of Justice, The Hague to present his book A Lucky Child and his astonishing experiences as a young boy in his memoir A LUCKY CHILD. Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy.

Thomas Buergenthal, now a Judge in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, was not quite six years old when he and his parents were forced into a Jewish ghetto in Poland. In August, 1944 Tommy, his father and fellow workers are loaded on a train for Auschwitz.

He arrived at Auschwitz at age 10 after surviving two ghettos and a labor camp.  Separated first from his mother and then his father, Buergenthal managed by his wits and some remarkable strokes of luck to survive on his own. Almost two years after his liberation, Buergenthal was miraculously reunited with his mother and in 1951 arrived in the U.S. to start a new life.

Professor Buergenthal is considered to be one of the world’s leading international human rights experts. This is the lucky child, who now dedicated to helping those subjected to tyranny throughout the world. Considered one of the world’s leading international human rights experts, Professor Buergenthal served as a judge on the International Court of Justice from 2000 to 2010 and was Dean at the Washington College of Law from 1980 to 1985.

He was a Judge and President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as well as President of the Administrative Tribunal of the Inter-American Development Bank, and a member of the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Truth Commission for El Salvador. He is the honorary president of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights in San José, Costa Rica.

This is the child who, finally convinced that the Soviet soldiers haven’t played a trick on him observes Thomas Buergenthal in his memoir about surviving the Holocaust. The author, a human rights lawyer living in America, qualifies it by adding: “I had learned the tricks I needed to survive.” Fighting those ideologies is one thing. How people can be so cruel in the first place is a question the author raises again and again.

Buergenthal must have had a possible self-schema. Possible selves: are the future-oriented components of the self-system. These schemas are abstract form of past as well as ongoing behavior. They include ideas of what people may become, what they would like to become, and what people are afraid of becoming. Thus, clear vision of “self” function as an incentive for future behavior, and future states, and as such can serve important and good links to his past.


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