Holocaust Survivor and Scholar Walter Ziffer to Speak April 18 at UNC Asheville


Walter Ziffer, Holocaust survivor, author and educator, will present a talk, Holocaust: When Law and Righteousness Clashed, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18 in UNC Asheville’s Humanities Lecture Hall. This talk is free and open to everyone, and will be followed by a Q&A session and book signing.

As a teenager in 1942, Ziffer was seized from his home in what is now the Czech Republic, separated from his family, and sent to a series of Nazi slave labor concentration camps. He was finally freed at the age of 18 by Soviet troops and eventually was able to reunite with his parents, who had been held in separate camps and also survived until their liberation. He returned home and trained as a mechanic, then, after moving to the U.S., he worked for General Motors as an engineer.

Ziffer then turned to theology and earned two master’s degrees and a doctorate in that subject, and worked as a Christian minister. He also authored several books about his experiences during the Holocaust, Judaism and early Christianity. He has taught at the University of Maine, UNC Asheville and Mars Hill University, as well as at theological seminaries in Europe and the U.S. He now considers himself a secular Jewish humanist.

Now 91 years of age, Ziffer continues as a public speaker and writer. A year ago, he published his most recent book, a memoir titled Confronting the Silence: A Holocaust Survivor’s Search for God. Professor Richard Chess, chair of UNC Asheville’s Department of English and director of the university’s Center for Jewish Studies, described what Ziffer offers readers: “You will learn of Walter’s complex life journey, and you may experience, thanks to his skillfully told story and clearly articulated questions and insights, a sense of his presence, the presence of a great man who finds in his own story lessons important for the rest of us, especially now.”

Ziffer also is the author of The Teaching of Disdain – An Examination of Christology and New Testament Attitudes Toward Jews, and The Birth of Christianity From the Matrix of Judaism.

This event is presented by UNC Asheville’s Department of Political Science. For more information, email political­­_science@unca.edu or call 828.251.6634.