Holocaust survivor Dr. Walter Ziffer
This year, as we return to the theme of the Holocaust, we are pleased to welcome survivor Dr. Walter Ziffer.
Born in Czechoslovakia in 1927, Dr. Ziffer is a professor, theologian, scholar and author. In his memoir, “Confronting the Silence: A Holocaust Survivor’s Search for God,” Dr. Ziffer recounts his boyhood, the Polish and German invasions of his home , his deportation and three years of experiences in Nazi concentration camps.
In 1939, Dr. Ziffer recalls being evicted from his home, along with his parents and sister, and transported to a dulag, a transit camp for prisoners. He became separated from his family and was taken to a work camp, and imprisoned in eventually seven other camps, where he witnessed the many horrors of the Holocaust.
After three years in the camps, Dr. Ziffer was liberated by Soviet troops, traveling to Paris and eventually resettling in Tennessee. He received an engineering degree from Vanderbilt University. Later switching careers, Dr. Ziffer became a minister and a scholar. His journey took him to Bangor, Maine, where he re-embraced Judaism and taught courses at the University of Maine. He later joined Congregation Beth Israel in Asheville and began his teaching tenure at UNC Asheville and Mars Hill College.
Dr. Ziffer earned two master’s degrees from the Graduate School of Theology of Oberlin College and a doctorate in theology from the University of Strasbourg, France. A prolific lecturer and teacher of dozens of Elderhostel courses, he has published many articles in Europe and the U.S. He is the author of “The Teaching of Disdain: An Examination of Christology and New Testament Attitudes Toward Jews” (1990) and “The Birth of Christianity from the Matrix of Judaism” (2006).
Today, he remains an adjunct professor in the Department of Philosophy at Mars Hill. He has taught classes in Judaism, early Christian history, Biblical Hebrew and comparative religion.