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Auschwitz survivor to speak at Bethany

February 26, 2011
The Herald-Star

BETHANY - Bethany College will celebrate its 171st anniversary with its annual Founder's Day program Thursday.

Festivities will include the traditional Founder's Day Convocation, to be held at 11 a.m. at Commencement Hall and feature guest speaker Thomas Buergenthal.

A 1957 Bethany graduate and former judge on the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Buergenthal is an Auschwitz survivor who serves as a professor at the George Washington University Law School.

"It is an honor to announce that such an esteemed leader in the international pursuit of peace and justice will join us in celebrating the founding of Bethany College," said Bethany College President Scott D. Miller.

"Thomas Buergenthal has lived his life in service to others and is a remarkable example of the values at the very heart of the college's mission."

Buergenthal arrived in the United States when he was 17 years old after spending more than 10 years of his childhood in German camps, including Auschwitz.

He graduated from Bethany College in 1957 and went on to earn a juris doctorate from New York University Law School and addtional degrees in international law from Harvard University.

He has authored or co-authored many articles and more than a dozen books, including the first international human rights law textbook in the U.S. He recently published "A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy."

One of the world's leading authorities on international law and human rights, he served as the American judge for the International Court of Justice in The Hague, The Netherlands, for more than a decade.

In addition to the convocation, a wreath-laying ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m. at the grave of Alexander Campbell, Bethany College's founder and first president.

Guests are invited to visit the Campbell Mansion, one of Bethany's National Historic Landmarks, following the ceremony.

Bethany College received its official charter from the Virginia Legislature on March 2, 1840. It was affirmed on June 20, 1863 by the newly formed West Virginia Legislature.

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