Coe College hosts Holocaust speaker Isaac Levendel

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(319) 399-8605 or

2010-03-29 15:30:43 - General

Holocaust speaker and author Isaac Levendel, whose mother was an Auschwitz victim, will speak at Coe College on Monday, April 12, at 3:30 p.m. in Kesler Lecture Hall of Hickok Hall. Entitled "Isaac Levendel and the Search for the Past: Not the Germans Alone!", the event is open to the public at no charge.

Levendel was born in 1936, the only son of Jewish shopkeepers from Poland. His father spent the better part of World War II as a prisoner of war in Switzerland, but his mother died tragically. On June 5, 1944, the eve of D-Day, she left the farm in southern France where she and her son had gone to escape the Nazis for what was to be a two-day visit to their home to pick the last of their belongings. As Levendel would later discover, his mother was arrested by French collaborators and deported to Auschwitz, where she was immediately sent to the gas chambers.

Levendel was tormented by his mother's death for more than 40 years before looking for answers. Beginning in 1990, Levendel conducted extensive research including more than a dozen trips to France, where he oftentimes faced roadblocks to discovering the truth put up by the French bureaucracy. Eventually, he was able to access the secret archives of Nazi-controlled France to determine her fate. As a result, Levendel published the book, "Not the Germans Alone: A Son's Search for the Truth of Vichy," in which he details the evidence of widespread French collaboration with the Nazis during the war. It is the heartbreaking story of a young boy who lost his mother, the brave farmers who protected him, his struggle to accept her death, and the man he became.

Levendel overcame his childhood experience to study engineering in Israel, married, and fathered three children. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1974, where he earned a doctorate in computer science and engineering at USC. He worked at Bell Systems and Motorola in the Chicago area, before retiring. Levendel has authored numerous publications and earned several patents, awards and honors.

This event is sponsored by the Joan and David Thaler Holocaust Memorial Foundation. For more information, call 399-8581.