Holocaust survivor Renee Firestone to speak at Coe

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(319) 399-8605 or rpritcha@coe.edu

2013-04-03 10:33:03 - General

Renee Firestone

Holocaust survivor Renee Firestone will speak about her World War II era experiences at Coe College on Wednesday, April 17, at 3:30 p.m. in Kesler Lecture Hall of Hickok Hall. Firestone's presentation will be open to the public at no charge.

A native of Czechoslovakia, Firestone was imprisoned at age 19 for 13 months in the infamous concentration and extermination camp at Auschwitz/Birkenau during the last years of World War II. Her entire family was murdered except for her father, Morris, who died of tuberculosis shortly after liberation and her brother, Frank, who was a partisan.

Following liberation in May of 1945, Firestone was reunited with her brother and her soon-to-be husband, Bernard. She settled in Prague and completed her education in the Prague School of Commercial Arts. In 1948, Firestone immigrated to the United States with Bernard and their infant daughter, Klara. After arriving here, she pursued her love of fashion, becoming a noted designer.

In the Los Angeles Jewish community, Firestone has been a tireless leader in many areas of social justice, Holocaust remembrance and education. As the founding lecturer for the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Educational Outreach Program, she lectures throughout the United States and abroad about her experiences as a Holocaust survivor. Firestone has been invited on many occasions to address the various branches of the U.S. military including the Marines, Air Force and Army, as well as NASA. She is a presenter in the "Tools For Tolerance" program addressing teachers and members of various local law enforcement agencies on issues relating to cultural diversity and sensitivity.

Firestone has been the subject of countless television, radio, documentary and print media interviews regarding the Holocaust and its contemporary implications. She served multiple terms as president of Shelters For Israel. Firestone was twice honored by Israel Bonds with the Elie Wiesel Holocaust Remembrance Medal and the Golda Meir Award. In May 2010, Firestone was honored by University of Redlands with their first ever honorary Ph.D. in Educational Justice.

For 10 years, Firestone was involved as a trainer and interviewer with Steven Spielberg's "Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation," an organization founded to document the testimonies of the last remaining survivors of the Holocaust. Firestone was rewarded for all her tireless efforts by being one of five survivors whose experiences were featured in the film "The Last Days," which received the 1998 Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary. Today, Firestone still conducts trainings for the Shoah Foundation.

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