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Holocaust survivor Cesare Frustaci to speak at Coe

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

2014-03-26 10:29:18 - General

Cesare Frustaci sits with a photograph of his mother, Margit Wolf. Frustaci will speak at Coe about his World War II era experiences on Wednesday, April 9.

Holocaust survivor Cesare Frustaci will speak about his World War II era experiences at Coe College on Wednesday, April 9, at 3:30 p.m. in Kesler Lecture Hall in Hickok Hall. The presentation is open to the public at no charge.

A native of Italy, Cesare was the son of a Jewish mother, Margit, who was a ballerina, and a Roman Catholic father, Pasquale, a famous orchestra director and music composer. In 1938, the Italian government imposed anti-Semitic laws and began expelling foreign Jews from the country. Cesare and his mother were sent back to Hungary, and they were not allowed to return home.

Cesare and Margit were forced to live in a Yellow Star house within a ghetto for Jews. She made the difficult decision to send him out on the street after curfew with only a piece of bread and his Catholic baptismal certificate. Margit knew this would increase Cesare's chance for survival.

Cesare devised clever ways to obtain food and shelter. Eventually, he was captured and sent in a boxcar to a youth detention camp. His mother was sent to a slave labor camp in Germany, where she was forced to work in a bombshell factory.

After liberation, the International Red Cross helped place Cesare in a new home. Margit spent almost two years searching for him. She walked all the way from Germany to Hungary, searched 183 villages, and finally found him living on a pig farm with an adoptive family. Once mother and son were reunited, she enrolled him in school because education was their first priority. They returned to Budapest and resumed their lives. Cesare's father, Pasquale, searched in vain for years for his family, but was not able to locate them. Some 20 years later, they were finally reunited in Italy.

Today, Cesare resides in Florida and regularly shares his stories with audiences across the country.

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