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April  25, 2011

Holocaust survivor shares story of months in hiding

Walter W. Reed will relate his experience as a child refugee of the Holocaust in the Quad Cities Holocaust Remembrance lecture on Monday, May 2, at 7 p.m. in Wallenberg Hall at Denkmann Memorial Building (3520 7th Ave.). Reed's lecture will recount his time at the abandoned Chateau de La Hille in France. The event is sponsored by the Geifman Endowment in Judaica and is free and open to the public.

Reed was born in a small village in Bavaria in 1924. On Kristalllnacht (Night of Broken Glass) in 1938, the 14-year-old Reed was arrested alongside other Jewish men and older boys in the village. After his release, his parents decided to send him to a refugee center in Belgium, where he would be able to receive relatively normal day-to-day care and attend a vocational school.

When the Germans invaded Belgium in 1940, Reed and 100 other boys and girls in the refugee center fled to France. There they were housed in a barn without beds or running water, and several months later moved to the old, abandoned Chateau de La Hille. Reed and the other surviving refugees from the chateau now refer to themselves as the Children of La Hille.

In 1941, Reed received a visa to come to the United States where his mother's siblings had emigrated. He lived in New York until 1943, when he was drafted into the United States Army and offered citizenship. During the naturalization process, he changed his name from Werner Rindsberg to Walter Reed.

After he was released from service, he pursued a degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and began a career in public relations. More recently, he has taken a special interest in preserving the stories of the other refugee children at La Hille. He and his wife have arranged or attended several reunions with other La Hille survivors in the past 15 years. Now in his 80s, Reed keeps busy traveling to schools and other venues to share his personal account of the Holocaust's atrocities.

Augustana College is honored to host the Quad Cities Holocaust Remembrance service as a part of the Geifman Endowment in Judaica donated by Gerry and Morris M. Geifman. The endowment supports the college's acquisition of information materials in Judaic studies and culture, as well as providing for guest lecturers and student scholarships and awards. Scholarships will be awarded before Reed's lecture.

Keri Rursch
Director of Public Relations
(309) 794-7721
kerirursch@augustana.edu