Since 2000, he’s been involved with HMLC serving in several roles. Find out what in his family history piqued his interest in the Holocaust.
Kent Hirschfelder (Olivette) has been named Chair of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center. He has been involved with the Holocaust Museum since 2000, when he signed up to be a docent.
From 2006-2011, he served as Chair of the Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) Committee, established the Corporate Partnership Committee in 2011 and is currently on the Create a Jewish Legacy Committee for the Museum.
Kent’s interest in the Holocaust began in 1963, after a visit to Munich and Rexingen, Germany, a small village of 1000 inhabitants in the Black Forest where the Hirschfelder family traces its roots back to 1750. In 1936, his father emigrated from Munich, to Chicago. In 1966 a visit to Auschwitz further piqued his interest.
In 1991, Hirschfelder visited Krefeld, Germany, where in October, 1941, his great-uncle Isidor, a noted pediatrician, had committed suicide the night before his deportation to Auschwitz. The town had named a street, school and plaza in his uncle’s memory, and Hirschfelder participated in a ceremony naming a new pediatric hospital for him.
Subsequent trips to Germany took Hirschfelder into Gestapo archives to do research on his family, back to Rexingen and Krefeld, and to Berlin to honor non-Jewish German citizens who had worked to teach the lessons of the Holocaust in their communities.
Born in Centralia, IL, in 1945, Hirschfelder received his BA and MBA from Washington University. He spent 25 years in the restaurant business before getting into commercial real estate.
Married 43 years, he and wife, Deborah, are the parents of two daughters, Melanie Berkowitz (Northbrook, IL) and Beth Wilensky (Ann Arbor, MI), and five grandchildren.
The Holocaust Museum and Learning Center is a department of Jewish Federation of St. Louis.