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May 12, 2016 4:20 pm

Fashion Designer Diane von Furstenberg Says She Is ‘Torch of Freedom’ for Holocaust Survivor Mother

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

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Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg said she serves as a "torch of freedom" for her mother. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg said she serves as a “torch of freedom” for her mother. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Famed fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg said on Tuesday night that she sees herself as a “torch of freedom” for her mother, who survived the Holocaust.

“I still to this day cannot believe my own mother was there,” said the Jewish fashion icon at New York City’s Museum of Jewish Heritage, where she was being honored at its 20th Annual Heritage Dinner.

Von Furstenberg’s mother, Liliane Nahmias, who was of Greek-Jewish descent, was involved in resistance efforts against the Nazis and helped Jews get counterfeit papers, according to JTA. She was arrested in Belgium and shipped to Auschwitz in May 1944. She survived the Nazi death camp and was liberated 13 months later, according to The Wall Street Journal. She weighed just 49 pounds when she returned home at the end of World War II.

Nahmias later married Leon Halfin, a Romanian Jew who hid in Switzerland during the war. Their daughter, Diane, was born in late 1946.

Von Furstenberg also told the event attendees about her preoccupation with the Nazi genocide saying, “All I read is books on the Holocaust; all I see is movies about the Holocaust,” adding that sometimes her friends poke fun at her for this.

Copies of the designer’s 2014 memoir, The Woman I Wanted to Be, were available at the event. Von Furstenberg explained why, though she carries a sultry look in the photo on the cover of the American version of the book, her expression is different in the picture on the front jacket of the German translation.

“I look at the Germans straight in the eyes,” she said. “Just like my mother said to.”

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