Ask Mathilde Freund her age and she offers a demure response, “It should be a secret!” The 96-year-old Freund has reason to be proud of her age, but modesty forbids. She has met some of life’s toughest challenges and has witnessed history’s darkest moments. She is a holocaust survivor who arrived in New York with mother, daughter, and a wedding ring hidden in the hem of her skirt. Her newlywed husband died at Buchenwald. Her brother was shot on orders from Klaus Barbie.

Freund’s wedding ring. Photo by Tom Stoelker

Freund takes a highly philosophical perspective of these events, much of it culled through literature read as a student in Fordham’s School for Professional and Continuing StudiesCollege at 60 program. The program turns 40 this year and Freund has been taking class there for 35 years.

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