Michael Bornstein & Debbie Bornstein Holinstat Presentations

  • September 15, 2019 - September 16, 2019

Join the Iowa Jewish Historical Society for two exciting and memorable free events featuring Auschwitz survivor Michael Bornstein and his daughter Debbie Bornstein Holinstat.

About the Speakers


Michael Bornstein is one of the youngest survivors of the Auschwitz death camp. At the age of four, he managed to stay hidden and evade murder in the most notorious death camp in world history. Photos of Michael being liberated by Soviet soldiers at the camp have been spotted on museum walls, book covers, and film clips around the world but he waited more than seventy years to step forward and share his story.

He wrote the New York Times bestseller Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz with his daughter Debbie, who is a broadcast news journalist and writer. Along the way, he and his family were stunned to uncover shocking new details about his survival that included a bribery scheme, untold acts of kindness by a German leader, and one perfectly-timed brush with illness.

Come hear Michael and Debbie describe how Michael was hidden in Auschwitz for seven months before being carried out of the death camp in his grandmother’s arms. Learn how a father’s courageous wit, his mother’s love, and a perfectly-timed illness saved his life. Hear, too, how other members of his family from Zarki, Poland escaped death time and time again.

Michael came to the United States 6 years after being liberated from Auschwitz, eventually earning his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics and Analytical Chemistry from the University of Iowa and working for more than four decades as a scientist and researcher helping to develop life-saving antibiotics, growth hormone and cancer treatments.

Debbie Holinstat has spent her career writing for some of the biggest names in broadcast news, including Lester Holt of NBC Nightly News, CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield and the Today Show’s Natalie Morales. She is also a freelance corporate media coach. But her greatest professional reward has come from writing alongside her own father, Michael Bornstein, as they collaborated on Survivors Club. When her dad gave her the go-ahead to share his history publicly, neither of them knew how many surprises remained to be learned about his survival.

Event Details


  • Free admission
  • First come, first seated
  • Book signings will follow both events

Sunday, September 15

2 p.m. – Staplin Performing Arts Center, Valley High School

Monday, September 16

7 p.m. – Ames Middle School, 3915 Mortenson Road, Ames, IA 50014

Our Sponsors


The Iowa Jewish Historical Society is deeply grateful to our sponsors who are not only making Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat’s possible but are also making it possible for the IJHS to make the public events at local schools free to all. Additional sponsorships welcome! Contact Sandi @ 515-987-0899 ext. 216.

Platinum Sponsors

Lou and Marilyn Hurwitz

Silver Sponsors

Don and Margo Blumenthal
Larry and Suzanne Engman
Stan and Mary Seidler
Tim and Toni Urban
Alan Zuckert
Randi and John Stern