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January 23, 2004 - Image 89

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-01-23

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Obituaries are updated regularly and archived on JN Online:


The Rescuer




eter Vlcko lived two lives — and saved the
lives of many others.
During World War II, he fought against the
pro-German Slovak government and rescued 20 Jews
from deportation by the Nazis. In his life in the United
States after the war, he was a father, author and lecturer.
In 1981, Mr. Vlcko received the Silver Medal for
Righteous Gentiles from Yad Vashem in Israel.
Surrounded by the descendants of the Jews he saved
from the Holocaust, he saw a tree planted in his honor
on a Jerusalem hilltop.
Mr. Vlcko's name has also been engraved in the
Garden of the Righteous in the Holocaust Memorial
Center in West Bloomfield.
Mr. Vlcko, 91, of Lincoln Park, died on Jan. 11,
2004. He is survived by his wife, Georgina, four chil-
dren and nine grandchildren.
Born in Slovakia, Mr. Vlcko volunteered with the
army in 1931 and was a second lieutenant when the
Germans invaded and occupied his homeland in 1939.
Disarmed and reassigned to a War College in
Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, he obtained captain's rank
and met his figure wife in 1941.
In 1944, despite discovering that she was of Jewish
ancestry, he married Georgina, arranged to hide her
and her family and supplied them with false identifica-

The Educator


r. Otto Feinstein, spent his life as a devoted
educator, scholar and political activist. For 43
years, he was a professor of political science at
Wayne State University in Detroit.
Dr. Feinstein, 73, of Detroit, died of cancer of the
esophagus on Dec. 30, 2003. A memorial service for
him will be held 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26, at WSU's
General Lecture Hall, 5405 Anthony Wayne Drive.
Call (313) 577-2630 for information.
After escaping Nazi-occupied Austria with his par-
ents and brother Alfred, the family arrived as refugees
in New York City in 1940. Dr. Feinstein graduated at
the top of his high school class and attended the
University of Chicago (BA., 1950) and the Institut des
Hautes Estudes International at the University of
Geneva, Switzerland (MA., 1953).
After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean
War, he finished his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago
(1965) where he met his late wife, Nicolette.
Dr. Feinstein's life at WSU began in 1960 when he
joined the faculty of Monteith College, an experimen-
tal liberal arts school. Over the years, he served as an
educator, researcher, and administrator. He developed
and was central in the creation of numerous centers,
institutes, and programs at WSU including the Center

Lion papers.
Through his position in the ministry of defense
department, he also obtained false papers for 20 other
Jews, risking his own life.
"I don't know how he met . these people or how he
was introduced to them; but somehow
through the word on the street, they
came to him," said his son Peter. The
papers "designated them as essential
personnel, and kept them from being
Mr. Vlcko took part in the Slovak
national uprising against the Nazis in
1944, escaped capture twice and
remained in hiding until the end of the
war. At different points, he escaped the
Germans troops by disguising himself
as shoemaker and as a woman.
After the war, he became a lieutenant
colonel in the Czech army, assigned to
Peter Vicko
the military intelligence department.
When Soviet tanks invaded in 1948, he escaped -
alone into Bavaria. One year later, he was reunited with
is wife and two children. With help from American
authorities, the family immigrated to America and set-
tled in Detroit.
He was intimately involved in family life once he came
to Detroit because he had to put his professional warrior
background away and adjust to a new world, said son Peter.
After two years at Henry Ford Community College
in Dearborn, Mr. Vlcko was hired in 1952 as a design-
testing engineer for Ford Motor Company and he
retired in 1977. He became a consultant at Ford for

two more years.
But he never forgot his past.
"My father was always battling against evils like
totalitarianism, communism, fascism and anti-
Semitism," said Peter.
In 1973, Mr. Vlcko finished In the
Shadow of Tyranny, his 860-page autobiog-
raphy. He lectured on the human rights
violations of fascism, communism and anti-
Semitism throughout the United States and
In 1991, Mr. Vlcko was granted hon-
orary Israeli citizenship; and both he and
Georgina regained their Czechoslovak citi-
In 1994, Mr. Vlcko was invited as the
guest of honor of Slovak President Michal
Kovac, honoring his activities during the
uprising and promoting him to the rank of
major general, retired.
"He loved his family very much and
worked his whole life to keep them safe," said
"We all looked to him as being able to resolve any
problem, despite the odds," said son Peter. "He had
that commanding presence that had us all convinced
that no matter what we faced, he'd get us through it."
A memorial service was held at St. Henry's Catholic
Church in Lincoln Park. Mr. Vlcko's remains were cre-
mated and will be taken to Slovakia this spring.
Said Peter, "My father's spirit continues to live on
today in the eyes.of the children of the Jewish people
that he saved." O

for Peace and Conflict, the Center for Chicano
among youth locally and internationally. Last year, the
Boricua Studies, the College of LifeLong Learning, and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
the To Educate the People Consortium.
cited this project, called the Youth Urban Agenda-Civic
He created and was the director of the
Literacy Project.
Communication-Information System for the
Counted among his many accomplishments are hun-
Unemployed, where thousands of "downsized" autowork-
dreds of papers, books, conferences, television programs,
ers in the early 1980s went back to
and campaigns. Among the honors he received
school. He worked extensively with pro-
were an award from the Chief Justice of the U.S.
moting education dissemination thro
Supreme Court for employment projects for ex-
the use of television, such as the innova-
offenders (1986); Pioneer in TV Broadcasting
tive Working Channel.
from Michigan Public Broadcasters
Along with continuing education,
Association (1986); Innovative
Dr. Feinstein's work focused on ethnici-
Programs from National University
ty and international politics including
Continuing Education (1986);
ethnic conflict and globalization. To
Community Service Learning Award
this end, he was instrumental in the
from Michigan Campus Compact
development of the Michigan Ethnic
(1994); and the Conienius Prize pre-
Heritage Studies Center and the
sented by the European Symposium
Dr. Otto Feinstein
International Institute for the Policy,
of Voluntary Associations (2000).
Practice, and Education of Adults.
These accomplishments along with Dr.
Dr. Feinstein worked with government to promote
Feinstein's strong commitment to teaching led to his
his educational mission. A lifelong precinct delegate, he profound influence on innumerable lives.
encouraged others to become involved in politics. He
Dr. Feinstein is survived by his daughters, Sarah
was active in Michigan politics and served as the
Feinstein and Tasha Feinstein, both of Maryland. He
Michigan Chair for the Eugene McCarthy presidential
was the beloved husband of the late Nicolette Feinstein.
campaign (1968) and was runner-up for chairperson of
Interment was in New Jersey. Contributions may be
the Michigan Democratic Party.
made to the National Holocaust Memorial Center in
He developed and implemented a groundbreaking
Washington, D.C. Arrangements by Ira Kaufman
educational program for promoting civic engagement




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