My name is Kati Preston. I am seventy-seven years old, and after a number of different careers, I finally found the reason for my present life. I now spend most of my time speaking in schools, colleges, libraries and other venues, about my life experience. I also speak about my fervent belief in the power of each one of us to make the world a better place, through tolerance. Although, most of my time is spent speaking and writing, I am also still chair of “Hampstead Stage Company”. We are a non-profit theatre company that I helped start over thirty years ago. I am very proud of this as well, because we tour all over the U.S. bringing adaptations of classic literature to thousands of schools and libraries.
I was born in 1939, at the start of the Second World War, to a Hungarian Catholic mother and a Jewish father. My whole Jewish family of 28 members was exterminated in Auschwitz, but my life was saved by a Christian peasant girl, who hid me in her hay barn. I grew up in Hungary and Romania under communism, and then later immigrated to Israel. I studied in Paris, became a journalist and fashion designer in Israel, worked in fashion in New York, Lisbon, Milan and London where I ran my own large successful fashion business.
After moving to the US, I started the theatre company, designed costumes, and got involved in local politics. I started speaking because, as time passes, there are very few survivors left. Recently I wrote a book about my life: “Holocaust to Healing. Closing the Circle”, and I am now working on a book for middle schools. I feel it is vitally important not to forget history. I not only speak for the dead, but through my life story, I hope to teach tolerance and acceptance. Young people are living in an exceptional time these days. They are more informed, more open, and they are willing to listen, accept and embrace tolerance.