Hedy Epstein (née Wachenheimer), born August 15, 1924 in Freiburg, Germany, was a rights activist and Holocaust survivor. On May 18, 1939, she escaped the horrors that were coming and went to England on a children’s transport.
She began to opposite Israel’s military practices during the 1982 Lebanon War. In 2001, she founded a St. Louis chapter of the Women in Black, an anti-war group founded by Israeli women focused on ending Israel’s occupation. She began travelling to Palestine and volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement in 2003, and she has been outspoken about what she witnessed and her own experiences with the Israeli state. Watch her speak at the University of California at Berkeley in 2010 here.
Hedy has been active professionally and personally in the causes of civil and human rights and social justice. Some of her causes have included fair housing, abortion rights, and antiwar activities. As a peace delegate, Hedy journeyed to Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Cambodia in 1989. Hedy visited the Israeli Occupied West Bank five times since 2003, to witness the facts on the ground. She participated in several non-violent demonstrations, together with Israelis, Palestinians, and other internationals, in opposition to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, the 25-foot-high cement wall, and the demolition of Palestinian homes and olive orchards.
Epstein passed away in 2016 at the age of 91. According to the New York Times, “Ms. Epstein often addressed audiences at schools and community events about the Holocaust. Her talks concluded with an admonition: ‘Remember the past, don’t hate, don’t be a bystander.’”