Tribute to Fred A. Kahn (a.k.a Freddy Lejeune)
SPEECH OFHON. CHRIS VAN HOLLENOF MARYLANDIN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVESTHURSDAY, MARCH 13, 2014
- Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the outstanding achievements and remarkable life story of Fred A. Kahn. In addition to his 30 years of distinguished service as a federal employee, Mr. Kahn is credited for his role as an original architect of the modern American Presidential debate and for his work to promote tolerance and understanding through Holocaust education.
- Mr. Kahn was born to Jewish parents in Wiesbaden, Germany on December 19, 1932. In January 1933, when Hitler rose to power as Chancellor of Germany, Mr. Kahn’s parents fled to Belgium, leaving their infant son behind in Germany in the care of his Uncle Siegfried and Aunt Rosa. On October 1, 1938, six weeks before the terror of Kristallnacht, Siegfried and Rosa arranged for six-year-old Fred’s dramatic escape and successful reunification with his parents on the German-Belgian border. Following the occupation of Belgium by the Germans in May 1940, the family went into hiding until Belgium’s liberation in September 1944. Sadly, Siegfried and Rosa were both murdered by the Nazis.
- Mr. Kahn immigrated to the United States when he was 19, settled in Baltimore, Maryland, and was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 17, 1953. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen on November 24, 1953 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina while serving with the 82nd Airborne Division. After basic training, he was assigned to the 525th Military Intelligence Service where he worked as an intelligence analyst. In March 1954, he returned to Germany, this time as an American soldier.
- After his honorable discharge from the Army in 1955, Mr. Kahn enrolled in the University of Maryland. Mr. Kahn devised an idea that would later become a revered tradition in American politics. In 1956, Mr. Kahn approached the University administration with a novel idea—a proposal for an on-campus Presidential debate. The Maryland Board of Regents rejected the proposal. However, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt endorsed the idea. When Mr. Kahn attended the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair as an employee of the U.S. Department of State, he met with Gov. Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956. Governor Stevenson endorsed the idea as well. In 1960 the League of Women Voters organized the first Presidential debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.
- After graduating from the University of Maryland, Mr. Kahn was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He spent the next 30 years as a political economist for the U.S. government and was instrumental in the creation of the Job Corps for the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity. He later finished his career as an economist for the U.S. Department of Labor. Mr. Kahn served on the Board of the National Council of the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA), the Board of Editors of the Public Administration Review, and the Board of Directors of the Society of Government Economists. He was awarded a Distinguished Career Service Award by the U.S. Secretary of Labor.
- After his 1992 retirement from federal service, Mr. Kahn continued to serve his community as a teacher of Holocaust history, promoting tolerance and understanding. In 2005 Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich appointed Mr. Kahn to his Task Force to Implement Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights and Tolerance Education. Today, he moderates an online Holocaust remembrance group of over 300 members worldwide and is an active member of the Maryland-Washington, D.C.
- chapter of the World Federation of Child Survivors of the Holocaust.
- Mr. Speaker, I am honored to recognize the extraordinary life and achievements of Fred A. Kahn. Throughout his life, Mr. Kahn has worked tirelessly to make our world more tolerant and compassionate. He has made outstanding contributions to our government, our country, and our community, and I ask my colleagues to join me in expressing our appreciation for his service.