SHOAH HONORS WUNDERMAN
NEW YORK — When Severin Wunderman, Corum Swiss Timepieces’ owner, entered the American Museum of Natural History to greet Steven Spielberg Wednesday night, it was an event with enormous meaning to both men.
Wunderman received one of two new Humanity Through Technology Leadership awards by Spielberg’s Shoah Foun-dation that night.
The award recognizes the contributions made by individuals who aid the foundation which videotapes, preserves and provides testimonies of Holocaust survivors and witnesses.
“It’s something the world should not forget,” Wunderman told WWD prior to the ceremony and fund-raising dinner, which attracted some 500 Shoah Foundation supporters, including Goldman Sachs managing director Robert J. Katz, and actress Helen Hunt, who was the evening’s master of ceremonies.
Wunderman, who for 25 years guided the Gucci timepiece business, owns 90 percent of the high-end Corum brand, which he acquired in January 2000.
He recalled how during World War II, he was hidden in Belgium in a convent for blind children.
“I was fortunate enough to be successful in life,” he said, stressing that he wouldn’t normally accept such recognition. “In our religion, if you accept accolades for a mitzvah (good deed), it’s no longer a mitzvah.”
Since this is the first fund-raising dinner and awards ceremony for Spielberg’s foundation, Wunderman said he wanted to show his support of its cause.
With such contributions, the foundation has so far been able to tape more than 1,500 testimonies from child survivors.
The evening’s other award went to Rena Rowan-Damone, who, with Sidney Kimmel, created Jones New York and is also a big supporter of the foundation.
“In life you have to be a mensch,” Wunderman said. “Everything you give in life comes back to you.”