Henri Freyburger isn’t nervous about his upcoming talent presentation at the Little Balkans Senior King and Queen Pageant, to be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Sept. 4 at Meadowbrook Mall.

Henri Freyburger isn’t nervous about his upcoming talent presentation at the Little Balkans Senior King and Queen Pageant, to be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Sept. 4 at Meadowbrook Mall.
After all, the pageant judges and the nice people watching the pageant won’t be as hard an audience as the Nazi bigwigs.
“I’m going to play piano for the pageant,” said Freyburger, who will be the assisted living king candidate representing Cornerstone Village.
A Pittsburg State University professor emeritus in the foreign language department and former department chairman, Freyburger is a native of Alsace, France.
Germany occupied that region in 1940, when he was 13. Already a talented musician, he was sent to a Nazi-controlled conservatory in Berlin. As part of the curriculum, students played for Nazi party members, including Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s powerful minister of propaganda.
At 16, Freyburger was drafted into the German army. While fighting the Russian army, he was captured and held in Siberia. At the end of the war he was released from the prison camp, returned to France and volunteered for the French army. After a short time stationed in Berlin, he was sent to Vietnam in 1947, while the French were battling Ho Chi Minh. The French left Vietnam in 1953, and Freyburger, whose sister lived in Wichita, decided to come to the United States.
He studied at Friends University and the University of Arkansas, Freyburger joined the PSU faculty as an instructor in French, eventually becoming foreign language department chairman. For many years he also coordinated and led study tours to France.
There were some challenges at PSU, but they were minor compared with the ordeals he had been through.
“Sometimes I would give a C or D to a football player, and then the football coach would call and tell me that I couldn’t do that because the football players were on scholarship,” Freyburger said. “I would get a little pressure, so I’d change my little grades. I was flexible and maybe I had graded them too hard.”
Right now, he and Lois Bellm, Cornerstone assisted living queen candidate, are  practicing for the pageant. She plans on playing the theme from the film “Dr. Zhivago.”
“I think maybe I’ll play ‘Besame Mucho’,” Freyburger said.