Harvey Fireside was born on December 28, 1929 in Vienna, Austria. At the time of his birth, and until he came to America in 1940, his name was Heinz Wallner. His father had changed his name from Feuerzeug to a more neutral name.
In March 1938, when the Nazis took over Austria, Jewish citizens listened in horror as the streets were filled with cheering Viennese, many of them sporting gold Nazi emblems, identifying them as members of the once illegal Nazi party, now a badge of special import. Eight months later, the full impact of the Nazi invasion became clear. On Kristalnacht," the Night of Broken Glass," Hitler Youth marched through Vienna smashing Jewish-owned shops and taking anything of value. Harvey's father owned a small photography studio. A Christian friend who was now a Nazi official called Norbert to come to his shop. When he got there, the place was looted, but the official had chased the thugs away, and allowed Norbert to take out one professional camera and a guest book. Within days, Harvey's family was forced from their home and resettled in the Jewish Ghetto with members of his stepmother's family. Harvey's family frantically looked for a way to leave Vienna, and help came from Norbert's brother in Illinois. Harvey accompanied his father to the U.S. Consulate, where their fate would be sealed. The Consulate physician hesitated to approve Norbert because he had a limp, but Norbert noticed a brand new camera on the physician's desk and commented on its virtues, and by the time he explained to the physician how it worked, the doctor said, "You will have no trouble earning a living in America. In April of 1940, Harvey, his father and stepmother left for America, and suddenly, Heinz Wallner became Harvey Fireside, the same last name as Norbert's brother.
In 1944 Harvey and his family moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey, where Harvey attended high school. He was valedictorian of the class of 1948, and went on to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard University, class of 1952. He earned an MA from Harvard in 1955, and a Ph.D., from the New School for Social Research in 1968.
In 1959, after a whirlwind romance of just ten weeks, he married Bryna J. (Levenberg) Fireside in New York City. By 1968, with two small children in tow, they left Greenwich Village for Ithaca, where Harvey accepted a teaching position with Ithaca College in the Politics Department. He later became the Charles A. Dana professor of politics. Harvey encouraged his students to take part in the Ithaca community by volunteering in a service organization of their choice. Many of his students volunteered at the Ithaca Youth Bureau, others at the Mental Health Association (of which Harvey served as president for several years). Harvey also encouraged his students to work in local and national political campaigns, several of whom campaigned for Matt McHugh for D.A. who became the first Democratic D.A. in Tompkins County since the Civil War. He retired from Ithaca College in 1996 where he was name professor emeritus.
He has had articles published in dozens of journals and magazines and has conducted research in such areas as Soviet human rights, U.S. immigration policy, and human rights violations during the Bosnian conflict. Fireside's lifelong devotion to humanitarian causes is evidenced by his current association with the Border Fund and his leadership of the Bosnian Student Project, which secures U.S. scholarships and accommodations for young refugees from Bosnia. Over the years, Fireside served as chair of his department, of a dean's search committee, of an inter-disciplinary curriculum committee, and of a long-range planning committee on admissions.