Olmert lets the cat out of the bag

April 19, 2010 Agencies
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It was no secret in Sydney, but it appears the Lowy family’s dedication of a boxcar at Auschwitz used in the transport of Jews to the death camp was supposed to be a secret in Israel…until former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert let the cat out of the bag.Haaretz has reported that Olmert was to be the keynote speaker at the strictly private family event but had to return to Israel to face an investigation.

Frank Lowy

The ceremony was performed in private on Thursday at Auschwitz but according to Haaretz, the Israeli journalist enlisted by Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal, Micha Limor, did not attend. The report states that Limor boycotted the ceremony since “he understood that what had begun as a memorial project had turned into a private affair”. The journalist admitted that he had accepted the assignment from UIA before knowing how it was being funded.

Limor found the car in Wessum, a German village close to the Dutch border. It belonged to a doctor who was not invited to the ceremony even though, according to Haaretz, he had donated the car. The paper reports that the two German artists who restored the car were also not on the list of invitees.

The car, which now stands on the track at Birkenau at the point of arrival of rounded-up European Jews, bears the sign “The train car was donated and restored by the sons of Hugo Lowy, who was put to death here in May 1944.” Auschwitz management has been believed to be against the dedication of a memorial to a single person but Haaretz reports that another sign stands alongside the Lowy family one in remembrance of all Hungarian Jews put to death at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Shopping centre magnate Frank Lowy funded the synagogue at Sydney’sMoriah College. It bears his father’s name.

Hugo Lowy carried a package when he arrived at Birkenau. It was taken from him and thrown on a pile along with others. He turned back to retrieve and was beaten to death.

The package is believed to have contained his tallith and tefillin.

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