Lowy joins his granddaughter on March of the Living

March 14, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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Westfield co-founder Frank Lowy will be a keynote speaker at this year’s March of the living in Auschwitz…with his 16-yr-old granddaughter Rina joining him as a member of the Australian contingent.

Alex and Frank Lowy and the wagon of Birkenau

Alex and Frank Lowy remember their father Hugo at the wagon of Birkenau


The 2013 March of the Living is expected to bring over 10,000 young people, survivors and adults from around the world to Auschwitz-Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day, where they will march in memory of the six millions Jews murdered in the Shoah, and in memory of all victims of Nazi

A wagon used to transport Jews to the death camps

A wagon used to transport Jews to the death camps

The event will mark the 70th anniversary of the heroic Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. During the uprising, a small band of Jewish fighters held off their German attackers for more than a month, after they had planned to liquidate the Warsaw ghetto in three days.

Former Israeli Chief Rabbi, Israel Meir Lau, a child survivor of the Holocaust, will address the participants, as will the Chief of Staff of the Israel Defence Force, Benny Gantz, the son of Holocaust survivors.

While the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising represents physical resistance, a keynote address on spiritual resistance will be delivered by Frank Lowy who survived the war and settled in Australia in 1950 after spending the immediate post-war years in Israel where he fought in the fabled Golani Brigade in the 1948 War of Independence.

As a boy, Lowy was able to escape the Nazis, but his father, Hugo, perished in the Holocaust. Almost half a century later, Hugo’s story of faith and resistance was revealed. It was told by a man who was with him in the train to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. Beside the train, Hugo endured blow after blow rather than obey an order to give up his prayer bag that held his Talit (prayer shawl) and Tefillin (phylacteries). These were so sacred to him that he continued to defy orders as the guards beat him to death in front of many others who understood what he was defending.

Hugo was one of almost half a million Hungarian Jews to perish in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. After a long search, the Lowy family found a wagon similar to the one which had been used to transport the Hungarian Jews and in 2009 brought it back to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The wagon is dedicated to the memory of the Hungarian Jews. Inside, it holds a blue prayer bag as a symbol of one man’s willingness to pay the ultimate price for his faith.

The wagon and Hugo’s story will play a central role both in the 2013 March of the Living’s educational efforts and during the commemorative ceremony held on the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau on April 8th, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“Given that 2013 marks the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, we decided to utilize the heroic story of Hugo Lowy as a way of teaching our young people about spiritual resistance during the Holocaust,” said Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, Founder and Chairman of the International March of the Living Inc.

Cedric Geffen

Cedric Geffen

Three of the grandparents of Sydney’s Central Synagogue’s Chazan Shimon Farkas perished in Auschwitz. Farkas will participate in March of the Living and will chant the memorial prayers at the ceremony.

2013 marks the 25th anniversary of the March of the Living. In January a special reception to mark the event was held at the home of Ronald Lauder, where he was presented by Ron Prosor, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN with the March of the Living’s Global Ambassador for Jewish Renewal award, for his visionary
philanthropy, which has rebuilt Jewish life in a part of Europe once ravaged by the destruction of the Holocaust and stifled by decades of oppressive Communist rule.

March of the Living Australia’s contingent will comprise a 44-strong Year 11 student group, accompanied by Survivors, Educators, Madrichim, Communal leaders and auxiliary staff as well as a 25-strong Adult group consisting of community members from South Africa, USA, Canada and other countries.

March of the Living brings students and adults from all over the world to Poland and Israel to mark the most significant dates in the modern Jewish calendar. In Poland, their program includes visits to once thriving sites of Jewish life and culture. On Holocaust Remembrance Day itself, participants will march from Auschwitz to Birkenau in memory of all victims of Nazi genocide and as a symbol against prejudice, intolerance and hatred. From Poland, participants travel to Israel, the birthplace and homeland of the Jewish People, where they President of Marchicommemorate Israel’s fallen soldiers on Yom Hazikaron and celebrate Israel’s independence on Yom Ha’atsmaut.

Since the first March of the Living was held in 1988, over 150,000 youth from around the world have marched down the same path leading from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

President of March of the Living Australia Cedric Geffen told J-Wire: “Around 10,000 students and adults will line up outside of Auschwitz 1 and will walk under the tragically iconic “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign before embarking on the the 3 km walk to Birkenau. They will follow in the footsteps of luminaries such as Elie Wiesel, Shimon Peres and Ariel Sharon who participated in previous Marches of the Living, as they walk along the railway line leading into notorious death camp.”

He said there was a possibility that Lowy’s granddaughter Rina Lowy, the daughter of Steven and Judy Lowy, may walk with her grandfather to the wagon with the rest of the Australian contingent saying that the Year 11 Moriah student would be making a testimony of her own.

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