06 Apr Yom HaShoah Event at SOJC Harry Lowenstein, Holocaust Survivor – April 23
Harry Lowenstein, a Holocaust survivor who became a prominent businessman in Kissimmee, will be speaking with our Religious School Students on Yom Hashoah, Sunday, April 23. Adults are welcome to attend and encouraged. The program begins at 11:00 AM, and is free and open to the public.
Harry was born in Fuerstnau (Westphalia), Germany, in 1931, the younger of two children. When he was ten years old Harry and twenty family members were deported to the Riga ghetto in Latvia, where they were crowded into a two-room apartment. A year and a half later, he
was taken to the concentration camp of Riga-Kaiser Walt. Lowenstein and his father went to the men’s camp and his mother and sister to the women’s camp. Lowenstein’s father fell ill shortly after they arrived and was sent back to the ghetto, which was liquidated months later. Lowenstein never saw his father again.
While in Riga-Kaiser he remembers the constant fear of being chosen for the gas chamber and ongoing, intentionally cruel actions by Nazi guards. In the fall of 1943, as the Russian front drew close, Lowenstein, along with thousands of other Jewish prisoners, were moved several more times as the Nazis tried to avoid the Allied forces.
On March 10, 1945, he was liberated by Russian soldiers in Lance, a small town in Poland. Recalling his mother’s instructions from years earlier, the 14-year-old returned to Fuerstenau to see if any of his family members had survived. He waited in vain. He was the sole survivor from his family. After spending the next four years in children’s camps in Hanover and Paris, Lowenstein immigrated to the United States in March 1949. He stayed in The Bronx with an aunt and uncle who had fled Germany before the war. He worked during the day and attended school at night. In 1952 he moved to Florida, where he met his wife and business partner, Carol, a transplanted New Yorker living in Daytona Beach. For years they operated a clothing store in Kissimmee in 1957. They have three children and 10 grandchildren.