Now 89, Martin Lowenberg retold his story of surviving the Holocaust to a full room at Michigan State University. Lowenberg made it through multiple concentration camps and was liberated at age 17. In hopes that the Holocaust never be forgotten, he shared the details of how his village and country persecuted him for his religious beliefsHe spoke at the Michigan State University Union on March 28 for a program arranged by the Lester and Jewell Morris Hillel Jewish Student Center.
“It’s a beautiful village,” Lowenberg said, showing a slideshow of photos that pertain to his experience growing up in Germany, “there’s nothing wrong with the village, but it was the people inside that became so hateful.”
Lowenberg recounted a day of school on Adolf Hitler’s birthday. He said his teacher lied, knowing Lowenberg was Jewish, accusing him of sticking his tongue out at a picture of Hitler. The teacher then called upon four older boys to beat him up and then pushed him into a board of nails.
He told of a babysitter who received threats for working for the Lowenberg family, businesses that refused to sell food to Jews and the people of his village burning down his family’s house.
Lowenberg gave many accounts of violence pointed toward Jews, including how his grandparents’ headstones were torn down during the second World War.
“Unfortunately there are people now in this country who want to do the same thing,” said Mr. Lowenberg referencing recent desecrations of Jewish graves. “If I would see any of those who do that, I would ask them ‘Now you’ve toppled them over, take it yourself and put it right back again where it was.’ It’s so sad when anybody does harm like that.”
During the years he spent in concentration camps, Lowenberg said he saw the devil every day and witnessed unbelievable cruelty and hardship.
“What kept us going really was the faith that we had and also the courage that we kept, faith, courage and hope.”
Eleven million people were killed during the Holocaust, including Lowenberg’s parents and younger twin brothers. He said it’s painful to talk about them even now.
“We should always be reminded,” Lowenberg said. “We know it hurts to hear that, but this is part of our recent history of what happened to our brothers, to our sisters, to our friends, parents and so on. We should never forget that.”