Australian Jewish News, By Phoebe Roth, March 19, 2013
BUSINESSMAN, philanthropist and Holocaust survivor Frank Lowy will deliver a keynote address at this year’s March of the Living (MOTL), which coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
The annual event, which is running for its 25th year, is set to bring more than 10,000 students, adults and survivors from around the world to Auschwitz-Birkenau on Yom Hashoah next month.
While the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising represents physical resistance, it is spiritual resistance that will be one of the main themes of MOTL 2013 – and the topic of Lowy’s address.
As a boy, Lowy managed to escape the Nazis, but his father, Hugo, perished in the Holocaust. Almost 50 years later, his story of faith and resistance was revealed by a man who was on the train to Auschwitz-Birkenau with his father in 1944. Hugo endured blow after blow rather than obeying an order to give up his prayer bag, which contained his tallit and tefillin.
After a long search, the Lowy family located a wagon that had been used to transport Hungarian Jews and in 2009 brought it to Auschwitz-Birkenau where it was dedicated to the memory of Hungary’s half-a-million victims. 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, as well as Hugo’s story, will play a central role both in MOTL’s educational efforts and during the commemorative ceremony to be held on the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau on April 8. “I was very pleased to be invited to deliver a keynote address at the March of the Living ceremony in Birkenau this year,” Lowy told The AJN. “It is a particularly significant invitation because my father was taken to Birkenau in 1944 and never returned.
“I was 13 when my father disappeared. Now I am 82 and have the opportunity of honouring him in the place where we now know he drew his last breath.”
Former Israeli Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, a child survivor of the Holocaust, will also address the participants, as will Chief of Staff of the Israel Defence Forces Benny Gantz, the son of Holocaust survivors.
Sydney chazan Shimon Farkas, three of whose own grandparents perished in Auschwitz, will chant the memorial prayers at the ceremony.
Businessman and philanthropist Frank Lowy. Photo: Henry Benjamin.