Alfred and Ellie Loewenstein's son Curt was born November 17, 1925 in East Prussia. Curt's brother, Henry, was two years older. In 1935, the Nazi party passed the "Nuremberg Laws" which imposed severe restrictions on Jewish people. This sent a strong message to non-Jews: discrimination and abuse against Jews would be tolerated and even encouraged. Alfred, as a Jew, was prohibited from practicing law. Curt, one of five Jewish boys in his public school, was beaten up and all the Jewish families were very afraid. His family ...
Alfred and Ellie Loewenstein's son Curt was born November 17, 1925 in East Prussia. Curt's brother, Henry, was two years older. In 1935, the Nazi party passed the "Nuremberg Laws" which imposed severe restrictions on Jewish people. This sent a strong message to non-Jews: discrimination and abuse against Jews would be tolerated and even encouraged. Alfred, as a Jew, was prohibited from practicing law. Curt, one of five Jewish boys in his public school, was beaten up and all the Jewish families were very afraid. His family moved to Berlin and on November 9, 1938, the director of Curt's school told his students that they were surrounded by members of the Hitler Youth. The students were directed to "get home as fast as you can." Curt ran to his bicycle and pedaled home, dodging the rocks being thrown at him. He saw them smashing windows of many Jewish-owned stores and restaurants. This became known as Kristallnacht, or Night of Broken Glass. When Curt reached his family's apartment, his mother took him to the window and pointed to smoke coming from their synagogue, which was burning to the ground. Curt's thirteenth birthday was days away. A very important for Jewish boys, because this is when they are welcomed into adulthood in a bar mitzvah. Curt's bar mitzvah was cancelled because their synagogue was gone. Curt's father was arrested and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Ellie did not know if her husband would come home; but, thankfully, he was released three weeks later. Rabbi Manfred Swarsensky, was also imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and later released. After his return, he gathered together the 35 boys who had been preparing for their bar mitzvahs and performed a group ceremony for the boys. The Jewish community became more frightened. Curt's brother Henry left for England to safety on a Kindertransport. His parents moved Curt to Amsterdam in hopes of going to America. In June of 1943, Curt and his mother were seized and taken to Westerbork, a transit camp that was used to hold Jews until they could be deported to extermination camps in Poland. They were released two weeks later, with their identification papers reading, "Postponed from deportation until further notice." They returned to Amsterdam. Two months later, the entire family was picked up and sent to Westerbork. After six weeks, they were released, but the hardships had taken their toll. Curt's mother was ill. Curt was almost eighteen and he joined a resistance group and bade farewell to his parents. The Jewish man Curt Loewenstein disappeared, and a non-Jewish man named Ben Joosten took his place. "Ben" pretended to be a small-town teacher staying with various families and working on farms. He secretly became a member in the resistance. If he sensed that people were becoming suspicious of him, he moved away to start anew. Late in 1943, Curt learned his mother was very sick in the hospital and he risked his life to go see her. She died not long after his short visit. "Ben" and his fellow resistance workers defied the Nazis by fighting to save Jewish lives. They delivered Jewish children to families willing to face the risks of hiding them. Ben regularly checked on the children, brought them food and clothing and moved them when necessary. The brave resistance workers saved the lives of 123 Jewish children. Their dangerous work was over when the war ended. In 1947, Alfred and Curt immigrated to America where their last name was shortened to Lowen's. Curt's new life in NYC included studying acting. He met and married Katherine Guilford. Ironically, Curt's first Broadway acting role was playing a Nazi guard in a play called Stalag 17. A successful career in theater, film and television followed.
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