All the Way from Australia: Meet Mr. Frank Lowy

The lone wagon that stands on the railway tracks inside Birkenau is not empty. It is filled with memories of all the souls it transported to this dark place.

frank lowy 1

Inside, there is also a prayer bag which holds a ‘Talis’ and a pair of ‘Tefillin’. They used to belong to Mr. Hugo Hillel Zwi Lowy and is now a symbol of the spiritual resistance that took place during the Holocaust.


H LowyIt is right at this location and train car – that Mr. Lowy resisted an order to give up his tefilin, 69 years ago. As a result, guards bludgeoned him to his knees, but he held on to his bag. As the guards kicked his bloodied body to the ground, he held on to his bag of talit and tefilin – and died.


The bag of Talis and Tefillin in the car

Hugo’s son, businessman, philanthropist and Holocaust survivor Frank Lowy will deliver a keynote address tomorrow.

As a boy, Lowy managed to escape the Nazis. 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.

Hugo's sons, by the wagon
Hugo’s sons, by the wagon

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.

Businessman and philanthropist Frank Lowy. Photo: Henry Benjamin.

“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.”


About the Author
The annual March of the Living brings students to Poland to learn about the history of the Holocaust and to examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hate; Now in its 25th year, the program has brought more than 150,000 youth from around the world to march down the same path leading from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day; In this dedicated blog, participants in the March of the Living 2013 trip share their thoughts, opinions, pictures and experiences; Participants who want a chance to publish in the Times of Israel MOTL-2013 blog should submit blog posts to