From the Ghetto to Big Rapids

Holocaust survivor Martin Lowenberg speaks at Ferris

Holocaust survivor, educator and public speaker from the Holocaust Memorial Center Martin Lowenburg tells his story of narrowly surviving six different concentration camps in Nazi-occupied Europe. Photo By: Samantha Dow | Torch Photographer

The Nazis exterminated more than six million European Jews during the Holocaust. Very few survived, and even fewer went on to tell their story to the world.

Ferris State welcomed 25-year Holocaust Memorial Center educator Martin Lowenberg this past Tuesday, Jan. 31, to speak in Williams Auditorium.

“There were one and a half million children under the age of 15 that were killed. Jewish children. They had no chance,” Lowenberg said.

Lowenberg told his story as a Jewish boy growing up in Germany, slowly realizing the growth of Jewish intolerance to being forced into a ghetto and eventually transported to six different concentration/labor camps before being liberated in Malmo, Sweden, in 1945.

Ferris business administration senior Keegan Murphy recalled one story of Lowenberg’s youth graphically.

“One story that was disgusting was when he was nine in school and his teacher made him sit on thumb tacks and nails for being Jewish,” Murphy said. “If you are nine, you don’t understand why that is happening to you. I don’t think any student here can fully grasp what that would be like if it happened to them.”

In 2006, Lowenberg was honored by the Program for Holocaust Survivors and Families for his dedication to Holocaust education and remembrance.

The effect of a survivor sharing their experiences during the Holocaust is much more powerful than simply reading about it or watching a video.

This opportunity is unfortunately becoming much of a rarity as many of the survivors are dying without having told or recorded their stories. Lowenberg will be turning 90 years old next January.

“All students should take the opportunity to listen to a survivor speak because several generations have past since the Holocaust happened and it’s important to learn the lessons that these stories tell and from the people that actually went through these atrocities,” Murphy said.

Lowenberg ended his presentation by advocating for the love of human life and warning against giving in to hate. Lowenberg made it clear innocent people do not deserve to go through what he did.

“When I was liberated, I was 17 years old and weighed 76 pounds,” Lowenberg said at the close of his presentation.

The event was sponsored by the FSU Arts & Lectures department in correspondence with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which fell on Friday, Jan. 27, this year.

For more information on Martin Lowenberg’s story, visit the Holocaust Memorial Center website.