Herbert Lewin -- Stories of my Life

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Herbert Lewin tells us about the best stories of his life: From his childhood in East Prussia, his life in Israel and his return to Europe after the war

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Herbert Lewin was born in 1917 in Osterode, Germany (today Poland). Osterode was part of Prussia, a German kingdom that was ruled by the Hohenzollerns.


Herbert recalls experiencing very little anti-Semitism in Osterode before 1933.

Then in January 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. His ascension to power marked the beginning of Nazi terror, and the beginning of the end for many European Jews. Life became increasingly more unbearable as anti-Semitic policies and violence were legally sanctioned and politically justified.


Like many Jews in Germany, Herbert knew that he needed to leave the country. He began training for a new life in Palestine.


During the time of Pesach in 1939, Herbert had the possibility to travel illegally to Palestine. Poland would be invaded on 1 September of that year, signaling the start of the Second World War


After successfully reaching Palestine, Herbert lived on a kibbutz. “Kibbutz” means “communal settlement” in Hebrew. Kibbutzim are generally rural communities that are built around the notion of cooperative living.


In Israel Herbert fell in love with and married Gertrude, a Viennese Jew. Vienna, the capital of Austria, has been the long-time home for many Jews, including many well known Jewish figures such as Sigmund Freud and Stefan Zweig. 

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