'If I stayed I would have been killed by Nazis'

1:00pm Tuesday 12th February 2013

Exclusive By Jaber Mohamed

A holocaust survivor from North Wembley has devoted his life since the Second World War to fighting fascism in Europe.

Even at the age of 90, Ernest Lowenberg, of Bryon Road, Brent, is still fighting to not let what happened to him happen to anyone else.

He is involved with campaigns to stop the far-right movement in Latvia and Lithuania and gives talks on stopping those seeking to emulate Nazism.

Ernest came to England at age 16 with the ORT school on the last boat from Berlin on August 29, 1939, just three days before the war began.

There were 106 boys on the boat who were forced to leave everyone they had known and loved behind to save themselves from certain death in the concentration camps.

Another boat of boys was due to come England in November but by then War had broken out and they became its casualties. 

“When the British realised what was happening to Jews they managed to get at least half the boys out of Berlin”, said Ernest.

“If I had stayed I would have been killed by the Nazis.”

Sadly, 11 members of the Lowenberg family lost their lives during the war, including Ernest’s brother and grandmother.

“The last time I saw my grandmother she said I should take care of myself, study hard and do honour to the family.

“She was deported shortly after and died in a concentration camp in 1943.”

Ernest’s father was also able to escape from Germany into Latvia only to suffer the same fate at the hands of the Russians.

The last time he saw his father was a week before his departure.

“I know that my father was able to get out of Germany because he was Latvian and had a Latvian passport.

“He was a qualified engineer and was promised a job there.

“But while there he was he was arrested for treason and was sentence to five years imprisonment in Serbia, where he died.

“He had done nothing wrong, he was a victim of Stalinism - he jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.”

His fathers name was rehabilitated in 1989. 

Once in England, Ernest was sent to work in a factory in Leeds, building parts for Spitfires.

“The culture was completely different to Germany”, said Ernest.

“We were told not to speak in German in public because it wasn’t safe but we were eventually accepted by the community in Leeds.”

Ernest stayed in Leeds for the duration of the war and once it was over returned to Germany working for the American Army as an interpreter based in Pullach, near Munich.

In 1964, he moved to North Wembley with his wife Rosemarie, where he still lives, and worked as an accountant.

After living in England for so long Ernest says he feels accepted in the community and could never return to Germany.

He added: “I would find it impossible to go back to Germany except on holiday. I am very happy where I am.”

Ernest reflects on his life and the loved ones he lost during the war and is quick to assert that his story is not unique.

He said: “I hope my grandmother would be proud of me.

“I’m not unique. There are at least 10,000 who came here and settled here.

“I’m not exceptional and I don’t want to be shown as being different to the many others.

“I’m just one of the few who are still alive.”

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