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Rudolf (Rudi) Lewy

Rudolf (Rudi) Lewy

Male 1919 - 2012  (93 years)

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  • Name Rudolf (Rudi) Lewy 
    Born 12 Feb 1919  Berlin, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Biography An Autobiography by Rudy Lewy

    As a businessman, Georg was not too successful. He enjoyed studies and hobbies not connected with the grain business. He was hard pressed to have enough money for the dowry of his only daughter. As a consequence, only one son could go to college. Immanuel was the choice. My father, however, was the maverick in the family. he finished the studies with high honors, but declared to his orthodox parents, “I can't become a Rabbi as I don't believe in it”.

    Immanuel went back to school and studied modern languages, but his parents didn't want to hear from him. Erich, his younger brother, had already become quite successful, lent him the money for his schooling..

    In Germany, teaching was a much-honored profession. He started teaching as World War 1 broke out. Previously in 1913, at the wedding of Louis and Johanna Lewy, he was seated beside a cousin of the bride. They were married, as Immanuel was on his way to the recruiting office.

    History repeated itself in 1943, when I became engaged to Esther, as I was about to go overseas. It was Esther's choice to get married rather than wait for the war to be over. We married in camp, ten days before I went overseas for two and a half years.

    Immanuel served on the Russian front. He was hospitalized due to complete exhaustion. He got separated from his unit and he became a military censor of POW letters as he read both English and French.. Near the end of the war, he served on the western front.

    My mother moved to Delmenhorst, where her parents lived. Here food was readily available as compared to near starvation in the big cities. I was born shortly after the war, but prior to my father's release from the army.

    On release he went to teach in Silesia. First in a small town near Breslau and then in Breslau itself. In 1924, a former college roommate, Kurt Loewenstein had been made a school superintendent of the district of Neukoelln, in Berlin, Germany. Kurt soon became a member of the Reichstag and he was able to find a position for my father, which he held until 1933, when the Nazis pensioned him at _ of a normal pension. This pension made him stay in Germany instead of leaving and life was not yet impossible. Rather as I often explained to people here, the Nazis used a gradual method, like tightening a belt one notch at a time. All the while leaving Germany became much more difficult.

    My father taught English and French to Germans preparing to leave. At the same time he wrote his books about the utopic world order. He was a great optimist and believed in the goodness of people. One of his manuscripts fell into the wrong hands and it wasn't long before the Gestapo arrested him and jailed him in Berlin, Germany, fortunately for him this happened before concentration camps had been established.

    There was supposed to be a trial to see if his ideas were against the Nazi state, but no one seem to understand his philosophical writings. He was sent home during a Christmas release.

    One would think that the time to leave had arrived, but not for my father. The impending Berlin, Germany Olympics of 1936 was making life a little more bearable, due to all the foreign visitors. I still belonged to a German sports club and as I was a good sprinter was picked to run with 11 others in the Olympic torch run, which brought the flame from Athens to Berlin, Germany. I am sure I was the only Jew, because in our district the old Socialist and Communist leanings were not completely eliminated.

    In 1938, things got very serious. In July, the Nazis marched along Kurfuerstendamm, the main shopping street and marked all the Jewish stores, of which there were many, with large swastikas and JUDE signs. A few months later on Kristallnacht, these stores were destroyed.

    In the fall of 1938, my father asked his brother Erich in England to get him a visa. Having been imprisoned as a political qualified him for a British visa. My mother got a visa as she got a job as a maid, a position much in demand. My brother who was 12 years younger qualified under the kinderstransport program. I was 19 years old; the world was in a depression, no one wanted under job seeker.

    We had no relatives in the USA, except for a brother-in-law of an uncle, who had made it to New York in 1938. I was friendly with him. This gentleman met a successful businessman in a bar who indicated that he would be prepared to sign an affidavit for a young single person, to immigrate to the USA. This was the only way in.

    Through the help of an American that I befriended at the consulate in Berlin, Germany, my application moved rather quickly. Three months after Kristallnacht I had a visa. The Nazis wanted the Jews to leave as long as they left their possessions behind. One could take some clothes but taking money was punishable by death. I took a chance and sent one suitcase to Rotterdam and one to London.

    Instead of leaving by the western border, I went to Denmark, where the refugee flow was minimal. I had a very tiny suitcase and took the boat train to Copenhagen. I had airline tickets to London, to see my father, and then to Rotterdam to board a boat to the USA. Both suitcases were waiting for me.

    In the USA, my guarantor found me a job a job as a shipping clerk that stood me well till I spoke English well enough. I then took a course as a lathe operator, not really my cup of tea, but there was a shortage of defense industry workers.

    After Pearl Harbor, I volunteered as I felt that if we don't win, I didn't want to run again, probably with no other place to go. The army declared me an enemy alien as I was born in Germany. That I was a Jew and wanted to fight was not relevant to the bureaucracy. Finally in the fall of 1942 I was drafted.

    My father continued with his writings, when the war started, England expected everyone to do something to further the war effort. My father was given a job as a baker, which I couldn't see him doing, but he did, while my uncle was sent to the Isle of Man as an enemy alien. As the war ended, my wife arranged an affidavit for my parents, as I was still overseas. They arrived in the USA before my return in 1945.

    After a while, my father got a job as a messenger on Wall Street. Then he started to “ghost” articles for Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan of the Reconstructionist movement. During this period, my father had returned to Judaism. He went to synagogue, albeit a reform synagogue. He published two books. The first was “The Birth of the Bible”, which was his idea of how the Bible was written. He credited the Prophet Nathan and teacher of King David with all human aspects of Bible. His second book was titled, “The Growth of the Pentateuch”.

    These books were far from being best sellers. The Orthodox doesn't want to hear anything about the Bible that is not as they learned it. The Reform is not that interested in theological books. I have other manuscripts in my basement but no one to give them to, and I don't understand the theories.

    As one can see. I was brought u during the years that my father was very freethinking. Only after coming to America, I got involved in a group of young immigrants as we all lived in the same neighborhood. There I met my wife, who comes from an orthodox family. I was kind of re-converted, even though we belong to a reform synagogue here.

    All my life I have been a vegetarian, because my parents were when I was born. I had all kinds of difficulties with keeping away from meat and fish. I did keep to it, and today stats say that 1% of the population are vegetarians. On my father's gravestone, I had the epitaph “ He was ahead of his time” engraved.

    After the war, I met a European importer (only much later did we find out that he was in college with Eliezer Lewy). I worked for him and he offered me a partnership. However, before we could discuss it further he had a heart attack. So I managed the business for his wife, eventually buying her out and bringing in my brother-in-law.

    The business grew during many good years from 1961 to 1986. Then I felt that I was old enough to retire. We sold to a large company who was not very diligent, and in a few years they ran the business into the ground. However, I had a good lawyer, my son, who made sure that we were paid in full.

    My brother worked for us, and then liking the business opened an antique shop in Cape Cod. I don't see him often, but we speak on the telephone frequently. 
    Hebrew Birth 12 Ada 5679 
    Residence 1919-1939  Berlin, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Immigration 27 Feb 1939  New York, NY, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Hebrew Death 22 Ada 5772 
    Occupation Importer of China & Glassware 
    Residence New York, NY, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Residence New Milford, NJ, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Residence Boynton Beach, FL, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 16 Mar 2012  Boynton Beach, FL, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I5331  Blank Family
    Last Modified 15 Apr 2012 

    Father Immanuel Lewy,   b. 19 Sep 1884, Berlin, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Feb 1970, New York, NY, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 85 years) 
    Mother Helene Frank,   b. 9 Feb 1893, Delmenhorst, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Jul 1971, New York, NY, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 78 years) 
    Married 9 Feb 1915  Mannheim, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F1493  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Esther Rennert,   b. 4 Oct 1922, Mannheim, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Oct 2008, Boynton Beach, FL, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 86 years) 
    Married 14 Apr 1943  Dothan, AL, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Living
     2. Living
    Last Modified 12 Mar 2006 
    Family ID F1742  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 12 Feb 1919 - Berlin, Germany Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - 1919-1939 - Berlin, Germany Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsImmigration - 27 Feb 1939 - New York, NY, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 14 Apr 1943 - Dothan, AL, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - - New York, NY, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - - New Milford, NJ, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - - Boynton Beach, FL, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 16 Mar 2012 - Boynton Beach, FL, USA Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    Lewy Rudy 1993
    Lewy Rudy 1993

  • Sources 
    1. [S171] New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 , Ancestry, S.S.Noordam from Rotterdam.


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