The Beit Yaakov Book Club read "Escape to Manila: From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror" by Frank Ephraim for the month of November. During the monthly meeting the book club had a zoom session with George Loewenstein.
George escaped to The Philippines when he was a child with his parents and grandparents. Most of which is documented in the book by Frank Ephraim.
To start the meeting, George told his harrowing story of escaping to The Philippines and the beginnings of living so far away from Germany, where he was originally from.
“I didn't know how to play. I couldn't act my age because life had to be so serious, I guess I grew up very quickly and I didn't really have a childhood” - George Loewenstein
George then spoke about the time when the allies retook Manila in February 1945. The Japanese were given written orders to kill every Filipino and burn down all of Manila. When his family heard the Japanese coming to burn down their house, they escaped to the house next door which had already been burned down. Only the roof remained of that house. They spent the next two days hiding under the roof of that house, next to the body of a dead woman. After 2 days he heard someone yell "the Americans are coming." He ran with his grandfather to watch the Americans. A shell exploded next them, his grandfather was killed. He did not have a scratch.
The Jewish soldiers were surprised to find Jews in The Philippines. He became a mascot of the soldiers. He was able to eat in the military barracks and he was able to get a uniform.
In 1946 his parents wanted him to have his Bar Mitzvah in the US. After beating all the odds, he and his family were finally able to immigrate to the United States. He lived there until a number of years ago when he made Aliyah to Israel with his wife so that he could be with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“If it weren't for The Philippines. I wouldn't be alive today.” - George Loewenstein
To learn more about George's story and other stories visit the page below;