Author(s): Bert Lewyn; Bev Saltzman Lewyn
Biography | No Category
Bert Lewyn was still a teenager when he and his parents were arrested by the Gestapo. It was 1942 in wartime Berlin. The Nazis were rounding up any and all Jews remaining in the country. While his parents were sent to a concentration camp, Bert's youth and training as a machinist made him useful. He was sent to work in a weapons factory. He received one postcard from his parents, then never heard from them again. Through a combination of luck and will to survive, Bert fled the factory and lived underground in Berlin. By hook or crook, he found shelter, sometimes with compassionate civilians, sometimes with others who found his skills useful, sometimes in the cellars of bombed out buildings. Without identity papers, he survived in part by successfully mimicking German civilians-even masquerading as a German soldier or SS officer. He had several close calls with the Gestapo and was eventually captured. But Bert masterminded an ingenious escape and remained free until the end of the war. Bert conditioned himself to handle the constant fear and frequent close calls without surrendering his will to prevail. Before World War II, there were 160,000 Jews living in Berlin. By 1945 only 3,000 remained alive. Bert was one of the few who survived. His first-person story is a bird's-eye view of what it was like to be a free Jew in Nazi Berlin, against all odds.