Holocaust survivor & war hero Stephan Lewy has made a difference in countless lives
On Monday, May 20, local dignitaries, family members and many friends of Mr. Stephan Lewy gathered at the Brothers of Mercy Wellness Campus as Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz and Commissioner of Personnel Timothy Hogues presented him with the 2019 “Erie County Senior of the Year” award.
An author, lecturer, and presenter for the Erie County Department of Senior Services’ University Express program, Mr. Lewy is a Holocaust survivor and U.S. Army veteran.
Now retired at 93, he volunteers with the local Holocaust Resource Center and shares his personal story with schoolchildren around Erie County; his presentations highlight the consequences of hatred.
“Mr. Lewy is a tremendous example of a person who has overcome significant challenges in their life and now continues to give back to the community. He has lived through events that most of us only know through history books, and has seen both the best and worst of what humankind is capable of. His valor and volunteerism are to be celebrated, and our community is a better place thanks to him” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz.
Although Mr. Lewy has only lived here at Brothers of Mercy for about a year, his story has truly resonated with many. Not only has he shared his experiences with many residents, but he’s also opened up his home for tours, to showcase historical memorabilia from his past…some of which were on display at Monday’s awards ceremony.
Mr. Lewy has worked to enlighten so many people with a first-hand account of this historical period. His simple, but powerful message:
“Do Not Hate”
Born in Berlin, Germany in 1925 and of Jewish descent, Mr. Lewy experienced many Nazi indignities before escaping the regime in 1939. As World War II engulfed Europe, Lewy found refuge in the US and was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1943. As an interpreter assigned to the Sixth Armored Division under General George Patton, he liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp and witnessed firsthand the evil perpetrated by the Nazis. It changed his life forever. Lewy was awarded the Bronze Star and five campaign stars for meritorious service at the conclusion of his military service.
Back in the US, he reunited with his father, who had escaped a concentration camp, later graduating from Northeastern University and marrying his love Frances in 1949. They have two children, Arthur and Ellen, and three grandchildren. In 2014 Stephan Lewy was awarded the French Legion of Honor at the State House in Concord, N.H. for his military service during World War II. Mr. Lewy’s book, “A Sejourn Into Freedom”, is available at Amazon or the Barnes & Noble website.
“Frequently, I speak in schools and to other groups, telling my story. I am often asked why I do this, why I willingly bring back unpleasant memories,” Mr. Lewy said. “Firstly, my generation is getting older – there are fewer and fewer survivors to tell their stories. Secondly, our stories show what can happen if people do not act. Perhaps if enough people hear my story, history will not repeat itself. I only hope that the world has learned a lesson.”
To learn more about Mr. Lewy’s remarkable journey, check out the below articles and link to his book:
The Buffalo News:
The Clarence Bee: https://www.clarencebee.com/pageview/viewer/2019-05-22#page=0
WBFO Radio: https://news.wbfo.org/post/erie-countys-senior-year-uses-life-story-warning-about-hate
Mr. Lewy’s Book: