Thanks to Lorrie Greenhouse Gardella, we can add to the archives of Holocaust history the remarkable story of social work theorist Louis Lowy (1920−1991). Drawing on the recollections of Lowy, his wife, and their companions, Gardella keeps discussions of Lowy’s social work theory relatively marginal, focusing instead on the wartime story, making this slim biography into quite a page-turner! Born in Munich in 1920, Lowy was thirteen when his parents sent him — alone — to London, to educate himself. In 1936, when he was just sixteen, Lowy left London to help his family resettle in Prague — an act of “filial maturity,” Lowy called it, a phase of development when children take responsibility for their parents. In 1941, the Lowy family was transported to the Terezin camp, where Louis defied the authorities by organizing theatrical performances and education for the younger children, a mission he characterized as “creative altruism.” In 1944 he was taken to Auschwitz. He and several close friends later escaped a death march convoy, living undercover until VE-Day. Resettled in the Deggendorf DP Center, which he helped transform into a Jewish community, Lowy emigrated to the United States with his wife, beginning his formal social work career. As he realized that his experiences as a displaced person gave him special insight into the challenges of old age, he became a gerontologist. A secular man his whole life, Lowy believed, as Gardella says, that “social work was his name for living as a Jew.” Bibliography, index, maps, notes, photographs.
Bettina Berch, author of the recent biography, From Hester Street to Hollywood: The Life and Work of Anzia Yezierska, teaches part-time at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.