In Loving Memory of Ursula Lowenbach Foster
Ursula Lowenbach Foster impacted the lives of the many students she shared her story with, and her journey to make a difference continues today in a legacy that will live on forever. In our mother's honor, my brother and I have established the Ursula Foster Holocaust Memorial Scholarship, in order to inspire students to learn more about discrimination and adversity, so that through the voices of our children, the world will never forget.
Ursula Lowenbach Foster, a Holocaust survivor and former classmate of Anne Frank, fled Germany, and moved to Amsterdam in 1938 when she was 11, to escape Nazi persecution. Two years later, Germany conquered the Netherlands, and brought the same persecution to Ursula’s new home. In 1942, that persecution took a dramatic turn for the worse when Ursula's older brother, Ernst, at age 18, was sent by the Nazis to Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland, where he was murdered in the gas chambers.
In order to avoid a similar fate, Ursula and her parents went into hiding in 1943. For nearly two years, they lived secretly in an overcrowded house with 14 other Jews, all hidden by a merciful Dutch family. For one of those years, all 16 of the guests were forced to sleep in the dirt underneath the house -- among the crawling insects and rats -- in order to escape detection by the Nazis. It was a devastating, humiliating manner of existence, the horrors of which few of us could ever truly grasp. And though it would have been much easier to let the memories of those days fade forever, Ursula spent many years before her passing courageously doing just the opposite.
As a way to honor her brother Ernst, and for the betterment of the world, Ursula did her best to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, so that such a terrible thing would not happen again. Although very shy, she gave her time and shared her experiences to many school children at schools here in Modesto, giving talks about the Holocaust and its horrific impact on her life and those of her family and friends. She wanted children to know how precious freedom is, and that we can’t take it for granted. We must learn from the past, she said, about "what can happen if prejudice and hatred are allowed to run wild".
Last day the Lowenbach family was together before Ernest had to report to the Gestapo.
My mother, Ursula, with her brother Ernst, in Hannover, 1938.