Sir Frank Lowy attributes his success to never giving up.
Holocaust survivor, fighter with the Hagana during Israel’s War of Independence, United Kingdom knight, Australian billionaire and philanthropist Sir Frank Lowy is on to his next life experience, moving to Israel.
The 88-year-old sold his real-estate empire in order to return to his beloved homeland. “I feel that I’m home,” Lowy said in an interview aired Tuesday by Israel’s Channel 12. “That’s all. Very simple.”
Born in what is now Slovakia, he and his family were in a Budapest ghetto during WWII. At 14-years-old, Lowy’s father Hugo disappeared while trying to find an escape for his family. He was never seen again, forcing Lowy to become “the man of the house” at this tender age.
Plagued nearly his entire life with wondering what happened to his father, in 1991, a man approached Lowy’s son Peter, who was living in California, and told him that he had been with Hugo in Budapest when they both were arrested by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz. Lowy’s father was shot and killed upon arrival because he refused to give up his prayer shawl and tefillin.
“He could not live without his tallit and tefillin,” Lowy tearfully explained.
Lowy managed to escape to France and was caught by the British. He was interned in Cyprus before reaching Palestine. Upon his arrival, at age 17, he joined a commando unit with the Hagana and fought for Israel’s independence.
Speaking in Hebrew during the interview, Lowy explained, “When I was a lone soldier, I didn’t have a penny with me. Everybody was eating hummus with tehina and ate falafel, and I couldn’t buy it. I was a little hungry, but I managed.”
In 1952, he moved to Australia with his mother and brother. By 1959, his rags-to-riches story was taking shape. He co-founded the Westfield shopping center company, which sold in 2017 for $33 billion.
Lowy was knighted by Queen Elizabeth Elizabeth “for his contribution to the UK economy through the company he founded, Westfield, and its major investments in the UK.”
A man of hope, Lowy credited the BBC World Service with helping him to hold on during the war. As a young boy, he would listen to the latest war news from the radio in a bunker. “It always gave us hope that help was on the way, and that the war would end in our favor,” he said.
With Israel always close to Lowy’s heart, the successful businessman and philanthropist decided it was time to return to the country he helped establish by making aliyah (immigrating to Israel.)
“The word ‘no’ is not for me,” he said. “I don’t hear it. You always have to try again and again.”
May Sir Frank Lowy have another success in the Jewish homeland!