One of the last great untold stories of the Holocaust, The Survivor is an astonishing account of one man’s unbreakable spirit, unshakeable faith, and extraordinary courage in the face of evil.
At only sixteen years old, Josef Lewkowicz became a number, prisoner 85314. Following the Nazi invasion of Poland, he and his father were separated from their family and herded to the Kraków-Plaszów concentration camp. Forced to carry out hard labour in brutal conditions, and to live under the constant threat of extreme violence and sudden death, before the war was over Josef would witness the unique horrors of six of the most notorious Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Mauthausen and Ebensee.
From salt mines to forced marches, summary executions to Amstetten, where prisoners were used as human shields in Allied bombing, Josef lived under the spectre of death for many years. When he was liberated from Ebensee at the end of the war, conditions were amongst the worst witnessed by allied forces.
With his freedom, Josef returned home to find that he was the only one left alive in an extended family of 150. Compelled by the need to do something to avenge that loss, he joined the Jewish police while still in a displaced persons’ camp, and was recruited as an intelligence officer for the US Army who gave him a team to search for Nazis in hiding.
Whilst rounding up SS leaders, he played a critical role in identifying and bringing to justice his greatest tormentor, the Butcher of Plaszow, Amon Göth, played by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List. He then committed his life to helping the orphaned children of the Holocaust rebuild their lives.
The Survivor is Josef’s extraordinary testimony.