The Brand family sits around a table in their living room.
Photograph | Photograph Number: 60335
Circa 1939 - 1941
- Variant Locale
- Photo Designation
NAZI SATELLITE STATES -- Slovakia -- JEWS
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Hannah & Nissan Lowinger
The Brand family sits around a table in their living room.
Pictured from let to right are Agi Brand Etel Brand, Hani Gruenstein, Moshe Brand, Erich Brand and Richard Brand.
- Hanna Loewinger (born Agnes Agi Brand) the only daughter of Moshe (Moric) Brand, (b. August 28, 1898) and Etel Gruenstein Brand (b. on November 7, 1904). Agi was born as on June 29, 1935 in Michalovce in Czechoslovakia and had two brothers: Richard, born in July 2, 1932 and Erich, born August 21, 1937. The Brand family owned a furniture factory in Michalovce. Moshe Brand managed the factory together with his three brothers: Hermann, Jeno and Lajos. The family was quite affluent and Hanna Agnes attended a Jewish kindergarten and later a Jewish elementary school. Maternal grandmother, Chani Levkovitch Grünstein, lived with her daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren. Michalovce or Nagymihály in Hungarian is located in NE Slovakia. In 1940 more than 4,000 Jews lived in town. On October 6, 1938 autonomy was proclaimed in Slovakia and on March 15, 1939 it became an independent state. In 1939 Jewish children in Michalovce were not permitted to attend public schools, but the Jewish community established schools for their children. As of May 19, 1941the Jews were required to wear a yellow armband, including the children. The same year the Slovak authorities closed down Jewish businesses and many Jewish men were seized for forced labor. In March 1942 the deportations to the death camps began. Many Slovak Jews decided to smuggle their children to Hungary, because it was known that that authorities did not expel small children. The furniture factory and planks storage which was owned by the four Brand brothers was confiscated and given by the Slovak authorities to a so-called guardian. This man, for substantial bribes, claimed that he needed the presence of the former owners to learn the business. This grace period enabled the family to secure false papers and to send their oldest son, Richard (Abraham Aaron) to a boarding school in Hungary. In the winter of 1943-1944 Agi was sent off to her paternal aunt, Ruzena Oravsky in Kosice. Her uncle, Albert, picked her up from an orphanage in Budapest and brought her home in Kosice. Rosanna, a 17-years-old relative, came to Michalovce to live with the Brand family. During the round-ups of Jews for deportation, she hid in the toilet and escaped through the small window to the plank storage. On March 19, 1944 Germany occupied Hungary and the Jewish families in Slovakia became frantic to bring their children back. A smuggler was dispatched by the Brand family to fetch Richard from his boarding school in Miskolc, but the principal did not agree to release the boy. Sadly, in May 1944, the whole school was deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, and Richard Brand was murdered on arrival. A different smuggler was sent to Kosice to bring Agi home. He arrived at the Oravsky family home, but her aunt refused to let her eight-year-old niece go. Agi’s cousin, Erwin, who was 16 at the time, took her for a walk and transferred her into the hands of the smuggler. The baby brother, Erich (Dov) was picked up by his grandmother Chani Grünstein and while the two were crossing the Hungarian Slovak border, they were discovered by the Germans and sent to their death. A few days after Moshe and Etel Brand received this message, they received two postcards, written by an unknown German woman, Martha Paucke. She described to the boy’s parents what a smart and wonderful boy he was and that he was getting better in the hospital where she was taking care of him. The bitter-sweet reunion with their only surviving child was emotional, but the grave situation required fast action. Equipped with false identification papers Moric, Etel, Agi Brand and cousin Rosanna moved to Nove Mesto. They rented a room and stayed there till the end of June 1944, at which time the owners decided that it was too dangerous to rent a room to hiding Jews. Agi and her family and five other Jews started to look for a safe haven in a nearby village, but on the way they were accosted by armed guards and parted way with the rest of the group. After a long night spent at the bank of the river, they reached a farm in the village of Kopanice. All members of the hiding Jewish family worked: Agi helped with feeding the cows and her mother and Rosanna helped with the household. After a few months they had to move again. The Hlinka guards discovered that Brand family was Jewish. They found a safe haven for short while and the Hlinka guard came again. They arrested them ant transferred them all to the Sered transit and forced labor camp. Etel Brand made sure to dispose of all her money in the toilet rather than give it to her executioners. In January 1945 Agi and her mother were deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp and Moric Moshe Brand and Rosanna were deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. In Theresienstadt Etel Brand got a job with a so-called prominent family and she was able to bring some more food for Agi. The nine-year-old Agi was constantly hungry and sickly as well. She underwent a tonsillectomy in the camp. Her mother protected her from the horrible reality as much as she could.
After the liberation of Theresienstadt in May 1945, Etel and Agi returned to their hometown of Michalovce and moved back into their house, which did not look or feel like their home, anymore. They found some family photographs and neighbors returned some pieces of furniture. Even valuables hidden in the double ceiling of the warehouse were still there. On June 29, 1945 Agi celebrated her 10th birthday when a strange man, looking like a skeleton approached and greeted her. She didn’t recognize her own father, who returned from Bergen-Belsen. Moric and his brothers restored their furniture factory and Agi returned to school. She became active in the religious Zionist youth organization, Bnei Akiba. Influenced by the movement’s ideology, Agi decided to immigrate to the Land of Israel, while her parents wanted to go to the United States, where Etel’s sisters lived. On March 21, 1949 Agi immigrated to Israel with Youth Aliyah and six months later her parents joined her. After a difficult period and despite the arduous economic conditions Moshe Brand opened a carpentry workshop in a container he brought with him from Czechoslovakia and the family moved to Netanya.
Hanna (Agi) met Nissan (Nandor) Löwinger, a Holocaust survivor from Decs, Hungary and they married on May 29, 1956. They have three children: Noa (married to Avi Nachmias) born on June 22, 1960. She and her husband have three children: Ido, Roi and Maya. Moshe (married to Michal) born on May 29, 1963; they have four children: Tomer, Nitzan, Yuval and Shachar. Shiri, born on July 24, 1968; she died on November 7, 1997.
Hanna and Nissan reside in Givatayim. Hanna is a retired English teacher and Nissan is an accomplished painter.
- Photo Source
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumProvenance: Hannah & Nissan LowingerSource Record ID: Collections: 2011.452.1
Record last modified: 2011-12-14 00:00:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa1174895