Son of Holocaust survivors addresses community

MARQUETTE – He produced moments of laughter and moments of silent reflection. But most importantly, Lev Raphael brought to light the point that we are all connected. We are one.

Raphael is the son of Holocaust survivors. It is this legacy that has prompted him to write 22 books, two of which are based on Holocaust survivors. He also tours the world speaking at Holocaust conferences.

“You are shaped by events that never happened to you. … You learn that people who guarantee your safety, in my case it was my parents, were once unsafe themselves. They were slaves. They were victims,” Raphael said to a hushed crowd Sunday evening.

A Holocaust Memorial Service titled, “Healing Hatred,” was held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Marquette. The Marquette Interfaith Forum and Temple Beth Sholom coordinated the annual event.

Pews were full of individuals from a variety of faiths. During his presentation, Raphael spoke of his fear growing up as a Jewish child. But as he approached adulthood, a trip to Germany was a journey toward knowledge.

“Germany had been haunting me and my family for years,” Raphael said. “I needed to go to Germany and overcome my fear.”

Not only did Raphael beat his fear of Germany, but he noted it is a place he would like to live some day.

“They are hungry in Germany for knowledge about the Holocaust. They are not ignorant to the fact that it happened.”

During a question and answer segment after his speech, a person asked about Raphael’s parents. Raphael told the crowd of how his parents survived by luck.

“At one point a German soldier was told to kill my father,” Raphael said. “When the soldier asked my father’s name, he told him what it was and the soldier replied, ‘I cannot kill this man, we share the same name.'”

When Raphael told his father years later that he was traveling to Germany, his father requested that Raphael track down the family of that soldier. It is a project Raphael is still working on.

Raphael’s mother was also fortunate. When deciding who to keep at the concentration camp, his mother was seen as “useful” because of her ability to speak multiple languages and act as a translator. Her life was spared.

Raphael concluded that his time in Germany was a time of reconciliation.

He will give a presentation on his memoir, “My Germany,” at 7 this evening at Northern Michigan University’s Bottum University Center.

To learn more about Raphael, visit

Abbey Hauswirth can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.