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‘A’kapura, Hitler’ — Edith Levy turned Holocaust horror into lasting classes

Typically, you simply should snort – it doesn’t matter what.

That’s why Edith Rechter Levy was totally having fun with herself in her First Ward lounge that afternoon 4 years in the past, getting one over on the  Führer, like that.

It was her ultimate say on the Remaining Answer, even when the Holocaust survivor was greedy, only a bit, on the Yiddish that summed the deal.

A’kapura, Hitler.

“Kapura” means “sacrifice” in that all-but-gone language. Besides, when it doesn’t.

Connected to the identify of the architect of the Third Reich, the person whose choices led to the deaths of 6 million Jews in World Conflict II, the phrase, kapura couldn’t carry extra weight.

Most of Levy’s household, together with Yosef David Rechter, her blond-haired, blue-eyed father, perished at Hitler’s order.

The grim accounting would have included Levy, her mom and her brothers Leo and Lucien, had been it not for the kindness and sheer fortitude of a Belgian battle widow who secretly harbored the kids in her condo in Brussels — whereas doorways had been being kicked in all throughout Europe.

Levy emerged from all of it in 1945, a 15-year-old roiled by emotional trauma and wracked with tuberculosis, however she was alive. And so had been her siblings.

It was a protracted street to get there, however she even began smiling and laughing once more.

Perhaps that’s why, in her home years away and worlds away in West Virginia, on that snowy afternoon the day earlier than Martin Luther King Day in 2019, such a workhorse expression, with such a horrible backstory, could possibly be nonetheless be delivered with such chutzpah.

A retired WVU professor of languages, Levy smiled as she tried to kind all of it out for a customer with a pocket book.

“Hoo-boy,” she mused in softly accented English.

“The expression carries so many meanings. ‘He’s executed.’ ‘He’s defeated.’ ‘The sacrifices you made.’ Naturally, I’ll determine what I meant to say after you allow. That’s the way it all the time works.”

With a smile like her grandmother’s, Yaffa Elaina, visiting from Israel, provided an interpretation.

“Grandma, you bought the final phrase. ‘A’kapura, Hitler’ means, ‘In your face, Hitler.’ ”

Yaffa paused for a beat, and added, with Borscht Belt timing, “In fact, that’s the redneck definition.”

Levy laughed. “I’ll take it,” she mentioned.

She died on Veterans Day.

Girlhood, gone

Levy, whose memorial service is 1 p.m. in the present day on the WVU Erickson Alumni Heart, didn’t essentially like telling battle tales.

She did permit she was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1930, and that her dad and mom had been pretty properly off earlier than the battle. She was “a bit of spoiled,” she admitted.

All that ended Nov. 9, 1938, when she was 8 years previous.

That was when she witnessed the proceedings of a night summed up in German that didn’t require any interpretive parsing.


The “Night time of Damaged Glass” – the sanctioned shards of outright, unabashed persecution of Jews by Nazis.

No extra fairly attire. No extra taking part in within the park. She truly remembered concerning Hitler himself  from a distance at a parade and rally she was ordered to attend.

Yosef and Yetta, her mom and father, tried desperately to keep away from the inevitable.

Yetta paid somebody to smuggle them throughout the border to Belgium as they raced the tanks and the jackboots.

Little Edith bought tangled in a barbed wire fence in the midst of the night time throughout the rushed passage.

Within the urgency and confusion, she was left behind. She was too scared to maneuver or cry out as she waited for her dad and mom to double again.

The troopers ultimately bought her father and a number of other different family and friends members.


She by no means noticed them once more.

On, the remainders shuffled, to Brussels.

Within the underground of town, a ruined household shouldering horrible grief made their acquaintance with a lady who confirmed fierce love.

Elizabeth Hoolman scooped up Edith, Leo and Lucien, the sudden refugees.

“Clearly, it was in any respect the chance on this planet to her,” Levy mentioned.

“And she or he had misplaced her personal husband to the Germans. She may have been bitter. However she all the time informed us, ‘If the troopers come for you, they’ll should undergo me.’”

‘I feel we’re house’

Levy didn’t have a house to return to in Austria or the means to get there even when she wished after the battle.

So, she stayed in Brussels, the place she caught the attention of Marcus “Mark” Levy, a U.S. Navy radioman stationed there.

Mark Levy had grown up in Brooklyn in comfy circumstances. His father was a profitable businessman and his mom, Ethel Levy, was an completed classical pianist.

As a child, Mark beloved the cultural duality of his life.

He would sit below the household’s grand piano whereas his mom performed Rachmaninoff. Then he’d scoot to the raucous ambiance of Ebbets Area to catch his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers.

Edith Rechter grew to become Edith Rechter Levy in 1955.

A younger bride journeyed together with her husband to the U.S. and New York, and when a job alternative offered itself in Morgantown, of all locations, the newlyweds took it, pondering the hills of West Virginia is perhaps a pleasant place to boost a household, at the least for some time.

Each had been struck by the hospitality and nearly offended refusal when Mark provided $20 to the 2 males who pulled their automotive out of a ditch on U.S. 119 throughout the drive down. “Put that again in your pockets,” they mentioned.

They realized Morgantown had an energetic Jewish neighborhood. Once they found numerous Excessive Road companies closed for Excessive Holidays, Edith turned to Mark and mentioned, “I feel we’re house.”

Mark Levy, who died in 2014 at age 88, retired from his job on the Morgantown Municipal Airport.

They introduced up their three youngsters — David, Laurent and Lynn — in that First Ward home they purchased not lengthy after they moved right here.

Edith Rechter Levy bought again at school in any case her youngsters had been out of diapers. After incomes her doctorate in schooling, she was on the WVU college for years.

There have been nonetheless some charred ruins round her wealthy tapestry of her life, nonetheless.

A craving to set the document.

And to maybe maintain it from occurring once more – by way of consciousness, consciousness, consciousness.

In 1998, she based the West Virginia Holocaust Fee. She crafted a curriculum, authored a sequence of textbooks and started educating youngsters throughout the state not a lot older than she was on the night time she bought snagged in that barbed wire in Belgium.

Zolst leben un zein gezunt (“Dwell and be properly”)

About that home: It was a pleasant hodgepodge of a dwelling, depicting marvel, whimsy, resourcefulness and iron resilience, all of sudden.

“Good grief, 4 rooms after we moved in,” Levy mentioned, drolly.

Because the household grew, so did the home.

“We saved including on. I informed Mark we had been going to finish up in everyone’s again yard if we didn’t watch.”

A eating room one 12 months. A sunroom the subsequent. Extra bedrooms and an expanded lounge, with a fire and bookshelves filled with titles in English, German and Dutch to go together with it.

Household, too.

David, a rabbi who was dividing his time between New Jersey and Israel was in for a go to throughout that distant Sunday, together with his daughter, the aforementioned Yaffa, who additionally made her house in Israel.

Becoming a member of them on the trek was Yaffa’s daughter, Yiska, who was 11 on the time and switching from Hebrew and English and again, in her conversations.

The Levy women made bread and David took them round his hometown.

Such experiences aren’t international to Yaffa. He moved his household to Israel from Canada when his youngsters had been small.

In 2009, David’s son, Noam, a medic within the Israeli Military, died in a skirmish on the West Financial institution.

It was simply a type of issues, David mentioned.

Noam was compassionate and empathetic and possibly would have develop into a doctor after his navy service, his father added.

However that was that.

On that exact Sunday earlier than that exact Martin Luther King Day, David Levy wished to speak about his mom and his growing-up years within the College Metropolis as a substitute.

“I couldn’t have requested for higher dad and mom or a greater childhood,” he mentioned. “Her household is the final word conquer Hitler.”

Like his mom, he’s additionally in possession of a droll supply.

“I noticed Uncle Leo final week on Lengthy Island.”

“Actually? How is he?”

“Outdated. Such as you.”

“Thanks for the praise.”

A sure presence was preserving witness the entire time in the home that afternoon.

With a nod and together with her eyes, Levy directed that to customer to {a photograph} on the hearth mantel.

Ornately framed, it confirmed a stout Belgian girl who wasn’t going to let any hurt come to 3 youngsters of battle.

“Madame Hoolman,” Edith Rechter Levy mentioned, because the years melted for a second.

“I don’t should let you know she was … every part. A’kapura, Hitler.”