Covington First United Methodist Church recently hosted guest speaker Elizabeth Ungar Lefkovits — a Holocaust survivor. For two hours Lefkovits took her audience through an intimate portrayal of her personal experiences in the Holocaust.
The tone she spoke with was of someone who has overcome great adversity. With a very active and lucid memory, her recollection of the events that led up to her deportation to the infamous concentration camp of Auschwitz and her escape at the end of World War II left the audience with a surreal impression.
One might question how one could one withstand such gruesome conditions during a tumultuous time in history?
Throughout her storytelling, Lefkovits assured her audience that it was God “holding her hand the entire time.”
Giving much credit to her faith, Lefkovits thinks of herself as lucky. Being the only survivor of 83 family members, she said, “I was alone.”
She expressed mixed feelings of gratitude and grief.
Lefkovits admits that although she was a victim of hatred, she did feel responsible for the death of her family.
During times in her story one could tell that certain memories were hard for her to swallow. After many decades proceeding the war, she was still brought to tears at the harshness of the guard in the concentration camps.
She says in her description of a guard, “there were two lines where one could go left or right, we didn’t know which line was going to the gas chambers. I started to cry … The soldier was threating to take (a) baby away from me. He screamed ‘whose child is that? Give it back to its mother’… I was only 10 years old; the guard knew I was too young to have a baby.”
At first hesitating to share the loss of her dear sister and baby nephew, Lefkovits took a deep breath and told her audience the tragic details of death.
She shared the strong images left in her mind of the many dark nights she endured. She described the many long nights: “Looking at the sky during the night we could hear people screaming, ‘Fire, fire, fire. The families on the left were sent to the crematoria and the families on the right were sent to the gas chambers!”
Nevertheless, not all of her story was heart-wrenching; she shared some bittersweet moments, too.
She recalled the day she received the last blessing from her father, in which he solemnly left her a snippet of the well-known Bible scripture Psalm 67: “May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious toward you; May the Lord life up his countence upon you and grant you peace.”
She also shared her first memories in a war-free environment shortly after she moved away from her home in Hungary. Lefkovits lived in Venezuela for a short time before she and her husband moved to the US.
She chuckled as she recalled her first impression of Venezuelans: “The people were so nice in Venezuela, I didn’t think people could love anymore.”
Elizabeth Ungar Lefkovits captured the hearts of all who listened that day. Not only was she a survivor of Holocaust but in a way she became a hero. A hero for the witnesses present at Covington First United Methodist Church. Reminding us all that no matter what God is with us every step of the way.