Airdate: What Will Become of Us?

Upcoming History channel doco What Will Become of Us? profiles businessman and former Westfield chairman Sir Frank Lowy, who survived the Holocaust and rebuilt his life in Australia.

This is a 90 minute premiere special.

“Sir Frank Lowy is a titan of Australian and global business, whose early life experiences have been shaped by some of the biggest moments in history. This documentary presents a deeply personal journey of hardship, strength and resilience and is an extraordinary Australian story. Foxtel is proud to showcase this moving and emotional documentary,” said Brian Walsh, Foxtel’s Executive Director of Television.

“When I think of that young Jewish boy fleeing the Nazis I find it hard to believe how I ended up here,” Says Sir Frank.

Frank Lowy arrived in Australia in 1952 aged 21, haunted by the mystery behind the disappearance of his father in the Holocaust. In this documentary, Lowy speaks about his survival instinct and drive to succeed, and in recent years, caring for his beloved wife, Shirley, who has Alzheimer’s.

Oscar-nominated documentary director Steven Cantor brings us a personal behind-the-scenes look into Frank Lowy’s life. With the help of famed writer David Kushner, Frank revisits his meager beginnings, family tragedies, struggles, and triumphs as he seeks an answer to the daunting question of how to move forward.

“The first time I met Frank Lowy, I knew I wanted to make a film about him. Both his past and present day goals and struggles were rich with storytelling possibilities…While we were making the movie, I liked to joke with him that at the age where most of us were worried about making school sports teams or our first kiss or the pimples on our foreheads, he had fled the Eastern European anti-Semitism, evaded the Nazis for a couple of years, became a refugee, ended up in a detainment camp in Cyprus, and finally made his way to Palestine where he was conscripted into the army to fight as a commando in the Arab-Israeli War…” said Director Steven Cantor.

Born in what is now Slovakia in 1930, he survived World War II living with his mother in Budapest and evading capture by the Nazis. His father and many other family members died in concentration camps. In 1946 he boarded a refugee ship bound for Palestine. He was detained on arrival by British authorities and interned in a detention camp in Cyprus. He later made his way to Palestine, joined the Golani Brigade and fought in the 1948 War of Independence which led to the establishment of the State of Israel.

In 1952 Lowy left Israel for Australia and started a business delivering small goods. In 1953, he met fellow immigrant John Saunders. In 1960 they created Westfield Development Corporation and developed shopping centres throughout Australia before expanding to the United States in the 1970s, New Zealand in the mid-1990s and the United Kingdom in 2000.

In 1999 the University of New South Wales conferred upon him an Honorary Doctorate of Letters in recognition of his contribution to business and the community. In 2000 Lowy was awarded Australia’s highest civilian honour being made a Companion in the Order of Australia (AC) for services to business and philanthropy. He was knighted in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours (UK) for services to business and philanthropy.

He served two five-year terms as a member of the board of Australia’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of Australia. He also served for 10 years as a Director of UK media group, Daily Mail and General Trust plc (UK) until 2007.

He has served in several corporate, community and philanthropic roles in Australia and internationally, including as Chairman of Football Federation Australia (2003-2015); as founder and Chairman of the Lowy Institute for International Policy; Chairman of the Institute for National Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv; and, founder and Chairman of the Lowy Medical Research Institute.

Sunday August 16 at 7.30pm on History.

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