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Family Confidential -

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(generated from captions) having the guilt of giving up. It would've been harder crossing Victoria Island than

one of these modern trips to

the South Pole where you go

you over the ice and snow because

you know exactly what it's like

because it's been done before.

Despite the hardships of

their journey, Chris Bray and

Clark Carter say the lure uncharted lands will see them

endure it all again and there

are plans to explore new

frontiers. What draws me to the

adventure in the first

just getting away from the city

and modern life and all of

these conveniences that are so

risk averse. When you're out

there you wake up every day knowing that you're probably

going to see and do things that no-one has ever before. That's no-one has ever seen or done

before. That's incredibly motivating I think. Conor Duffy reporting.

We'll be back at the same time

tomorrow, but for now,

goodnight. Closed Captions by NARRATOR: In April, 2010, for an extraordinary family reunion. Cracow in Poland was the setting brought together his extended family Corporate giant Frank Lowy has on a pilgrimage father who vanished without a trace. to lay to rest the memories of a This disappearance of his FRANK LOWY: in my body, in myself. was very much etched in my mind, It's like part of me. for a long time. He was carrying this around And we knew nothing about it. has come here to Auschwitz Now the intensely private businessman to make a grand gesture the story of his father that he hopes will immortalise amongst the millions dead. this is the most significant thing MAN: I would probably say that that he's ever done in his life. (Classic string music) On a wet winter evening in Sydney, threw a small party Australia's richest man to celebrate the 50th birthday half a century earlier. of the company he created Happy birthday, Frank. gathered to play tribute. And the country's great and powerful of persistence, adapting to change, MAN: It is an extraordinary story and bold execution. shopping centre into a global brand, Frank Lowy grew a little Sydney Europe and America. spanning the Pacific, Today is the grand opening Westfield San Francisco Centre. for the long-awaited Today, his family's influence of Australian life. extends to almost every facet Australian success story. It's a great getting out of a lift this evening, When I met Frank I said, 'Oh, how's it going, mate?' struggle, Kevin. Always a struggle.' And he said, 'It's always a And he's right. MAN: You have to be vigilant, be strong and successful and that's your protection. they'll trample all over you. If you're weak, I have enough and now I am secure. There's no such thing in life that the uncertainty and prejudice Frank was born into in the 1930s. of Jewish life in Hungary His father, Hugo, was often away, as a travelling salesman. trying to make a living MAN: Father had no luck. in business or otherwise. He was not a successful man Never earned enough. And he was a card-player on Sunday. We had problems on Monday. (Laughs) because I was the youngest. I'm told that I was spoiled or time for spoiling. Although, there was not much room there were always dark clouds. Ever since I can remember, (People chant) By the time Frank started school, in Germany. the Nazis had seized power marched east across Europe, As Hitler's Final Solution the family watched helplessly in German-occupied territories as relatives trapped began to disappear. entire family. Including Frank's mother's four or five brothers and sisters FRANK LOWY: I mean, losing and they each had children, maybe about six or eight children, and they were very, very close. It never left her. That sadness never left her. In their tiny flat in Budapest, the family huddled together. in March, 1944, But their fragile world crumbled when the Nazis invaded Hungary. of what's gonna happen to us The fear that gripped all of us was kind of indescribable. It was all internal. nobody screamed or cried, Nobody jumped, of what's gonna happen to us. but the fear those fears were justified. And the next day proved The day after the invasion, went to the railway station, Frank's father on the first train out. hoping to get his family He was never seen again. It was lunchtime, he wasn't home. I think he went in the morning. Night, he wasn't home. Afternoon, he wasn't home. and leaned over the window ledge, And I stood on the couch waiting for him to come home. for weeks and months on end. And that... That I did and three siblings all survived. Miraculously, Frank, his mother his memories of this time But young Frank would lock away for the next 40 years. In the months after liberation, for news of their father, Hugo. the family waited anxiously But none came. NEWSREADER: Now Haifa. with hundreds of Jewish refugees Illegal immigrant ships arriving to enter Palestine. determined at any cost Determined to look forward, not back, Frank convinced his mother of young Jews to Palestine. to let him join the exodus to freedom. It was a departure from horror, And freedom, you know, real freedom. you know? Nobody chased me for being Jewish, the next five years of his life Just 16, he would spend to create the Jewish state of Israel. fighting in the war But his own future lay elsewhere. had left Hungary By now, his mother and eldest sibling and emigrated to Sydney. joined them on Australia Day, 1952. He borrowed a plane fare and was greater than anything else. The yearning for the family together could get was as a sandwich hand. With no English, the only work Frank But life took a turn for the better 18-year-old Shirley Rusanow when he spotted at a Zionist youth party. which is like our Christmas. SHIRLEY: It was Hanukkah, in my back all night. Somebody was sort of staring And it was him. You have no idea. He was so gorgeous. She was very nice. (Laughs) Wasn't too hard to court her. For me, it was love at first sight. I knew, 'I'm going to marry him or nobody.' My mother liked Shirley instantly. But there was some resistance on Shirley's parents' part. They told her, 'What are you going to do with this refugee boy? How is he gonna support you?' But Frank could see an opportunity right in front of him. Now a delivery boy of smallgoods, he recognised an untapped market in the hundreds of migrants who were settling in Sydney's west. Joining forces with another Hungarian refugee, John Saunders, he opened a small deli to cater to their continental tastes. It was an immediate success. He knew what he wanted and he didn't care what he had to do to get it. But he wasn't going to work for somebody else for the rest of his life. And now with a young wife and son, Frank wasn't wasting any time. Within a year of opening their deli, he and John had embarked on a much riskier venture. Borrowing to the hilt, they bought up vacant farmland to subdivide and sell. They called their new company Westfield. DAVID LOWY: I have very early memories of going to building sites on Saturdays and Sundays. I even have memories of going to some of the early subdivisions that he did. It was a bit of a disaster because of some credit squeeze on. And I didn't sell one lot. I mean, it was a disaster day. Yeah, I remember driving home in the car and him and my mother, they were very anxious about it all the way home. I was concerned myself, a little boy in the car. But Frank always kept one step ahead of his creditors and struck paydirt with a new American concept. Their first shopping centre was built in 1959. It was a huge step. That was the first demonstrable development that meant something. I mean, today, it's very small, but at that time, it was very big, particularly big for us. Just one year later, Frank, searching for security and capital, launched their fledgling company on the Australian Stock Exchange. They would spend the next 10 years developing a chain of shopping centres across Sydney. The horizon has opened up. I mean, I was 29 years old, yeah? Arrived in the country just seven years beforehand. Meanwhile, the family was growing too, as David was joined by two brothers, Peter and Steven. They were very busy days. Dad was always very, very busy at work. Um, I don't remember that much of him being at home at those times. He went early and he came home late. SHIRLEY LOWY: A lot of times, there was a lot of loneliness. I mean, I think I was absent from nowhere. (Laughs) Wherever I needed to be, I was. I didn't go away for weekends, you know? So my life was the business and the family. MAN: My father was a disciplinarian. He just had to walk into the house and, you know, he could discipline you. I mean, they were young boys. I had to drive them a bit, you know? Well, definitely, he knew what it took to survive. And he wanted to instil in us the same instincts. Central to this was Frank's strong sense of his Jewish heritage. SHIRLEY LOWY: Well, Frank never had a real bar mitzvah, in the sense of there was no party. So he wanted his children to have one that you could always remember. MAN: I remember it being quite a task and probably beyond me, but somehow, I got there. The three of them had to stand on boxes to read. And Frank had great expectations of what they should do and not do. But they did pretty well, all of them. I think for my bar mitzvah, was the first time the company was strong enough and my dad was in a position that he could actually have quite a big function. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a great night. Had one of the best bands in town. And I think he splurged. And Sunday was reserved for their other religion. The aspect of life that bound us the most was actually not business, it was really football. Frank had joined the Jewish soccer club Hakoah as soon as he arrived. Before long, he was club president, had organised an Australian football league, and was paving the way for a national game. DAVID LOWY: For Dad and for ourselves, footballers work too, but it's quite a blurred line. You attack everything with the same enthusiasm and the same gusto. In fact, every time Hakoah scored, my father actually used to get great pleasure out of changing the scoreboard himself. I suppose the difference with the football, though, is that he couldn't actually get on the field and play. But the real game was in the boardroom. By the 1980s, Frank had brought all three sons into the company, a move that would eventually see his partner of 30 years edged out in favour of family. I'm sure he planned it, but we didn't know he planned it. And it became just a natural thing to do. The company now controlled over 20 shopping centres around the country... ..and was expanding overseas, beating the Americans at their own game. What we were able to do is take the quintessential American invention, which is the mall, take it to Australia and change it and then export it back. But with the world at his feet, something was strangely wrong. SHIRLEY LOWY: He had a lot of problems with his stomach. And it went on and on and on. And nobody could find out what was wrong. I used to visit the doctor very often. And, uh, he couldn't find anything wrong with me. Finally, Frank visited a psychiatrist. Then he brought up the issues of my childhood. And I broke down. For 40 years, Frank had repressed all memories of the war, keeping them hidden from everyone, even his wife. He was carrying this around for a long time. And we knew nothing about it. Then the doctor said, 'Tell your family what happened. It's all bottled up inside you.' So Frank called the family together and for the first time, spoke of his experiences as a 12-year-old boy, when his father had disappeared. He was trapped with his mother in the ghettos of Budapest, in hiding for his life. They all had guns and they were looking to kill Jews. It was part of their... ..part of their psyche. If you were caught and it was discovered that you were Jewish, God knows what kind of torture... You were a piece of nothing, a nobody. DAVID LOWY: Dad told us of seeing the bodies floating down the Danube River every morning, of the Jews that had been shot the night before. And of course, we heard it. We had nowhere to go. But of course, we were afraid that, one day, they'll come for us also. ALEX LOWY: Frank was caught and as he was kicking so loud and fighting, the crowd turned around. 'Why do you want a little boy? Leave him alone. Pick your own size,' and things like that. So they left him. It was very, very difficult... ..and very emotional. I never, ever though him as having any vulnerabilities. And the emotions that came out of him that day showed vulnerabilities that were a bit frightening to me. Frank Lowy's private insecurities had long been masked by a tough public invincibility. Now even this would be laid bare in one of the few miscalculations of his career. NEWSREADER: The ailing network's day of reckoning arrived in a massive fire sale. Shopping centre developer Frank Lowy opting out of the industry with losses estimated at up to $300 million. An ambitious charge into television with his second son, Peter, had gone horribly wrong. PETER LOWY: We did poorly. We did really poorly. Well, that was a very difficult period 'cause my dad and I disagreed on everything. About the business, how to run it, where to go, what to do, how to operate it. It was a very challenging experience for my father to deal with personally. But more importantly, it was a very public experience. It's relatively easy to be successful, so to speak. Not easy, but relatively easy because everybody wants to be with you. But when you fail, you are on your own. Frank threw himself back into his core business, while Peter would feel the brunt of this failure. He retreated to Los Angeles to begin his career again as the manager of a small downtown shopping mall. But from the ashes of this defeat, fate would deal the Lowys an extraordinary hand. DAVID LOWY: I suppose if we wouldn't have been in the TV business, we wouldn't have had that failure, Peter would have lived in Australia, gone to the United States, he would have never have gone to that hotel. And we would never know the story of what happened to Hugo Lowy. We came here in March of 1990, two weeks before Passover, and we had such a small family, we just decided to go to this place in Palm Springs, which was a kosher hotel for Passover. And on the second day of Passover, there was an older gentleman in front of me, who walked up and got my newspaper. And so I said, 'Excuse me. I'm sorry, that's my newspaper," and then I found out his name was Lowy and he was an old Hungarian gentleman. And so I asked him where he was from and what his story was because I thought he might be a relative. And then he looked at me and said, 'I'm not a relative, but I think I knew your family.' And then my father came out with Peter and my father said, 'Do you know who this young man is?' I said, 'Sure, the guy from the next table.' And he said, 'No, this is the grandson of Hugo Lowy.' It was a Saturday morning. Frank wasn't home. Peter called me. Took a little bit of time to process, to figure it out, call my dad. Everyone was a little sceptical at first. And he said, 'Mum, he was with Hugo. He was arrested with Hugo. I want you and dad to come as quick as possible.' And the next day, he was in Palm Springs. In May, 1994, a young Mayer Lowy was caught in a round-up for Jews at Budapest Train Station. Captured with him was Frank's father, Hugo, who took the terrified 18-year-old with the same surname under his wing. They ended up on a crowded cattle car, without food or water for days on end. ALLEN LOWY: They didn't know where they were going. Of course, only later when they arrived did they discover that they were in Auschwitz. At that point, they knew what Auschwitz meant. The gas chambers and crematorium at Auschwitz was no longer a great secret. FRANK LOWY: They were told to get off this cattle car, which they all did. And of course, they had little parcels with... Everybody had some little belongings. When they got off the train, they were all ordered to leave their packages and just to proceed into the camp. And everybody did. And he didn't. And an SS guard grabbed it from him and threw it on the pile. He apparently, when the guard turned around, went back to the pile, picked it up and brought it back to him. And they were warning him. My father also. Said to him, 'Don't do it. Just leave it. Just leave the bag. Just leave it.' And my father told me that Hugo said, 'I'm not going anywhere without my tallith and tephillin, my prayer shawl and my tephillin.' And he knew, he would have known, he had to have known... ..what the result would be, what the outcome would be. And then they beat him to death there and then. And the rest moved on. He probably knew that the next stop was the gas chamber. And he decided, 'I'm not dying for you. I'm dying for him.' SHIRLEY LOWY: It was horrendous to hear. And Mayer didn't leave out any details. And Frank said, 'I have to go to the bathroom.' And he didn't come back. And he was there, sobbing his heart out. He was a leader. You see, I didn't know that of my father. All I knew about my father, that he was a good man as my father, he failed in business, you know? Which is not the full story. Now I know what kind of a man he was. Had I been at the newsagent five minutes later, it would never have happened. Five minutes earlier, wouldn't have ever happened. Had I not come to America, it would have never happened. This was meant to be. And the story was meant to be told. Since that watershed moment more than a decade ago... ..Frank and his family have never been stronger. And it is the company that is 50 years. You know... Together, they've grown power and wealth hundredfold around the world. Sales are up substantially, Dad. They're leasing the space. But for the last five years, Frank has had another private mission... ..one that's taken all the authority and influence he now commands. He's found and restored an original wartime cattle car and won permission to bring it here to the undisturbed ground of Auschwitz. I wanted to see something of him. Or something of him. Like you go to a cemetery, there's a stone. And you can talk to it, you can pray to it. Whoever passes will see his name on it. You know, so he did not disappear. It won't bring closure but at least there's a memorial to go to now. There's something there. And that's the main thing. MAN: But really, I would probably say that this is the most significant thing that he's ever done in his life. Because this is not just about business, it's not just about our family, it's not just about Australia, it's not just about Israel, but this is really about this now will stand here, symbolic of the survival of the Jewish people. MAN: Everybody here is familiar and in these very grounds where I stand right in front of this car... ..Hugo's life was brutally murdered. Today, we're going to return back the bag they took away from him. (People sing in Hebrew) They carry stones because they put it on the grave. So whoever passes the grave knows that this person is loved. (All sing in Hebrew) FRANK LOWY: It may be a closure for me that I will be more at peace with his disappearance. (All sing in Hebrew) So it makes me feel good. Whilst I'm upset what happened to him and the sorrow hasn't quite gone, but it has been replaced with some real pride. (All sing in Hebrew) Mazel tov. Can say mazel tov. Closed Captions by CSI - Matt Whitmore