December 14, 2015

Louis I. Leviticus

Louis Leviticus, 75, Holocaust survivor, tells his story as a public speaker and in his book "Tales from the Milestone." (Gwyneth Roberts)

An October afternoon in 1942 was shattered by police pounding on the door of an Amsterdam residence, the refuge hiding the Leviticus family from the Nazi onslaught.  As the police barged in, Lou Leviticus, aged 11, ran in terror to the back of the house.  As his father closed the door behind him, Lou jumped off the 3rd floor veranda.  An awning broke his fall and allowed him to escape.  He never saw his parents again.

Lou was on his own until rescued by Karel Brouwer, a young civil servant and his wife.  Risking his life to help many Jews, Brouwer treated Lou as his own son.  In facing death many times at the hands of the Nazis, Lou learned skills of escape and survival.

After the war Lou immigrated to Israel, earned an engineering degree at the Israel Institute of Technology and traveled to the U.S. to earn a PhD at Purdue University. Lou served in the Israeli military during the 1967 and 1973 wars.  In 1974, he immigrated to the US.  A year later, he became Professor of Agricultural Engineering at UNL.  Until his 1998 retirement, Lou was director of the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory.  Thereafter he volunteered as a curator at the Larsen Tractor Museum on the UNL campus.

Lou Leviticus was known far and wide for his ability to speak to people and open their eyes to the events and the meaning of the Holocaust. He translated his feelings and his observations into vibrant images that captured the minds and the hearts of those in the audience.  His survival, the years of misery, gave Lou a wisdom that helped many, especially troubled children, see that despite the pain, life is worth living.  Lou told people that they have more resources within themselves than they are aware of.  Lou said, “There is always a way out.”

Following a massive stroke, Lou passed away gently early on the morning of Saturday, December 12. He finally found the peace earned through a challenging life and the gift of knowledge he gave others.  Shortly after his passing, his friend Rabbi Craig Lewis, walked close to Lou and assured him that “the truth you spoke will live on forever.”  Knowing Lou, wherever he was, he shrugged and said “Oh come on.  I was just telling the story.”

Lou’s life is chronicled in an autobiography, “Tales from the Milestone.” He was born on July 4, 1931.  His parents, Max Leviticus and Sera Leviticus – ten Bosch, died in Auschwitz.  Lou was raised by Rita and Karel Brower.  In 1982 he married a remarkable woman, Rose Gould.  Rose and Lou resided in the Lodge at the Preserve in Lincoln.  Lou is survived by Rose, their children Melanie (Alan) Cohen and Joanna Brown and grandchildren Chen, Talia, Lauren, Libby (all living in Israel), Amy (New York) and great granddaughter Ellia (Israel).

Memorial services for Lou will be held at 7pm on Tuesday, December 22, at the South Street Temple, 2061 South 20th St. (at South), Lincoln, NE 68502, and at 2pm on Wednesday, December 30, at the Grand Lodge at the Preserve, 4400 S. 80th St., Lincoln, NE 68516.  In lieu of gifts or flowers, donations may be made in the name of Lou Leviticus to the University of Nebraska Foundation.


  1. I am so sad to see that Lou has passed. He was my hero. He autographed his book for me a number of years ago and I treasure it so much. His story was like none other.

  2. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Recently I lost my dear mother,
    and found great comfort in the words of Jesus at John 11:11-14,
    where he likens death to being asleep, and at John 5:28,29 – “All
    those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.” For
    more, I turn to the website at: (Search: Comfort)

  3. I wanted to express my sympathy to Lou’s family. I first met him when we were Purdue agricultural engineering graduate students in the late 1960’s and later enjoyed talking to him at ASAE national meetings. I always admired his energy and enthusiasm for life. I remember his wit too. One of his comments on a lengthy technical paper was “the greater the spoke, the greater the tire” which struck me as a clever way for a student of off-road traction to make a point!

  4. I leave my best wishes and love to the whole family. I knew Lou in the late 1970’s and early 80’s as we tested many tractors at Nebraska Tractor Test, with John Deere. I really liked him and enjoyed his being very much. I had not heard of his Jewish past and of his experience when he was young. I admired you Lou, and always enjoyed you and your wit!

  5. My thoughts and prayers go to Lou’s family. I knew Lou in the late 1970’s and early 80’s at Nebraska Tractor test; I rook many John Deere tractors there for test. I enjoyed Lou so much, he was fun, tough with a great sense of humor. He never spoke of his childhood – I am glad I now know. What a great guy!

  6. So proud so sad.. …Always in my heart.. Your Loving Daughter Joanna

  7. Today I became aware that Louis Levicus died on december 12.
    Louis and I were classmates from august 1936 till november 1941 when the Germans closed the public schools for Yewish children; then almost half of our class must go. A few years ago when internet became www, I found articles in the Washing Post about Louis work. In the Netherlands we made a site called Amsterdam zuid / de Zuidelijke Wandelweg. I sent him a mail and I got a response and of course after 70 years one does not remember classmates. Also he wrote an artikle for that site. And now we are organising a reunion of the school, Vondelschool in Amsterdam, we would like him to have in Amsterdam. He , another jewish ‘boy’ Rob Frank and myself may be the only ones who are still living. But now Louis is not coming.
    I want to say my condoleances for mrs Leviticus and family.
    Chris Moll,

  8. Indeed we would have liked to have Mr. Leviticus participate in our school reunion, either in person or through skype. A great man, incredibly strong and incredibly brave. Our sincerest condolences for Mrs. Leviticus and for his family.
    Robert Riphagen
    Member Organizing Committee Reunion Vondelschool Amsterdam


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