Seller Story: Curt Lowens, Los Angeles, CA


In 1952, Paula Herold’s father rented a room in New York on West 15th Street, from an actor who was in a traveling production of Stalag 17. “My father sublet his apartment and my mother lived in the building,” she explains. “They met on a Thursday and the next Wednesday, my father proposed.” The life-changing result of the temporary real estate agreement resulted in a longtime friendship between the actor and his lessee. “He would come and visit,” remembers Paula, of Curt’s trips to see her family. “I have pictures of me sitting on his lap when I was four years old. I sent them to him the day before he died.”

What her father didn’t know at the time was that the actor from whom he was subletting was a war hero. Born Curt Lowenstein In East Prussia (now Poland) in 1925, his family was living in Berlin as Germany fell to the Nazis, fleeing to England after they endured Kristallnacht. They were then sent to a concentration camp in Holland from which, after a period of time, they were fortunate to be released. Curt went to live on a farm and hid under a psuydonym, joined the Dutch resistance, and started helping to hide and reunite Jewish children with their families. In total, he saved 123 lives, and then saved two more – rescuing two downed American pilots, which earned him commendation from President Eisenhower. Fluent in several languages, he went on to work as an interpreter with the British Eighth Corps and was there when they captured Karl Doenitz’ — Hitler’s second in command — informing him that Germans had been defeated.

Ironically, Curt’s second act — as an actor in the U.S.— saw him taking on roles portraying the very people he spent his life trying to defeat. “For a Jewish kid who was part of the resistance and worked with the allies after the cease fire to round up high ranking Nazis, Curt literally made a career out of playing them,” says longtime neighbor and friend Tyler St. Mark. The Mephisto Waltz,The Other Side of Midnight, and Angels & Demons are just some of the more than 100 films in which he appeared.

Seller Story: Curt Lowens, Los Angeles, CA
Seller Story: Curt Lowens, Los Angeles, CA
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Seller Story: Curt Lowens, Los Angeles, CA

Is there anything in the sale from Curt’s life during the war?

“The charcoal sketch of the woman holding a child had great to sentimental value to Curt, and hung in his office. It’s personalized to them from the artist, J.E. Costigan. As I recall, the artist was known for sketching scenes of the holocaust during that period.” — Tyler St. Mark

What about the rest of the collection?

“Most of the things in their home are from their travels to Europe when he was making films. And Cathy worked for an art gallery in New York, so a lot of the paintings in the sale have little plaques that say the artist and gallery name. He and his wife were such lovely people. Married for 48 years, and always together.” – Paula Herold

What was Curt and his wife Cathy’s life like?

“They lived between LA and NYC, but Curt never stopped educating people about the Holocaust through speaking engagements all over the country. And they were very proper. They liked drinking wine, and going to Santa Monica and enjoying a cocktail on the beach. They were very positive people and very old fashioned. Everything was marvelous.” – Paula Herold