The younger of two sisters, Lidia was born to Jewish parents living in Sarospatak, a small town in northeastern Hungary. Lidia's parents owned a successful dry goods business. At the time, ready-made clothes were still rare in the countryside. Townspeople and local farmers would purchase fabric at the Lebowitz store and then take it to their tailor or seamstress to be sewn into clothes.
1933-39: Lidia was 2 when her Aunt Sadie, who had immigrated to the United States many years earlier, came to visit with her two children, Arthur and Lillian. All the cousins had a good time playing together on their grandparents' farm. On the trip over from America, Lidia's aunt's ship had docked in Hamburg, Germany, and Aunt Sadie had seen Nazis marching in the streets. Aunt Sadie was worried about what could happen to her family in Sarospatak.
1940-44: In 1944 German forces occupied Hungary. A month after the invasion, Hungarian gendarmes, acting under Nazi orders, evicted Lidia and her parents from their home. The Lebowitzes spent three days crowded into the local synagogue with hundreds of other Jewish citizens. Then they were all transferred to the nearby town of Satoraljaujhely, where some 15,000 Jews were squeezed into a ghetto set up in the gypsy section of town. The ghetto residents had a hard time getting enough food to eat.
The ghetto was liquidated in May and June of 1944. All the Jews were deported in sealed freight cars to Auschwitz. Lidia and her parents were never heard from again.