More than 50 years ago, an impressive crystal chandelier was delivered in a nondescript box to the North Carolina Executive Mansion. The chandelier was a gift from Mrs. Karoline Horowitz, a North Carolina resident who settled in western North Carolina in the 1940s with her husband, Peter, and six-year old son, Bob, after a daring escape from Europe and the Nazis.
Today, Bob Horowitz joined Governor Roy Cooper, First Lady Kristin Cooper and Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Reid Wilson at a special event at the Executive Mansion to share stories of his family’s history and the incredible journey of this chandelier, which has become a part of North Carolina history. Dr. Chris Patti, a professor of communications at Appalachian State University who specializes in oral history interviews of Holocaust survivors led the discussion.
“We thought, maybe the state would be interested,” Bob Horowitz said of his family’s gift. “North Carolina has treated us well. We came as refugees and became part of the community.”
The chandelier, which still hangs in the state dining room of the Mansion, was owned by Mrs. Horowitz’ parents, Gustav and Selma Strauss, two of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. After the war, Mrs. Horowitz was miraculously able to recover some of her family’s heirlooms, including the crystal chandelier, and have them sent to the family’s new home in western North Carolina. The chandelier was later donated to the state and is believed to have been installed in the Mansion sometime in the 1960s.
“Because the Mansion is a living history site, the Strauss chandelier and the lessons of their story will be shared with the thousands of people and hundreds of school groups who tour every year,” said Governor Cooper. “Especially right now, amid rising antisemitism and a dwindling number of Holocaust survivors, telling and bearing witness to these stories is absolutely essential to ensure that we never, ever forget.”
Watch the video on the chandelier here.
Photos of the event are available HERE.