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When people see our logo, they ask… why the shoes?

It’s a hardship tale for the Schonwetter family. Mark Schonwetter’s father, Israel, was the head of the Jewish community in their hometown of Brzostek, Poland. When the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, Israel was often interrogated by the Gestapo about the happenings in the Jewish community.  One day in the spring of 1942, Israel went to the police station as he usually would do but he never return home. That evening, Sala, Mark’s mother, was told they were in danger so she escaped town with her two children to a ghetto where they thought they would be safer.

A year later, while hiding in the forest, a close family friend and former employee of Israel, Mr Anotoni Piwat would bring Sala, Mark and his younger sister food.  When Mr. Piwat was unable to make it, his son-in-law would go in his place to the forest and bring them food.  On one of the son in law's visit, Sala instantly recognized the shoes he was wearing, while he was quite apprehensive to tell her how he got them, Sala was persistent and so he shared:

“After you ran away, the Nazis took all the young Polish men, rounded us up on trucks and took us deep into the forest to dig a big hole. A few days later the Nazis rounded us up again and brought us back to the same forest, but this time the hole was filled with dead bodies. We were instructed to cover the hole with dirt so there would be no signs of the naked 250 Jewish men, women, and children that were buried below.”

he continued:

"The Nazis instructed the Polish men to take one item of clothing that the Jewish people were stripped of as a reward for the work we did.  I immediately recognized Israel’s shoes, since I worked for him and chose to take them because 'Israel was a good man, and I wanted to honor him by walking in his shoes.” While Sala was devastated to know her husband was murdered by the Nazis, she was able to find closure and share one last memory of her husband’s character.

When starting the foundation, Isabella & Ann knew they wanted to honor Israel's life as he faced hatred head on for his community. The drawing and positioning of the shoes in the foundation’s logo are the same as Israel Schonwetter wore in a treasured family photo. The logo was created not only in memory of Israel, but also to remind people to “take a walk in someone else’s shoes'' before judging them.


Israel Schonwetter

circa 1930

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