Yvonne Sytner Lutzner died peacefully on October 12th, 2022 days shy of her 88th birthday. She was born on October 15th, 1934 in Antwerp, Belgium, to Polish-Jewish parents, Abram Sytner and Rosa Rotsztejn Sytner. Her older brother, Harry Oskar, was born in Berlin prior to the family’s move to Belgium. Of a large family that extended from Poland to France, Yvonne was one of very few to survive the Shoah, having spent the war years as a hidden child in Brussels, living in plain sight with an assumed identity. Yad Vashem honored her loving rescuers, the Le Chat family, as Righteous Among the Nations in 2000.
At the war’s end, Yvonne spent nearly two years at Profondsart, an orphanage that gathered surviving Jewish children in Belgium. Located by a cousin in the U.S. Army, who helped to arrange passage, at 12 years old Yvonne made a difficult journey on a refugee ship to the United States. There she was welcomed by her uncle, Louis Sitner, in Philadelphia, where she settled with his daughter and son-in-law, Miriam Sitner Clibanoff and Louis Clibanoff, who took her in as a sibling to their daughter Lynne Clibanoff Selkow (Donald Selkow), who survives her. In 1954, Yvonne married Herman Lutzner, the boy next door, and they spent 64 loving years together until Herman’s death in 2018. Yvonne and Herman’s two children, Jodie Lutzner Garay (Andrea Stanley) and Jeffrey Lutzner (Jessica DeGroot), have widened the circle with their children, Ella Lutzner Garay, Jocelyn DeGroot-Lutzner, and Julian DeGroot-Lutzner.
Though scarred by unfathomable early loss and trauma, Yvonne was a woman of remarkable strength and resilience – and elegance. She was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother, who doted on her grandchildren, cultivating a special relationship with each one of them. Yvonne will be sorely missed by her close-knit family and the many who experienced her love of life.
Funeral and interment are private. The family asks that friends make a contribution in Yvonne’s name to HIAS (https://www.hias.org), an organization that was instrumental in helping her find refuge in the United States.