HateHurts is a program started by Gift of Life in America to spread the message of forgiveness. Henri Landwirth, Founder of HateHurts, survived unimaginable hatred and cruelty and yet he blames no one. By promoting Henri’s story of forgiveness, HateHurts is determined to help all of us realize how important it is to forgive those who have hurt us, as well as ending our own acts of hatred, no matter how small. By making efforts everyday, we can make the world a better place.
About Henri Landwirth, Founder of HateHurts
Henri Landwirth was born March 7, 1927 in pre-World War II Antwerp, Belgium. During the war, when he was between the ages of 13 and 18, Henri was separated from his family and shuffled among five Nazi death and labor camps—Auschwitz, Matthausen, Gusen I , Gusen II, and Ostrowitz. Near the end of the war, he and four other prisoners were marched into the woods to be killed. At the last minute, the Nazi soldiers decided to spare their lives and told them to run into the woods when they heard the shots that would be fired over their heads.
“It is only a miracle that I am alive today,” says Landwirth.
When WWII ended, Henri left his native Belgium and worked his way across the Atlantic Ocean on a freight ship. He landed in the United States with $20 in his pocket and little knowledge of English. Soon after he settled in New York, Henri received a letter from the President of the United States. At first, he believed the president was welcoming him to America. The letter was actually a draft notice.
Henri served in the United States Army during the Korean conflict, and afterwards used his GI Bill benefits to take courses in hotel management. He landed a position in a New York City hotel, and took every opportunity to learn each job in the hotel industry.
Henri moved to Florida in 1954, and soon managed the 99-room Starlight Motel in Cocoa Beach, near Cape Canaveral. Space exploration was in its early stages then, and the original Mercury 7 astronauts made the Starlight Motel their “home away from home.” It was during this time that Henri developed lifelong friendships with the astronauts and many others, including legendary newsman Walter Cronkite.
Landwirth worked the full spectrum of hotel positions – from bellboy to manager to owner of many successful Central Florida hotels – during an exciting, innovative hotel industry career that spanned more than 50 years. Since his retirement in 1986, Henri has devoted himself to improving the lives of those in need. He started Give Kids The World, an organization that fulfills the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses and Dignity U Wear, a foundation that gives new clothing to those in need. Henri now tours colleges and schools speaking about the lessons he’s learned about the virtues of forgiveness.