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November 25, 2015 / 13 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Auschwitz Concentration Camp’

Auschwitz Provides Tourists with Outdoor Showers to ‘Cool Down’

Monday, August 31st, 2015

How sensitive does the world have to be Jews when it comes to anything that can be associated with Holocaust?

The question has come up twice in four days, once with Hillary Clinton’s “boxcar” comment’ and now with the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp site offering tourists, including Israelis, outdoor showers to cool down from a heat wave.

Clinton’s reference to alleged Republican candidates’ promoting the idea of shipping out Mexican immigrants in “buses and boxcars” touched a raw nerve among sensitive American Jews, especially those who vote Republican.

She maintained, as reported here, that she never had the Holocaust in mind, although her defense that Jeb Bush used the term was totally out of line since he used the word to emphasize that shipping out illegal immigrants in boxcars is exactly what the United States should not do.

The showers at Auschwitz is harder to defend but illustrates the difference in mindset between the slogan among Jews “Never Forget” and the concept among others “to get over it and move on.”

It is difficult to imagine that the management at the former death camp purposely set up outdoor showers, in the midst of a heat wave, to mock Jews.

However, no one apparently realized that tourists, and not only Jews, would associate the effort to offer people a relief from the heat with the gas chambers that killed more than a million Jews, many of whom thought they were going to have their first real shower in what seemed like eternity.

On a Facebook page that posted a picture of the sprinklers, several people expressed anger while many other simply shrugged off as a “funny” coincidence.

One of the most tasteless postings was that people should “not fall for the same trick again.”

One Israel tourist told Yediot Acharonot website, “When we got off the bus I saw the sprinklers. I was in shock. I felt my stomach turn over.”

He said that when he mentioned to one of the workers at the site that the sprinkler “reminds me of the gas chambers,” she replied she was sorry.

It is not clear what she was sorry about – that the shower system was insensitive or that the tourist couldn’t get over the past.

Most estimates are that fewer than 500,000 Holocaust survivors remain alive worldwide. Their numbers are dwindling quickly, and the question of sensitivity in this age of political correctness is one that will not go away.

It all depends who is being offended. There is an egregious concern not to offend Muslim and homosexuals.

Jews are another story. And when it comes to Israel, there is not much to talk about, except, of course, for the “occupation.”

What do you think?

British Teens Accused of Holocaust Theft at Auschwitz

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Two British teenage boys were caught stealing precious historic artifacts at the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camps, Polish police said Tuesday.

The two 17-year-olds were detained Monday by police on suspicion of stealing belongings of prisoners who were inmates of the camps during the Holocaust in World War II.

They were spotted Monday afternoon lurking near a building where German Nazi guards used to store belongings confiscated from the prisoners in the camps, said a spokespersons for the museum at the site.

Both of the boys are students at the Perse School of Cambridge, England and were participating in a school history trip at the time of the incident, according to a statement by the school.

The teens “attempted to keep some items of historical importance which they had found on the ground,” the school claimed. “We understand they have explained that they picked up the items without thinking and they have apologized unreservedly for the offense they have given, and expressed real remorse for their action,” said the Perse School spokesperson.

A body search turned up a piece of spoon, a number of buttons, two pieces of glass and a fragment of a razor, which may have been stolen from the site, police said.

Both boys were questioned through an interpreter, according to regional police. If found guilty, they could face up to 10 years in prison for the offense. The spokesperson for the Perse School said the students are cooperating “fully” with the authorities.

Apparently it is not unusual for visitors to try to steal artifacts from the death camp, as horrific as that may seem to some. According to the museum curators, a Swedish man was imprisoned in 2010 for masterminding the theft of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Makes Freedom) sign posted over the entry gate and which heralded the arrival of prisoners at the death camp at Auschwitz.

64-Year-Old Polish Jew Celebrates Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Mariusz Robert Aoflko, a 64-year old Jewish attorney from Krakow who grew up thinking he was a Polish Catholic, celebrated his Bar Mitzvah on Wednesday, May 30, at the Kotel, with friends and other “hidden Jews” from Poland.

Mariusz spent his entire life as a Catholic. However, 13 years ago, right before his mother passed away, she told him something that turned his whole world upside down: he is a Jew, and a Kohen.

This week, Mariusz (who now goes by the name of Moshe) is visiting Israel for the first time and this morning celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel, 13 years after the secret, which he calls “his rebirth,” was revealed.

It turns out that both of Mariusz’s parents were born to Jewish families who perished in Auschwitz. After the war, the fear of being Jewish in Poland led his parents to hide their religion and to live as Polish Catholics.

After learning his true identity, Mariusz was in complete shock, but slowly, over the years, he decided he wanted to live a Jewish life. He contacted Shavei Israel’s emissary in Krakow, Rabbi Boaz Pash, and became involved with the Jewish community in Krakow.

Last month, he met Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel, at the entrance of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, and told him his story. “I was deeply moved,” Freund said, adding, “I told him that since 13 years have passed since he found out he was a Jew, it is an appropriate time for him to have a Bar Mitzvah.” Freund then offered to arrange the event at the Kotel, all paid for by the organization.

“By embarking on this journey into my heritage, step by step, it all starts to become clear to me,” said Mariusz. “I am not doing this to prove anything to anyone. All I ask is to embrace the truth about my family and regain the lost identity that was hidden from me for decades.”

Today, there are approximately 4,000 Jews living in Poland, but experts suggest there may be tens of thousands of other Jews who to this day are either hiding their identities or simply unaware of their family heritage. In recent years, a growing number of such people, popularly known as the “Hidden Jews of Poland,” have begun to return to Judaism and to the Jewish people.

Shavei Israel is a non-profit organization founded by Michael Freund, who immigrated to Israel from the United States, with the aim of strengthening the ties between the Jewish people, the State of Israel and the descendants of Jews around the world. The organization is currently active in nine countries and provides assistance to a variety of different communities such as the Bnei Menashe of India, the Bnei Anousim in Spain, Portugal and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, and the Jewish community of Kaifeng in China.

Shavei Israel currently has two full-time emissaries in Poland, located in Krakow and Katowice.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/64-year-old-polish-jew-celebrates-bar-mitzvah-at-the-kotel/2013/05/30/

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