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October 26, 2016 / 24 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Auschwitz’

R. Yisrael Meir Lau Advised PM Begin to Separate Tisha B’Av from Holocaust Remembrance and IDF Memorial Days

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

Former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau — today, the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv — revealed in his message this year that he advised former Prime Minister Menachem Begin to separate the days set for Holocaust Remembrance Day and IDF Soldiers’ Memorial Day from Tisha B’Av.

Each, he said, requires its own unique honor and mourning. Tisha B’Av, however, is the eternal day of national mourning; something very different. All troubles come from this day, he said, which has eternal significance.

A deeply revered author and speaker, Rabbi Lau is a survivor of the Holocaust, and the father of the current Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi David Lau.

“Sad and terrible things happened to us on this day. Sometimes people ask, ‘Does this day still have meaning for us? After all, so many terrible things have befallen us since [the destruction of the two Holy Temples.]’ And so they open the restaurant, they hang around on the main streets, on this day of national mourning!

“Yet even Napoleon was in awe of how the Jews had remembered this day for 1,800 years.

“Maybe someone, God forbid, has experienced trauma in his life, and then gone on to see blessings and success. But when it comes time to unite together with the memories, you remember.

“The Holocaust is an inseparable part of the story of Tisha B’Av. “Former Prime Minister Menachem Begin wanted to set Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the Day of Remembrance for Fallen IDF Soldiers both to take place on Tisha B’Av,” he said.

Rabbi Lau added that Begin had had a “historical and national outlook,” understanding that Tisha B’Av is a “focal point of all the suffering.”

He pointed out that it actually began well before the destruction of the two Holy Temples, with the Sin of the Spies who were sent on a reconnaissance mission to check out the Land of Israel in advance of its conquest by the Children of Israel. Most of the spies claimed the Israelites did not have the ability to carry out their mission, a false report made on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av in the Jewish calendar — the same day as the destruction of the two Holy Temples.

“All the troubles come from this day,” said Rabbi Lau. “I advised against setting all these days on Tisha B’Av,” he added. “Since schools are closed now and many are on vacation, who would explain the significance of all these days? They would be forgotten!

“Therefore, let each stand as a unique holiday and let Tisha B’Av stand as the day of national mourning. Only a nation that truly knows how to honor its past is worthy of a glorious future,” he said.

Rabbi Lau is also the Chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum Center. His father, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lau, was the last Chief Rabbi of the Polish town of Piotrkow Trybunakski, and was murdered in the Treblinka death camp.

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau is the 38th generation in an unbroken chain of rabbis, and served as Chief Rabbi of Israel from 1993 to 2003. He personally was imprisoned in a Nazi slave labor camp at age seven and then was taken to the Auschwitz death camp where he was kept alive by his older brother Naphtali Lau-Lavie and other prisoners.

The rabbi was miraculously freed from the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1945 upon being discovered hiding under a heap of dead bodies by U.S. Army Chaplain Rabbi Herschel Schachter during liberation of the camp. Together with Elazar Schiff, another survivor of Buchenwald, he came to Mandate Palestine in 1945.

Hana Levi Julian

NYC World Trade Center Goes Blue-and-White For Elie Wiesel

Monday, July 4th, 2016

New York’s World Trade Center was all lit up Sunday night in blue and white — the colors of the Israeli flag — to honor the memory of Holocaust survivor and renowned author Elie Weisel.

The gesture by the City of New York was made as the body of the Nobel Laureate was laid to rest at the Sharon Gardens cemetery in Valhalla, New York, in Westchester County.

The Nobel laureate passed away in New York on Saturday at the age of 87 after a long illness. He is survived by his wife Marion and his son Elisha, a partner at Goldman Sachs.

Wiesel, who dedicated his life to ensuring future generations would never forget the Holocaust, lived to see and enjoy his two grandchildren after having survived the Auschwitz death camp.

Hana Levi Julian

94-Year-Old Auschwitz Guard Gets 15 Minutes Per Murder

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

Reinhold Hanning, a 94-year-old former Auschwitz guard, was sentenced to five years in jail in Germany on Friday, for being a “willing and efficient henchman” in the murder of 170,000 inmates in the two and a half years he worked at the death camp. That means that, after the appeals in the case are over and Hanning would presumably serve out his sentence, he would be paying with 15 minutes and change for each victim whose death he helped carry out. The value of each victim could be reduced, however, should the aging Nazi be released early for good behavior.

Hanning’s lawyer, Johannes Salmen, said he plans to appeal, because his client “will not be fit for a custodial sentence. That means he will not have to go to jail.”

OK, so just the inconvenience of the trial as punishment, then.

Judge Anke Grudda rejected the defense argument that Hanning, who was an SS officer, never directly killed or beaten anyone, and told him, “It is not true that you had no choice, you could have asked to be transferred to the war front.” She pointed out that during Hanning’s two and a half years at Auschwitz he was promoted twice, which ” shows that you had proven your value as a willing and efficient henchman in the killings,” Grudda said.

Hanning apologized to his victims, reading from a prepared speech that he regretted being part of a “criminal organization” that killed so many and caused so much suffering. “I’m ashamed that I knowingly let injustice happen and did nothing to oppose it.”

According to the Daily Mail, one more man and one woman in their 90s are still scheduled to go on trial as accessories to the murders of more than a million Jews in Auschwitz. A third Nazi SS guard died at 93 in April, just days before his trial started.


Thousands of Auschwitz Victims’ Personal Items to Go on Display

Friday, June 10th, 2016

More than 16 thousand personal items belonging to the victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau, originally discovered in archaeological digs carried out in 1967 by the Communist government in the vicinity of the gas chamber and crematorium III, have now been delivered to the Auschwitz Memorial.

The objects are not only a remarkable testimony to the history of the camp and the extermination process, but also a moving personal testimony of the victims. In most cases, these are the last personal belongings of the Jews led to their death in the gas chambers upon selection at the ramp. They include thermometers, empty medicine bottles, fragments of shoes, jewelry, cutlery, watches, brushes, smoking pipes, lighters, fragments of kitchenware, buttons, pocketknives, and keys.

Auschwitz personal belongings – letters / Photo: Paweł Sawicki

Auschwitz personal belongings – letters / Photo: Paweł Sawicki

“In 1967, on the site of the former Birkenau camp, Lódz-born filmmaker Andrzej Brzozowski made a short documentary film titled ‘Archaeology,’ showing the process of the excavations near the ruins of the gas chamber and crematorium III,” Elżbieta Cajzer, head of the Museum collections related. “As a result of these works, which were shown in the video, a large number of original objects were found from the period of when the camp was still functioning. The register of the museum collections only shows a little more than 400 objects from these excavations. We were convinced, however, that there had to be much more. We launched an investigation that lasted several months, by verifying archival documentation.”

“Individually verified trails were broken; people who had been working then in the Museum were no longer there. Unfortunately, the film’s director has already died, the institutions which funded the film have changed, and the archives were silent,” said Auschwitz Museum director, Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński. “Nevertheless, we checked every lead. We could not be certain whether the results of the archaeological research had not been squandered or fragmented. After all, almost 50 years have passed; Polish institutions have undergone thorough changes after the fall of Communism. We took into account and were prepared for any eventuality.”

Auschwitz personal belongings – cup / Photo: Paweł Sawicki

Auschwitz personal belongings – cup / Photo: Paweł Sawicki

“We succeeded in making contact with the last living persons who participated in the project almost 50 years ago,” Elżbieta Cajzer said, adding, “It was, however, uncertain where the items found during the making of the film had been deposited. It turned out that they are stored in 48 cardboard boxes at one of the buildings of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Most of them have been packed the entire time in individually marked boxes, which is today very important for the process of documentation and verification of the objects’ authenticity, as they indicate the place of discovery or precise information about individual objects.”

Auschwitz personal belongings transported / Photo: Paweł Sawicki

Auschwitz personal belongings transported / Photo: Paweł Sawicki

“I had considered the discovery of such a huge collection in whole after nearly half a century as unlikely as finding the treasure of a lost Galleon,” Dr. Cywiński said. “I can only try to imagine why the lost objects were deposited in these boxes just after being dug up. The excavations were carried out in the summer of 1967, near the gas chambers and crematoria, presumably to be analyzed and studied, or perhaps someone even had the intention to write an extensive research paper on the subject. This is a unique collection in every way. A few months later in 1968, there was a political turnabout and the Communist authorities took a clearly anti-Semitic direction. Perhaps this is why they did not hurry with the implementation and closure of this project. The times then were difficult for Holocaust-related topics.”


70 Years Later, Auschwitz Inmate’s Gold Ring Found in Double Bottom Mug

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum staff found a mug with a double bottom that had jewelry hidden inside it. The mug is one of tens of thousands of enameled pieces of kitchenware looted by the Germans from people deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

“During the works to secure the enameled kitchenware located at the main exhibition, it turned out that one of the mugs has a double bottom,” Auschwitz Museum employee Hanna Kubik said. “It was very well hidden, but due to the passage of time, the materials underwent gradual degradation, and the second bottom separated from the mug.”

Auschwitz mug with gold ring / Photo credit: Miroslaw Maciaszczyk

Auschwitz mug with gold ring / Photo credit: Miroslaw Maciaszczyk

“Under it, among other objects, was a woman’s ring made of gold and a necklace wrapped in a piece of canvas,” Kubik added.

Auschwitz inmate’s gold chain / Photo credit: Miroslaw Maciaszczyk

Auschwitz inmate’s gold chain / Photo credit: Miroslaw Maciaszczyk

Despite the passage of more than 70 years since the liberation of the camp, there are still cases of accidental discovery of objects hidden by the victims, museum officials say. “The Germans incessantly lied to the Jews they deported for extermination,” said museum director Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński. “They told them about resettlement, work and life in a different location. They allowed the victims take with them a little luggage. In this way, the Germans were confident that in the luggage — including clothes and items needed for life — they would find the last valuables of the deported families.”

“The hiding of valuable items — which is repeatedly mentioned in the accounts of survivors, and which was the reason for the ripping and careful search of clothes and suitcases in the warehouse for looted items, the so-called ‘Kanada,’ proves on the one hand the awareness of the victims of the chance of being robbed during the deportation, but on the other hand it shows that the Jewish families still had a ray of hope that these items would be required for their livelihood,” Cywiński noted.

An X-ray of the Auschwitz mug with gold ring

An X-ray of the Auschwitz mug with gold ring

All findings are carefully documented and secured by the conservators, because they are the most recent traces of individual victims of the camp. Unfortunately, quite often the owners of these items remain anonymous, because there are no traces left on the objects to help identify them.

In the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum collection there are more than 12,000 pieces of enameled kitchenware: cups, pots, bowls, kettles, jugs, and crockery decorated with images of children playing and images of animals.


[Yom HaShoah Special] Israel Inspired: Where Was God in the Holocaust? [audio]

Monday, May 9th, 2016

In honor of On Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, Rabbi Jeremy Gimpel turns the question upside down and offers a radical explanation that will make your day more meaningful. Can we find God in the horrors of Auschwitz?

This show was inspired by Professor Shalom Rosenberg.

The Land of Israel

Former Auschwitz Radio Operator Charged with Accessory to Murder

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

German authorities have charged a 91-year-old woman for her role in the murder of 260,000 Jews in the Auschwitz death camp during the Holocaust.

The woman, who has not been identified, served in the Nazi SS and worked as a radio operator for the camp’s commandant in 1944. Prosecutors plan to charge her as an accessory to murder because she aided the operation of the death camp.

The woman’s trial will come on the heels of the trial of Oskar Gröning, the so-called “bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” who was sentenced to four years in prison earlier this year for serving as an SS guard at Auschwitz.

Up until 2011, German authorities only prosecuted people who served in senior Nazi positions. But that year, John Demjanjuk, who had volunteered as an SS guard, was found guilty of accessory for the murder of more than 27,000 Jews at the Sobibor death camp.

Since then, German authorities have been going after other people who could be charged as accessories to Nazi crimes. But among the 6,500 former SS members who served in Auschwitz and were still living at the time of prosecution, only 50 have been convicted, according to The Telegraph.

JNS News Service

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/former-auschwitz-radio-operator-charged-with-accessory-to-murder/2015/09/24/

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