web analytics
March 26, 2015 / 6 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Berlin’

Berlin Won’t Name German Companies Involved in Syria’s C-Weapons Program

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Berlin steadfastly refuses to reveal the names of German companies who helped Syria develop its chemical weapons program according to a new report published this week by Der Spiegel. The information was made available in documents that were declassified after a 30 year embargo.

The list of firms involved in the program was handed over to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government coalition 16 months ago by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The organization won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for its “extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.” Last year the OPCW organized and helped destroy Syria’s chemical weapons – those that were uncovered, that is – together with experts from the United Nations.

But 16 months later, Merkel has done nothing with the list, saying that publicizing the names would “significantly impair foreign policy interests and thus the welfare of the Federal Republic of Germany.”

The Merkel government added that doing so would be similar to releasing “trade secrets” and therefore constitute a violation of Germany’s constitution.

According to a lengthy report in Der Spiegel, however, the government did not need the OPCW list to know that German firms were involved in the Syrian chemical weapons program.

Apparently the government-funded Institute for Contemporary History published an inventory dating back to 1984 including a government document with names of companies suspected of supplying the Syrian chemical weapons program.

The release may have been accidental; it was a memo regarding the Dec. 6, 1984 visit to a deupty section head in the German Foreign Ministry by then-Israeli Ambassador to Germany Yitzhak Ben-Ari.

The Israeli official brought with him “intelligence service findings” which showed that since the mid-1970s scientists had been working on producing chemical weapons for Syria, “disguised as agricultural and medical research.”

Included were the glass producer Schott, laboratory equipment producer Kolb, technology company Heraeus, the former Hoechst subsidiary Riedel-de-Haen, pharmaceutical company Merck and the company Gerrit van Delden.

The top secret program was being carried out in the chemistry department at the UNESCO-funded Centre d’Etudes et des Recherches Scientifiques in Damascus. A pilot facility was already built. Contracts were already signed for three production lines and Ben-Ari believed that within the year, Syria would have the capacity to produce 700 kilograms (1,543 pounds) of sarin – enough to kill several million people.

On December 12, 1984, a representative of the U.S. State Department told the German Embassy in Washington that Karl Kolb GmbH & Co. KG, from the town of Dreiech in Hesse, had delivered “chemical research and production equipment for the manufacture of large quantities of nerve gas” to Iraq.

At that time, Dictator Saddam Hussein was busy building “the most modern chemical weapons factory of its time,” disguised as a pesticide factory, according to international experts who testified in 2004, Der Spiegel reports. Though only Kolb is mentioned in the files, it turns out that a related firm, Pilot Plant GmbH, delivered four facilities at a total cost of 7.5 million Deutsche marks.

American officials were trying to pressure then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher to force Kolb to withdraw its technicians and “via pressure on the company prevent Iraq from producing C-weapons.”

Germany’s long-standing love affair with chemical weapons was notorious: the Nazis had used hydrocyanic acid, manufactured by German chemical companies, to murder inmates in the death camps during the Holocaust. Millions died, including six million Jews.

As it turns out, Kohl and Genscher did indeed promise to curb the companies and issued orders to that effect. Foreign Ministry internal memos clearly showed the “minister places high value on a complete investigation” and demanded “assurances that nothing more will be delivered” to Samarra.

NBA’ Danny Green Post ‘LOL’ Selfie at Berlin Holocaust Memorial

Friday, October 10th, 2014

San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green posted on Twitter a selfie at the Berlin Holocaust memorial along with the caption “LOL” [laughing out loud] in the tweet, “You know I had to do it one time lol #Holocaust.”

That was the funniest line since someone said that America has gotten past its racist past by choosing a black president to clean up the mess.

After Green laughed all by himself at his selfie, he started reading the complaints and quickly deleted the picture and posted apologies in four tweets:

“Yes, mistakes do happen,”

“I want to sincerely apologize for the insensitivity of my post!

“I have great respect n understanding for this country’s history n wanted to continue chronicling my experience in Berlin.

“But showed poor judgement…sorry once again.”

Poor judgment?

Did he really even judge at all? Did he even consider the insensitivity of laughing at the Holocaust memorial for 6 million Jews gassed and butchered by the Nazis?

Would it have been “poor judgment” if some white basketball player took a selfie at a memorial for Martin Luther King with a caption “LOL My dream came true. He’s dead.”?

Green later changed the caption to read, “A lot of history here, more than you could imagine…very sad/tragic things happened #holocaust #berlin.”

Indeed, sad and tragic things are happening today. People like Danny Green are LOL at memories of the Holocaust.

New Jewish Community in Berlin Linked To Pre-War Congregation

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

A new Jewish community was dedicated in the former East Berlin, in the footsteps of one destroyed by the Nazis.

In an odd twist, the community has the same name as another Berlin congregation that is mired in legal limbo and debt after failing to prove it has any members.

In Tuesday’s ceremonies at the century-old Beth Zion synagogue, descendants of pre-war Adass Jisroel rabbis symbolically transferred the spiritual legacy of their forefathers to the new congregation, Kahal Adass Jisroel.

The new group’s 250 members include many young families and students at the Skoblo Synagogue and Education Center and its Orthodox Rabbinerseminar zu Berlin, groups that are under the umbrella of the Lauder Yeshurun. The synagogue is located within the Lauder complex, and the congregation itself is independent of other organizations.

It is not part of the official Berlin Jewish community but hopes to cooperate with it, according to Josh Spinner, a member of the new congregation, and executive vice president and CEO of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. The Central Council of Jews in Germany has given its unequivocal approval.

There is unlikely to be any cooperation with the largely defunct Israelitische Synagogen Gemeinde Adass Jisroel. Its president, Mario Offenberg, told JTA he knows “next to nothing” about the new group and takes “a neutral position.”

Establishing continuity with a pre-war congregation can lead to property restitution, but Spinner said the new congregation is only interested in spiritual continuity.

It is unclear whether there are any properties involved, aside from the synagogue building and cemetery.

New Year’s Revelers Urinate on Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

Monday, January 6th, 2014

New Year’s revelers shot fireworks and urinated in Germany’s Holocaust memorial in Berlin.

Reacting to a disgusting and shocking video that also explicitly showed a man urinating amid young party-goers celebrating among the 2711 stone slabs at the memorial last week, spokesperson Jenifer Stolz told JTA that “we are all quite appalled. But it is not the first time.”

She said she hoped it would be the last time, however. Meetings with Berlin police are planned in the coming days and weeks, at which possible measures to prevent the disrespectful behavior will be on the table. An obvious choice is to put up temporary fencing as is done for Berlin’s central park – the Tiergarten – which, like the memorial, borders on the party scene. But there also are other options to be discussed, Stolz said.

Berlin’s major open-air New Year’s event takes place around the Brandenburg Gate and hundreds of thousands of visitors walk past the memorial on their way there, Stolz noted. “It seems to invite them to such excesses, and it’s not nice.”

Artwork in German Parliament May Have Been Nazi-Looted

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Two artworks hanging in Germany’s parliament building in Berlin may have been confiscated or acquired at artificially depressed prices by the Nazis from the original owners, German newspapers reported.

The Die Welt newspaper suggested that one of the works coincidentally stems from a gallery owned by an uncle of Hildebrand Gurlitt, the Nazi-era dealer whose huge collection was discovered in the Munich apartment of his elderly son, Cornelius Gurlitt, in 2012 and revealed to the world two months ago.

The Bundestag has responded in a statement that it is looking into the matter. Meanwhile, Die Welt said the Bundestag’s eight-member art advisory council – which includes the German president – already had determined that neither work was so-called “Raubkunst,” art plundered from occupied countries.

The two works in question reportedly are a large-format 1905 oil painting by Georg Waltenberger titled “Chancellor Bülow speaks in the Reichstag,” and a 1918 Lovis Corinth lithograph, “A street in Königsberg.” While the former is hanging in a hallway, the latter is kept out of natural light.

Die Welt reported that the lithograph was printed by the Berlin gallery of Fritz Gurlitt, an uncle of collector Hildebrand Gurlitt.

Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the Bild newspaper that the Bundestag should make its collection public and assist investigators in reconnecting possible heirs with long-lost property. Over the years, the Bundestag has returned several works to heirs.

Of the 4,000 works in the German parliament’s collection, about 700 are said to date from before the end of World War II.

New Berlin Jewish Student Center Fights Anti-Israel Trend

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Berlin’s first Jewish student house opened its doors on Sunday for pro-Israel lectures and activities in response to anti-Israel tendencies commonly found on Berlin’s campuses and for cultural and leisure activities for Jewish students in the German capital.

Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, who is behind the effort and serves as a Jewish community rabbi in Berlin, stated during the ceremony, “As Berlin has become a magnet for Jewish students from throughout the world in recent years, it’s time to have a regular home for Jewish students in the city.”

Approximately 150 members of the local Jewish community attended the ceremony, along with senior German government officials. Among them were Jewish philosopher Professor Micha Brumlik, the vice president of the German Bundestag, Petra Pa, and other members of the Bundestag.

The three-story Jewish Student House will also be used as a meeting place for 5,000 male and female Jewish students at Berlin’s three universities and other academic institutions in the city. it is intended to serve as a deterrent to the current 50 percent rate of intermarriage among German Jews.

Rebbitzen Chaya Greenberg, who will be managing the student house alongside the students, said during the ceremony, “We don’t consider you, the students, as guests but as family, and this is not just simply a building, but a family home for all Jewish students.”

The new house will be run by Chabad on Campus and  the KSpace organization, operated by students.

NY Court to Decide Dispute over ‘Holocaust-Ancient Assyrian Link’

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

The fate of a tiny gold tablet in the possession of the estate of a Holocaust survivor and claimed by a Berlin Museum now is in the hands of seven judges on the New York Supreme Court.

The table, if it’s not a hoax, could be worth millions of dollars. It belonged to Holocaust survivor Riven Flamenbaum of Great Neck, New York and was inherited by his children. The history of the tablet is certain as far back as 100 years ago but may go back 3,200 years – or it may not.

German archaeologists discovered it approximately 100 years ago in the Assyrian city of Ashtur, in what is now northern Iraq, Long Island Newsday reported. It went missing after it has been displayed at the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin in 1934 until the end of the war, when the museum’s artifacts were inventoried.

It next showed up in the hands of Flamenbaum, a native Poland who obtained it by trading “either for two packs of cigarettes or a piece of salami,” according to one of his daughters, Hannah Flamenbaum.

After her father died in 2003, his son Israel told the German museum about the presence of the tablet, and it sued for its return. The lower court in New York ruled in favor of the estate, but an appeals court overruled the decision, and the New York Supreme Court concluded hearings on the case Tuesday. A ruling is expected in four to six weeks.

It is not known if the tablet is a forgery or not. His daughter Hannah said her father tried to sell it to an auction house in 1954 but was told it was a worthless forgery.

Her brother Israel disagreed with her account including of the estate and informed the museum of the tablet’s presence, setting off the legal war.

Hannah and a sister claim that so much times has passed since the disappearance of the tablet that the museum has no rightful claim.

Their lawyer says that if the tablet turns out to be true ancient artifact, it could be worth approximately $10 million.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/ny-court-to-decide-dispute-over-holocaust-ancient-assyrian-link/2013/10/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: