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December 3, 2016 / 3 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Budapest’

Raoul Wallenberg’s Fate Revealed in Diary of Former KGB Chief

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

For the first time ever, historians finally know, without doubt, what happened to the Swedish diplomat who saved so many thousands of Jewish lives from the Nazi hordes in Hungary during World War II.

In the 632-page tome, “Notes From a Suitcase: Secret Diaries of the First K.G.B. Chairman, Found Over 25 Years After His Death,” one finds the memoirs of one of the most important men in Soviet history, and the answer to one of the most painful questions of the last century.

“I have no doubts that Wallenberg was liquidated in 1947,” wrote state security chief Ivan A. Serov, head of the KGB from 1954 to 1958, in a memoir not only rare but in fact probably entirely forbidden to write.

Wallenberg disappeared in Budapest in 1945, and although there have been countless searches for clues to his fate, none have turned up the slightest breath of evidence as to what happened to him.

But his fate is found in this text, because the grandaughter of Ivan A. Serov, 57-year-old retired ballerina Vera Serova was wise enough, and kind enough, not to throw away the papers discovered by workers in suitcases as they renovated a garage four years ago at a “dacha” left to her in northwestern Moscow by her VIP grandfather.

The soldiers of the Soviet Union were occupying Budapest at the time of Wallenberg’s disappearance, and it was known that as a Swedish diplomat, he had strong ties with the Americans and the highest echelons of the Third Reich. That made him suspect to the Russians.

Neither ever gave up a clue, however, until this summer when the diaries of the original head of the clandestine KGB, found tucked into the wall of a little vacation cottage in Russia, were published.

Although few indeed are memoirs written by Kremlin officials – for obvious reasons – this one, penned by Serov, contained a treasure.

The multiple references to previously unknown documents on Wallenberg definitively put to rest the endless questions about the fate of the heroic diplomat. The most important of all is the fact that Wallenberg, though dead at the time of the posthumous investigation, was ultimately found by the USSR not to have been a “spy” after all.

It was Serov who carried out that probe at the behest of Nikita S. Khrushchev, who requested the inquiry after Stalin, telling Serov to respond to Sweden and help in the purge of Molotov. Although he failed to uncover the full circumstances of Wallenberg’s death, he said, he found no evidence of espionage.

There is a mention of the cremation of Wallenberg’s remains. And there is a reference to something said by Serov’s predecessor, Viktor Abakunov, who was tried and executed in 1954, in the final Stalin purge. During the interrogation of the former head of state security, his torturers learned that it was Stalin and then-foreign minister Vyacheslav M. Molotov who had issued the order to “liquidate” Wallenberg.

Serov also said he had read a Wallenberg file — despite the fact the Soviet Security Service had for years denied that any such files existed. Hans Magnusson, a retired senior diplomat interviewed by the New York Times, directed the Swedish side of the Swedish-Russian Working Group and said there should have been a file created for every prisoner. But, he said, “The Russians said they did not find one.”

Vera Serova has one, however, in her grandfather’s memoirs. She has published them now to restore his reputation, she said.

Serov did many evil things in his life: he established the secret police that were used to terrorize the population in Poland and East Germany; he helped deport thousands of minorities considered a threat to Soviet rule in Russia; he wielded enormous power as head of state security.

Hana Levi Julian

Painter Jonasz Stern’s ‘Landscape after the Holocaust’ in Krakow Museum

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

The recorded testimony of Jonasz Stern at the Yad Vashem digital collection relates: “Testimony of Jonasz Stern, born in Kalusz, Poland, 1904, regarding his experiences in the Lvov Ghetto, his rescue from shooting in killing pits during the liquidation of the Lvov Ghetto, in hiding, in Budapest, in Romania, and in other places.”

The transcribed account follows:

“Escape from Krakow to Lvov with his wife, at the outbreak of the war; move from apartment to apartment, after the occupation of Lvov; deportation to the Lvov Ghetto, November 1941; Lvov Ghetto life including overcrowding, hunger and the lack of means of existence; “Aktion,” August 1942; obtains Aryan documents for his wife, and her move to Stryj; capture of the witness, May 1943; deportation to Janowska camp with 3,000 Jews; concentration of thousands of Jews in a field for two days, without food or water, and shooting into the crowd by the Germans; transfer of 7,000 men, women and children who are naked, in railroad cars to Belzec; escape from the train through a window which he broke when they were 6.5 kilometers from Lvov; return to the Lvov Ghetto for ten days, until the liquidation of the ghetto; deportation of thousands of Jews to Janowska camp, mid-June 1943; transfer of the Jews to the killing site in Hyclowa Gorka, the next day; escape from the shooting pit, after ten hours among the corpses of the dead and the wounded people; hides in fields and in a forest, and receives help from the local farmers, in particular from Poles from Poznan who resided in Sknilow; return to Lvov, and hides with the help of Polish friends; move to Rozniatow by train; walks on foot through the mountains and illegally crosses the border into Hungary; he is attacked by a shepherd before crossing the border, who beats him and steals his belongings; move to the Hungarian side, after wanderings in the mountains for eight days; arrival to Budapest with the help of local people; life under the protection of the Polish Committee, until the German occupation of Hungary; move to Romania, summer 1944; capture by the Gestapo, and release after the intervention of Endre Laszlo, a commander of the Hungarian Gendarmerie in a town near Budapest; life in Budapest; liberation by the Red Army.”

The account concludes with the following heartbreaking lines: “Receives information regarding the return of his wife to Krakow during the war, and that she willingly presented herself to the Gestapo, due to her lack of means of existence and exhaustion.”

Other than that, Painter Jonasz Stern left a permanent mark on the Polish art of the 20th century. Before the war, he was a member of the first Grupa Krakowska (Krakow Group), and in 1957 he co-founded Grupa Krakowska II, with members including Maria Jarema and Tadeusz Kantor. These were the two most significant artistic formations in Poland. The pre-war Group experimented with form and manifested its left-wing stance, the majority of members affiliated to the KPP, the Communist Party of Poland.

After the war had erupted, Stern fled from Krakow to Lvov. Of his paintings only one remains, the Nude Study from 1935, which is now part of the collection of the National Museum in Krakow.

After the war, Stern became a philosopher, reflecting on life, its transience and dignity. In his assemblages, he expressed his thoughts using simple symbols: scrunched-up fabric, animal and fish bones, stones, netting and – occasionally – photographs. The drama of his paintings is entirely devoid of pathos. Stern created a universe of abstract landscapes left by a world annihilated.

Jonasz Stern – Landscape after the Holocaust

Aug. 5 – Sep. 25 2016, Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków (MOCAK), 4 Lipowa St. 30-702 Kraków, Poland. Tuesday–Sunday 11 AM – 7 PM, Monday – closed. phone +48 12 263 40 00.

JNi.Media

Murdered Israeli Tourist Beaten to Death in Hungary

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Hungarian media have reported that murdered Jerusalem resident Ofir Gross, z’l, was beaten to death with bricks, according to the initial findings of a police investigation.

Gross had just completed his studies in medical engineering and had traveled from Debrecen to Budapest a week earlier.

Two men were arrested in connection with his murder earlier this week. The Attorney General told media the two men, ages 19 and 21, found Gross sleeping in an abandoned yard and attacked him in order to steal his mobile phones, laptop computer and whatever money he had with him.

The attackers hit Gross with bricks, beating him to death, and then moved his body to a wooded area near a demolished house, covering it with debris.

The family was notified by Israeli foreign ministry officials when Gross was found, and flew to Hungary to identify his body.

Hana Levi Julian

Hungarian Authorities Arrest 2 Suspects in Death of Ofir Gross, z’l

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Hungarian police have arrested two suspects in connection with the death of 40-year-old Ofir Gross, an Israeli citizen whose body was found in a forest outside Budapest this weekend.

The two suspects have been accused of murdering Gross, a resident of Jerusalem who was studying in Germany to become a medical engineer. He had gone to Hungary after leaving from Debrecen on a fishing trip following the completion of his studies.

The suspects are male, aged 21 and 19. The authorities have declined to release further details about their identities, and the motive behind the murder remains unknown.

Gross last contacted his family on the Thursday before the holiday of Passover. His family, notified by Israeli foreign ministry officials, traveled to Hungary to identify his body.

Hana Levi Julian

Body of Missing Israeli Located in Hungary

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

The body of a missing Israeli citizen has been found in Hungary, according to Israeli government officials.

The family of Ofir Gross, 40, is traveling to Hungary to identify the body, which was found in a forest.

Gross, a resident of Jerusalem, was learning medical engineering in Germany when he disappeared from Debrecen while on a fishing trip more than a week ago. He had flown to Budapest and contacted his family last Thursday before the start of the Passover holiday.

Initial findings indicate that he may have been murdered, according to a report by the Hebrew-language Ynet website.

An eyewitness quoted by the Hungarian consul apparently last saw Gross drinking beer at a local bar. The witness alleged that Ofir had said he did not want to order food because “it was expensive” and also declined to take a hotel room for the same reason.

Israel’s Channel 2 television news interviewed Gross’s sister, who said her parents had spoken with their son, who said he was going to stay on a couch at the home of a local man.

The family has no idea whether he ever reached that destination, however. “It’s a terrible fear,” his sister told the news outlet.

Hana Levi Julian

New Jerusalem Street Honors Savior of 40,000 Jews During Holocaust

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Mayor Nir Barkat inaugurated a new street in Jerusalem in an official ceremony this week to honor Moshe (Miklós) Krausz, a little-known Hungarian Jew who saved about 40,000 Jews during the Holocaust

The street-naming publicly recognizes and honors Krausz’s work in a rare instance of recognition.

“This commemoration only begins to correct a historic injustice,” said Nachi Eyal, CEO of The Legal Forum for Israel and one of the people behind this initiative.

Eyal told Tazpit:

Krausz was a man of the World Zionist movement and the Mizrachi movement who saved tens of thousands of Jews and yet his name has been left out of the public knowledge. Krausz died alone and almost forgotten in Jerusalem after having immigrated here with the end of World War II.

Krausz served as the director of the Palestine Office for the World Zionist Movement in Budapest and was responsible for obtaining emigration permits for Jews to the British Mandate of Palestine.

Following the Nazi invasion of Hungary in 1944, Krausz, aided by his connections with Swiss Vice-Consul Carl Lutz, began producing diplomatic patronage certificates to thousands of Hungarian Jews and their entire families, effectively granting them diplomatic immunity from the Nazis.

Through his Swiss connection, Krausz also obtained extraterritorial status under the auspices of the Swiss government to many private buildings where Jews would hide from Nazi extermination.

Most prominent among these “safe houses” was a disused glass factory in Budapest. Dubbed “The Glass House” by survivors, over 3,000 Jews used the building as a hiding place and survived the Holocaust.

“Jews from all walks of life and different backgrounds huddled together in the crowded cellars,” Mordechai Newmann, a Glass House survivor who attended the ceremony told TPS. “Orthodox rabbis, socialist youth activists, Zionist Organization workers, and their families all had their place in the Glass House.”

“At night, members of Zionist Youth organizations would dress up in Nazi uniform and sneak out of the cellars to find more Jews and smuggle them into the glass house,” recounts Newmann, who was 14 at the time.

This elaborate scheme that saved such a staggering number of lives from the Nazi extermination machine went unnoticed and did not receive much public attention in Israel until now.

According to Dr. Ayala Nadivi, a historian of Hungarian Jewry, the reasons for Krausz’s hitherto anonymity might have been political. She told Tazpit:

There was quite a lot of infighting and political ego struggles between the various Jewish and Zionist bodies of the time. Krausz was a member of the Mizrachi movement, while the Jewish leadership in British Mandate Palestine was predominantly of the Mapai movement (Worker’s Party of The Land of Israel). Independently of Krausz and Lutz’s rescue efforts, Mapai established the Budapest Rescue Committee and appointed Israel Kasztner to head it.

Later, with the end of the British Mandate and the founding of the State of Israel, the same Mapai became the governing party in Israel. When Kasztner was accused of collaboration with the Nazis during his rescue activities, Krausz gave unfavorable testimony against him on trial. From that point on and despite the evident existence of records of Krausz’s rescue efforts, not a single national organization or newspaper acknowledges him.

According Eyal, it was Dr. Nadivi’s book “Between Krausz and Kasztner: The Battle to Save Hungarian Jewry” published in 2014, that was the catalyst to the reemergence of Krausz’ name on public record.

“After being told about the book by my assistant and reading it, I felt compelled to petition Mayor Barkat,” Eyal told Tazpit. “After filing a request and all the necessary paperwork, including the historic records assembled by Dr. Nedivi, the Mayor acquiesced and named a Jerusalem street after this man who saved more Jews than Schindler and Kasztner combined and was a Jew himself.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Ryanair Flying to Israel with Big Boost to Negev

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

The European low-fare Ryanair Airlines announced Tuesday it is launching its first Israel flights with three new routes between Ovda Airport, northwest of Eilat and Budapest, Kaunas and Krakow.

The new service will begin in November, with two flights a week to each of the three European cities.

Ryanair also said that it “will continue to negotiate with the Israeli authorities over future routes.”

The Irish-based company’s chief commercial officer David O’Brien said:

We will strengthen our presence in Israel as time goes by. Eilat is a very unique tourist destination like Morocco and the Canary Islands and we are certain that we will fill the planes.

Negotiations between Israel and Ryanair have been taking place for several years.

The Negev is undergoing a boom with a massive transfer of IDF forces and bases to the southern Israel, the fast-growing change in Be’er Sheva’s becoming a high-tech center, and the extension of the high-speed north-south Kvish 6 (Highway 6) to Be’er Sheva.

Several major corporations, including Boeing, are investing in the new high-tech park next to Ben Gurion University, and Ryanair’s service will be convenient for soldiers and businessmen traveling to Europe.

 

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Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ryanair-flying-to-israel-with-big-boost-to-negev/2015/07/07/

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