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October 26, 2016 / 24 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘gas chambers’

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.”


Why Some Jews Are Afraid of an ‘Inner-Nazi’

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

What is the fundamental lesson of the Holocaust for Israel and the Jewish people? There is a divergence of opinion:

Many Liberal Jews believe the main lesson of the Six Million is that we Jews should never do to others what was done to us.

We know first hand what the horrors of hatred look like, and therefore, we must distance ourselves in every possible way from behaviors which are like those of the Nazis.

This way of thinking posits that every mortal person has the potential to be a Nazi and when given power, every human and even every Jew can become abusive. But after the Holocaust, we Jews were tasked with being more ethical and virtuous than the barbarians. We took it upon ourselves to be the archetype of restraint, lest our very human Inner-Nazi be unleashed and we end up mirroring the tormentors we escaped.

I call the folks in this camp Fear-of-Inner-Nazi Jews.

The other perspective is very different.

It posits that the main lesson of the Holocaust is that Jews, having survived the hell of the Holocaust as a people, should Never Again allow anyone to do that to us again. The Zionist revolution effectuated a return to the land, to agriculture, a revival of Hebrew, and, so meaningfully, a resurrection of Jewish physical courage and military strength. Israel’s ability to put up a fight, and even to be a global leader in defense techniques and technology, is, for subscribers of this outlook, a source of pride.

This group I call the Never-Again Jews.

But not only are these outlooks divergent, they also clash.

For those in the Fear-of-Inner-Nazi faction, the Jewish State, when acting with force, can come dangerously close to being like the dreaded Nazis.

The latest trigger of this phobia took place when a soldier in Hebron shot a downed terrorist. The Inner-Nazi group immediately sensed danger: Israel was slipping morally, carrying out extrajudicial killings, vigilantism, field execution – the Inner Nazi was coming out!

For those of the Never-Again viewpoint, the Hebron terrorist came to kill Jews, like a classic Nazi, and ended up dead. Was it OK to shoot the terrorist when he was down? Maybe yes, maybe no – but that’s not the big issue. The Jewish people are at war with a global Jihad which seeks to destroy Israel and to kill Jews for being Jews. The bottom line is that Israel must, first and foremost, protect Jews, and be the Never Again country which prevents the Nazis of today from harming one hair on one Jewish head.

However, for Never-Againers it’s not only that Jews have the right to kill Nazis or Jihadists because all is fair in war.

For many of us, the very assertion that Jews have an Inner-Nazi and the given the ‘right circumstances’ we will herd people into gas chambers is preposterous! The father of Nazism, Adolf Hitler, hunted Jews precisely because we were the embodiment of morality, the “conscience of the world” which he wanted to wipe out. Anyone who really knows the Jewish and Israeli people knows that we have never been in danger of becoming Nazis. To the contrary (and contrary to global media), we are a source of light, liberty, and progress, regionally and globally.

Yet, the Fear-of-Inner-Nazi Jews are not the only ones who subscribe to the idea that Israel’s actions, unchecked, can easily approach Nazism.

Anti-Israel propaganda harps endlessly upon those Liberal Jewish fears by insinuating a nexus between Israel’s actions and Nazism.

Once the accusation has been lobbied, Fear-of-Inner Nazi Jews face a dilemma: If they believe the propaganda, they become anti-Israel. If they don’t, they bend over backwards to prove that Israel is not like that all, that we are a moral people with a moral army, and we have the Inner-Nazi in check. For Inner-Nazi Jews, the only solution is to throw the soldier who shot the downed terrorist in Hebron into the slammer and throw away the key after making a public example of him! Shackle the Inner-Nazi and hope the world sees the truth of our goodness!

In the meantime, the real Nazis of our time – the Hamas, ISIS, and Hezbollah – arm themselves and prepare for war.

We know they are digging tunnels and we know they are building up their supplies of rockets with the intent of wiping Israel out. But we don’t hit them hard and we don’t strike with fury – we are chained down, stymied by our fear of unleashing the Inner-Nazi or by the fear of being accused of having one. We can only strike when we are under full attack, and then retaliate with only a measured response. A roof-knocking rocket, a kinder-gentler moral army, which makes sure to never fully win, and certainly would never use the word “vanquish” at the end of the war. Don’t crush the enemy, be merciful to the weak, even though moments ago he tried to kill you – Remember the Holocaust!

Some people say that we Jews talk too much about the Holocaust. I don’t think so at all. I think we don’t talk about it enough.

We should take a minute every day to view photographs of dead-Jew-piles being tractored or burned. Then, after watching that, we should make a commitment each day to Never Again and act upon it by striking mercilessly at the Jihad and sending a clear signal – we have zero tolerance for Jewish injury, we have zero tolerance for Neo-Nazism. Now that we have the power to stop them, we should Never Again allow for the 6,000,001 victim. This should our fundamental take-home lesson from the Holocaust.

And let’s take it one step further: instead of fearing the Inner-Nazi who will never appear, imagine if we would embrace our inner Never Again Jewishness so that we would not only protect our own, rather, we would use our newly found strength in a new role. Liberator. Israel – post-Holocaust empowered Jews – would go out and fight today’s Nazism wherever it is, and help the world defeat the very same forces that murdered Six Million when we were weak.

Yishai Fleisher

Paris Court Fines Jean-Marie Le Pen For Calling Gas Chambers ‘Detail of History’

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Jean-Marie Le Pen was fined Wednesday by a Paris court for the third time in a row for calling the Jewish genocide of World War II a “detail of history.” He was also fined in Nice on the same day for similar talk.

Le Pen, 87, was convicted of contesting crimes against humanity, specifically for saying the gas chambers were only a “detail” of history.”

The founder of the French far-right National Front was fined 30,000 euros ($ 34,247). The penalty follows two prior civil court convictions for the same comments about the gas chambers.

Le Pen first declared his belief on the Holocaust in 1987 and repeated it again years later in Germany. Most recently, he again made the same statement before the European Parliament.

Le Pen was also ordered to pay 10,001 euros ($ 11,417) in damages to the three charities who brought the case to court. The judges who heard the case ordered their verdict to be published in three newspapers.

He was also fined 5,000 euros by a court in Nice, and convicted of “provoking hatred and ethnic discrimination” for remarks in 2013 in which he told a public meeting that Roma were smelly and “rash-inducing.”

French laws against Holocaust denial and contesting crimes against humanity are particularly severe. The collaborating Vichy French government helped the Nazis send 78,000 French Jews to death camps during the German occupation from 1940 to 1944. Thousands of French civilians who fought against the Germans were killed in reprisals by the Nazi army.

In an April 2015 interview with the far-right weekly Rivarol, Le Pen defended Philippe Pétain, leader of the Vichy regime, who was convicted of treason after the war. Le Pen was expelled from the party he founded following a feud with his daughter over his comments. He subsequently sued the party to retain his title as honorary president.

Marine Le Pen took over the National Front in 2011, leading a drive to “detoxify” the group from its anti-Semitic overtones. After her father’s interview with Rivarol, she moved to expel him from the party, saying he was “in a total spiral… somewhere between scorched earth and political suicide.”

Hana Levi Julian

Son of Saul’ Wins Oscar for Best Foreign Film

Monday, February 29th, 2016

The 2015 Hungarian drama of a Sonderkommando prisoner at Auschwitz forced to load dead Jewish bodies into crematoria for the Nazis has just won the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards.

Directed by László Nemes and co-written by Nemes and Clara Royer, the plot follows a 36-hour period in the life of Saul, who discovers among the bodies a barely-living young boy.

Believing the child to be his young son and unable to save his life, he instead focuses on finding a rabbi to at least provide his child with a proper Jewish burial.

There are few among U.S. war veterans, American Jewry, their relations and their friends who would not be touched by this film.

First-time feature director Nemes accepted the award Sunday night for the film.

“Even in the darkest hours of mankind, there might be a voice within us that allows us to remain human. That’s the hope of this film,” he said.

It is the ninth Hungarian film to be nominated for the honor, but the first one to win.

Twenty-four hours earlier, “Son of Saul” took the Indie Spirit for Best International Film and a win in its category at the Golden Reel Awards. The film was also shown in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. It also took the 73rd Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film in last month.

A Sony Pictures Classic picked up in Cannes (where it won the Grand Jury Prize last May) from Films Distribution, “Son of Saul” was released in the United States in December and has since grossed approximately $1.3 million.

Hana Levi Julian

Ashes of Holocaust Victims Buried after Secretly Kept in French School

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

The atrocities of the Holocaust still are being discovered.

Rabbis in Strasbourg, France on Sunday carried a single coffin containing several Jews’ ashes and remains that were used for experiments during the Holocaust by August Hirt, a notorious Nazi anatomy researcher.

Their remains in test tubes and jars had been locked up in a French medical school until this past July, when a researcher found a letter dated 1952 and which referred to the atrocity. After the discovery of the letter, the jars and test tubes were found behind a glass cupboard in a locked room.

The only victim whose remains were identified was Menachem Taffem, a Polish Jew who was gassed to death in the Auschwitz gas chambers.

The corpses of 86 Holocaust victims were sent to the institute at the University of Strasbourg for Hirt to carry out research. Some of the remains were buried after the war, others were locked up secretly and yet others were known and kept for legal and scientific intentions.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

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?

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Netanyahu Mourns ‘Britain’s Schindler’

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

“The Jewish people and the State of Israel owe an eternal debt to Nicholas Winton who singlehandedly saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Nazis,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday after hearing of his death.

Winton died in Britain at the age of 106. He saved hundreds of Jewish children from the gas chambers during the Holocaust.

Netanyahu added, “In a world plagued by evil and indifference, Winton dedicated himself to saving the innocent and the defenseless. His exceptional moral leadership serves as an example to all humanity.

“Nicholas Winton will forever be remembered by us with the deepest admiration and gratitude. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahu-mourns-britains-schindler/2015/07/02/

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