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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Fight Over Long-Lost Holocaust Art Treasure Begins

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

A long-lost Monet and other art treasures stolen from Jews during the Holocaust have been discovered in the home of an 81-year-old German art collector, according to a report Wednesday on ORF Austrian state television.

The works by Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Pablo Picasso and Auguste Rodin were discovered last November in Munich among the household items that belong to Cornelius Gurlitt.

One Monet painting alone was estimated to be worth some $14 million (10 million euros). Gurlitt had squirreled away the priceless paintings in his Munich apartment for decades among nearly 1,300 works of art, according to Der Spiegel. More were found by customs officials hidden away in Gurlitt’s house in Salzburg, all stolen during the Nazi era. Hildebrand Gurlitt, his father, was known to have curried favor with the Nazis, Der Spiegel reported.

New York City resident David Toren is waiting for the German government to hand over at least one of those paintings. The octogenarian was a member of one of the last Kindertransports in August 1939 to save Jewish children from the Nazis before the gates to hell crashed shut.

Born in 1925, Toren made it to Sweden; his older brother ended up in Holland and then went on to England one day before the war began. Both of their parents ended their lives in the Nazi gas chambers.

But Toren, 88, is an attorney and the son of an art dealer who was also an attorney — and he is demanding the return of a painting that belonged to his father. The work, an oil painting by German impressionist Max Liebermann, is “Two Riders on the Beach.” It depicts two men riding horses on a beach along the foamy waves.

Toren’s father was arrested by the Gestapo the morning after Kristallnacht, and then asked to come with a Nazi general to his wealthy uncle’s home to finalize “sale” of one of his assets. Later in the day, relates Toren, his father was taken to Buchenwald concentration camp, where he was imprisoned for three weeks — the first time.

A letter by a government official dated in December 1939 documents the attempt by the Nazis to seize the art collection. “Subject: The securing of Jewish-owned art.” Among the works described was Liebermann’s painting – the artist, a “Jewish painter.”

Der Spiegel traced a carbon copy of a letter dated August 1942 showing a Breslau museum director involved in the appraisal and sale of Jewish collections for the Gestapo. In the letter, the museum director offered Hildebrand Gurlitt two Liebermann paintings in exchange for cash, one of which was “Two Riders on the Beach.” The other, “Basket Weavers,” also ended up in Gurlitt’s hands but later was auctioned off in Berlin.

Gurlitt’s lawyers are now demanding that Toren pay $415,890 (300,000 euros) for the return of his father’s painting.

In response, Toren’s son Peter, an attorney,  helped his father file a 19-page complaint demanding the Federal Republic of Germany, and by proxy the Free State of Bavaria, return the painting to Toren and his brother, its rightful inheritors.

The complaint, “David Toren, Plaintiff, v. Federal Republic of Germany and Free State of Bavaria” was filed Wednesday in Washington D.C.

Netanyahu Learns from Merkel How to Stay on Schedule

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday his meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Cabinet was “exceptional” because it was on schedule. Considering Israeli’s penchant for “on time” a synonym for running on a clock that does not keep time, that might be the most valuable result of the visit.

“We had a very enjoyable and productive dinner last night in which we covered a breadth of issues,” he said. “I must say that I learned quite a few things, including how to cut bureaucracy and streamline regulations, which is a revelation for me.”

The Prime Minister reiterated his oft-stated positions -  don’t trust Iran, Israel wants a two-state solution and insists on a demilitarized Palestinian Authority that must recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

 

German Paper’s Caricature of Hook-Nosed Zuckerberg ‘Anti-Semitic’

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

A caricature of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung has drawn charges of anti-Semitism against the artist and newspaper.

As a comment on Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, announced last week, artist Burkhard Mohr depicted the 29-year-old Jewish entrepreneur as an octopus grasping at computers around him. One of his tentacles holds the logo of Whatsapp. reaching, which he purchased last week.

With its exaggerated features, including a long nose and thick lips, the cartoon octopus resembles in more ways than one the cartoons published by the rabidly anti-Semitic Julius Streicher in his Nazi-era Der Stuermer magazine. The caption read, “’Krake Facebook’ – Facebook Octopus and Zuckerberg Octopus.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has protested the depiction, but Mohr denied harboring any anti-Semitic sentiments.

However, Mohr has replaced the caricature of Zuckerberg’s face with a gaping maw, and the newspaper tweeted on Monday, “We apologize for the cartoon.”

Zuckerberg was raised Jewish but now describes himself as an atheist.

Thessaloniki Jews Suing Germany in European Human Rights Court

Monday, February 24th, 2014

The Jewish community of Thessaloniki is suing Germany for the return of a ransom paid during the Nazi occupation of Greece.

The papers were filed Friday in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, the community’s president, David Saltiel, told JTA.

The move to the European court comes after a struggle of two decades in Greek courts, including the Supreme Court, which ruled that Germany had immunity under international conventions.

“It is the end of a long process,” Saltiel said. “We have finished with the courts in Greece and now we hope that the Human Rights Court can help restore the ransom money that the Jewish community paid to Germany.”

The ransom was paid to free some 9,000 of Thessaloniki’s Jewish men, aged 18 to 45, from forced labor by the Germans, who took control of the city in 1942. The German civilian administrator of the Thessaloniki , Max Merten, demanded some 2.5 billion drachmas to release them.

“They were sick and dying and starving and working without food, so the community collected the money to pay,” said Saltiel.

In total, 1.9 billion drachmas, or nearly $69 million, was paid before the Germans began transporting Thessaloniki Jews to the death camps. More than 49,000 Jews out of the city’s prewar Jewish population of 55,000 were deported. Fewer than 2,000 survived.

German Police Three Auschwitz Guard Suspects

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

German police arrested three men in their 80s and 90s Thursday on suspicion of accessory to murder when they were guards at the Auschwitz death camp. Three others, all in their 90s, may also be arrested if police uncover enough evidence to warrant putting them on trial.

“This is a major step,” said Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem. After being told of the arrests, he told the Associated Press, “Given the advanced age of the defendants, every effort should be made to expedite their prosecution.”

German authorities announced last year they would investigate former guards at Nazi death camps. At the trial of former Sobibor death camp guard John Demjanjuk, who died in 2012 while appealing his conviction, the courts set a precedent by accepting prosecutors’ arguments that death camp guards were accessories to murder.

Gag Order Lifted: Two Israelis Arrested for Smuggling Arms to Iran

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

The military censor has released for publication that two Israel’s are being interrogated on suspicion of trying to ship spare parts to Iran for its fighter jets and anti-aircraft missiles.

Both suspects, brothers-in-law Avichai Weinstein and Eli Cohen, have been interrogated in the past in several countries, but they always managed to escape indictments. Cohen has been investigated six times in the past 12 years and previously has been slapped with fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars by the United States.

A Greek newspaper reported earlier this week that two Israelis had been arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle arms to Iran, but their identities were not released for publication until Thursday.

Cohen previously has tried to smuggle arms via the United States, Germany, Thailand and Portugal, sending spare parts for the Iranian Air Force and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Israel has questioned Cohen in the past but never has been able to prove he intended to trade with Iran, an enemy country and embargoed by the United States. After every investigation, Israeli authorities released him and gave him back his license as a trader.

This time around, he was caught in Greece when officials inspected two containers of parts for Phantom F-4 jets and missiles last April and in December 2012.

Greek officials said the containers arrived from Binyamina-Givat Ada, southeast of Haifa, and were destined for a straw company named Tassos Karras, listed as having offices in Athens.

A contact number was listed for a British citizen living in Sicily, but police have not been yet found him.

The current investigation began in 2012, and a Greek court stopped the shipments, ordering them to turn over to American authorities on suspicion of violations of American sanctions against Iran.

Cohen also has probed in 2000 for smuggling parts for armored tanks. In a separate case, Weinstein was the key suspect when Germany discovered that one of his shipments contained Israeli equipment destined for Iran via Hamburg. He denied all allegations.

Peres to Award Merkel for Fighting Anti-Semitism

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

President Shimon Peres will confer the Presidential Medal of Distinction on German Chancellor Angela Merkel next Tuesday for “her unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and the fight against anti-Semitism.” His office stated Thursday,

The medal, the highest civilian award in Israel and comparable to the Legion of Honor of France and the Order of Canada, is crowned with the words from Samuel 9:2 “from his shoulders and upward.”

Merkel’s visit to Israel will be focused on issues of the Palestinian Authority, Iran and German-Israeli relations.

Peres stated that “Merkel sets a wonderful example on education against anti-Semitism, racism and hate and works tirelessly to expand the work being done on these issues with the aim of educating future generations in Germany towards equality, tolerance and acceptance of the other.”

Previous winners of the award have included President Barack Obama, former US President Bill Clinton, Elie Wiesel, former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.

Report: Croatia Probes Former US Citizen on Auschwitz War Crimes

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Croatian authorities are investigating a 90-year-old man suspected of committing war crimes as an SS soldier and guard at the Auschwitz death camp.

Germany’s Special Prosecutor’s Office for Investigation of Crimes during the Period of National Socialism last month alerted Croatian authorities to the presence in Croatia of Jacob Dencinger, the Croatian news outlet Jutarnji reported.

Dencinger reportedly was flagged by the United States  for having lied in applying for American citizenship, which he received in 1972, according to Jutarnji. He had moved to the United States nearly 16 years earlier and left in 1989, after his citizenship was revoked.

Born in Cepin, Dencinger is reportedly an ethnic German who allegedly joined the Waffen SS elite Nazi unit during World War II, when Croatia had a pro-Nazi government.

The Croatian State Attorney’s Office confirmed receiving the information but gave no further information. Additional information was requested from the United States, Jutarnji reported.

The Dencinger listed by German authorities joined the Waffen SS at the age of 18, and served as a guard in at least five concentration camps, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex of labor and death camps, where 1.5 million Jews were murdered.

Sasa Cvetkovic, vice president of the Jewish Community of Zagreb, said in a statement last week that the community was “closely monitoring the investigation by the Croatian authorities.”

Tags: Breaking News, jacon dencinger, Nazi war criminals, war crimes in croatia, Germany’s Special Prosecutor’s Office for Investigation of Crimes during the Period of National Socialism

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/report-croatia-probes-former-us-citizen-on-auschwitz-war-crimes/2014/02/05/

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