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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust Survivor’

Holocaust Survivor Dies before Able to Testify for Md. Rail Bill

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Leo Bretholz, who had escaped from a train transporting him to a Nazi death camp, died the weekend before he was to testify on behalf of a Maryland bill making railroad firms accountable for their actions during the Holocaust.

Bretholz, of Baltimore, died on Saturday, two days after his 93rd birthday.

He was to testify Monday before the Maryland House of Delegate’s Ways and Means Committee considering legislation that would prevent companies from winning tax-funded rail projects until they were held accountable and paid reparations to those who were forced onto the cattle cars.

He had become the face and voice of the Ad Hoc Coalition for Holocaust Rail Justice.

Bretholz was a young boy on one of the deportation trains run by SNCF, the French-owned railroad company, when he and another boy began filing at the bars that covered the train’s windows. Many others on the train begged them to stop for fear they would all be punished, but one rider urged them on, telling the boys to tell the world the deportees’ story, Bretholz recalled repeatedly during testimony and in his book, “Leap Into Darkness: Seven Years on the Run in Wartime Europe.”

“To know Leo was to love him and respect him, and our work to ensure justice for him and the thousands of other SNCF victims will continue in his memory,” according to a statement issued from the Ad Hoc Coalition for Holocaust Rail Justice.

World’s Oldest Holocaust Survivor Stars in Oscar-Nominated Film

Friday, February 14th, 2014

In her 110 years, Alice Herz-Sommer has been an accomplished concert pianist and teacher, a wife and mother — and a prisoner in Theresienstadt.

Now she is the star of an Oscar-nominated documentary showing her  indomitable optimism, cheerfulness and vitality despite all the upheavals and horrors she faced in the 20th century.

“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life,” a 38-minute film up for best short documentary at the Academy Awards to be handed out next month, begins in her native Prague. Alice — everyone from presidents on down calls her Alice — was born on Nov. 26, 1903 into an upper-class Jewish family steeped in literature and classical music.

A friend and frequent visitor was “Uncle Franz,” surname Kafka, along with composer Gustav Mahler and other luminaries.

Trained as a pianist from childhood, Alice made her concert debut as a teenager, married, had a son and seemed destined for the pleasant, cultured life of a prosperous Middle European. But everything changed in 1939 when Hitler, casually tearing up the Munich accord of a year earlier, marched his troops into Prague and brought with him his anti-Semitic edicts.

Her public concert career was over, yet the family managed to hang on in an increasingly restrictive existence in the Czech capital.

In 1943, however, Alice and her husband, their 6-year old son Raphael (Rafi), and Alice’s mother were loaded on the transport to Theresienstadt. The fortress town some 30 miles from Prague was touted by Nazi propaganda as the model ghetto — “The Fuhrer’s gift to the Jews,” with its own orchestra, theater group and even soccer teams.

With the full extent of the Holocaust still largely unknown, Alice took her deportation with relative equanimity, as was typical for many European Jews.

“If they have an orchestra in Terezin, how bad can it be?” she recalled asking, using the Czech name of the town.

Alice soon found out, as her mother and husband perished there. Alice was saved by her musical gifts and became a member of the camp orchestra and gave more than 100 recitals.

But her main focus was on Rafi, trying to make his life bearable, to escape the constant hunger and infuse him with her own hopefulness.

“What she did reminded me of Roberto Benigni in the Italian film ‘Life is Beautiful,’ “ said Malcolm Clarke, director of “The Lady in Number 6.” “He plays an Italian Jew who pretends to his young son that life in the camp is some kind of elaborate game for the boy’s special amusement.”

Liberated in 1945, Alice and Rafi returned to Prague but four years later left for Israel. There she taught at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and performed in concerts frequently attended by Golda Meir, while Rafi became a concert cellist.

Alice said she loved her 37 years living in Israel, but when Rafi, her only child, decided to move to London, she went with him. A few years later Rafi died at 65, but the mother remained in her small flat, No. 6, in a North London apartment house.

Nearly all of the film was shot over a two-year period inside the flat dominated by an old Steinway piano on which Alice played four hours each day, to the enjoyment of her neighbors.

Originally the filmmakers considered “Dancing Under the Gallows” as the film’s title before going with “The Lady in Number 6.”

It was a wise decision, for the film is anything but a grim Holocaust documentary with Alice’s unfailing affirmation of life, usually accompanied by gusts of laughter.

Her health and speech have declined in recent months, and she no longer does interviews. But in a brief phone conversation, conducted mainly in German, Alice attributed her outlook partially to having been born with optimistic genes and a positive attitude.

Holocaust Historian Returns Honor from Hungary over ‘Whitewash’

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Holocaust historian Randoph Braham is returning a high honor from the Hungarian state as a protest against attempts to whitewash Hungary’s role in the Holocaust, Braham said in a letter quoted by the Hungarian state news agency MTI on Sunday.

Braham, 91, a Holocaust survivor, wrote that he was handing back the Cross of the Order of Merit “with a heavy heart” following recent developments in Hungary.

The Bucharest-born scholar and expert on the Holocaust in Hungary also said he would no longer permit the Budapest Holocaust Memorial Center to use his name for one of its research departments.

Braham, an emeritus professor at the City University of New York, wrote in the letter, “The campaign of history falsification which aims to whitewash the (Miklos) Horthy era has shocked me.” Horthy led Hungary into World War II as a Nazi ally.

Braham said the “last straw” was the decision by the government to erect a memorial in downtown Budapest to the 1944 German occupation of Hungary. He called it a “cowardly attempt” to exonerate Hungarians from their role in the Holocaust and confuse the issue by placing all blame on the Nazis.

Hungarian Jewish leaders, historians and others have sharply criticized plans for the memorial.

“The events of 1944 are, to say the least, more complicated than a story of ‘bad’ Germans fighting ‘good’ Hungarians,” the historian Krisztian Ungvary wrote in the HVG.hu news magazine. “Eichmann himself was thrilled by his experiences here, observing that the Hungarians must surely be descended from the Huns since nowhere else had he seen so much brutality ‘in the course of solving the Jewish question.’ ”

Hungary’s conservative government, headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has designated 2014 as Holocaust Memorial Year, with a series of events and initiatives planned.

In October, Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics told an international conference that the country’s leaders recognized Hungarian involvement in the Holocaust and vowed that the state would combat anti-Semitism and racism. Hungary’s ambassador to the United Nations made a similar statement last week.

Belgian Holocaust Survivor Wins Nobel Prize for Physics

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Francois Englert, a Belgian Jewish professor at Tel Aviv University and a Holocaust survivor, shared the Nobel Prize in physics Tuesday, the third Jew in two days to win the esteemed award.

The prize for Englert and Peter Higgs of Britain for their discovery of the Higgs particle was announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The Higgs particle, known as the “God particle,” is said to have caused the Big Bang. Scientists confirmed the discovery of the Higgs particle, or Higgs boson, which Higgs first theorized in 1964, while working with the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland.

Englert, 80, has had “close research ties” with Tel Aviv University for 30 years, the university said. He is a Sackler professor by special appointment at its School of Physics and Astronomy.

On Monday,  Jewish Americans James Rothman of Yale University and Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley, joined German-born researcher Thomas Suedhof of Stanford University in winning  the Nobel Prize in medicine.

The Ultimate Revenge for Holocaust Survivor: New Torah Scroll

Monday, August 19th, 2013

An 88-year-old survivor of the Auschwitz death camp has donated a new Torah scroll to the Lubavitch Chabad of Skokie, near Chicago, the ultimate revenge against the Nazis who tried to eradicate Jews and Judaism.

Her other revenge was to dwell in the future and present, instead of the past, and marry and bring more Jews into the world.

Marge Fettmen, her children and grandchildren attended a recent Torah dedication ceremony, in memory of her late husband Daniel, also a Holocaust survivor.

Fettman, known by the Nazis as prisoner No. 21880, told the Chabad website, “God gave me a good idea – to have a Torah written. It is our guide. I want the Torah to be used to teach people about Judaism.”

Fettman was living with her family in Romania in 1944 when the Nazis stormed into their town of Szaszregen and herded her and her relatives into a cattle car for Auschwitz.

“When we arrived, Dr. [Josef] Mengele stood there flicking his whip, sending some of us to the right and others to the left. I was separated from my family,” she told Chabad. “Since I had the snacks we had packed for the children, I was concerned that they would be hungry. I wanted to bolt to the other side to be with them, but Mengele saw and shouted at me in German, ‘Are you a fool?’ I stayed where I was, and my life was spared.”

After surviving the death camp, she married her husband, and the couple moved to the United States in 1949, where they raised they raised their children in the Jewish tradition. Her husband, a grocery store owner, died in 2004 at the age of 83.

Her parents were very religious, and she decided that dedicating a new Torah scroll was the best way to remember them forever.

Dov Hikind’s Mother Dies at 85; Burial Today

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Frieda Hikind, mother of New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind, died on Noonday at the age of 95. Her funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. (EDT) at Shomrei Hadas Chapels in Boro Park.

Mrs. Hikind suffered a massive stroke last week after having been hospitalized for several weeks in Maimonides Hospital.

She was born in Czechoslovakia in 1918 and was the sole family survivor of Auschwitz.  She moved to the United State in 1947 and married Mayer Hikind, also a Holocaust survivor.

Pillar of Melbourne Jewish Community Dies

Monday, June 10th, 2013

A Vilna Ghetto survivor and partisan fighter whose restaurant in Melbourne became a meeting place for the postwar survivor community died on Saturday at the age of 89.

Avram Zeleznikow was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust and waded through more than 30 miles of sewers to escape the ghetto in 1943 and join the partisans.

After the war, he and his wife-to-be, Masha, met in a Parisian cafe named Scheherazade, and soon after immigrating to Australia they opened their own Cafe Scheherazade, which became an iconic institution in Jewish Melbourne.

His son John said his parents served meals even to those survivors who could not afford to pay.

”He did not want to make a profit; he wanted to help people,” John Zeleznikow told The Age newspaper. ”They would talk, they would eat and they would argue. He provided sustenance for the body and sustenance for the soul.”

A Bundist, Avram Zeleznikow taught Yiddish at Sunday school, was president of the Australian Jewish Welfare and Relief Society, on the executive of the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies, chairman of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and a representative of the Jewish community on the Ethnic Communities Council.

He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2003 “for service to the Jewish community of Victoria.”

Boston Survivor on Why the Holocaust Can Never be Forgotten

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Eta Gluzband tells Yishai her Holocaust survival story with all the twists and turns that comes with such a harrowing story while evading the Nazis. Gluzband moves on to talk about how following the war, she was a passenger on the Haganah ship Exodus and how it took three years and a trip back to Europe before she could finally reach Israel. As Yishai and Eta talk, the manhunt for the second Boston bomber was taking place outside her home in the streets of Boston. Be sure to listen in to this amazing and inspiring story!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/tv/radio/boston-survivor-on-why-the-holocaust-can-never-be-forgotten/2013/04/25/

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