Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust Survivor’
Ze’ev Tibi Ram is one of two Holocaust survivors who fought in every Israeli war.
He perfectly symbolizes “Shoah ve Tkuma”- Holocaust and rebirth. As a Holocaust survivor, Tibi understands better than anyone the importance of protecting the Jewish state.
He lost his whole family in the Holocaust but survived Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.
After being separated from his mother and eventually finding her at the end of the war, she disappeared and Tibi never saw her again. His brother survived until the end of the war, but died shortly after.
Now, Tibi gives lectures to soldiers about the Holocaust and his extensive military experience. He is also the proud grandfather of an IDF soldier
He says life has been good – except for that one insane year of Nazi persecution.
He perfectly symbolizes “Shoah ve Tkuma”- Holocaust and rebirth. As a holocaust survivor, and one of only two people who participated in all of Israel’s wars, Ze’ev Tibi Ram understands better than anyone the importance of protecting the Jewish state.
During the Holocaust Tibi lost his whole family. He survived Auschwitz, a labour camp, and Bergen-Belsen. After being separated from his mother and eventually finding her at the end of the war, she disappeared and Tibi never saw her again. His brother survived until the end of the war, but died shortly after.
Now, Tibi gives lectures to soldiers about the holocaust and his extensive military experience. He is also the proud grandfather of an IDF soldier.
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The following article was first published on the IDF’s blog site. Eva Levi, 75, is the youngest person alive who lived through the horror of the Holocaust thanks to the famous Oscar Schindler. Today, a few days before Holocaust Memorial day, she tells her story.
Hello, my name is Eva Levi. I was born in Krakow, Poland and when I was two-years-old, WWII broke out. When the war was over, I was eight years old.
During the war, I was deported from a ghetto to Auschwitz and then to Czechoslovakia. I am alive today and can tell you my story thanks to two people: Oscar Schindler and my mother. Today I am married and live in Israel. I have two children and three grandchildren…. My first granddaughter, Anne, is currently in the Israeli army. Because of this, I am telling my story to the IDF.
When the war started, I was such a little girl that I didn’t understand what was happening. I didn’t have a childhood at all; I didn’t have grandfathers or grandmothers, nor did I go to kindergarten or school.
However, though this was a terrible time in my life, I had two great fortuitous things: I was lucky to have my name inscribed on Oscar Schindler’s list, of which I was the youngest person, and I was able to stay by my mother’s side.
We were first sent to the Krakow Ghetto. From this ghetto, they took us to labor camps near Krakow and this is how I got put on Schindler’s List. They then wanted to take us to Czechoslovakia but after an accident, we were transferred to Auschwitz. We stayed in the death camp for three weeks, and lived in horrendous conditions. The fear of dying was always present and renewed every time we went near the crematoria.
A particular moment stands out specifically during my time living in this hell. One day, while all the women were together in a dark building, a female Nazi officer approached my mother and told her that I was to be taken away. My mother began to cry and scream. She wouldn’t let me go. But in Auschwitz it was impossible to refuse. My mother asked her where I was being taken and the officer promised I would be going to a good place. My mother did not understand. A good place? At Auschwitz? How could that be possible? But the officer again swore to my mother that I would be taken to a good place. And indeed, they took me to a very different place inside Auschwitz.
Nobody could believe it. The place was modern and clean, a rarity at Auschwitz where everything was dirty and black. At this new place there were only well-dressed children who almost looked good. I did not understand at all where I was. I felt that I may be in paradise. There were drawings on the walls, toys, clothes. The children were obviously sad because they were alone and without parents. It was 1944 and hunger was widespread, but in this place no one starved.
One day, the Nazis called us to come to dinner. The previous days we hardly ate. A slice of bread here, a potato there. That evening, they served us dinner and we ate so much. The next morning, once again, we had a real breakfast! The Nazis were so attentive that we thought that perhaps the war was over. For lunch, we were surprised as a table was prepared and we were dressed up.
We sat as three or four smiling kind men in civilian clothes entered. Each of the men sat alongside a child. I can still remember the smell of the potatoes they served for lunch. But we ate so much the day before that I could barely stomach anything. I was not hungry at all and I began to weep. The civilian who sat next to me asked, “What is the matter dear? Are you not hungry?” And I responded that no, I was not hungry. These men were actually from the Red Cross. All of the clothes, the food, the entire place was a false display of what was happening at Auschwitz. Crematoria? They weren’t seen. Lovely, well-dressed children who felt well and weren’t hungry, that is what the Red Cross Inspectors saw.
Suffolk University has rejected protests from some student groups and has affirmed its selection of Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman as the law school’s commencement speaker.
Foxman, who will step down from his position in July 2015, also will receive an honorary degree at the May 17 graduation ceremony of the private university located in downtown Boston.
More than 800 people signed an online petition criticizing Foxman for his opposition of U.S. congressional recognition of the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians on the eve of World War I as genocide. The petition, initiated by the law school’s chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild, states that comments by Foxman on the genocide may make families of students of Armenian descent feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.
The petition also cites Foxman’s published comments about racial profiling of Muslims for purposes of national security, and his opposition of the construction of a Muslim Community Center near the site of the former World Trade Center.
In 2007, after coming under fire for not acknowledging the Armenian massacre as genocide, the national ADL organization changed its position, though some in the Armenian community said its language was ambiguous and did not go far enough.
Foxman later wrote, “ADL has never denied the tragic and painful events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians, and we have referred to those massacres and atrocities as genocide.”
Nonetheless, the issue continues to dog the outspoken leader and cause controversy for the ADL, especially in the Boston area, home to a large Armenian community.
In a statement issued to the Boston Globe, Suffolk University President James McCarthy’s administration praised Foxman for contributions to the organization for nearly 50 years. The statement said the administration has examined the concerns raised by students but that “Foxman’s body of work is well deserving of recognition. . . It is our hope that Mr. Foxman’s personal story as a Holocaust survivor and attorney who has dedicated his life to public service will inspire our graduates as they embark on their professional careers.”
Suffolk has nearly 9,000 full- and part-time students, with 1,500 law students.
Matthew Smith, a member of the school’s Jewish Law Students Association, told JTA he is disappointed “that a small group” has “attempted to create a controversy” over the commencement speaker,” and that he is proud that the university is standing by Foxman.
In an email, Smith, a third-year graduating law student wrote that many members of the Jewish community are alarmed by some of the rhetoric attacking Foxman. “Some supporters of the petition have attacked Foxman for his support of Israel and … inappropriately referenced Foxman’s Jewish heritage,” he wrote. He added: “It is difficult to listen to a student inaccurately label a Holocaust survivor and civil rights leader as a “racist.”
Sammy Nabulsi, president of the Student Bar Association at Suffolk acknowledged that Foxman has done good work in fighting discrimination. But he told the Boston Globe that Foxman’s selection is stirring division among the graduating class.
Nabulsi, who is Muslim-American, told the Globe he is speaking out on behalf of the student body as a whole. “My concern is there’s a very dangerous conversation happening among the graduating class,” he said. He suggested that Foxman would make a more appropriate guest speaker on campus and not a recipient of an honorary degree.
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.
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.