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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust’

Holocaust Survivor, Speaker Max Mannheimer, 96, Passes Away

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

Holocaust survivor and speaker Max Mannheimer passed away Friday at the age of 96 in a Munich hospital, Gabriele Hammermann, director of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial said in a statement.

“The memorial and its employees are mourning a good friend,” Hammermann said.

Steffen Seibert, a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote on Twitter that she was “mourning Max Mannheimer — Holocaust survivor, reminder against oblivion and great reconciler. We owe him thanks.”

Mannheimer had been an adviser to the German government on the design and conception of its commemorative works on the Holocaust.

He dedicated his entire life to serving as a witness to the atrocities of the Nazi Third Reich and the memories of the six million Jews whose lives were stolen by them in the Holocaust they perpetrated during World War II. After the war, he painted under the name “ben jakov” — his Hebrew name — to cope with the terrible memories, later writing a book “Late Diary.”

Of his entire family and a new wife, only he and his brother Edgar survived.

Born in the Czech Republic in 1920, he personally survived two death camps, Auschwitz and Dachau, and was a transient resident of Theresienstadt concentration camp prior to those.

After seeing a swastika during a trip to the United States in 1986 and in response, suffering a nervous breakdown, Mannheimer spent the rest of his life giving speeches in schools, universities and concentration camp memorials to ensure that the world never forgot the horror humanity was capable of. Until that point, he had remained silent about the nightmares and depression he suffered, never speaking about his experiences.

Mannheimer was a recipient of the German cross of merit and the French Légion d’honneur. To the younger generation of Germans, his message was simple:

“You aren’t responsible for what happened. But you are responsible for ensuring that it won’t happen again.”

Boruch Dayan HoEmes.

Hana Levi Julian

Study: Children of Parents Who Were Babies in the Holocaust More Prone to schizophrenia

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Results of a new study at the University of Haifa have shown no difference in the risk of developing schizophrenia between second-generation Holocaust survivors and those whose parents were not exposed to the Holocaust. However, an examination of various sub-groups showed that second-generation survivors whose parents were babies during the Holocaust are at higher risk of suffering from a more severe course of schizophrenia.

“Likely these are transmitted from the parental environment to the child,” Prof. Stephen Levine, the lead author of the study, commented. The study was undertaken by Levine and Prof. Itzhak Levav of the Department of Community Mental Health at the University of Haifa, together with Inna Pugachova, Rinat Yoffe and Yifat Becher from Israel’s Ministry of Health. The study, published in Schizophrenia Research, was based on information on 51,233 individuals who immigrated to Israel through 1966, and was made possible thanks to the cooperation of the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Health, with funds from Israel Science Foundation.

The study’s population included individuals who experienced the Holocaust directly, while the comparison group was comprised of individuals who immigrated to Israel before the Holocaust began in their countries of origin. All the second-generation subjects were born between 1948 and 1989, and were followed through 2014 to ascertain whether or not they suffered from schizophrenia.

The question of the impact of exposure to the Holocaust among second-generation survivors is the subject of disagreement among researchers. Clinical-based studies have found that trauma increases psychopathology in the offspring of Holocaust survivors, while community based studies have found that there is no such effect among adults, as noted by Levav and collaborators in two large representative samples in Israel.

The researchers sought to examine whether parental Holocaust exposure is associated with schizophrenia among second-generation survivors. The good news is that the association was not significant.

However, a more specific inquiry showed that offspring of mothers with Holocaust exposure in the womb only were 1.7 times more likely to have a more severe course of the disorder. Similarly, offspring of mothers exposed to the Holocaust in the womb and thereafter were 1.5 more likely to have a more severe course than persons not exposed. Offspring of fathers exposed in the womb and thereafter were 1.5 times more likely, and those whose fathers had been exposed at ages 1–2 had offspring whose risk of having a worse course of the disorder was higher than persons not exposed.

Transgenerational genocide exposure was unrelated to the risk of schizophrenia in the offspring, but was related to a course of deterioration in schizophrenia during selected parental critical periods of early life. This implies an epigenetic mechanism – namely arising from environmental influences on the way genes expressed themselves. The findings inform health policy decision makers about refugees who suffered from extreme adversity, and extend existing results regarding the transgenerational transfer of the effects of famine and stress in parental early life.

JNi.Media

Great Synagogue of Pilsen Returns to Jews of Czech Republic

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

After more than a decade of intense lobbying, the city fathers of the Czech Republic’s Pilsen municipality have made a decision to return the majestic synagogue in their care to its rightful owners, the city’s Jews.

Seized by the Communists in 1973, the synagogue – originally completed in 1893 — had been shut down and then woefully neglected, ultimately falling into disrepair.

The city fathers reclaimed it and began restoration in 1995, working slowly to rehabilitate the beautifully sculpted architecture until it shined again in 1998.

But then, instead of returning the synagogue to Pilsen’s Jewish community, inexplicably, authorities reopened the building as an art museum and concert hall.

The Great Synagogue of Pilsen is justifiably renowned throughout the world, in continuous use from the time it was built in 1893 until its seizure by the Communists, except for the years of the horror of the Holocaust. It is the second-largest Jewish house of worship in Europe and is known to be the third-largest synagogue that exists in the world.

And although there were some 2,000 Jews in the community when the house of worship was built, that number plunged over the decades, particularly during the Nazi purge. The Communist hate diminished those numbers further.

Today just a few dozen Jews remain to hold the synagogue dear to their hearts and to maintain the minyan – the minimum quorum of ten men required for certain ritual prayers to be recited when the Ark of the Torah can be opened. The remaining community prays in a side room, hoping to hold High Holy Day services this year in the main sanctuary, with God’s help.

Miracles do happen.

Hana Levi Julian

Hungarian Neo-Nazis Vandalize Holocaust Protest ‘Living Memorial’

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

The Living Memorial, a monument in Budapest’s Liberty Square, was vandalized over the weekend, after a call by the neo-Nazi website Kuruc.info to destroy it, the website Hungarian Free Press reported Sunday. The Living Memorial was erected back in 2014 in protest against the monument to the German occupation erected by the government, which deflects Hungary’s responsibility for the Holocaust and pins it solely on the Germans.

An estimated 600,000 Hungarian Jews perished in the Holocaust.

For more than two years, the Living Memorial has served as a site for regular talks, lectures, discussion groups, musical performances and commemorations.

One Alitea Guzmán wrote on Kuruc.info: “I promise that one night, in the beginning of September, I will walk by the Living Memorial and I will pack up four or five kilograms of  the display, which legally is considered to be garbage, into a strong bag. And putting that into my car, I will take it to where it belongs. Naturally, I won’t dump it into the Danube, because that is already very polluted.”

Now, as promise, hundreds of photographs which were on display at the site have been torn up and other memorabilia items which had been added to the Living Memorial by survivors and descendants of survivors have been destroyed or stolen.

The Living Memorial group issued a statement saying, “With the exception of a few smaller incidents, respect towards the victims of the Holocaust always protected the memorial from the worst attacks. But yesterday something happened, which until now nobody dared to commit.”

According to the Hungarian Free Press, the Living Memorial group filed a police report immediately after the attack on the monument. The activists noted that Liberty Square is well-equipped with CCTV cameras, so police should be able to identify the perpetrators. But they also revealed that they “do not expect any meaningful response from the state.”

JNi.Media

75th Anniversary of Massacre of Jews in Moletai, Lithuania

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite marked the anniversary of the massacre of some 2,000 Jews on Monday in the town of Moletai.

The president joined hundreds of people in commemorating the 75th year of the murders by the Nazi invaders and their Lithuanian collaborators.

During World War II more than 90 percent of the country’s 240,000 Jews were murdered.

This event was the first such commemoration to mark the massacre.

Hana Levi Julian

Trump Key Advisor Accused of Anti-Semitism, Ridiculing Holocaust

Friday, August 19th, 2016

Joseph Schmitz, one of five Trump senior advisers, is accused of boasting that when he was inspector general at the US Department of Defense under President GW Bush, he got Jewish employees fired, McClatchy reported. Schmitz, a Washington attorney, said the allegations are lies, and, according to McClatchy, the three people who made the accusations—one testifying under oath—are involved in employment grievances with the federal government, probably because they were fired.

Daniel Meyer, whose work for the Defense Department involved making decisions on department whistleblowers, noted in his complaint filed against the DOD, according to McClatchy, that Schmitz had described his achievement in the Pentagon inspector general’s office as “I fired the Jews.”

Meyer cited in his complaint a former senior Pentagon official named John Crane, who worked with Schmitz between April 2002 and September 2005, as having witnessed that statement by Schmitz, and also wrote that “in his final days, he allegedly lectured Mr. Crane on the details of concentration camps and how the ovens were too small to kill 6 million Jews.”

Schmitz said Crane made several false accusations against him, and told McClatchy that his wife, although not a practicing Jew, was “ethnically Jewish,” seeing as her maternal grandmother was a Jew (which would make her mother Jewish, of course).

Crane himself refused to comment saying he reserves his comments to the coming hearing of Meyer’s case before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), but his attorney denied Schmitz’s allegation that Crane was the source of all the bad press about him.

Meanwhile, according to McClatchy, this week a Jewish Army engineer named David Tenenbaum cited the Meyer allegations in a letter to Acting Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine as more evidence of an anti-Semitic culture in the military. “The anti-Semitic environment began under a prior Inspector General, Mr. Joseph Schmitz,” Tenenbaum’s lawyer wrote.

The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol has been irate at Trump’s hiring of Breitbart Executive Chairman Steve Bannon as his presidential campaign’s chief executive officer, because back in May Breitbart ran a story under the catchy headline: “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.

The story used the anti-Semitic holler because Krystol had announced he would not support Trump for president.

Andrew Breitbart, who founded the news website in 2007, died in 2012 and was replaced at the helm by Bannon.

“I knew Breitbart well, and he was a troublemaker but he was a good-hearted person,” Kristol told MSNBC’s Morning Joe, adding, “I hate the fact that it’s called Breitbart News. If they changed the name and called it Right Wing Intolerant Mean-Spirited News, that would be fine.”

JNi.Media

Enrico Fermi Saves His Jewish Family From The Holocaust

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Outstanding as an experimenter, theorist, and teacher, Enrico Fermi (1901-1954) established himself as the pre-eminent expert on neutrons, formulating the beta-decay theory, discovering “slow neutrons,” making significant contributions to quantum statistics, devising the first nuclear reactor, contributing to the first controlled nuclear chain reaction, and working on the Manhattan Project.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1938 for “demonstrations of the existence of new radioactive elements produced by neutron irradiation, and for his related discovery of nuclear reactions brought about by slow neutrons.” He created the first self-sustaining chain reaction in uranium at Chicago in 1942; worked on the atomic bomb at Los Alamos; and later contributed to the development of the hydrogen bomb. The chemical element fermium of atomic number100 was named for him.

Several months before receiving the Nobel Prize, Fermi, a non-Jew whose wife was Jewish, wrote to a colleague in the United States, imploring him to consider accepting him for a research position in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He mentions the threatening atmosphere of anti-Semitism in Mussolini’s Italy and his concern for his wife and children.

While on a day trip in Lugano, Switzerland (where his message had a better chance of avoiding censorship or interception), Fermi, in an understated and gracious tone, informs his correspondent that “the case is by no means an urgent one,” even though history, as well as the portion of this letter pertaining to Fermi’s wife, Laura, shows that this was far from the truth.

The fascist Manifesto of Race, which declared that Italians, but not Jews, are members of the pure Aryan race, was published in Italy on July 14, 1938. Only a few weeks later, Italy enacted the first racist laws, which were initially applied only to foreign Jews but on September 2, 1938 were also made applicable to Italian Jews.

The correspondence exhibited here, written only a day earlier, on September 1, dates to a most critical time in the physicist’s personal life and career as he prepared to receive the Nobel Prize and to depart his native Italy for a fresh start in the United States. Fermi writes as follows (emphasis added):

Since the last time I wrote to you, several things have changed in such a way, as to let me regret not to have accepted the Ann Arbor position that you had offered to me last spring. It is so far very difficult to foresee in what sense the situation is going to develop. But despite my natural optimism, I must confess, that I expect rather difficult times in the years to come. In my personal case, my wife being of Jewish origin might lead to a disagreeable situation for the children. I am writing to you this, mainly in order to inform you that in case there should be in America a convenient position for me, I would gladly accept it. I would greatly appreciate if, in case you should know of some suitable opportunity for me, you would let me know of it. Please understand, however, that the case is by no means an urgent one, and that I can wait as long as I wish [sic] without any trouble. I am writing this letter from Lugano where I have come for one day. Tomorrow I shall join Laura and the children. My best greetings to Jane and to Esther and to you. Yours, Enrico Fermi.

It’s interesting to note that while Fermi did not consider his children Nell and Giulio be Jewish – he refers only to “a disagreeable situation to the children” arising out of their mother’s Jewishness – the Nazis certainly did, under the applicable Nuremberg Laws and otherwise.

It is also telling that Fermi wrote this letter from Lugano, “where I have come for one day.” He wrote this letter, and others like it, in complete secrecy, fearing that the authorities would prevent him and his family from leaving Italy if they learned of his intentions, and he posted them all in different towns so as not to arouse suspicion.

In any case, Fermi and his wife, Laura Capon (1907-1977), did successfully leave Italy in 1938 and emigrated to the United States, where he worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II. Fermi led the team that designed and built Chicago Pile-1, which went critical on December 2, 1942, demonstrating the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.

Left behind was Laura’s father, an admiral in the Italian navy, who was gassed at Auschwitz on October 23, 1943 after refusing an offer from Enrico’s older sister, Maria, to join other Jews taking shelter at her home outside Rome. Sadly, the admiral believed his high position would protect him from danger.

Saul Jay Singer

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/features-on-jewish-world/enrico-fermi-saves-his-jewish-family-from-the-holocaust/2016/08/10/

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