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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust’

Jews Ordered to ‘Register’ in Donetsk, Ukraine

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

It is said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  For some Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine on this Passover holiday of “freedom,” concern and even fear is lurking in their thoughts, making them wonder about the lessons of the past.

On the first day of Passover this week, three armed men in the eastern Ukrainian province of Donetsk distributed flyers warning Jews to “register” themselves and their assets with the new pro-Russian government, according to the novosti.dn.ua website.

The flyers were handed out next to a synagogue as people were leaving following holiday prayers. They read as follows:

“Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality,

Due to the fact that the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported (Stepan) Bendery Junta, and oppose the pro-Slavic People’s Republic of Donetsk, [the interim government] has decided that all citizens of Jewish descent age 16 and older, residing within the territory of the republic, are required to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and register by May 3.

(Ed. Note: Stepan Bander was a Ukrainian nationalist leader in Kiev who fought with Nazi Germany in the 1940s against Soviet troops before switching sides and taking up arms against the German occupation.)

“ID and passport are required to register your Jewish religion, religious documents of family members, as well as documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles. Evasion of registration will result in citizenship revocation and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property. A registration fee of $50 is required.”

Pro-Russian separatists are occupying the building where the Jews were told the register.

The flyer was written in the Russian language and bore the symbol of Mother Russia at the top of the page and that of the Donetsk People’s Republic at the bottom. It was allegedly signed by Denis Pushilin, chairman of the Donetsk interim government but no ink signature is seen on the paper.

Donetsk was recently declared an independent “people’s republic” by pro-Russian activists. In response to a query by a Ukrainian Jewish website, Pushilin confirmed the flyers were indeed distributed by his organization. However, he was quoted by the tvrain.ru news site on Wednesday as denying any connection to the content, and called the flyers a ‘provocation.’

Nevertheless, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky told Voice of Israel government radio on Wednesday that aliyah from the Ukraine is likely to double by the end of 2014.

The flyer – authentic or not – constitutes the 17th anti-Semitic incident to have taken place in Ukraine since the beginning of 2014. Most were violent attacks. Several were aimed at Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries and a few were life-threatening. Five took place in Kiev alone, according to statistics gleaned from the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism (CFCA) website.

A reader on the Israel Matzav blog warned in a number of posts that the situation in Ukraine is becoming extremely dangerous for Jews.

Wisely, a Jewish resident of Donetsk told Ynet that she does not intend to register, although she said that she had never encountered any form of anti-Semitism until she saw the flyer. “Though I take it very seriously, I am uncertain of its authenticity,” she said.

Anne Frank Tree Sapling to Be Planted In D.C.

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

A sapling taken from the tree that grew outside the attic where teen Holocaust diarist Anne Frank was hidden will be planted at the U.S. Capitol.

The tree will be planted on the west front lawn on April 30.

Saplings taken from the tree have been planted around the world. The tree, at more than 150 years old and weakened by a fungus, collapsed in stormy weather in Amsterdam in 2010.

Anne frequently wrote about the tree in her famous diary, which was discovered and published after the Holocaust. She died at the age of 15 at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Building of WWII Statue Begins in Budapest as Jews Protest

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Members of the Jewish community were among the demonstrators protesting the construction of a controversial monument to the Hungarian victims of the German occupation, implying that the Hungarian government bore no responsibility for the death of Jews.

Work on the statue began Tuesday in downtown Budapest, according to Klubradio, a news station known to be critical of the government. The protest was held that evening adjacent to the U.S. Embassy building, with protesters carrying signs saying the memorial is “a falsification of Hungary’s history.”

The Freedom Square monument, due to be completed in May, will pay tribute to “all Hungarian victims with the erection of the monument commemorating the tragic German occupation and the memorial year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust,” according to the Hungarian Government Information Center.

The Jewish community has argued that the memorial removes any responsibility from the Hungarian government of that time for the death of Hungarian Jews.

Along with the Jewish community, the protesters included Hungarian opposition politicians and civil activists.

Construction was halted before the general elections, held over the weekend, due to the opposition of the Jewish community.

Andras Heisler, president of the Hungarian Jewish community, told Klubradio that the start of construction was a surprise to the leadership of the Jewish community, coming just days after the  elections in which the ultranationalist Jobbik party garnered 23 percent of the vote — an increase of 6 percent from four years ago.

Following Sunday’s elections, Jewish community leaders congratulated the winning Fidesz party, notably its leader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

 

Warsaw Demolishing Ghetto Wall, Promises Reconstruction

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Workers began demolishing a wall in Warsaw near the spot where Jews were gathered for transport to the Treblinka concentration camp, but a city official said it will be rebuilt and was torn down so trees and vegetation could be cut.

The wall borders the square in the former Warsaw Ghetto known as the Umschlagplatz and is topped with barbed wire ins some places.

It has been in poor condition for some time.

Historians reportedly are not sure whether the wall is the original from World War II.

Bartosz Milczarczyk, a City Hall spokesman, told RDC radio that the wall will be reconstructed. “I am glad that the authorities see how important for the history of both the Jews and the city are relics such as this particular wall,” Piotr Kadlcik, president of the Jewish Community of Warsaw, told JTA. “These objects, even if their historical origin is in some doubt, are an important element of the teaching of history that took place here a few decades earlier. And that we must not forget.

“I hope that as Warsaw authorities promised, the wall will be reconstructed as soon as possible.”

Italian Tourist Caught Smuggling Barbed Wire from Auschwitz

Monday, March 31st, 2014

An Italian tourist tried to smuggle a piece of barbed wire from the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum out of Poland in his suitcase.

The man was detained Sunday by border guards at the airport in Krakow. The tourist said he found the rusty piece of wire, which is nearly 16 inches long, on the ground.

“During interrogation, the man said that he took the wire as a souvenir while visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, lifted it from the ground and took it with him,” Katarzyna Walczak, a spokeswoman of the Silesian-Malopolska Border Guard, said in a statement.

The tourist faces a jail term ranging from three months to five years.

In 2009, the “Arbeit macht frei” sign was stolen from above the entrance to the Auschwitz I concentration camp. The three thieves were given sentences ranging from six months to 2 1/2 years.

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.

Jews Brought Holocaust on Themselves, Says Russian TV Host

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

A Russian TV presenter, in a conversation with a writer about the Ukrainian protests and Crimea, said that the Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves.

Writer Aleksandr Prokhanov, while being interviewed by anchor Evelina Zakamskaya on the state-funded Rossiya 24 TV channel, said (as translated by JNS.org) that it is “strange that Jewish organizations, the European and our own Russian organizations, support the Maidan [protests]. What are they doing? Do they not understand that they are bringing about a second Holocaust with their own hands? This is monstrous.”

Zakamskaya replied that the Jews “brought about the first [Holocaust] similarly.”

“It is a blindness. It is an unbelievable blindness, that is clearly repeating itself, because even then in 1933 in Europe, many liberal organizations were feeding the Fuhrer,” Prokhanov then said, a statement that Zakamskaya agreed with.

A video of the comments in Russian was first posted by a blogger on Americablog.com, who provided his own translation.

Earlier in March, Josef Zisels, chairman of the Association of Jewish Communities and Organizations of Ukraine (VAAD), and several other prominent Ukrainian Jews wrote a letter accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of exaggerating the level of ultra-nationalism and anti-Semitism in Ukraine.

A few anti-Semitic incidents have occurred throughout Ukraine since the beginning of the Maidan protests in November 2013, including the vandalism of a synagogue in the Crimean city of Simferopol and a Molotov cocktail attack on a Chabad center in Zaporozhye. But those incidents have not been directly linked to the Maidan protests.

Survey: Up to 49 Percent of Hungarians Harbor Anti-Semitic Views

Monday, March 24th, 2014

A new survey of anti-Semitic attitudes in Hungary showed up to 40 percent of respondents accepted some anti-Semitic attitudes.

Conducted in December and commissioned by the Action and Protection Foundation, a watchdog on anti-Semitism of the Jewish community, the survey revealed that among those who accepted some anti-Semitic stereotypes, the proportion of people who displayed open antipathy toward Jewish individuals

The poll’s results were presented Monday at a news conference organized by the foundation at its Budapest headquarters.

“We can draw the conclusion that 35 percent to 40 percent of the sample definitely accept some anti-Semitic stereotypes and seven percent extremely anti-Semitic stereotypes,” Prof. Andras Kovacs of the Central European University, who supervised the research, said.

The xenophobic far-right Jobbik Party entered parliament for the first time in 2010, and Kovacs told JTA, “There is a clear correlation between Jobbik’s entrance and the prevalence of anti-Semitism in polled populations.”

In the years 2003 to 2009, similar surveys showed an average of 11 percent of respondents harboring antipathy to Jewish individuals. That figures jumped to 28 percent in 2010, decreasing slightly to 24 percent in 2011 and to 21 percent in December 2013, as documented in the foundation’s survey.

The survey was released ahead of the biannual convention of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, which brought several hundred Orthodox rabbis, many of them from the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, to the Hungarian capital.

The conference is taking place amid a dispute between the Jewish communities and the government over the government’s planned commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust in Hungary. The Jewish umbrella group Mazsihisz has boycotted the unveiling of a statue that was perceived as glossing over Hungarian Holocaust-era culpability.

The government postponed the unveiling due to Mazsihisz’s opposition.

The Lubavitch-affiliated Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation, or EMIH, which co-organized the conference, supported Mazsihisz’s opposition, according to Rabbi Shlomo Koves, a leader of EMIH.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/survey-up-to-49-percent-of-hungarians-harbor-anti-semitic-views/2014/03/24/

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