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July 2, 2016 / 26 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust’

Freida Sima’s Family And The Holocaust

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Editor’s Note: This is the ninth installment of a multipart series on the life and times of the author’s grandmother, Freida Sima, who as a young woman came to America on her own in the early 1900s and made her way in a new country. The eighth part (“Freida Sima Goes to War”) appeared as the front-page essay in the May 13 issue; part ten will run in July.

 

While Freida Sima and her extended New York family lived through the war years worrying about the family in Europe and their own sons fighting in the American army, the Enzenbergs (as the Eisenberg family was called in Europe) were going through very different travails. This month we tell the story of Freida Sima’s parents, brothers, and sisters in the Bukovina, and what they experienced during the war.

Fifty years after the war’s end, Sheindl, the youngest Enzenberg, recalled how the family was deported from Mihowa:

“There was a man in Mihowa who we used to go to for paskening shailos [determining religious matters], Berel Surkis. When we left Mihowa every transport was accompanied by thunder and lightning like the heavens were crying. Berel Surkis went with us. I said, ‘Reb Berel, what are they doing to us?’ And he answered, ‘Sheindeleh, this way will take us to Eretz Yisrael, but it will take a very, very long time, and a very sad time.’ I asked ‘Where is God?’ and he answered again, ‘This way will bring us to Eretz Yisrael, but it will be very shver [difficult].’ How could he know already then? But he did.”

Only years after the war’s end did Freida Sima learn the details of what the family in Europe endured during the Holocaust. Initially, she and her brothers read the bare facts in family letters from Romania. The full stories were shared only later. Sheindl eventually left a recorded testimony of her experiences. Other accounts were pieced together over time.

* * * * *

In August 1939, Freida Sima’s parents, Nachman and Devorah, were living alone on the farm while the rest of the family was scattered throughout the Bukovina. Marium and Feivel lived in Mihowa. Sheindl, Shaja, and their daughter lived in Behromet, an hour away. The two newlywed couples, Leibush and Frieda and Elish and Lola, lived in Czernowitz, as did Srul, Anna, and their son, along with Tuleh, the last unmarried Enzenberg.

All the Enzenberg men other than Elish, an accountant, worked in wood-related professions they had learned from Nachman.

Even before the war, the Romanian nationalists had shown their colors, forbidding any language but Romanian to be spoken in public. During the first few months of the war Romanian officers entered the villages, billeting themselves where they wished. While the women continued with their lives, men were taken to forced labor before eventually being sent back. “You didn’t know which world it was, you didn’t know what to think,” recalled Sheindl. “And then all of a sudden, the yeshia [salvation] came – the Russians.”

In June 1940 Northern Bukovina was ceded to the Soviet Union. Considered “productive,” Nachman was allowed to continue working his farm. He hoped his good relations with the local peasants who had worked with him on the farm and had used his well – the only one in the area – would hold him in good stead.

Nothing would last. In 1941, as some of the Eisenbergs in New York were moving from the Bronx to Washington Heights in Manhattan, the Enzenbergs of the Bukovina were also moving – not by choice but due to forced conscription or deportation.

Judith Tydor Baumel-Schwartz

Holocaust As A Lesson For Life

Friday, June 17th, 2016

In our May 27th issue we featured an article about an 8th grade class in Tom’s River, New Jersey that studied Professor Livia Bitton Jackson’s memoir as part of its Language Arts curriculum. When their studies were over, the students had some comments and questions for Professor Jackson, which she graciously agreed to respond to.

 

LBJ-061716-BridgesIzabella Brodbeck: The Holocaust can be told in more than 1,000 words, but Livia’s memoir tells “1,000 years.”

Professor Jackson: The 1,000 years reflected my sense of the enormity of the Holocaust experience and the history of Jewish suffering. The words were in response to the German woman’s question as to my age at the time of liberation by US troops. She thought I was “60, or 61…” When I told her I was 14, she walked away in shock, leaving me to think that I was indeed 14 but I had suffered and lived 1,000 years.

Katelyn Bajcic: Reading the story makes you thankful for what you have now.

PJ: One of the significant lessons that can be derived from the Holocaust, a story of extreme privation is gratitude for all we are granted in our daily existence.

Jenna Aldellizzi: How were you able to trust in mankind after surviving?

PJ: A survivor would have been justified in loosing faith in mankind, yet I was aware that the horrors of Holocaust were caused by the Germans and their collaborators, not by mankind. And not all Germans were evil. Many were unaware of what was going on and some of those who were even helped Jews. One must not generalize but look at people as individuals.

Emily Robinson: Was there ever a time when you might have wanted to give up on saving yourself and your mother? If you had known about the heinous personalities of the Nazis and the German people, would you have trusted the one officer, Pista, with your poems?

PJ: Never! I felt I had to keep fighting for every day, every moment. For tomorrow. For life. Especially for my mother’s life. To return home. To bring her home.

Emily, Pista was a Hungarian soldier, not a German. But I would have trusted him anyway. He had a kind face.

Mrs. Trent: Did you ever get back any of the writing you had done before the war?LBJ-061716-Elli

PJ: No. All was lost. I do not have a single page of my former writing.

Edgar Lemus: How hard was it to adapt back to society after being isolated for so many years?

PJ: Yes, it was a difficult and gradual process. I described it in two books, sequels to I Have Lived A Thousand Years: My Bridges Of Hope and Hello, America. In those books the reader can experience how we coped post-Holocaust.

Ryan Hueston: When you were taken into Auschwitz, was there anyone other than your mother you could trust at the level of a family member?

PJ: On arrival in Auschwitz we met my Aunt Celia, my mother’s younger sister and two cousins, daughters of my father’s sister. But we were soon separated from them, and never saw them again. I had no one to share with or trust on that level.

LBJ-061716-Thousand-YearsVictoria Jackson: How did you view the Nazis during the Holocaust and how do you view them now? Is the resentment still living inside you?

PJ: During the Holocaust I dreaded the Germans. We all feared them as they treated us cruelly, often shooting at us or sending any of us to the gas chambers at a moment’s whim.

After the Holocaust I returned to Germany at the invitation of the German government for commemoration ceremonies of our liberation by the Americans. During these visits, in 1995, in 2005 and in 2015, I met a number of Germans and their families and became convinced that they truly regretted what their grandparents did. I made lasting friendships in Germany. My total outlook has changed.

This is the final lesson of the Holocaust: it cannot happen again! The Germans are no longer our enemies, and we Jews are no longer helpless victims. We have our own state, Israel, an outstanding member of the family of nations.

Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson

‘Woman in Gold’ Helen Mirren Testifies for Holocaust Art Restitution Bill

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

British actress Helen Mirren testified in Congress Tuesday in support of a bill to make restitution easier for American heirs of Holocaust era victims, The Art Newspaper reported. Mirren starred in the 2015 British drama “Woman in Gold,” about Austrian-born Jewish American Maria Altmann’s court fight to recover her family’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” by Gustav Klimt (her late aunt modeled for the picture), which had been stolen by the Nazis.

Mirren told two Senate judiciary subcommittees in a joint hearing on the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act that “the very act of Nazi expropriation was not only unjust but it was inhumane.” She added, “Greed, cruelty, self-interest and domination will always be with us, it’s an easy option. Justice is so much more difficult, so much more complex. But we all dream of justice. We are incapable of changing the past, but fortunately we have the ability to make change today.”

“Restitution is so much more, much more than … reclaiming a material good,” Mirren said. “It gives Jewish people and other victims of the Nazi terror the opportunity to reclaim their history, their culture, their memories and, most importantly, their families.”

The legislation is sponsored by Republican senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Other supporters of the bipartisan bill included president of the World Jewish Congress Ronald S. Lauder, and senators Al Franken (D, Minnesota), Chuck Grassley, (R, Iowa) and Orrin Hatch, (R, Utah).

Lauder, who purchased the Klimt painting after Altmann had sued the Austrian government to give it back, and won, told the Senators, “What makes this particular crime even more despicable is that this art theft, probably the greatest in history, was continued by governments, museums and many knowing collectors in the decades following the war.”

Today the Klimt painting is part of the permanent collection of the Neue Galerie, a museum of German and Austrian art Lauder co-founded in New York.

David Israel

Iran’s Holocaust Cartoon Contest is no Caricature of Regime’s Identity

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

{Originally posted to the JNS.org website}

A haredi Jew looks into a mirror and sees the face of Adolf Hitler gazing back at him. The walls and guard towers of Auschwitz are squeezed into a snow shaker, with flying dollar bills replacing the fake snowflakes. Another haredi Jew waves a swastika-shaped fan at an Israeli flag, which blows furiously atop a corpse draped in a Palestinian flag.

Not enough? There’s more. The gates of Auschwitz, adorned with the deadly motto “Arbeit Macht Frei,” swing open to reveal the Al-Aqsa mosque, which sits on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, devils’ horns jutting from his forehead, gives a Nazi salute; instead of his usual business suit, he wears a bloodstained brown uniform, with a Star of David rendered as a swastika decorating the sleeve.

These are just a selection of the entries submitted to Iran’s latest Holocaust cartoon contest, currently on display in Tehran at the none-too-subtly named Islamic Propaganda Organization. By and large, the cartoons are crudely drawn, in keeping with the themes that they promote.

Yet I have to confess to being more bored than shocked. Such imagery is hardly new, after all. The depictions of Jews in this exhibit are straight out of Nazi propaganda, while the depiction of the State of Israel as Hitler’s inheritor was pushed by the Soviet Union for almost half a century. The Islamist barbarians who run Iran may be many things, but creators of pathbreaking art they are definitely not.

As fashionable as it is in President Barack Obama’s circle to pretend that the Iranian regime is in the throes of dramatic change, with a surging “moderate” wing that wants to engage the West, this latest cartoon contest—like last year’s contest, like the first cartoon contest in 2005, and like the conference of Holocaust deniers convened in 2006—demonstrates that the mullahs’ cannot kick their enduring pathology: striking a blow at the global Jewish conspiracy by wiping Israel off the map.

Even if we accept for the sake of argument that the regime can be simply bifurcated into “moderates” and “hardliners,” those Iranian leaders identified in the West as “moderates” come out of this latest cartoon scandal looking far shabbier than their “hardline” rivals. Recall that Iran’s “hardline” supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, chose Holocaust Remembrance Day to question whether the slaughter of 6 million Jews had in fact occurred. The cartoon contest, backed to the hilt by the regime, is the natural outgrowth of Iran’s state policy of anti-Semitism, which holds that the Holocaust is a myth shamelessly used by the Jewish state to garner world sympathy. Khamenei and his cohorts, who are structurally and politically at the center of power in Iran, are quite open about all this and don’t feel the need to rationalize or excuse the state-sponsored mockery of the genocide of Jews.

Not so with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, whose detestation of Israel doesn’t blind him to the fact that the countries he flirts with, like Germany, take a dim view of Iran’s Holocaust denial antics. But unlike the “hardliners,” who are disarmingly honest about their views on the Jewish people and their desire to eliminate Israel, Zarif speaks with a forked tongue.

That shouldn’t mask the fact that Zarif is both a coward, since he refuses to condemn the cartoon contest, and a liar, since he insists that the regime he represents has nothing to do with it. Speaking to The New Yorker, Zarif clucked, “Don’t consider Iran a monolith. The Iranian government does not support, nor does it organize, any cartoon festival of the nature that you’re talking about.” That claim is about as truthful as the Obama administration’s reassurance that the nuclear deal struck with Tehran will prevent the regime from developing nuclear weapons. In other words, it isn’t at all.

No doubt, there are those who will take Zarif at face value, and perhaps even laud the fact that, by his account, artists exhibiting in Iran have creative license unfettered by government restrictions—so long, that is, as their subject is the Holocaust. For those not seduced by wishful thinking, there is the cold reality that the cartoon exhibit is completely dependent upon regime support. As the Iranian writer Majid Mohammadipointed out in a detailed briefing published by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the institutions involved in the exhibit are “all organized, financed, and managed under the supreme leader’s office, his appointed bodies, and the executive branch headed by the president. There are no private or independent nongovernmental institutions active in this area. The government and its varied set of institutions are the only ones that pay for these types of ideologically oriented activities. There is no channel for private funds, and no provision in Iran’s tax code, to support these activities.”

Why engage in such an activity in the first place? “The Islamic Republic seeks to be the most prominent global voice of antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiment and in doing so has made connections with and promoted individuals espousing these views from across the world,” Mohammadi says. “The Holocaust is just a subject of a set of cartoons in this effort.”

This is not a recent development, nor is it related to Israeli policy or anything Israel actually does. Anti-Semitism among Iran’s Islamists in fact precedes the creation of the State of Israel. In his excellent book “Germany and Iran: From the Aryan Axis to the Nuclear Threshold,” German historian Matthias Kuentzel described the massive audience in Iran for Radio Zeesen, a Nazi propaganda outlet that broadcasted programming in Farsi. Among the listeners was the figurehead of Iranian Islamism, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. According to Kuentzel, Khomeini was an enthusiastic “connoisseur” of European anti-Semitism. “They are liars and determined,” Khomeini wrote in a tract entitled “The Islamic State.” There was also the following claim, based on the same wretched fantasies that lead to Holocaust denial: “We see today that the Jews (may God curse them) have meddled with the text of the Qur’an and have made certain changes in the Qur’ans they have printed in the occupied territories.”

These same views prevail among Iran’s leaders today, no matter what Zarif says. Indeed, to disavow Khomeini would be unthinkable in the current context, as demonstrated by the recent election of Ayatollah Ahmed Jannati as head of the “Assembly of Experts,” a key ruling body that chooses the supreme leader.

Jannati is a boilerplate fanatic who leads chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” at Friday prayers. It was Jannati who, in 2009, backed then president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s blood-drenched crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators. The regime that existed in 2009 still exists today, with the same mechanisms of fearsome repression at its disposal. It cannot be reformed, and certainly not from within. But—heretical as it is to say this—it can, and should, be overthrown.

cart 2

Ben Cohen

Palestinians Mull Plans For When No Holocaust Survivors Left To Stab

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

(Originally posted to the humor website, PreOccupied Territory}

Jerusalem, May 30 – Two teenage suspects in the stabbing attack on several Holocaust survivors two weeks ago were arrested today, reigniting the question in Palestinian society as to what offensive strategy to adopt once the survivors die out of old age and there are none left to stab.

The suspects allegedly attacked a group of elderly women at a promenade overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem, injuring two. Whether or not the suspects in question are indicted or brought to trial, the prospect of having no more Holocaust survivors to stab or otherwise attack has Palestinian strategists and thinkers debating what approach to take once the last survivor perishes. Bir Zeit University in Ramallah is scheduled to hold a conference next week on the subject.

In a rare show of unity, the conference is expected to bring together representatives of various Palestinian factions bitterly, often violently, opposed to each other, such as Hamas and Fatah. However, the dwindling number of Holocaust survivors to stab has prompted even those quarreling groups to set aside their differences, however temporarily, to address the developing crisis.

“We can expand our resistance operations beyond the region, targeting the enemy in other places, but that will prove a short-lived solution, so to speak,” explained Aiwil Killajous, who will represent Hamas at the conference. “Violent power struggles are one thing, and a natural part of Palestinian politics, but some things are more important. We really must develop a coherent approach to this problem, because it’s not going to go away. I mean, it will, and that’s the problem, but – you know what I mean.”

The conference will also devote some attention to deeper ideological and philosophical issues, said University spokesman Haj Husseini. “It is difficult to address this complex issue without also devoting time to the philosophical implications of Hitler not finishing the job and what that means for us,” he explained. “If Hitler had finished the job, there would be no Jews left for us to kill, and that would deprive our people of one of, if not the, defining characteristics of its ethos. At the same time we ceaselessly wish that the Final Solution had succeeded. That paradox deserves discussion in this forum, as well.”

Killajous conceded that the future of Holocaust-survivor-stabbing is bleak, and that replacements for it will not carry the same power. “We can kill Jewish babies, but that has a different impact,” he lamented. “I just wish more if us had a chance to kill some Holocaust survivors while their population was greater.”

PreOccupied Territory

Studying The Holocaust

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Lisa Trent

Report: German Culture Minister Backs Jewish Delegate For Art Restitution Commission

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Germany’s minister of culture says she supports the inclusion of a Jewish community member in Germany’s “Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, especially Jewish property” — better known as the Limbach Commission.

The committee is named after its chairperson, Prof. Dr. Jutta Limbach, the former head of the German Federal Constitutional Court.

Monika Grütters, Germany’s minister of culture, confirmed her support of a Jewish committee member to Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin, during a meeting last Tuesday at the offices of the Federal Chancellery of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The committee was established 13 years ago by the German federal government together with the German states and municipalities, with the purpose to act as an advisory body in disputes involving the restitution of cultural assets held by German institutions. Even though its resolutions are legally considered non-obligatory, it is viewed as a mediating and intermediary agent. Furthermore, the fact that the head of the committee is a former Federal Constitutional Court judge, along with the high public profile of the rest of the committee members, means that its resolutions are vested with high moral authority.

In recent years, a number of claims made to the committee received a large public and media exposure, which at times led to criticism regarding the committee’s work, with Jewish factors calling to consider adding a member of the Jewish community to the committee.

During her meeting with Rabbi Teichtal, Grütters stated that she views with the utmost importance, the efficient and open handling of restitution claims of cultural and artistic assets of holocaust survivors and their legal heirs. Grütters added that it is the duty of the German government including the ministry of culture, towards the holocaust survivors and their families. Therefore, she intends to positively consider adding a member of the Jewish community to the committee board in her forthcoming talks with the German states and municipalities, in order to boost the confidence in the committee’s work and its transparency.

Rabbi Teichtal thanked the minister for her commitment to the Jewish community in Germany in particular and towards the Holocaust survivors in General.

The rabbi added that minister Grütters is a true friend of the Jewish people and that if there are any arguments regarding certain issues, it is important to verify that they are handled in the way arguments should be handled between friends.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/report-german-culture-minister-backs-jewish-delegate-for-art-restitution-commission/2016/05/29/

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