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December 3, 2016 / 3 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust’

Jews and Non-Jews During the Holocaust in the USSR: The Perspective of Interethnic Relations”

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

On Monday, the Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Research on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union began hosting a two-day international workshop at Yad Vashem, during which leading researchers and experts from the United States, Canada, Israel, Holland, Russia and Moldova will discuss topics relating to the Holocaust in the Soviet Union. Included in the discussion will be the question as to what extent the war and wartime propaganda influenced broad segments of the population in Nazi-occupied Soviet territories.

At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will present the preliminary results of their research on how the Holocaust affected the impressions of Jews and non-Jews towards each other.

“This workshop is a first step to highlighting the similarities and differences that evolved over various geographical areas of the occupied Soviet Union,” explains Mirilashvili Center Director Dr. Arkady Zeltser. “The interactions between Jews and non-Jews during World War II were based largely on stereotypes that existed before the war. However, during the war, they were given a new shape and became even more pronounced.”

For the Jews of the Soviet Union, interethnic relations took on even greater importance during the Second World War, especially regarding the Holocaust. Testimonies written by both Jews and non-Jews have indicated how during the first few weeks of the war generally friendly relations between the two population groups became strained. This was the situation not only in the Red Army, but also throughout the Soviet interior and, especially, in territories under German or Romanian rule. Indeed, interethnic relations often played a key role in the survival – or not – of the Jews.

According to Prof. Dan Michman, Head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research, “The Soviet Union was a multinational country, which officially advocated a ‘brotherhood of nations.’ However, in practice, the history of interethnic relations in the various parts of the Soviet Union was multifaceted, and affected by many factors. This workshop plays an important part in defining those changing interethnic relations during the course of the Second World War.”

The Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Research on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union opened in May 2016 and is leading groundbreaking global academic discourse on the Nazi-led persecution and slaughter of Jews in occupied Soviet territories during WWII. The Center strengthens ties with relevant researchers and organizations, encourages international scholarly cooperation, and advances pioneering research in all related areas through new research projects, publications and testimonies, and workshops, seminars and conferences for senior and young scholars alike.

For more information, please contact: Simmy Allen, Head of the International Media Section – Communications Division at Yad Vashem +972-(0)2-644-3412 or simmy.allen@yadvashem.org.il

Jewish Press News Briefs

‘Holocaust on Ice ‘ Latest Rage (literally) in Moscow [video]

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Vladimir Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov’s wife Tatiana Navka and actor Andrei Burkovsky performed a Holocaust-themed ice skating routine Saturday night which was called “shameful” but many who have watched it.

Dressed in black and white pinstriped death camp inmate pajamas complete with a gold Magen David, with the Israeli song “Beautiful That Way” for background, the couple performed figure skating jumps, spins, lifts, and other bits of ice rink choreography, in a kind of Auschwitz meets Grenoble show.

Tatiana Navka, a gold medalist in ice dancing at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, posted photos from her Holocaust on Ice routine on Instagram, with an inspirational message to parents to let their children watch the movie “Life is Beautiful,” because “Our children need to know and remember that terrible time, which I hope, God willing, they will never know!”


Source: Instagram

Amazingly, Tatiana’s performance was received with applause by the audience, but social media folks have been condemning it in a mix of rage and disbelief, demanding an apology for an astonishing desecration of the memory of the most terrifying event in recent human history.

Sarah Silverman twitted: “Oh those whacky Holocaust victims (OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD).”

Deborah E. Lipstadt twitted: “HAVE YOU LOST ALL SENSE OF DECENCY? HAVE YOU NO SHAME? The Holocaust on ice, complete with a sound track of barking dogs.”

Many people kept their all-caps key on when responding to this one.

And Michael Ian Black twitted: “This might be offensive if they hadn’t take such great care to recreate all the wonderful ice dancing going on at Aushwitz at the time.”

David Israel

Guatemala Holocaust Museum First in Central America

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Located in a colonial-era house in Guatemala City, Guatemala, the Museo del Holocausto will be the first Holocaust museum in Central America. When it opens officially, in early 2017, the museum’s permanent collection will focus on the “Holocaust by Bullets.”

Between 1941 and 1944, more than 2 million Jews were massacred when the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. Because of the region’s inadequate railway systems the Nazis were unable to easily transport the Jews to the camps. Instead, mobile execution units gathered, shot and killed the Jews outside their homes. Soviet villages became execution sites and local villagers became executioners and witnesses.

After the executions, the Nazis buried their victims in mass ditches and continued on to another village. With bodies and bullets beneath the ground, the perpetrators left behind little indication of what had taken place. Some of the murderers were tried in Nuremberg, some in the West and East Germany, but many remain unaware of the magnitude of those mass executions.

Israeli Artist Mira Maylor’s exhibit “Memories of the Holocaust through Art” debuted at the Guatemala Holocaust Museum in November, and will be on display through February 28, 2017. Maylor’s take on memory is displayed in a series of 18 pieces. Israeli Ambassador to Guatemala Moshe Bachar spoke at the show’s opening and the Israeli Embassy in Guatemala supported the exhibition.


Holocaust Historian Yaffa Eliach Dead at 79

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Professor Yaffa Eliach, a pioneering scholar in Holocaust studies, who launched the first Center for Holocaust Studies Documentation & Research in the USA and introduced Holocaust Studies on the American campus passed away on Tuesday at age 79.

Born in Eishyshok near Vilna, Lithuania, Eliach was four when her town was occupied by the Germans in 1941 and most of the Jewish population was murdered. She and her family hid and survived, until the Soviet Red Army liberated their area in 1944, at which point her mother and a brother were killed by Polish militia men. Eliach emigrated to Eretz Israel in 1946, and in 1954 left for the US, where she eventually received a Ph.D. in Russian intellectual history in 1973.

She was the creator of the exhibit the Tower of Life at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, a soaring display made up of 1500 photographs depicting the people of a typical East European shtetl. The Tower of Life has been viewed by more than 20 million visitors and is considered by many to be the Museum’s most moving exhibit.

Eliach wrote the Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust (Oxford University Press). Derived from interviews and oral histories, these eighty-nine original Hasidic tales about the Holocaust provide witness, in a traditional idiom, to the victims’ inner experiences.


Holocaust Documentation and Education Center Moves to Dania Beach

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

The Holocaust Documentation and Education Center has moved to a new location at 303 N. Federal Highway, in Dania Beach. A grand opening welcomed more than 500 friends and supporters to the new site. It was an excellent opportunity to share vision and plans for the future.

In the coming months the center will be incorporating more to the new site. Two anchor artifacts: the railcar and Sherman Tank are available for group and individual tours by appointment. The 2016-2017 Educational Outreach Calendar is in full swing. It includes a speaker’s bureau, annual contests and student awareness days for Miami-Dade College and Broward County schools. Palm Beach County school programs will follow.

The center has always strived to teach people from all walks of life the universal lessons of the Holocaust. This is accomplished through thought-provoking exhibitions and insightful programming, illuminating the catastrophic ramifications of prejudice, racism, and bullying. The programming enlightens students and teachers alike to the lessons to be heeded from the Holocaust.

The Holocaust Documentation and Education Center’s new home.

The Holocaust Documentation and Education Center’s new home.

The documentation department has always been the center’s priority, presenting enduring, historically accurate records of the Holocaust through eyewitness accounts by survivors, liberators, rescuers and other who survived and triumphed to live meaningful and productive lives. Interviews continue and children of survivors are now coming forward to document their experiences.

Volunteers are important and continue to facilitate, transcribe, audit/edit, and proofread the accounts of the survivors. Thanks to the generosity of JM Family Enterprises, there are 18 new computers set up in the beautiful new transcription stations donated by JC White.

The Holocaust Documentation and Education Center’s capital campaign to raise $6,000,000 needed for this undertaking has begun. Contributions are needed to complete the new facility and continue its important work. Many naming opportunities are still available.

For more information, contact Rositta Koenigsberg at rositta@hdec.org or call her at 954-929-5690.

Shelley Benveniste

Kastner: Holocaust Hero Or Nazi Collaborator? – An Interview with Author Paul Bogdanor

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

In 1952, an elderly Hungarian Jew, Malchiel Gruenwald, published a pamphlet accusing Rudolph Kastner – a spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Trade and Industry – of collaborating with the Nazis during the Holocaust. The Israeli government sued Gruenwald for libel, expecting the trial to last a couple of days.

It didn’t. It lasted a yearAnd at its conclusion, instead of exonerating Kastner, Judge Benjamin Halevi found that Kastner had “sold his soul to the devil.” The trial led to the government’s collapse and the assassination of Kastner in 1957.

Although six decades have since passed, the Kastner Affair remains highly controversial. Some continue to see Kastner as a collaborator while others – like Israel’s Supreme Court, which overturned Halevi’s ruling by a vote of 3-2 in 1958 – argue that Kastner’s dealings with the Nazis enabled him to save over 1,500 Jews. The latest to weigh in on the debate is Paul Bogdanor, an independent researcher in England and author of the recently released “Kasztner’s Crime” (Transaction Publishers).

The Jewish Press: Many Jews know about Rudolph Kastner from the riveting book Perfidy, by Ben Hecht. Are your book’s findings in consonance, or in conflict, with those of Perfidy?

Bogdanor: What Perfidy says about Kastner is accurate. Its accusations against the Zionist movement as a whole, however, are not so accurate.

For example, Perfidy accuses Ben-Gurion and his colleagues of deliberately sabotaging a mission by Kastner’s colleague Joel Brand to convey Eichmann’s “goods for blood” offer to the West. This was an offer by the Nazis to release a million Jews in exchange for 10,000 trucks and other goods from the West. Hecht says the Zionist leadership willingly sabotaged this mission, and thus doomed the Jews to extermination.

But the opposite is true. Ben-Gurion and his colleagues went all out to further the “goods for blood” offer. In doing so, though, they fell into a Nazi trap since these trucks were going to be used on the Eastern front against the Soviets in an effort to split the Allied coalition at a crucial point of the war.

Furthermore, Eichmann told Brand that he would not murder Hungary’s Jews until he had a definite answer on the “goods for blood” offer when, in fact, he had already started deporting thousands of Hungarian Jews a day to Auschwitz even before Brand left Budapest to convey Eichmann’s offer to the Zionist leadership. In other words, the Nazis used this offer as a way of keeping the Jewish leadership busy while it went about murdering Jews.

You write that Brand might have been naïve but you offer no such excuses for Kastner. You regard him as an outright Nazi collaborator. Why?

Because he deliberately misled scores of thousands of Jews into boarding the trains to Auschwitz. And because throughout the mass deportation from Hungary to Auschwitz he sent Nazi disinformation to his Jewish contacts in the free world with the aim of aborting any successful rescue effort.

How so?

For example, at the height of the deportations – when 12,000 Hungarian Jews every day were being driven onto death trains and sent to Auschwitz – he wrote that the deported Jews were alive in “Waldsee,” which was a Nazi camouflage for Auschwitz. At one point he even claimed to have received 750,000 postcards from these Jews saying they were alive and well. So Kastner’s Jewish contacts abroad read these letters and were misled about what was going on.

Is it clear that Kastner knew the Nazis intended to exterminate these Jews?

Absolutely. There’s no doubt about that because he admitted it. After the war he said Eichmann repeatedly told him that Hungarian Jews were being exterminated in Auschwitz. He also knew that escapees from Auschwitz had warned that the camp was being prepared to receive – and murder – massive numbers of Hungarian Jews.

If Kastner knew the Nazis planned on exterminating Hungarian Jewry, why didn’t he sound the alarm? He negotiated with the Nazis to save 1,684 select Jews on board what later became known as the “Kastner Train,” but why didn’t he warn all of Hungarian Jewry to go underground or resist boarding the deportation trains to Auschwitz?

When the Nazis occupied Hungary in 1944, Kastner tried to negotiate the rescue of all of Hungary’s Jews. At the very first meeting with Adolf Eichmann’s officer, Dieter Wisliceny, on April 5, 1944, Kastner and Brand made four demands: no executions, no concentration in ghettoes, no deportations, and permission for Jews to emigrate.

Wisliceny, though, told Kastner that the Jews could only emigrate if the emigration was disguised as a deportation. Kastner agreed, and from that moment on he had to collaborate with the Nazis because he had to make sure Jews boarded the deportation trains. But of course, once the Jews were on these trains, the Nazis could do whatever they wanted with them, and they sent them to Auschwitz.

Perhaps Kastner thought he had no choice. Perhaps he believed the Nazis would most likely kill everyone and that only by negotiating and cooperating did he stand a chance of rescuing at least some Hungarian Jews.

First of all, if the Jews were going to be killed, they didn’t have to be killed with Kastner’s help. And secondly, there was an opportunity to save many thousands of Hungarian Jews in north Transylvania. There was an escape route across the border to Romania, but on May 3, 1944, Wisliceny told Kastner to tell the Jewish leaders in Kolozsvar – Kastner’s hometown – that the escape routes had been blocked.

Kastner gave this false information to the leaders in Kolozsvar who immediately ended all the escapes. Kastner directly obeyed a Nazi instruction to sabotage the escape routes from his hometown.

Didn’t Kastner realize at some point that he was being used? After all, the Nazis exempted him from wearing a yellow star and allowed him use of a phone and car. At one point, they even convinced him to hand over two rescue activists – Yoel Palgi and Peretz Goldstein – who had been smuggled into Hungary by the Zionist leadership. Didn’t this close relationship with the Nazis make Kastner suspicious?

Exactly. Kastner must have understood he was serving the interests of the Nazis and that his rescue negotiations were gaining time, not for the Jewish victims but for the Nazis to exterminate them. And I argue that he understood this very early on in the rescue negotiations.

So what are we to conclude – that Kastner was an evil man?

My conclusion is that he was motivated partly by his pessimism about the possibility of saving any Hungarian Jews and partly by his megalomania. You have to remember that before the Nazi occupation of Hungary, Kastner was an underground rescue activist. He wasn’t a major figure among Hungarian Jews; he was a minor figure operating illegally. As soon as the Nazis occupied the country, though, he suddenly became the most important figure in Hungarian Jewry because he was the only person (after Brand’s departure) allowed to negotiate officially with Eichmann on the fate of the Jews of Hungary.

Even Kastner’s enemies usually give him credit for saving 1,684 Jews aboard the “Kastner Train.” You don’t. You argue, provocatively, that this rescue train was actually a Nazi hostage operation. How so?

Elliot Resnick

Sweden Officially Declares WWII Hero Raoul Wallenberg Dead

Monday, October 31st, 2016

On October 31, 2016 – 71 years after he disappeared in Hungary — Sweden has officially declared World War II hero Raoul Wallenberg dead.

Wallenberg was formally pronounced dead by Swedish authorities, according to a report published Monday in the Expressen newspaper, confirmed by the Swedish Tax Authority. He is believed to have died in captivity in the hands of the Soviet Union.

The authority set the date of Wallenberg’s death as July 31, 1952, in accordance with a rule that a missing person is presumed dead five years after his disappearance.

Wallenberg dropped out of sight after his arrest by the Red Army in 1945. After an initial denial, the Soviet Union claimed in 1957 that Wallenberg had died of a heart attack in a USSR prison on July 17, 1947.

The decision to formally declare him dead was reached on October 26 after an application from Wallenberg’s trustee, according to the Associated Press, quoting Pia Gustafsson, head of the Swedish Tax Authority’s legal department.

The Swedish envoy is credited with having saved the lives of at least 20,000 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/sweden-officially-declares-wwii-hero-raoul-wallenberg-dead/2016/10/31/

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