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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust’

Hungary’s Jewish Community Marks 70th Anniversary of Nazi Invasion

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

The Hungarian Jewish community held a memorial event in front of the downtown Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest Wednesday to mark the 70th anniversary of the occupation of Hungary by the Nazi-led German Army.

The event, sponsored by the Jewish community but open to the public, comes after representatives of Mazsihisz, the Association of Hungarian Jewish Communities, voted to boycott state-sponsored Holocaust memorial programs.

“This event is the beginning of Holocaust commemorations in Hungary for the 70th anniversary of the Hungarian Holocaust,” said András Heisler, president of Mazsihisz, the Federations of Hungarian Jewish Communities, in the opening speech of the event, which drew thousands.

“In the name of the 600,000 Hungarian Jews killed during the Shoah, we raise our voice against those, who are in power, in whom as a minority we cannot trust,” said Heisler, expressing the Hungarian Jewish community’s disappointment with the government, which it accuses of shifting away national responsibility for the murder of the country’s Jews during the Holocaust.

Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, was invited to the event, but did not attend; however, his deputy, Zsolt Semjén, was present. The head of the Hungarian Catholic Church, Cardinal Peter Erdő, and Gusztav Bölcskei, Bishop of the Protestant Church in Hungary, also attended the program.

Hungarian general elections are set for April 6.

“In solidarity with the Hungarian Jews, we are not accepting the relativization of the Holocaust, not accepting the denial of the Holocaust, and not accepting the culture of amnesia, of forgetting,” Israel’s ambassador to Hungary, Ilan Mor, said at the event.

Tags: Breaking News, Holocaust memorial program, Mazsihisz, Association of Hungarian Jewish Communities, Viktor Orban

 

Two Holocaust Memoirs, Two Perspectives

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Our Father’s Voice: a Holocaust Memoir (self-published, $18), a riveting chronicle of Holocaust survivor Andrzej Bialecki (Salomon Lederberger), results from the painstaking work of Bialecki’ daughter, Felicia Graber, and his son, Dr. Leon Bialecki, who carefully transcribed and edited over 12 hours of interviews conducted back in 1981 by Kenneth Jacobson.

Jacobson, author of Embattled Selves (The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1994), interviewed Andrzej Bialecki while researching the Jewish identity among Holocaust survivors. He was impressed by Mr. Bialecki remarkable eye for detail, his unfaltering memory, and his extraordinary honesty.book-fathers-voice

Two years ago, Felicia Bialecki-Graber published Amazing Journey: Metamorphosis of a Hidden Child (self-published, $15), which details her own nightmarish journey during the Holocaust. In that book, she recounts how being born in Tarnow, Poland in March 1940, a few months after the German invasion, she and her parents survived the war.

She recalls her father as “a unique individual. He managed to guide my mother, me and himself through the war years with minimal outside help. The three of us came through only because of his ingenuity and guts. He always managed to stand on his own two feet. He pulled himself up by his proverbial boot straps twice even in the difficult years after liberation. I am a ‘baby survivor’ of the Holocaust,” she recounts, “born after the Germans occupied my native Poland. I did not know I was Jewish until I was seven years old, nor did I know that the man I called ‘uncle’ was my biological father. I learned the story of our survival mainly from him.”

Graber also has high praise for her mother, “a heroine in her own right. She managed to blend into a foreign environment along with me – her then two-year-old daughter – and later hide her husband in our one-room apartment.”

Her story is described as “a tale of parallel odysseys: one, across continents and cultures, from surviving Nazi occupation, to living an integrated, full life in America; the other, a compelling coming-of-age story of a shy Polish child who transforms herself in her sixties into a successful, accomplished woman.” The book has also been praised as an example of a “feminist Holocaust memoir.”

Graber’s moving and compellingly written memoir attracted the attention and praise of Sir Martin Gilbert, the acclaimed British historian and author. In his foreword to Graber’s book, Gilbert writes, “Felicia Graber has written a remarkable memoir that holds the reader’s attention from first to last.”

book-amazing-journey  In Our Father’s Voice, a Holocaust Memoir, Felicia’s brother, Dr. Leon Bialecki, a critical care specialist, describes his father before the war as “an unlikely hero.” He remarks that “Nothing seemed to have prepared our father for the impending onslaught. There were no hints, no indication that he would rise to such levels of heroism and moral grandeur. Circumstances propelled him to unimaginable feats, which he took for granted.” It is the story of Andrzej’s bravery, heroism and determination to help not only himself and his family but also his fellow Jews.

As one reads through the text of this remarkable memoir, it almost feels as if one is sitting across the table with Bialecki himself as his story unfolds with incredibly detailed descriptions of his experiences. One of many examples is his description of “The First Deportation.” Bialecki recounts:

“At first, we were under the illusion that they were taking us to work, which is what we were told, that they were taking us to the Ukraine or somewhere near the Ukraine-Polish border. Instead, everyone was sent to Belzec and that nobody survived: everybody had been gassed. That is what a Polish railroad employee found out and he came back to me with that information. Later on, I found out that my father received a shot in the neck. He had rheumatism, and the Germans wanted him to jump on to a truck. But he could not do that. He was 60 years old, born on May 5, 1882. And so they shot him. This is a comfort to me because he did not have to suffer like my mother. Millions of Jews had to take that road of suffering.”

New Yorker Suing Munich Collector for Return of Nazi-Looted Art

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

A New York man has gone to court for the return of several Nazi-looted artworks from the controversial collection of Cornelius Gurlitt in Munich.

David Toren, 88, whose father and uncle were art collectors in the pre-war German city of Breslau, sued in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., earlier this month to demand the return of the 1901 paintings “Two Riders on the Beach” and “Basket Weavers” by the German-Jewish artist Max Liebermann.

Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand, purchased the ”Riders” painting in 1942 while working for the Nazis, according to news reports. Hildebrand Gurlitt had told post-war American military authorities that it had been in his family since before the Nazis came to power.

Documents show the painting was among those confiscated by the Nazis from Toren’s great-uncle David Friedmann in Breslau — today Wroclaw, Poland — in 1939. Toren, an attorney, is Friedmann’s only surviving heir. The Nazis noted the Liebermann painting in the collection and in recent years it was listed in German’s Lostart database.

While the younger Gurlitt still possesses the “Riders” painting, he sold “Basket Weavers” at auction to an unnamed Israeli collector in 2000 for about $92,300, Haaretz reported.

Toren, a native of Germany, also is suing Germany and the state of Bavaria for having failed to inform his family of the find after they confiscated more than 1,400 works from Gurlitt in 2012 in the course of an investigation for tax evasion. He had inherited the art from his father, a dealer hired by the Nazis to buy art for its museums, as well as art that it considered ”degenerate” that could be sold for profit.

The “Riders” painting was among those works shown to the public at a news conference in Augsburg last fall, after Focus magazine revealed the find.

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, Toren was 14 years old in August 1939 when his parents sent him to safety in Sweden. His entire family, except for one aunt and one brother, were murdered in the Holocaust. Toren immigrated to the United States in 1956 with $100 and a photograph of his parents, the report said.

A task force has been established to research the provenance of all works in Gurlitt’s collection, and Gurlitt’s attorney recently announced that he would cooperate with heirs making legitimate claims.

Nazi Auschwitz Metal Stamps for Tattooing Found in Poland

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

An identified person or group has discovered metal stamps with embedded needles that were used on Jews at Auschwitz and which Holocaust experts said may be the first proof of original tattooing equipment at the death camp.

The director of the Auschwitz Museum, which is located on the site of the death camp, said the discovery “is one of the most important finds in years,”

The identity of the founder and how and where the stamps were located has not been revealed except for the information that they were found in Poland.

Nazis used the small stamps, to tattoo numbers on the bodies of inmates.

Museum director Piotr Cywinski was quoted by British media as saying, “We never believed that we would get the original tools for tattooing prisoners after such a long time. The sight of a tattoo is getting rarer every day as former prisoners pass away, but these stamps still speak of the dramatic history that took place here even after all these decades. They will become a valuable exhibit in forthcoming exhibitions.”

The metal stamps were put into a wooden block to form a number and then plunged into the prisoners’ skin, and ink was then rubbed into the wound to make the number appear.

The evil system was used only for a short period of time because it was too inefficient for the Nazis as they rounded up tens of thousands of Jews, most of whom were gassed, tortured to death or murdered.

Instead, the Nazis used a penholder to hold a single needle to tattoo prisoners.

Tokyo Police Arrest Man in Connection With Anne Frank Vandalism

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Tokyo Metropolitan Police reportedly have arrested a man in connection with the vandalism of hundreds of copies of “The Diary of Anne Frank” in city libraries.

The Tokyo resident, identified as an “unemployed man in his 30s,” made a statement admitting to some involvement in the vandalism of the books in February, according to a website citing the Japanese-language MSN Sankei News.

Police arrested the man on March 7 for entering a bookstore in the Ikebukuro district to hang up a poster without permission. It is not known what the posters said.

Footage from the store’s security cameras reportedly show the same man wandering back and forth inside the same bookstore through sections dealing with the Holocaust in the Ikebukuro district in February, including the day that some of the damage occurred.

Pages were ripped from at least 265 copies of the diary and other related books in public libraries and book stores throughout Tokyo in February.

Police have confiscated the arrested man’s cell phone and computer and have looked at security footage from other locations where vandalism occurred and have spotted the man in the videos, according to Sankei.

About 30,000 Japanese tourists visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam every year, about 5,000 visitors more than the number of visitors from Israel.

Japan is also the only East Asian country with statues and a museum in memory of Anne Frank.

$10 Million Awarded to U.S. Holocaust Museum for Shoah Studies

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., received a $10 million grant from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation.

The museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies will be renamed the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies and will concentrate on Holocaust studies throughout the world. The center sponsors new Holocaust scholarship, training new scholars in the discipline.

“The Mandel family generously helped establish the museum in its early years, and now through this campaign gift they are helping us lay the foundation for the institution’s future, ensuring the permanence of Holocaust memory, relevance, and understanding,” said Museum Director Sara Bloomfield.

Morton Mandel, chairman and CEO of the Cleveland-based foundation, said in a statement: “Our Foundation is delighted to have been an ardent supporter of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum since its inception. We are pleased to place the Mandel name on the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, one of the world’s principal venues for Holocaust scholarship.”

Last month, the foundation announced a $13 million grant to Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

New Anne Frank Theater to Open in Amsterdam

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

A new theater dedicated to the story of Anne Frank is slated to open in the Dutch capital ahead of the 70th anniversary of the teenage diarist’s deportation and death.

The new theater, which is in the final stages of construction, was first shown to media on Wednesday and will feature a permanent show titled ANNE that was developed at the request of the Basel-based Anne Frank Foundation — a not-for-profit organization founded in 1963 by Anne Frank’s father, Otto Frank. The Anne Frank Foundation is the sole owner of copyrights of writings of the Frank family including the hugely famous diary of Anne Frank from her days in hiding in Amsterdam.

The play, which is set to debut in May, will feature a cast of approximately 20 Dutch actors and simultaneous translation to seven languages, according to Ilan Roos of Imagine Nation, the commercial Dutch firm which produced the show and built the new theater.

The new Theater Amsterdam seats 1,100 people in 4,000 square yards of floor space.

Roos declined to disclose how much money the company has invested in the project. Yves Kugelman of the Anne Frank Foundation said royalties from ticket proceeds, which will sell for $50-$100 dollars, will go toward the foundation’s educational work and charity projects for Jewish and non-Jewish causes. The foundation did not participate in production and building costs, he said.

“The play is the first one which is based on all original documents and writings of Anne and Family Frank,” Kugelman told JTA. The foundation developed the script and supervised its historical accuracy, he added.

The new theater is located 1.5 miles northwest of Amsterdam’s Anne Frank House — a separate outfit which runs a museum at the address where the Franks hid until their arrest and deportation to German concentration and death camps in 1944. The Anne Frank House was not involved in the new production.

A special ferry will transport spectators from Amsterdam Central Station to the new theater, producer Kees Abrahams told reporters.

The play, which is being produced by Abrahams and Broadway producer Robin de Levita, is the second theater dramatization of Anne Frank’s diaries that has been performed under supervision of the copyright owners, according to Kugelman.

The first adaptation was written by the American couple Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and opened in 1955, and was later re-adapted into a movie.

“They did a marvelous job but wrote the play in a different time and based on a selection of materials made by Anne Frank’s father,” said Leon de Winter, the Dutch Jewish novelist who wrote the new show’s script with his wife, Jessica Durlacher. “Jessica and I were privileged to gain access to many additional materials, the entire archive, and to broaden the scope to include what happened before and after the deportation.”

Wiesenthal Center: Lithuanian Government Emboldens Neo-Nazis

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

The Simon Wiesenthal Center accused the Lithuanian government of facilitating the glorification of Holocaust-era war criminals.

The accusation followed a march earlier this month by nationalists in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second-largest city, also known as Kovno. The marchers carried portraits of the pro-Nazi former ruler Juozas Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis. His government helped German troops send 30,000 Jews to their deaths. The marchers on Feb. 16 also carried signs reading: “Lithuania for Lithuanians.”

Efraim Zuroff of the center’s Israel office told JTA that attendance at the annual Feb. 16 ultra-nationalist march increased dramatically after Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis’ reburial in Kaunas in 2012, which was financed by the Lithuanian government. His remains were previously interred in Putnam, Conn., in the United States.

“Last year there were 600 participants in this march. This year there were 1,000,” Zuroff said. “This is a direct consequence of the government’s complicity in his glorification.”

Zuroff was in Kaunas to protest the rally with Dovid Katz, a Vilnius-based American Jewish academic who is part of the Lithuanian Holocaust remembrance Defending History group. Several dozen anti-fascist demonstrators also came to protest the march.

Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis moved to the United States after the war and died there in 1974. He won recognition in Lithuania in 2009 when then-President Valdas Adamkus awarded him with the highest state award, the Grand Cross of the Order of Vytautas the Great, for his government’s efforts to restore Lithuanian statehood after Soviet occupation.

Between 1941 and 1944, up to 95 percent of Lithuania’s 200,000-strong Jewish community died at the hands of the Nazis and local collaborators.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/wiesenthal-center-lithuanian-government-emboldens-neo-nazis/2014/03/02/

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