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July 30, 2015 / 14 Av, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust’

Italian Jewish Leader Arrested For Trying To Escape From Auschwitz

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

First published at Jewish Business News by Vered Weiss

On the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Riccardo Pacifici, a leader of Rome’s Jewish community, was trapped inside Auschwitz and arrested for trying to escape through a window, as reported by Haaretz. Pacifici was recording a television show about the ceremony to commemorate the liberation of the death camp and, in the course of the interview, he didn’t realized that the gates had been closed and locked by guards.

Pacifici, whose grandparents perished in Auschwitz, was faced with freezing conditions along with Italian journalist David Parenzo, Fabio Perugia, Jewish community spokesman and other members of the television crew. Their cries for assistance were not heard, so they escaped through an open window, setting off an alarm.

Polish police officers arrested them immediately, and they were interrogated until 2:30 am. “They arrested us and treated us roughly as though we were criminals,” Mr. Perugia told Haaretz. More police officers were called up until there were a dozen confining the small group. After hours of more questioning, which was relieved only by an interpreter summoned by the Italian foreign ministry, the group was released.

While interrogated, Mr. Pacifici Tweeted in Italian, “We are being held by the Polish police inside Auschwitz … a disgrace.”

Upon his release, he called the incident “madness” and a “folly” and said, “They interrogated us until 6 in the morning, to Jews who had been locked inside the Auschwitz camp where I lost some of my family,” he told La Stampa, an Italian newspaper. “My grandparents died here. It’s a shock. Our only crime was that we tried to get out through the window.”

French President Tells Jews: ‘France is Your Homeland’

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

French President Francois Hollande told Jews this week, “Your place is here; France is your country.”

“You, French people of the Jewish place, your place is here, in your home. France is your country,” French President Francois Hollande told French Jews in a speech to mark 70 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi death camps.

Hollande seemed intent on rebuffing remarks by Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu who told traumatized Jews after a series of horrifying terror attacks in Paris that the Jewish State and the Jewish People – their people – waited to welcome them home. Netanyahu told French Jews they were no longer trapped in Europe to suffer anti-Semitic attacks as they once were decades ago because Israel exists now, today.

“France is your homeland,” Hollande contended on Tuesday in his speech to Jews at the Shoah Memorial in Paris. He vowed to combat the “unbearable” rising anti-Semitism in France, which he said would protect “all its children and tolerate no insult, no outrage, no desecration.”

In the presence of five Holocaust survivors of the camps, Hollande asked rhetorically, “How in 2015 can we accept that we need armed soldiers to protect the Jewish of France?” He promised to continue protection at Jewish institutions such as synagogues, schools, community culture centers and businesses.

Yet a French soldier “protecting” one of those sites himself became a liability within just a few days: a burst of gunfire suddenly was heard as the soldier accidentally hit the trigger while playing with his assault rifle. Miraculously no one was hurt.

Anti-Semitic attacks in France doubled last year to nearly 1,000 incidents.

The series of attacks that sparked a four million-strong protest in France began Jan. 7 with a Paris bloodbath at the French satiric weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo, where 12 people were slaughtered and others wounded.

That launched a three-day series of terror attacks culminating in a hostage crisis and murder of four victims with others also wounded by a member of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) at the Hyper Cacher kosher grocery in Paris.

Three other attacks were carried out by the same terrorists, who included a team of two brothers who were members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

A fifth member of the cell surrendered earlier in that week of terror; a sixth fled the country just prior to the final siege. At least half a dozen others who collaborated in the attacks were at large but were being hunted down and detained.

Currently in France there are some 550,000 Jews, in contrast to more than six million Muslim immigrants. Last year some 7,000 Jews left France, more than twice as many as in 2013. It is expected that at least 10,000 will abandon the country in 2015 due to rising anti-Semitism.

BBC’s Holocaust Tweet Shocker

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Originally published at Honest Reporting.

January 27 is International Holocaust Memorial Day and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. With this in mind and the aftermath of the Paris terror attack on a kosher supermarket, there has been a great deal of discussion and commemoration in the media.

But could the BBC have asked a more crass, insensitive and downright offensive question on Twitter?

— The Big Questions (@bbcbigquestions) January 25, 2015

This was the question asked on The Big Questions, a BBC debate show on moral, ethical and religious issues. However, irrespective of the quality of the debate on the show itself, the tweet needs to be seen in isolation because many of those who saw it on Twitter would not have seen it in a larger context.

And how inappropriate for the BBC to even be debating the topic with such a question precisely during the buildup to events commemorating the biggest crime in modern history.

Perhaps the question may have related to a poll that found that some 58 percent of Germans say the past should be consigned to history in reference to the Holocaust. This, however, does nothing to excuse the BBC from raising the issue in such a format that lacks any relevant context to such a sensitive topic.

In addition, a TV debate or discussion is a controlled environment with a moderator as is the case on The Big Questions. Twitter, in comparison, is a virtual jungle where the only moderating influences are those of other tweeters.

The BBC has proudly publicized its comprehensive coverage of Holocaust Memorial Day, drawing attention to a wide range of programming. This included The Big Questions on the BBC’s media release which stated:

A one-hour special Big Questions on BBC One will look at the anniversary and the issues involved from never forgetting, to man’s inhumanity. It will also ask: could something like this happen again? 

How did the original question, “could something like this happen again?” and the stated emphasis of the program change so drastically? That it has indicates something insidious within the BBC.

Undoubtedly, had the BBC’s media release published in October 2014 included the question that ultimately was asked, those figures involved in Holocaust remembrance would have raised the alarm.

In light of this and Tim Willcox’s appalling questions to the child of a Holocaust survivor, it seems that insensitivity is something that the BBC is getting rather good at.

HR Managing Editor Simon Plosker adds:

What or who exactly does the BBC want to lay to rest? Holocaust survivors? The memory of six million Jewish victims of Nazi genocide? The BBC evidently has no moral compass when it comes to Jews or Israel. Why should this even be up for debate and why is it only issues of immense importance to Jews that the BBC is prepared to ride roughshod over?

The BBC originally asked could something like the Holocaust happen again. Asking whether people should forget about the Holocaust could very well increase the possibility of it happening again.

‘No Opportunity’ in Obama’s Schedule for Hosting President Rivlin

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

President Barack Obama’s aides have turned down a request by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to meet him next week, when Rivlin addressed the United Nations during its commemoration of the Holocaust next Tuesday .

“Over the past few days, there has been contact between the relevant parties in Israel and the US, discussing the possibility of a meeting between President Obama and President Rivlin during his visit to New York,” President Rivlin’s spokesman Jason Pearlman said Sunday night.

He added:

At this stage, it has been agreed not to hold a meeting during his visit, due to the schedule constraints of both leaders, and that a meeting would be scheduled at a later date.

When asked if the White House’s rejection of a visit was linked to its refusal to meet with visiting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu next month because of the upcoming Knesset elections, Pearlman asked The Jewish Press, “Have you ever had to organize a presidential visit?” He noted the complexities in adjusting schedules and making time for a meeting on short notice.

A cynic could say that President Obama does not want to give Israel any attention before the elections, even though the office of the Israeli president officially is not a political position.

Rivlin was a senior Likud Knesset leader and Knesset Speaker until he was elected last year to succeed Shimon Peres, who turned the office into a platform for his political views.

Rivlin  is known to be far from a close friend of Netanyahu but he also has no taste for the increasingly leftist Labor-Livni party, the Likud’s main challenger.

A more positive view of the White House rejection would take Pearlman’s explanation as the truth, which it very well could be.

It will pay to look at Obama’s public schedule next week and see how many times he is on the golf course during Rivlin’s five-day visit.

Berlin Won’t Name German Companies Involved in Syria’s C-Weapons Program

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Berlin steadfastly refuses to reveal the names of German companies who helped Syria develop its chemical weapons program according to a new report published this week by Der Spiegel. The information was made available in documents that were declassified after a 30 year embargo.

The list of firms involved in the program was handed over to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government coalition 16 months ago by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The organization won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for its “extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.” Last year the OPCW organized and helped destroy Syria’s chemical weapons – those that were uncovered, that is – together with experts from the United Nations.

But 16 months later, Merkel has done nothing with the list, saying that publicizing the names would “significantly impair foreign policy interests and thus the welfare of the Federal Republic of Germany.”

The Merkel government added that doing so would be similar to releasing “trade secrets” and therefore constitute a violation of Germany’s constitution.

According to a lengthy report in Der Spiegel, however, the government did not need the OPCW list to know that German firms were involved in the Syrian chemical weapons program.

Apparently the government-funded Institute for Contemporary History published an inventory dating back to 1984 including a government document with names of companies suspected of supplying the Syrian chemical weapons program.

The release may have been accidental; it was a memo regarding the Dec. 6, 1984 visit to a deupty section head in the German Foreign Ministry by then-Israeli Ambassador to Germany Yitzhak Ben-Ari.

The Israeli official brought with him “intelligence service findings” which showed that since the mid-1970s scientists had been working on producing chemical weapons for Syria, “disguised as agricultural and medical research.”

Included were the glass producer Schott, laboratory equipment producer Kolb, technology company Heraeus, the former Hoechst subsidiary Riedel-de-Haen, pharmaceutical company Merck and the company Gerrit van Delden.

The top secret program was being carried out in the chemistry department at the UNESCO-funded Centre d’Etudes et des Recherches Scientifiques in Damascus. A pilot facility was already built. Contracts were already signed for three production lines and Ben-Ari believed that within the year, Syria would have the capacity to produce 700 kilograms (1,543 pounds) of sarin – enough to kill several million people.

On December 12, 1984, a representative of the U.S. State Department told the German Embassy in Washington that Karl Kolb GmbH & Co. KG, from the town of Dreiech in Hesse, had delivered “chemical research and production equipment for the manufacture of large quantities of nerve gas” to Iraq.

At that time, Dictator Saddam Hussein was busy building “the most modern chemical weapons factory of its time,” disguised as a pesticide factory, according to international experts who testified in 2004, Der Spiegel reports. Though only Kolb is mentioned in the files, it turns out that a related firm, Pilot Plant GmbH, delivered four facilities at a total cost of 7.5 million Deutsche marks.

American officials were trying to pressure then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher to force Kolb to withdraw its technicians and “via pressure on the company prevent Iraq from producing C-weapons.”

Germany’s long-standing love affair with chemical weapons was notorious: the Nazis had used hydrocyanic acid, manufactured by German chemical companies, to murder inmates in the death camps during the Holocaust. Millions died, including six million Jews.

As it turns out, Kohl and Genscher did indeed promise to curb the companies and issued orders to that effect. Foreign Ministry internal memos clearly showed the “minister places high value on a complete investigation” and demanded “assurances that nothing more will be delivered” to Samarra.

Today is a Fast Day and not ‘Happy New Year’ Day

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

The Fast of the 10th of Tevet is today, January 1, and Chief Rabbi David Lau has asked Jews all over the world to say the mourner’s Kaddish prayer in memory of Holocaust victims.

He emphasized that with the ever-closer eventuality of the death of Holocaust survivors 70 years after the end of the Nazi death machine, there are less relatives alive to recite the prayer.

The fast marks the day on which the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem began in the year 588 BCE, an event which eventually led to the destruction on the Temple 20 years later and the first exile from Israel.

The fast day, which is observed from slightly before sunrise to after sunset, is commemorated shortly after Hanukkah.

The Chief Rabbinate 64 years ago, declared that the 10th of Tevet also is “Holocaust Day” in memory of the Nazis’ victims whose date of death is unknown.

“According to Jewish Law, if the day of death is unknown, a relative chooses which day on which to say Kaddish.”

The government-mandated Holocaust Day is in Nissan, a month when Jewish law does not allow public eulogies. Israel’s secular media, along with foreign media, have a field day every year photographing Haredim who walk while others stand at attention when a siren sounds nationwide to mark Holocaust Day in Nissan.

Haredim also have a problem with the custom of standing at attention, which they consider a non-Jewish custom.

The same media fail to note that in the Hebrew month of Tevet, Haredim mark Holocaust Day, as well as fast, while most of the secular part of the country acts as if nothing happened, except for this year, when they also party without realizing that the day marks the circumcision of the same man in whose name millions of Jews have been massacred over the centuries.

Preserved Polish Synagogue to Become Jewish Museum

Monday, December 29th, 2014

The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland plans to open a new Jewish museum in a preserved baroque synagogue built in the 17th century in eastern Poland.

Great Synagogue in Leczna, in Lublin province, was mostly destroyed during and after World War II. In the 1950s and 1960s it was reconstructed, retaining the most important architectural elements of the former synagogue, including its wooden ceilings, the bimah and the Torah ark.

Since 1966, the synagogue has housed a regional museum, which has in its collection some valuable Judaica.

In 2013, the synagogue was transferred to Jewish community and was placed under the responsibility of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland.

The Foundation has proposed re-opening the museum in the building with a focus on the Jewish community of the town and plans to open the revamped museum in 2016.

It could become part of the Chassidic Route – the project implemented by the Foundation which traces the Jewish communities of southeastern Poland. The project has been joined by 28 communities.

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/preserved-polish-synagogue-to-become-jewish-museum/2014/12/29/

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