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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust’

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.

JNi.Media

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.

JNi.Media

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

Will Detroit’s Historic Holocaust Museum Stay True To Its Mission?

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

Of the many local and regional Holocaust memorials and museums scattered across America, one stands out among the best: The Holocaust Memorial Center in suburban Detroit.

For me, the legacy and future of the institution is personal.

Correctly billed as America’s “first Holocaust museum,” the Detroit enterprise was conceived fourteen years before the dominant United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. was even commissioned by President Jimmy Carter in 1978. The Detroit museum opened its original doors at its first location in suburban West Bloomfield, Michigan in 1984. The Washington museum opened its doors in 1993.

Although there are currently scores of Holocaust museums and memorials throughout America, the museum in suburban Detroit, when it debuted, was nothing short of historic. It stood as the first freestanding museum in the country devoted to the subject.

This extraordinary project was the dream of Rabbi Charles H. Rosenzveig, a Polish Holocaust survivor, in tandem with a local congregation of fellow survivors possessing visionary and fiery determination to not only document the heartless brutality of the twelve-year Reich war against the Jews but to understand the underlying socio-economic and political causes powering the Nazi genocides.

Hence, Rabbi Rosenzveig and I always enjoyed a special rapport. We shared the same fire and felt the same burn. In my case, it propelled me to write books on these topics, documenting corporate collusion and ethnic collaboration that made a life-and-death difference to so many.

Rabbi Rosenzveig invited me several times to lecture at the museum on American corporate involvement with the Third Reich and the ethnic factors that facilitated the destruction of six million Jews. This included documenting how IBM co-planned and co-organized the Holocaust with its punch card processes, as well as the involvement of General Motors and Henry Ford.

That the museum allowed me to speak freely on the latter was a courageous act in a city where those two automobile companies were headquartered and maintained powerful influences in the community.

The museum became known for more than just lectures; its extraordinary exhibits delved into the heartless economics that fueled Hitler’s Germany. Rabbi Rosenzveig and I shared an uncanny realization of what was at stake. More than just stimulating memory and sorrow, the challenge was to prod deeper thought about the consequences of corporate connectivity with death machines.

We also shared a common heritage. Rabbi Rosenzveig was from Poland, lost nearly all his family, and told me he was not even sure how old he was. My parents were from Poland. We lost nearly all our relatives, and my parents were likewise unsure of how old they were.

When Rabbi Rosenzveig and I sat together in the museum, the conversation was often just silence and the unspoken certitude that passes noiselessly between two people who understand the agony of a common mission. No need for convincing, but plenty of commiserating. Our job was to inform about the worst and inspire the best for those confronting the Holocaust – the rabbi devoted to his work in Detroit and me speaking around the world on my works and my research.

When the new, larger, dramatically more architectonic museum opened in nearby Farmington Hills, it set the standard for such edifices. Many said the structure resembled a death camp, and drivers passing by complained that its very appearance made them uncomfortable. In 2003 the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “Should a Museum Look as Disturbing as What It Portrays?” The article asserted that the center “may be the most provocative Holocaust memorial of them all,” with its stark exterior suggesting electrified wire and the bleak walls at Auschwitz.

Rabbi Rosenzveig was actually fond of the impact his structure made. He did not believe in making an uncomfortable topic more palatable.

We both shared a fear that the Holocaust could happen again. In 2006, years before the Iran nuclear threat leapt onto front pages everywhere, Rabbi Rosenzveig invited me to speak at the museum’s annual gala. That night, I used the term “Second Holocaust” and warned it could be enabled by petrodollars fueling the Iranian nuclear program.

The idea was to enunciate this warning in Detroit, where gas-guzzling vehicles were still being manufactured. I felt it was ever more appropriate given Detroit’s unique status as the one U.S. city most pivotal to buttressing Nazism – thanks to Henry Ford’s gift to Hitler of an “international Jewish conspiracy” that rationalized his quest to expunge Jewish existence across Europe, and GM leaping to its role as “the arsenal of Nazism” with its manufacture of Blitz trucks, JU-88 airplane engines, Panzer tank motor parts, torpedo heads, and land mine components.

The 2006 gala evening competed with a major sporting event, and my comments were cut short due to the abundance of speakers and the truncated schedule. But the rabbi whispered in my ear that the museum wished to have me back to deliver the fuller message about Iran and a potential Second Holocaust.

Two years later, in July 2008, presidential candidate John McCain echoed the same fear I expressed that night. Referring to Iran’s nuclear program, McCain declared, “The United States of America can never allow a second Holocaust.”

Rabbi Rosenzveig died later that year. A Congressional resolution lauded him as one who “endured and bore witness to the horrific atrocities of the Holocaust.”

During his tenure he elevated the Detroit museum to one of international stature and helped many scholars. For example, he worked with renowned Paper Walls author David Wyman on a special volume, The World Reacts to the Holocaust, a massive tome published in 1996 by Johns Hopkins Press. Rabbi Rosenzveig was listed as co-author, and Wyman paid tribute to him in the foreword as the man who “originated the concept of the book.” Wyman also saluted the Detroit center for being the first freestanding Holocaust museum in America.

After Rabbi Rosenzveig departed, he was succeeded by the Holocaust scholar Guy Stern, who had also worked on the Wyman book. He is still with the museum and now heads up its Harry and Wanda Zekelman International Institute of the Righteous.

Stern is hardly the only longtime devoted staffer at the museum. The center maintains a valuable library archive under the baton of Feiga Weiss.

In 2012 I returned to Detroit for a museum co-sponsored two-event visit. I updated my 2006 warning about the Iranian nuclear program in a presentation at a nearby synagogue. In the museum auditorium we helped set the stage for a global recognition of the Farhud, the 1941 Arab-Nazi pogrom in Baghdad. This was referred to by some as the long-overlooked Sephardic Kristallnacht.

While the idea was bold and new when explored within the walls of the museum in 2012, it eventually caught traction worldwide. Last year, together with Jewish leaders in a live-streamed global event at the United Nations, we proclaimed International Farhud Day. This year, on the 75th anniversary of the pogrom, special commemorations were held in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.; in New York in a Manhattan synagogue; in a London synagogue attended by diplomats and dignitaries; and in the Knesset in Jerusalem.

With its special place in American Holocaust commemoration and documentation, the Detroit center must be preserved as it was intended to be and as it has been from its first day – a torch of Holocaust enlightenment that flickers the reminder “Never Again.”

Too many Holocaust memorials have lost their original identity and now are devoted to both the Holocaust and genocide in general, or simply to global genocide.

Don’t get me wrong; as one who plumbs the dark recesses of the genocide of many groups throughout history, I know that all those shameful chapters must be thoroughly illuminated to reduce the chance of their repetition. Holocaust research and memorial centers need to bring those chapters within their walls; otherwise, “Never Again” is just a slogan rather than a fateful warning to the world.

But we in the Holocaust community do this best when we conserve Holocaust remembrance and the uniqueness of the Holocaust as an unparalleled and unique twelve-year onslaught perpetrated worldwide in broad daylight with headlines blaring.

Recently it emerged that Detroit’s Holocaust Memorial Center is contemplating changes. The institution is now being directed by Cheryl Guyer, who holds the unusual title of both “interim director” and “director of development.” This means her two hats cover both the soul of the museum and fund-raising – two spheres that aren’t always in sync. (Rabbi Rosenzveig went against conventional economic wisdom when he created the museum.)

Guyer confirmed to me that the museum and its board are undergoing a period of what she called “new strategic thinking and transition.” She refused to elaborate. Asked again, she steadfastly refused to comment, saying, “We are not ready to talk about it.” In the ensuing days, Guyer declined to respond to several e-mail and voice requests for further information.

The museum’s official media spokesman, Glenn Oswald, one of the most affable and responsive publicists in the field, who promoted my earlier events at the museum, was contacted. He too declined all comment and failed to respond to several voice mails and e-mails attempting to gather ordinary background information about the museum. So no one knows just what changes or transitions are in store.

Despite the wall of silence, it has been learned that a new director is being considered to assume the museum’s top leadership slot next year as part of the transition. According to museum sources, a local rabbi with a distinguished record is under consideration. That process is now in full swing. Until a decision is made, the museum continues to remain mum about its plans.

Holocaust remembrance and Holocaust museums, built with community money, belong to the survivors and their succeeding generations. The boards of directors of such museums are mere trustees of the legacy. They don’t own it. They don’t even rent it. They are custodians.

Guyer should therefore check with the community before any “strategic thinking and transition” is announced or implemented, and shine the light of openness upon what is in store. Survivors and their descendants hold the trademark on Holocaust memory. For many, the mark is tattooed on their forearms; for many others, it is permanently written in their hearts.

Edwin Black

ISIS Executes Hundreds in Mosul as Iraqi Forces Close In

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

Islamic State (Da’esh / ISIS) terrorist forces executed hundreds of civilians Friday in the city of Mosul as tens of thousands of Iraqi and Peshmerga military and coalition forces closed in.

The terrorists murdered 284 men and boys, an Iraqi intelligence source told CNN, after having rounded them up from villages in and around the Mosul area to be used as human shields.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said, “There is a grave danger that [ISIS] fighters will not only use … people as human shields but may opt to kill them rather than see them liberated.” He added that any of the terrorists who were captured or who surrendered “should be held accountable in accordance with the law for any crimes they have committed.”

And in fact, in a move echoing one of the most grotesque by the Nazis during the Holocaust, ISIS operatives used a bulldozer to dump the dead bodies in a mass grave at the scene of the executions, the defunct Mosul College of Agriculture in the northern section of the city, according to the source quoted by CNN.

All of the victims were shot, including children, said the source who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with media. CNN could not independently confirm the claim.

Knowing their days were numbered, the ISIS terrorists blew up the Mishraq sulfur plant in the city on Wednesday, killing two people with the toxic white smoke, and injuring numerous others. At least 500 people arrived at the Qayyarah Health Center complaining of problems with their breathing.

The terrorist group also ignited the oil wells, sending thick black smoke boiling up into the sky. Doctors treated their patients with oxygen but were forced to send at least eight to Makhmur hospital, they told the AFP news agency.

At least 50 ISIS terrorists were killed and dozens of others were wounded in a separate terrorist assault on the northern city of Kirkuk — launched as a diversion from Mosul — which ended Saturday after 36 hours of heavy clashes.

All of the ISIS attackers were killed or blew themselves up, according to Kirkuk police Brig.-Gen. Khattab Omer. But 13 workers at a power plant north of the city were killed, in addition to a local TV reporter.

Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga Kurdish fighters also surrounded and isolated the town of Hamdaniya, 12 miles southeast of Mosul, according to a U.S. military official in Baghdad.

U.S. and coalition aircraft were providing air support during the battles in Kirkuk and around Mosul on Saturday. In Kirkuk, 175 kilometers (109 miles) southeast of Mosul, Peshperga forces went house to house in mop-up operations.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/isis-executes-hundreds-in-mosul-as-iraqi-forces-close-in/2016/10/22/

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