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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Kristallnacht’

Refugee Who Rescued Husband from Dachau, Dies at 111

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Soon after Kristallnacht, when she was 36, Gisela Kohn Dollinger persuaded the Gestapo to release her husband from the Dachau concentration camp, and the two of them fled Austria for Shanghai, where she almost died of typhoid.

After that, death seemed to forget all about her — until last week, when Dollinger passed away peacefully at Manhattan’s Beth Israel Hospital. She was 111 years old.

Dollinger’s passing came just weeks after Alice Herz-Sommer, a pianist and the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary who was believed to be the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor, died at the comparatively young age of 110.

Known by her friends and family as “Gisa,” Dollinger was the youngest of 15 children. She was born in Baden-be-Wien, a Vienna suburb, on Aug. 30, 1902, according to her relatives.

Widowed in 1993 after more than 60 years of marriage, Dollinger never had children but leaves behind scores of nieces, nephews and their offspring in numerous countries, including the United States, Israel and England.

“To everyone in the family she was always Aunt Gisa or Tante Gisa,” recalled Dr. Mark Horowitz, a grand-nephew who lives in Manhattan.

Dollinger retained her full mental faculties and was able to remain in her New York apartment until the end, although in her final years her vision and hearing deteriorated — a source of frustration since reading, conversation and listening to music were her favorite activities.

Horowitz described his great-aunt as “well educated and well cultured,” a frequent theater and opera-goer who spoke several languages.

Carole Vogel, a great-great-niece who is the unofficial family historian, told how in 2005, at the age of 103, Dollinger returned to Austria for the first time since she and her husband, Bernard, had fled in December 1938.

She had been invited to speak at the rededication of the synagogue her father had helped found in the 1880s and decided to use the trip as an excuse for a family reunion. At least 22 family members came along.

“I don’t know how many 103-year-olds go on trans-Atlantic flights, but she did,” recalled Vogel, who attended the reunion.

During the trip, the centenarian guided family members around Baden-be-Wien, pointing out where family members and other Jews lived.

“She also pointed out the homes of the Nazis and their names,” Vogel said. “She’d say, ‘I went to school with her, and she married a Nazi.’ She had a phenomenal memory up until the end.”

Shortly after Kristallnacht, when her family-owned dry-goods store was destroyed and Bernard was deported to Dachau, Dollinger went to the Gestapo in Vienna — putting herself at risk — and asked for her husband’s release, arguing successfully that since he was not an Austrian citizen (he was Polish), he should not have been included in the roundup.

Some family members have speculated that her persuasion included a bribe, but Dollinger never mentioned that when recounting the story, Vogel said.

“She credited the release of her husband to the fact that someone had advised her to speak to a certain Gestapo officer who was known to be more open to reason and that she showed him a valid Polish passport belonging to Bernard,” Vogel explained, adding that “open to reason” might have meant bribes, because “with Gisa everything could be in the nuance.”

Upon his release, Bernard was told that if he did not leave Austria within two weeks he would be returned to the concentration camp. Thanks to a last-minute cancellation, the couple managed to obtain two first-class tickets on a boat to Japanese-occupied China, one of the few places where Jews could easily obtain visas at the time.

At Last, State-of-the-Art Rabbis Made in Germany

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

The new first government-backed School of Jewish Theology at the University of Potsdam, which opened in November, marks the first time Germany has funded the training of Jewish rabbis and cantors, Der Spiegel announced with unhidden delight a week ago.

In the past Germany did train many rabbis and cantors, among other Jews, but that’s only if you use the word “train” as a verb.

It is also the first time Jewish theology has been taught as an academic subject at a public university in Europe, claims Spiegel, but I have no idea where they got that one, because I know personally several professors of Jewish Studies in London –maybe they don’t consider London part of Europe.

The school is “a historical milestone in the training of liberal and conservative rabbis” and “unique both in Germany and Europe,” Potsdam University President Oliver Günther said at the time of the launch.

Coming just after the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the school is a significant step in post-Holocaust Jewish revival, Spiegel points out.

At last, they’re paying the glass bill.

“In Germany, of all places, where the Jewish intelligentsia – which had such a large and irreplaceable share in the intellectual prestige of German academia – was expelled and murdered, Jewish theology is finally being given its proper role,” German President Joachim Gauck said at the launch.

I can’t say a bad word about President Gauck, who’s one of the few remaining friends of Israel. When he was here on a visit in 2012, he said: “Germany should be the very last country to turn away from friendship and solidarity with Israel.”

I just don’t like the idea of Jews flocking back to the death place. Call me a hopeless sentimental.

The school, which will also launch six new professorships, is part of the university’s Faculty of Arts. Its 49 newly enrolled students from Germany, Israel, the United States and Eastern Europe will choose from subjects including liturgy and Jewish music history. Students can undertake bachelor of arts and master of arts studies, and the school plans to offer doctoral studies in the future.

Those who wish to train as rabbis or cantors can opt either for Abraham Geiger College, or for Zacharias Frankel College, which opened two days before the official launch of the school last month, for the conservative stream of Judaism. The school will offer more courses of study in English, too.

Admiel Kosman

Admiel Kosman

Admiel Kosman, the director of Europe’s first state-funded School of Jewish Theology is “heavily influenced by other faiths, including Buddhism and Hinduism. It might come as no surprise, then, that Admiel Kosman’s vision is to encourage interfaith dialogue, and to train rabbis for everyone,” delights Der Spiegel.

Kosman was born in Haifa, Israel to an Orthodox Jewish family. He served in the IDF, studies at the Kotel Yeshiva, studied graphic art and pottery at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, and did his Ph.D. in Talmud at Bar-Ilan University. And then he decided to move to Berlin.

I don’t know why Israelis have been moving to Berlin in such high numbers, but the common perception in Israel of those who do assigns them the roles of either high finance folks or various types of criminals looking to expand their business. The two, you’ll admit, are not very far apart. But, without a doubt, it’s less likely to have Ph.D.s in Talmud make the move back to the land that once ate our flesh.

Admiel Kosman is a gifted man. He writes poetry. He publishes books and articles. He wrote the following poem, which is by no means representative of his overall body of work, but as I’m searching for clues about why a gifted Talmudic scholar from Israel would settle down in Berlin, it’s something:

ADL Accepts Apology from Investor for Kristallnacht Remarks

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

The Anti-Defamation League has accepted the “heartfelt apology” from venture capitalist Thomas Perkins, who likened criticism of the wealthy to Kristallnacht.

“We believe that Mr. Perkins now realizes why his Holocaust comparison was so offensive,” the ADL said in a statement after a long conversation Monday between Perkins and the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman.

“He deeply regrets his words, which he made in the ‘heat of the moment,’ and has assured us that he will make efforts to publicly apologize to all those he offended,” the statement said. “We accept his apology, and now consider the matter closed.”

Perkins, who is based on San Francisco, on Friday wrote a letter published in The Wall Street Journal, drawing parallels between progressives in that city and the Nazis.

“I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich’,” he wrote. “From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent.”

He ended the letter, saying: “This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”

In a letter to the Journal written before Perkins had called to apologize, Foxman wrote, “He {Perkins] discredits himself and his argument by leaping to the absurd conclusion that class differences in America are stirring up sentiments similar to the virulent anti-Semitism that led to the deaths of six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust. This is historical trivialization of the worst kind imaginable.”

Perkins, 82, a founder of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, also apologized Monday evening in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

“I deeply apologize to you and anyone who has mistaken my reference to Kristallnacht as a sign of overt or latent anti-Semitism. This is not the case,” he said.

But he added that while the letter was “a terrible misjudgment, “I do not regret the message at all. Any time the majority starts to demonize any minority, no matter what it is, it is wrong and dangerous.”

Fundamentalists Disrupt Jewish-Catholic Kristallnacht Remembrance

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Fundamentalist Christians disrupted a joint Jewish-Christian ceremony commemorating Kristallnacht held at the Buenos Aires City´s Metropolitan Cathedral Tuesday night.

The event was organized by the Inter-Religious Dialogue Committee and Bnai Brith Argentina.

When the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Mario Poli, tried to start the ceremony’s liturgy of commemoration, the fundamentalist group interrupted the ceremony, praying in loud voices and distributing brochures against “the presence of fake gods at our main Cathedral.”

After a standoff that lasted several minutes, police officials arrived at the Cathedral. The demonstrators left at the request of Father Fernando Gianetti, who made the request in the name of Poli, successor to Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, who now is Pope Francis.

Julio Schlosser, president of DAIA, Argentina’s Jewish political umbrella, told JTA of the incident that “Nazi hordes spread poison on the victims of the Holocaust.”

Pope Francis Calls Jews ‘Big Brothers,’ But It Ain’t a Compliment

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

[Editor's Note: It's come to our attention that not everyone read or understood the fourth paragraph of this article, so here is a summary of that paragraph:

The Pope used theologically significant and degrading terminology to describe Christianity's relationship with Judaism. The Elder Brother is always the castoff, always the evil one, and always replaced by the younger brother. It wasn't an off-the-cuff statement of friendship, it was a religious and ideological attack on Jews and Judaism as illegitimate and evil and having been replaced by the "younger brother" - the central component of their "Replacement Theology".

Unfortunately, not enough Jewish media outlets understood this insult, and as a result, misunderstood his carefully chosen words.

This also follows in the footsteps of the very public snub of the Jewish State's Prime Minister Netanyahu during his visit to Rome, right after the Pope found the time to meet with PA Prime Minister Abbas.]

Pope Francis I has called the Jewish people the “big brothers” of the Roman Catholics, on the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), the 1938 looting and violence against German Jews and their businesses that is considered the start of the Holocaust atrocities that would follow against European Jews.

Ah, the mischievous things brothers do to each other…

“We renew our closeness and solidarity to the Jewish people, our big brothers, and pray to God that the memory of the past and of the sins of the past helps us to be always vigilant against every form of hate and intolerance,” Francis told worshipers outside of St. Peter’s Square during his Sunday mass, according to the European Jewish Press.

Of course, to understand the full theological meaning of the pope’s “compliment,” kindly refer to your Jewish Bible, where the younger brother always gets the inheritance, as in Jacob vs. Eisav, David vs. his older brothers, Shlomo vs. his older brother Adoniah, etc. The older brother is always dark, brooding, jealous, and not the one favored by God.

It’s heartbreaking to see this papal putdown being copied verbatim and distributed without a comment by so many Jewish media outlets. Perhaps they should use a different questionnaire when they hire new Jewish journalism school graduates.

We’re nobody’s brothers. We’re God’s favorite children without any extra-familial affiliations. I accept the fact that the current pope is not a blood thirsty enemy of our nation like so many of his predecessors, but when he, too, spits on us, it’s not rain.

Incidentally, we have more in common with Muslims than we do with Christians; Jewish law permits Jews to enter a mosque… but not a church.

To insist that we have some kind of bond with religious Christians because of similar core values, is to propagate a terrible lie. Christians who base their views on what they call the Old Testament, don’t view Mosaic law as an abiding legal text. The Church has abolished Torah law as part of its attempt to abolish the very idea of Jewish nationhood.

More on that in my article that was published here last year: There’s No Such Thing as Judeo-Christian Values.

On Kristallnacht Anniversary, Obama Speaking Out Against Intolerance

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

The lesson of Kristallnacht is to speak out “against anti-Semitism and intolerance,” President Obama said in marking the 75th anniversary of the pogrom that presaged the Holocaust.

“Kristallnacht foreshadowed the systematic slaughter of six million Jews and millions of other innocent victims,” Obama said.

“Seventy-five years later, Kristallnacht now signifies the tragic consequences of silence in the face of unmitigated hatred,” he said in a statement. “As we mark this anniversary, let us act in keeping with the lessons of that dark night by speaking out against anti-Semitism and intolerance, standing up to indifference, and re-committing ourselves to combating prejudice and persecution wherever it exists.”

Riots on Nov. 9 and 10 1938 organized by German authorities killed 91 Jews, destroyed 267 synagogues and were followed by the deportation of 30,000 Jews to concentration camps.

The systematized attacks, which came to be known as the Night of Broken Glass, anticipated the mass slaughter of European Jewry launched three years later.

Polish Jews Say Mosque Torching Reminiscent of Kristallnacht

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Representatives of the Jewish community of Gdansk, Poland, said the torching of a mosque had “frightening connotations” of the Nazi-inspired Kristallnacht pogroms against Jews.

The association was inescapable, three of the city’s Jewish leaders wrote in a statement Thursday.

“On the eve of the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, during which synagogues were burned in the Free City of Gdansk, the burning of the mosque must bear frightening connotations,” the statement said.

Unidentified individuals started the fire early Wednesday morning. It consumed the mosque’s door and some of the equipment, resulting in damages to the tune of $16,000.

“In the face of this cowardly act of barbarism, Jews of Gdansk cannot stand idly by,” wrote the authors of the statement, Michal Samet, Michal Rucki and Mieczyslaw Abramowicz. “We express our deep indignation against the attack on the temple and the sadness of the fact that it took place in Gdansk.”

Dozens of people died in pogroms that broke out in Germany, Austria and Gdansk — then the semi-autonomous free city of Danzig — on November 9, 1938, after Nazi officials and activists encouraged locals to target Jewish homes and businesses as retaliation for the slaying of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in Paris by a Jewish 17-year-old boy from Hannover, Herschel Grynszpan, whose family had been deported to Poland by Nazi authorities.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/polish-jews-say-mosque-torching-reminiscent-of-kristallnacht/2013/10/19/

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