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September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Lodz Ghetto’

Sacrifices of Peace

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

In one of the most famous events in the Bible, G-d commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son. So Abraham took his son Isaac, bound him on an altar and prepared to bring him up as a burnt offering. And then the voice of the angel called to him and told him not to harm his son.

G-d did not want human sacrifices. The peace process does. After the handshake with Arafat in the Rose Garden led to a wave of terrorist attacks, Prime Minister Rabin invented a new sacrifice to describe the dead Israelis murdered by the Muslim terrorists who had been permitted to enter Israel, to form armies, to train openly and to kill openly. Korbanot Shalom. Sacrifices of peace.

In Ancient Israel, in the Tabernacle and the Temple, the Korban Shelamim, the Peace Offering, was brought as a celebratory offering to be eaten by all. In the modern State of Israel, the Korbanot Shalom were brought by the families of the dead who often had little more than a few scraps of skin tissue, a finger or a hand caught in a crack in the sidewalk to remember their children by.

In the old Israel, only the pagan worshipers of Moloch, the abominable cult that placed its own sons and daughters into the idol’s flames, practiced human sacrifice. In the new Israel that was ushered in on that glorious day in the Rose Garden under the beaming gaze of Bill Clinton, everyone in the land was expected to be prepared to offer up their children to the Moloch of peace, the idol of the Palestinian Authority, its altar engraved with Nobel Peace Prizes, its service overseen by the international diplomats and domestic pacifists who had appointed themselves its Priests of Peace.

Peace made the service of death into a national duty. There was no telling where or when one might be called upon by Israel’s peace partners in Ramallah to become a sacrifice for peace. It might be at a mall or at a pizzeria or while riding the bus. An Israeli could become a sacrifice for peace at any time. And the Labor Party leaders would bow their heads solemnly over his grave, like the biblical elders were obligated to do over every murder victim in their vicinity. But unlike the elders, they could not recite the ceremonial verse, “Our hands did not shed this blood.”

Eventually Prime Minister Rabin, who had offered up so many Israelis as sacrifices of peace, was privileged to himself became a sacrifice of peace. His ascension is commemorated annually and has long since made its way into the Israeli curriculum as an example of the dedication to peacemaking that is expected of the true visionary of peace.

The sacrifices of peace have diminished as the left has fallen out of power. The wooden altars of the Moloch of Peace stand empty and the Priests of Peace pass mournfully through international airports, studying maps, drawing up plans and calling for new sacrifices. And eventually their call is heeded.

In the spring, America’s prince of peace, the man who had thrown thousands of American soldiers with their hands tied behind their backs into the arms of the Taliban, who had sacrificed every other American ally in the region, came to Jerusalem to demand that the altars once again be raised up and the blood of peace flow over the negotiating tables.

“It can be tempting to put aside the frustrations and sacrifices that come with the pursuit of peace,” Obama told a carefully selected audience of Israeli students. Some of them future sacrifices on his bloody altar of peace. “Here on Earth we must bear our responsibilities in an imperfect world. That means accepting our measure of sacrifice and struggle.”

And so the measure of sacrifice comes again. The ceremonial release of terrorists with blood on their hands commenced this festival of negotiations. Some of the freed terrorists had been notoriously talented sacrificers; claiming the lives of women and children. And in reward for their service, the Moloch of Peace smiled upon them and commanded that they be set free.

Third Generation Breaks the Silence of Holocaust Survivor

Monday, April 8th, 2013

In 2004, I joined the Witnesses in Uniform delegation of 180 IDF officers to Poland. We had the chance to visit some of the major sites of Holocaust memory, including Auschwitz-Birkenau. We also saw the Lodz ghetto – the place where my father was imprisoned during the war.

Every participant on the trip had to spend some time preparing beforehand. I thought that this might be an opportunity to sit down with my father and have him share his experiences with me. He had never spoken about it with me before.

I took him through the entire itinerary of our trip, and I pointed out that we would be passing through the Lodz ghetto. I hoped that he would open up and talk about it. But he didn’t say a word. My father wished me a successful journey, but nothing more than that.

When we got to Lodz, our guides took us to what remains of the ghetto. I tried to imagine my father walking down the street, but I had no information about his time there. I did, however, experience the unique feeling all IDF officers feel when they land in Poland. It’s something I simply couldn’t compare to anything else I’ve done in my life. Our presence there alone was proof that the Nazis failed in their mission to destroy the Jewish people.

The delegation was made up of all types of people – officers young and old, Jewish, Bedouin and Druze. That’s something that makes the IDF a unique military force – we invest not only in protecting the country but also in educating our officers and passing on our heritage and our values from generation to generation.

When I returned from the trip, I sat down again with my father. I showed him all of my pictures, and hoped that he would start talking, but to no avail.

I thought I’d never learn what happened to him, but this year something changed. My daughter was doing a roots project for school, and as part of the coursework she sat down with my father and asked him to tell her his story. For the first time ever, we learned that before the war, he lived in a Polish village called Stieglitz. The Nazis killed all of the Jews who lived there, but he managed to survive.

It’s not unusual for Holocaust survivors to avoid speaking about their experiences. But perhaps it was easier for him to talk to my daughter than it was for him to talk to me. He needed some kind of trigger, and grandchildren are often that trigger.

It was finally time for him to pass on his legacy to the next generation.

This article was written by Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, the head of the International Media & Communications Branch of the Israel Defense Forces Spokespersons Unit.

Commemorating Liquidation Of The Lodz (Litzmannstadt) Ghetto

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

     In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

 

     The Lodz Ghetto was one of the largest on Polish territory (second to the Warsaw Ghetto). Established in February 1939 and liquidated in August 1944, it lasted longer than the other ghettos. Approximately 200,000 men, women and children were imprisoned in the Lodz ghetto throughout its existence.

 

     The organization of the Lodz Ghetto became a role model for the Warsaw Ghetto and other ghettos. In 1941 the Germans began deporting Jews from Prague, Vienna, Luxembourg, Berlin, D?sseldorf, Emden, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Cologne into the Lodz Ghetto. Within one month 19,954 Jews from Western Europe were deported and in few next months the Germans transported another 18,000 Jews from liquidated provincial ghettos.

 

    According to the German policy only Jews capable of work could stay in the ghetto. Those who were not able to work were sent to the death camp in Chelmno where the Germans killed 80 000 Jews.

 

    On August 9, 1944 the first transport from Lodz to Auschwitz took place. Deportees were informed that they were going deep into the Third Reich. In reality they were sent straight into the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Until August 9, 1944 the Germans had deported 67,000 Lodz Ghetto inhabitants. It is estimated that when the Nazis liquidated the ghetto, there were only 12-15,000 inhabitants. After the liquidation, only 800 Jews were left for cleaning. Most of those survived. 

 

      This coming week the city of Lodz is holding a weeklong conference in memory of the victims of the Ghetto.

 

       The conference will include many well-known speakers, feature films, new exhibits, and concerts as well as the unveiling of new monuments at the Survivors Park, dedicated to survivors and those that helped them survive.

Commemorating Liquidation Of The Lodz (Litzmannstadt) Ghetto

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

     In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

 

     The Lodz Ghetto was one of the largest on Polish territory (second to the Warsaw Ghetto). Established in February 1939 and liquidated in August 1944, it lasted longer than the other ghettos. Approximately 200,000 men, women and children were imprisoned in the Lodz ghetto throughout its existence.

 

     The organization of the Lodz Ghetto became a role model for the Warsaw Ghetto and other ghettos. In 1941 the Germans began deporting Jews from Prague, Vienna, Luxembourg, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Emden, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Cologne into the Lodz Ghetto. Within one month 19,954 Jews from Western Europe were deported and in few next months the Germans transported another 18,000 Jews from liquidated provincial ghettos.

 

    According to the German policy only Jews capable of work could stay in the ghetto. Those who were not able to work were sent to the death camp in Chelmno where the Germans killed 80 000 Jews.

 

    On August 9, 1944 the first transport from Lodz to Auschwitz took place. Deportees were informed that they were going deep into the Third Reich. In reality they were sent straight into the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Until August 9, 1944 the Germans had deported 67,000 Lodz Ghetto inhabitants. It is estimated that when the Nazis liquidated the ghetto, there were only 12-15,000 inhabitants. After the liquidation, only 800 Jews were left for cleaning. Most of those survived. 

 

      This coming week the city of Lodz is holding a weeklong conference in memory of the victims of the Ghetto.

 

       The conference will include many well-known speakers, feature films, new exhibits, and concerts as well as the unveiling of new monuments at the Survivors Park, dedicated to survivors and those that helped them survive.

Day Of Remembrance In Lodz

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

         A Day of Remembrance for the Jews of the Lodz Ghetto was recently held in the city. The mayor of Lodz, the Israel Ambassador to Poland and the Chief Rabbi of Poland led the march, of nearly 1,000, from the Jewish cemetery to the site of the Radegast Train Station where the Jews had been gathered before being sent to their deaths in Auschwitz.

 

         After the moving ceremony at the impressive memorial erected at the former station the survivors went to the Survivors Park, established by the city, to remember the past but also to celebrate and honor the future.

 

         Lodz had once been a major Jewish city but 200,000 were murdered in the Shoah. Today the small community is still striving to reestablish itself.

 

         In the coming weeks I will be giving a more detailed report on this small but growing community.

 

 

 

Chief Rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich, and Mr. Yehuda Widavski of Israel,  reciting Tehillim, El-Maleh and Kaddish at the gathering in front of the Holocaust Memorial at the Lodz Jewish Cemetery.


 


 

 

 

The march from the cemetery to the Radegast Station led by the City Honor Guard and officials, including  Israel Ambassador David Peleg.


 


 


 

 


Entering the Radegast Station area memorial that includes two train cars and a locomotive engine dating to the Shoah.


 


 

 

 


Rabbi Netanel Chaim Turnheim the Admor of Wolbroz, who spoke at the gathering, contemplating the tracks over which 200,000 Jews traveled, on the way to their deaths in Auschwitz.


 

‘Give Me Your Children’: Voices From The Lodz Ghetto

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

        The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum opened an exhibit last week remembering the children of the Lodz Ghetto.

 

         The story of the fate of the children of the Lodz Ghetto was one of the most tragic of the Shoah.

 

         At the start of World War II, the city of Lodz had been the second largest Jewish community in all of Poland. The ghetto, known by the German name Litzmannstadt ghetto, was one of the better organized. For a long time, life was kept as normal as possible under horrendous conditions. Records show that there were 160,320 Jews locked into the ghetto, including 39,561 children under the age of 14.

 

         At first 36 primary schools, two high schools, four religious schools and even a music school continued to operate, with close to a total of 15,000 students attending. In the district of Marsyin there was even a summer camp for the children.

 

         Chaim Mordechai Rumkoski, known as the  “King of the Ghetto,” ruled with an iron hand. He had the power to assign jobs that would save workers from the dreaded transports. (Jews transported from Lodz were sent at first to Chelmno and later to Auschwitz.)

 

         Rumkoski was particularly fond of the children. He organized orphanages and summer activities for them and was often honored, especially on his birthday.

 

         In the autumn of 1941, the schools had to be closed as more and more people were brought to the ghetto and space became scarce.

 

         In January 1942, the deportations to the Chelmno death camp began in earnest. Fifty-seven thousand people, including 11,000 Jews who had been brought to Lodz from Western Europe, were sent to their deaths. The remaining Jews of the ghetto continued their lives, not knowing the fate of their friends.

 


 

         The “Great Round-up” (Grobe-Sperr), as the action was called, lasted for nine days. On the first day of September 1942, word came that the Germans had surrounded the Jewish hospitals, and all the patients were being deported, with no exceptions.

 

         On September 3, word came that the Germans were now demanding that all the children under the age of 10, and the elderly over the age of 65 be handed over for deportation. It was now obvious that this was not to be a resettlement program as the Germans had claimed, but that the Jews were being sent to their deaths.

 

         Panic spread through the ghetto as parents tried in vain to register their children for work or bring forged death certificates to the registry offices to try to save as many as possible.

 

         On September 7, Rumonkoski made a passionate plea to the Jewish mothers and fathers of the ghetto. “It is absolutely necessary to sacrifice the children and the old ones. There is nothing we can do and all we ask is not to interfere with the German deportation action.”

 

         During the next few days, over 15,000 people, including 5,863 children, were deported to the death camps.

 

         Children disappeared from the ghetto. Any children who had escaped the round-up had to remain hidden during the rest of the war. They couldn’t go outside The Lodz Ghetto became one large work camp contributing to the German economy. Everybody had to work. If you didn’t work, you did not eat. There are many records, including pictures of young children, working at jobs such as shoemaking and metal work.

 

         These conditions lasted until May 1944, when the Germans started the final “liquidation” of the ghetto. In the end, there were only 800 people remaining in the ghetto, whom the Germans had left to clean up after the crimes. Even Rumonkoski, the King of the Ghetto, was sent to his death in Auschwitz, where he joined those whom he had sacrificed to save himself.

 

         The exhibition “Give Me Your Children: Voices from the Lodz Ghetto” presents their voices “preserved in letters, diaries, memoirs, and oral histories” as well as historic photographs, original documents, and objects from collections around the world. It offers a view into the struggle of a community and its young to live in spite of the most difficult circumstances.

Radegast Station Of Lodz

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

       The name Radegast Station might not be familiar to most people. But for those who were in the Lodz Ghetto during the war, it was a place that brought chills to the bones. It was at the Radegast train station where newcomers arrived from all over Europe when they were sent to the overcrowded Lodz Ghetto. And it was from there that they were sent to their final destination, Chelmno or Auschwitz – from which there was no return. By the end of August 1944, more then 150,000 Jews were sent to their deaths from this small depot on the outskirts of the ghetto.

 

         A few years ago, I reported that the actual building that had been used by the Nazis to hold the Jews awaiting transport had been found. When I visited the site, it was owned by a local non-Jewish Pole and was being used as a woodshop by day and a hangout by night. The building was covered with graffiti, and there was no sign of its former use other than its location alongside active train tracks.

 

         When I recently visited the site three weeks ago, I saw there had been a tremendous transformation. Gone is the graffiti, the empty vodka bottles and the garbage. In their place is a memorial befitting the honor due the victims who passed through the site. The original building has been cleaned up and the inside is left a stark white, with pictures hanging from the ceilings showing life in the ghetto.

 



The Radegast Station as it appears today.


 

         Outside sit two railroad cars similar to those in which victims were transported to the death camps. One of the cars is left open, so that one may enter the car to experience what it was like inside, even for a brief moment. Often people come out in a hurry with a sense of horror from the claustrophobic conditions, not being able to imagine what it must have been like for the victims who often had to spend days confined in such cars.

 

         On the perimeter of the site is a monument showing the places of origin of the victims, as well as an explanation of what occurred there.

 

         For many people, the most moving part of the memorial is the long tunnel to nowhere. The designers of the memorial continued the track where the railcars are sitting in a long dark tunnel. This is where lights that are lit up by sensors reveal lists of the people who were transported to their deaths 60 years ago.

 

         Also very moving is the list of children’s names. It was on September 4, 1942, that Chaim Ruminkowski, “the king of the ghetto,” delivered his famous speech asking that the Jews give up their children so that they may live. Most resisted, but the roundups were persistent and continued for nine days.

 

         After the roundup, nearly 6,000 children and 10,000 adults unable to work were sent from the Radegast Station to their deaths at Chelmno. Embedded with the lists of people are small items found during the building of the memorial. Small buttons, a piece of broken pottery, an eyeglass frame; the only remains of the thousands of children who passed through.

 

         At the end of the tunnel is a memorial flame at the bottom of a chimney, whose walls are engraved with the names of the cities and towns from where the victims came. The chimney is a chilling reminder of how most of the victims’ remains were destroyed by fire.

 

         It is both touching and disturbing when a train whistle sounds during a ceremony at the Radegast Station and a modern cargo train passes by.

 

         The city of Lodz has further plans for the site, including a learning center for the study of what took place at the Radegast Station and in the Lodz Ghetto.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/radegast-station-of-lodz/2006/11/08/

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