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November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Nazi Germany’

The Holocaust Survivor Who Fought in Every Israeli War (Video)

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Ze’ev Tibi Ram is one of two Holocaust survivors who fought in every Israeli war.

He perfectly symbolizes “Shoah ve Tkuma”- Holocaust and rebirth. As a Holocaust survivor, Tibi understands better than anyone the importance of protecting the Jewish state.

He lost his whole family in the Holocaust but survived Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.

After being separated from his mother and eventually finding her at the end of the war, she disappeared and Tibi never saw her again. His brother survived until the end of the war, but died shortly after.

Now, Tibi gives lectures to soldiers about the Holocaust and his extensive military experience. He is also the proud grandfather of an IDF soldier

He says life has been good – except for that one insane year of Nazi persecution.

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

 

Alleged Ex-Auschwitz Medic, 93, Arrested in Germany

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

An alleged former medic at Auschwitz was arrested in Germany on accusations that he was an accessory to murder.

The name of the 93-year-old man was not released in accordance with German privacy laws. He is accused of serving as a medic at the concentration camp in September 1944. Eight transports arrived at Auschwitz during that time, and 1,721 people were murdered after being labeled unfit to work, according to Der Spiegel.

Stefan Urbanek, a spokesman for the state prosecutor in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, in northeast Germany, told reporters that the accused has not denied being at Auschwitz, but he “said that he had had no idea about the purpose of the camp” at the time.

Court doctors have determined that the man is well enough to stand trial and serve jail time.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder praised German authorities for making the arrest, noting that such prosecutions nearly 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz “sends a clear message that justice must be done, no matter how late the hour. There cannot be a statute of limitation for crimes against humanity, and mass murderers must continue to live in fear of the long arm of the law.”

“Old age should not afford protection to those who helped run the largest mass murder operation in human history,” the Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi hunter, Israel director Efraim Zuroff, told JTA in an email.

Zuroff last fall renewed the Operation Last Chance campaign to find the last Nazi war criminals in Germany.

Clues leading to about 30 suspects last fall came from the Central Office for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes in Ludwigsburg, which made a major push to identify former death camp guards after the conviction of John Demjanjuk in 2011 for his role in the murders of nearly 30,000 Jews in the Sobibor death camp in Poland.

The Demjanjuk case set a precedent that serving as a guard at a death camp was sufficient to prove complicity in murder.

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.

World’s Oldest Holocaust Survivor Stars in Oscar-Nominated Film

Friday, February 14th, 2014

In her 110 years, Alice Herz-Sommer has been an accomplished concert pianist and teacher, a wife and mother — and a prisoner in Theresienstadt.

Now she is the star of an Oscar-nominated documentary showing her  indomitable optimism, cheerfulness and vitality despite all the upheavals and horrors she faced in the 20th century.

“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life,” a 38-minute film up for best short documentary at the Academy Awards to be handed out next month, begins in her native Prague. Alice — everyone from presidents on down calls her Alice — was born on Nov. 26, 1903 into an upper-class Jewish family steeped in literature and classical music.

A friend and frequent visitor was “Uncle Franz,” surname Kafka, along with composer Gustav Mahler and other luminaries.

Trained as a pianist from childhood, Alice made her concert debut as a teenager, married, had a son and seemed destined for the pleasant, cultured life of a prosperous Middle European. But everything changed in 1939 when Hitler, casually tearing up the Munich accord of a year earlier, marched his troops into Prague and brought with him his anti-Semitic edicts.

Her public concert career was over, yet the family managed to hang on in an increasingly restrictive existence in the Czech capital.

In 1943, however, Alice and her husband, their 6-year old son Raphael (Rafi), and Alice’s mother were loaded on the transport to Theresienstadt. The fortress town some 30 miles from Prague was touted by Nazi propaganda as the model ghetto — “The Fuhrer’s gift to the Jews,” with its own orchestra, theater group and even soccer teams.

With the full extent of the Holocaust still largely unknown, Alice took her deportation with relative equanimity, as was typical for many European Jews.

“If they have an orchestra in Terezin, how bad can it be?” she recalled asking, using the Czech name of the town.

Alice soon found out, as her mother and husband perished there. Alice was saved by her musical gifts and became a member of the camp orchestra and gave more than 100 recitals.

But her main focus was on Rafi, trying to make his life bearable, to escape the constant hunger and infuse him with her own hopefulness.

“What she did reminded me of Roberto Benigni in the Italian film ‘Life is Beautiful,’ “ said Malcolm Clarke, director of “The Lady in Number 6.” “He plays an Italian Jew who pretends to his young son that life in the camp is some kind of elaborate game for the boy’s special amusement.”

Liberated in 1945, Alice and Rafi returned to Prague but four years later left for Israel. There she taught at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and performed in concerts frequently attended by Golda Meir, while Rafi became a concert cellist.

Alice said she loved her 37 years living in Israel, but when Rafi, her only child, decided to move to London, she went with him. A few years later Rafi died at 65, but the mother remained in her small flat, No. 6, in a North London apartment house.

Nearly all of the film was shot over a two-year period inside the flat dominated by an old Steinway piano on which Alice played four hours each day, to the enjoyment of her neighbors.

Originally the filmmakers considered “Dancing Under the Gallows” as the film’s title before going with “The Lady in Number 6.”

It was a wise decision, for the film is anything but a grim Holocaust documentary with Alice’s unfailing affirmation of life, usually accompanied by gusts of laughter.

Her health and speech have declined in recent months, and she no longer does interviews. But in a brief phone conversation, conducted mainly in German, Alice attributed her outlook partially to having been born with optimistic genes and a positive attitude.

Holocaust Historian Returns Honor from Hungary over ‘Whitewash’

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Holocaust historian Randoph Braham is returning a high honor from the Hungarian state as a protest against attempts to whitewash Hungary’s role in the Holocaust, Braham said in a letter quoted by the Hungarian state news agency MTI on Sunday.

Braham, 91, a Holocaust survivor, wrote that he was handing back the Cross of the Order of Merit “with a heavy heart” following recent developments in Hungary.

The Bucharest-born scholar and expert on the Holocaust in Hungary also said he would no longer permit the Budapest Holocaust Memorial Center to use his name for one of its research departments.

Braham, an emeritus professor at the City University of New York, wrote in the letter, “The campaign of history falsification which aims to whitewash the (Miklos) Horthy era has shocked me.” Horthy led Hungary into World War II as a Nazi ally.

Braham said the “last straw” was the decision by the government to erect a memorial in downtown Budapest to the 1944 German occupation of Hungary. He called it a “cowardly attempt” to exonerate Hungarians from their role in the Holocaust and confuse the issue by placing all blame on the Nazis.

Hungarian Jewish leaders, historians and others have sharply criticized plans for the memorial.

“The events of 1944 are, to say the least, more complicated than a story of ‘bad’ Germans fighting ‘good’ Hungarians,” the historian Krisztian Ungvary wrote in the HVG.hu news magazine. “Eichmann himself was thrilled by his experiences here, observing that the Hungarians must surely be descended from the Huns since nowhere else had he seen so much brutality ‘in the course of solving the Jewish question.’ ”

Hungary’s conservative government, headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has designated 2014 as Holocaust Memorial Year, with a series of events and initiatives planned.

In October, Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics told an international conference that the country’s leaders recognized Hungarian involvement in the Holocaust and vowed that the state would combat anti-Semitism and racism. Hungary’s ambassador to the United Nations made a similar statement last week.

Germany to Pay Amsterdam Jews for ‘Voluntary’ Ghetto Labor

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

More than 1,000 people have applied for new compensation of a one-time payment of $2,700 from Germany for labor performed in Amsterdam’s Jewish ghetto during the Holocaust.

The compensation is offered to people who lived in three districts of the Dutch capital that served as ghettos for the city’s Jewish community during the German occupation and performed voluntary labor there, the ANP Dutch news agency reported.

The distribution of money for the labor was announced this week by the Dutch Union for Holocaust Survivors, which is known in the Netherlands by its Dutch-language acronym, VBV.

Some 1,200 applicants have submitted requests for payment as compensation for labor performed in the so-called Jodenbuurt in central Amsterdam, the Rivierenbuurt area in the capital’s south and Transvaalbuurt, east of the center, according to VBV.

“Dutch Jews were driven out of their professions and forced into ghettos before their deportation to concentration camps,” VBV Chairwoman Flory Neter told ANP. “In the ghettos of Amsterdam they often did random chores such as sewing bags to feed their families. It wasn’t forced labor but they were coerced to live in the ghettos so it wasn’t voluntary either.”

VBV has negotiated for years with the German government to obtain the compensation and lost a lawsuit against Germany, but was able to obtain the payments in further talks.

Among those eligible for payments are Holocaust survivors who worked in the ghettos as children, Neter also said.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/germany-to-pay-amsterdam-jews-for-voluntary-ghetto-labor/2014/01/21/

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