web analytics
July 28, 2015 / 12 Av, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Nazi Germany’

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.

A Palestinian State – Would it Further US Interests?!

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Secretary of State, John Kerry, is preoccupied with the attempt to establish a Palestinian state, as a means to advance peace and US interests. However, Congress – which is charged by the Constitution with supervising the Administration has yet to conduct hearings on the impact of the proposed Palestinian state upon vital US interests.  Congress cannot relinquish its constitutional responsibility to probe, independently, the critical implications of a Palestinian state upon the US economy, core values, homeland and national security, as well as upon the stability of pro-US Arab regimes, in particular, and the Middle East in general.

Independent Congressional scrutiny of this Palestinian state-driven policy is doubly-essential against the backdrop of the systematic US Middle East policy failures since 1947.

The US Administration Track Record

In 1948, the US State Department opposed the establishment of a Jewish state. Assuming that Israel would be an ally of the Communist Bloc, and expecting Israel to be devastated by the invading Arab armies, the Administration imposed a regional military embargo, while the British supplied arms to Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

During the 1950s, the US Administration courted the Egyptian dictator, Nasser, in an attempt to remove him from Soviet influence, offering financial aid and pressuring Israel to “end the occupation of the Negev,” internationalize Western Jerusalem and evacuate the whole of Sinai. Instead, Nasser intensified his pro-USSR policy, subversion of pro-US Arab regimes and support of Palestinian terrorism.

During the 1970s and 1980s, until the invasion of Kuwait, the US Administration supported Saddam Hussein through an intelligence-sharing agreement, the transfer of sensitive dual-use US technologies and approval of five billion dollar loan guarantees.

In 1977, the Administration, initially, opposed the Begin-Sadat peace initiative, lobbied for an international conference, and finally jumped on the peace bandwagon.

In 1979, the Administration abandoned the Shah of Iran, facilitating the rise of Khomeini, which transformed Iran from a top ally of the US to its sworn enemy.

During 1993-2000, the Administration embraced Arafat as the harbinger of peace and democracy, elevating him to the Most Frequent Visitor to the White House.

In 2005 and 2006, the Administration encouraged the uprooting of Jewish communities from Gaza and the participation of Hamas in the Palestinian election, deluding itself that both would advance the cause of moderation, stability and peace.

In 2009, the Administration turned its back on pro-US Mubarak, facilitating the rise to power of the anti-US, transnational-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. In 2011, the Administration participated in the toppling of Gaddafi’s regime of terror, intensifying chaos in Libya, which has become an exporter of military systems to Muslim terrorist organizations. In 2013, the Administration handed Russia an unexpected Syrian bonus.  In 2014, the Administration has managed to instill panic in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states, which are concerned about the US potentially transforming Teheran from a controllable tactical- to an uncontrollable strategic – threat.

 

Mahmoud Abbas’ Track Record

 

The background of Mahmoud Abbas, the Chairman of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority – ostensibly a moderate compared with Hamas – sheds light on the likely nature of the proposed Palestinian state.

Abbas speaks fluent Russian, as a result of his KGB training and Ph.D. thesis (Holocaust Denial) at Moscow University. He was the architect of PLO ties with the USSR and other ruthless communist regimes. In 1972, he oversaw the logistics of the Munich Massacre of eleven Israeli athletes. In the late 1950s, 1966 and 1970, he fled Egypt, Syria and Jordan because of subversion. During the 1970s and 1980s he participated in the Palestinian plundering of Southern Lebanon and the attempts to topple the central regime in Beirut, which triggered the 1976 Syrian invasion of Lebanon and a series of civil wars, causing some 200,000 fatalities and hundreds of thousands of refugees. In 1990, Abbas collaborated with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, despite Kuwait’s unique hospitality to 300,000 PLO-affiliated Palestinians. In 1993, he established the Palestinian Authority hate education system – a most effective production line of terrorists.

The Impact on the Middle East

During the October 1994 signing of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, top Jordanian military commanders urged their Israeli counterparts to refrain from establishing a Palestinian state, “lest it destroy the [pro-US] Hashemite regime.”  Coupled with a terror-dominated Iraq, it would initiate a domino scenario, sweeping Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other oil-producing Arab regimes, causing havoc to the supply and price of oil and devastating the US economy.

Abbas’ PLO was an early ally of Khomeini.  Moreover, following his 2005 replacement of Arafat, Abbas’ first visits were to Teheran and Damascus. A Palestinian state – whether controlled by the PLO or (most probably) Hamas – would provide Iran, as well as Russia, China and North Korea, improved access to the eastern flank of the Mediterranean, at the expense of the US.

In 1993, the Palestinian Authority was established by PLO graduates of terrorist bases in the Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya and Tunisia, generating a robust tailwind to global Islamic terrorism. It has become a major terror academy, exporting terrorists to Iraq, Afghanistan, Latin America, Africa and Europe. Thus, the Palestinian Authority has sustained the legacy of Abbas’ PLO, which has been the role model of international and Islamic terrorism, training worldwide terrorists in Jordan (1968-1970) and Lebanon (1970-1982).  The PLO introduced commercial aircraft hijacking, carried out the 1973 murder of the US Ambassador to the Sudan, and participated in the 1983 murder of 300 US Marines in Lebanon.

A Palestinian state would reward a regime which is referred to by much of its population as “Modern day Sodom and Gomorrah,” and has driven Christians away from Bethlehem. It would add another anti-US vote at the UN.

Both Hamas and the PLO follow in the footsteps of Palestinian leaders, who collaborated with Nazi Germany, the Communist Bloc, Khomeini, Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden, and currently with Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and other rogue regimes.

Hence, the proposal to establish a Palestinian state proves that policy-makers are determined to learn from history by repeating – rather than avoiding – past dramatic blunders.

Thorough Congressional supervision could spare the US a blow to its economic and national security interests.

Artwork in German Parliament May Have Been Nazi-Looted

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Two artworks hanging in Germany’s parliament building in Berlin may have been confiscated or acquired at artificially depressed prices by the Nazis from the original owners, German newspapers reported.

The Die Welt newspaper suggested that one of the works coincidentally stems from a gallery owned by an uncle of Hildebrand Gurlitt, the Nazi-era dealer whose huge collection was discovered in the Munich apartment of his elderly son, Cornelius Gurlitt, in 2012 and revealed to the world two months ago.

The Bundestag has responded in a statement that it is looking into the matter. Meanwhile, Die Welt said the Bundestag’s eight-member art advisory council – which includes the German president – already had determined that neither work was so-called “Raubkunst,” art plundered from occupied countries.

The two works in question reportedly are a large-format 1905 oil painting by Georg Waltenberger titled “Chancellor Bülow speaks in the Reichstag,” and a 1918 Lovis Corinth lithograph, “A street in Königsberg.” While the former is hanging in a hallway, the latter is kept out of natural light.

Die Welt reported that the lithograph was printed by the Berlin gallery of Fritz Gurlitt, an uncle of collector Hildebrand Gurlitt.

Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the Bild newspaper that the Bundestag should make its collection public and assist investigators in reconnecting possible heirs with long-lost property. Over the years, the Bundestag has returned several works to heirs.

Of the 4,000 works in the German parliament’s collection, about 700 are said to date from before the end of World War II.

‘Rain on Entebbe’ Producer Daniel Blatt Dies at Age 76 in LA

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Daniel Blatt, who produced “Raid on Entebbe” as well as a cult horror film and an epic science fiction movie, has died of cancer in Los Angeles at the age of 76.

Blatt was born in Rockland County, New York and practiced law after he earned his law degree, but he later switched to Hollywood, where he eventually was nominated for an Emmy Award for co-producing the “Raid on Entebbe” film that was aired on NBC in 1976.

He also produced the cult horror film ”The Howling” and the sci-fi mini-series “V: The Final Battle.”

In an interview with Luke Ford several years ago, Blatt revealed that his favorite work was Entebbe because “it represented the Jews reacting to victimhood in a positive way.

“I grew up in a very Jewish house,” he said. “Then after I was Bar Mitvahed, I said ‘enough of this’ and I moved away from it. And then suddenly to be brought back into this thing was almost like a gift, a circle that I’d completed…. It was coming back to my roots.”

His parents had fled the Nazis in 1934 after his father, a doctor at a Jewish hospital, noticed regulations for Jewish doctors after the Nazis took over the medical facility.

He told the interviewer, “I grew up in a household where persecution of the Jews was drilled into my soul overtly and inovertly.”

Asked if he started observing the Sabbath, Blatt replied, “Let’s not go that far,” but he said he visited Israel “a couple of times.”

He also produced “Common Ground,” about desegregation in Boston in the 1970s,  “Kissinger and Nixon,” I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977) and “The Boost.”

Blatt produced episodes of the CBS crime drama The New Mike Hammer and concluded his film career this year with the Lifetime telefilm “Twist of Faith.”

Holocaust Researcher Yisrael Gutman Dies at 90 in Jerusalem

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Warsaw Ghetto survivor and researcher Israel Gutman has died in Jerusalem at the age of 90. He was born in Warsaw, where he was wounded in the Jewish uprising against the Nazis in 1943. He is survived by two daughters and three grandchildren.

Gutman survived three concentration and death camps, including Auschwitz, but his parents and all of his brothers and sisters died or were killed in the Ghetto. He survived the January 1945 death march from Auschwitz to Mauthausen, where he was liberated by U.S. forces.

Gutman moved to Israel after the war and spent the rest of his life researching the Holocaust. He was the chief historian at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and was a professor of history at Hebrew University.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/holocaust-researcher-yisrael-gutman-dies-at-90-in-jerusalem/2013/10/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: