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February 22, 2017 / 26 Shevat, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘nazi’

US Vs. Germany Fed Cup Tennis Match Opens with Nazi Anthem [video]

17 Shevat 5777 – February 12, 2017

German tennis player Andrea Petkovic said it was “the worst thing I experienced,” and the “epitome of ignorance,” after her Saturday match in Lahaina, Hawaii, against American Alison Riske began with a robust singing of the German national anthem so cherished by the late Adolf Hitler, Das Lied der Deutschen, which opens with the immortal verse, “Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles” (Germany, Germany above all), and has been banned in Germany since 1945.


The US Tennis Association apologized to the German team and its fans for the singer’s possibly unintended faux pas (although he appears to be really into it in the video). They promised it would never happen again.

The German players, coaches and small group of fans were obviously unhappy – while no one around them even understood what was going on, in the spirit of Sam Cooke’s praise of American education, “Wonderful World,” also known as “Don’t know much about anything” (Don’t know much about geography / Don’t know much trigonometry / Don’t know much about algebra / Don’t know what a slide rule is for).

Some German fans started singing the correct German anthem, buy were drowned out by the Nazi tune on the loudspeakers.

According to the AP report of the game itself, Andrea Petkovic was facing not just the German legacy of the 1933-1945 Reich, but also gusty winds and intermittent rain. Her American opponent, Alison Riske, gradually pushed to a 7-6, 6-2 win over the more experienced German player.

The verses of that Nazi anthem are harmless enough if you are a product of the American education system, but if you do know geography and history (trigonometry can help, too), you start getting the picture:

“Germany, Germany above all / above anything in the world / when always for protection / we stand together as brothers. / from the Meuse river (rising in France and flowing through Belgium and the Netherlands, well west of Germany) to the Nemen river (east of Poland) / from the Adige river (Italian border) to the Belt (the sea near Denmark).”

Hey, who needs geography when you win the tennis match?

Nazi Looted Dutch Old Master Painting Returned to Max Stern Foundation

16 Shevat 5777 – February 12, 2017

Justice Dept. and FBI officials last week returned the Nazi-looted Dutch Old Master painting, “Young Man as Bacchus,” by Jan Franse Verzijl (1599-1647) to the Max and Iris Stern Foundation, in a ceremony at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. It is the sixteenth looted painting being returned.

Max Stern (1904-1987), the German-Jewish owner of a Dusseldorf art gallery, was expelled from the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts in 1935, because of his religion, and was forced to sell his Galerie Stern as well as his personal collection. In May 2015, the Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO) of the New York State Department of Financial Services, acting on behalf of the Stern Foundation, received an anonymous tip that the Verzijl painting was on display in Torino, Italy.

The HCPO contacted federal prosecutors who contacted the FBI who took action to seize the painting and began negotiations with the Luigi Caretto gallery, which waived their claim of ownership to the painting, which was then return to the Max and Iris Stern Foundation.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael McGarrity said in a statement, “Works of art hold a special place in our society. Likewise, facilitating the return of stolen and missing works of art to their rightful owners is held in high regard among art crime investigators at the FBI. Today, we are proud to return the Verzijl painting Young Man as Bacchus to representatives of the Stern Foundation after more than 80 years.”

says Clarence Epstein, senior director of Urban and Cultural Affairs at Concordia University, a beneficiary of the Stern Foundation, said in a statement, “Over the last fifteen years, the assistance of law enforcement agencies in the United States, Canada and Germany has been invaluable to the advancement of the Max Stern Art Restitution Project, recognizing that forced sales of Nazi-era cultural property are equivalent to acts of theft remains the project’s guiding principle.”

New Yorkers Step Up in Multiple Neo-Nazi Train Incidents

9 Shevat 5777 – February 5, 2017

Gregory Locke reports on his Facebook page how New Yorkers stepped up and cleaned up anti-Semitic graffiti on a Manhattan subway train on Saturday night, after someone wrote Nazi messages all over the billboards and windows.

The graffiti said, “Jews belong in the oven” and featured swastikas.

One man instigated the cleanup, and soon many people on the train were wiping the windows and billboards clean.

On Thursday, a man bordered a C train on W. 23rd and began ranting “Hail the Hitler Youth!” according to a report in the NY Daily News.

The man then shoved a 25-year-old woman, calling her a “Dirty Jew.”

Two men on the train confronted the neo-Nazi and told him to, “Take a walk.”

The woman, who is not Jewish, thanked the men.

The neo-Nazi ran off.

Shiloh Musings: Jews Who Fled Nazi Germany/Europe weren’t The Same as Today’s Fleeing Arabs

3 Shevat 5777 – January 30, 2017

Those who claim an equivalency between the Jews who were persecuted and threatened with certain death during the late 1930’s and early 1940’s and today’s Arabs clamoring to leave their troubled countries are comparing peas and pears, which aren’t the same at all.

First of all the American immigration laws of the early-mid twentieth 20th century were an proactive attempt to severely restrict the growing Jewish population in the United States of America. Your majority of veteran Americans, aka the WASPs-White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, were horrified when they noticed that “too many” Jews and Catholics” had entered the United States in the end of the 19th century.

To stop that trend/phenomena, they crafted laws to create a quota system based on the percentage of various national and ethnic groups to replicate older demographic statistics. That gave lots of immigrant visa to the British, who couldn’t fill them, and almost none to the various central and eastern European countries which ended up with large backlogs of requests.

When the Nazis took over Germany and began its systematic discrimination of Jewish citizens culminating in the Holocaust murder of six million European Jews, the United States Government under the instructions of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt held to that law, even claiming that anyone from Germany -including Jews- could be Nazi spies.

Remember that until the immoral shocking brutality of the Nazis was revealed to the world, Germany was considered a cultured, sophisticated and highly moral country. Many of those Jews fleeing were professionals, doctors, professors and successful businessmen along with their families. Some weren’t even Jewish, because the Nazi law considered anyone with a Jewish grandparent to be a Jew.

Quite a number of countries around the world stepped in to accept the Jews who fled Germany and the rest of Europe. Canada, various South American countries, South Africa, the Dominican Republic and even China. There are no stories of increased crime, rape etc the way we’re hearing about those trying to flee Arab countries and Africa, too.

Except for some Christian Arabs trying to get away from Moslem rule, those leaving aren’t fleeing religious persecution and/or death camps. They just want out. None of those countries are pleasant places to live, except maybe for those on the take. As Americans should know after years of trying to turn some, like Iraq and Afghanistan into western style democratic states,  their concepts of justice, good citizenship etc. aren’t quite like the “western model.” So to expect a quick and easy transition and absorption/assimilation into law abiding citizens is unrealistic at best. The new restrictions by American President Trump is to better investigate the potential immigrants to keep out those who could endanger American society.

Let’s analyze the key provisions, separate the fact from the hysteria, and introduce just a bit of historical perspective. First, the order temporarily halts refugee admissions for 120 days to improve the vetting process, then caps refugee admissions at 50,000 per year. Outrageous, right? Not so fast. Before 2016, when Obama dramatically ramped up refugee admissions, Trump’s 50,000 stands roughly in between a typical year of refugee admissions in George W. Bush’s two terms and a typical year in Obama’s two terms.
Read more at:  National Review

Most Americans have no idea how hard it is for an Israeli just to get a tourist visa to visit. It should be much more difficult to enter as a refugee.

Archaeological Digs in Nazi Death Camp Unearth Victims’ Personal Effects

17 Tevet 5777 – January 15, 2017

Recent archaeological digs at the site of the former Nazi extermination camp Sobibór have unearthed personal effects belonging to Holocaust victims, including jewelry and watches, and a unique pendant bearing a date, the words “Mazal Tov” in Hebrew and the city “Frankfurt A.M.”

The remains are believed to be concentrated in the location where victims undressed and their heads were shaved before being sent into the gas chambers. These archaeological findings were discovered by Polish archaeologist Wojciech Mazurek together with archaeologist Yoram Haimi from the Israel Antiquities Authority and a Dutch associate, archaeologist Ivar Schute.

The archaeological excavations, underway since 2007, are underwritten by the Steering Committee for the international project to establish a new museum and memorial site in the former German Nazi extermination camp in Sobibór, in coordination with Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research.

The remains of the building unearthed by the archaeologists are located on the “Pathway to Heaven,” along which Jewish victims were forced to tread to the gas chambers. The personal items found in the foundations of the building probably fell through the floorboards and remained buried in the ground until they were discovered this past fall.

A pendant with the Hebrew words "Mazal Tov" and the date July 3, 1929

A pendant with the Hebrew words “Mazal Tov” and the date July 3, 1929

Among the personal items found in the area were a Star of David necklace, a woman’s watch and a metal charm covered in glass with an etching of the image of Moses holding the Ten Commandments; on the reverse side of the charm is the inscription of the essential Jewish prayer “Shema.” Also found was a unique pendant, probably belonging to a child from Frankfurt who was born on July 3, 1929, which bears the words “Mazal Tov” written in Hebrew on one side and on the other side the Hebrew letter “ה” (God’s name) as well three Stars of David.

Leading experts at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, together with the Israel Antiquities Authority’s archaeologist Yoram Haimi, revealed that the pendant discovered in Sobibór bears close resemblance to one owned by Anne Frank, who was murdered in the Holocaust and is well-known for the diary she wrote while in hiding in Amsterdam.

A metal locket covered with glass with the image of Moses holding the Ten Commandments painted on it (engraved on the reverse side is the essential Jewish prayer "Shema")

A metal locket covered with glass with the image of Moses holding the Ten Commandments painted on it (engraved on the reverse side is the essential Jewish prayer “Shema”)

Through the use of Yad Vashem’s online pan-European Deportation Database “Transports to Extinction,” they were able to ascertain that the pendant might have belonged to a girl by the name of Karoline Cohn. Dr. Joel Zissenwein, Director of the Deportations Database Project, found that Cohn, born on July 3, 1929, was deported from Frankfurt to Minsk on November 11, 1941. While it is not known if Cohn survived the harsh conditions in the Minsk ghetto, her pendant reached Sobibór sometime between November 1941 and September 1943, when the ghetto was liquidated and the 2,000 Jewish prisoners interned there were deported to the death camp. There, along the path to the gas chambers of Sobibór, the pendant belonging to 14-year-old Karoline Cohn was taken, dropped, and remained buried in the ground for over 70 years.

Additional research reveals that aside from similarities between the pendants, both Anne Frank and Karoline Cohn were born in Frankfurt, suggesting a possible familial connection between Frank and Cohn. Researchers are currently trying to locate relatives of the two families to further explore this avenue.

A ring found in the ground at the location of the remains of the building used to shave the heads of the victims

A ring found in the ground at the location of the remains of the building used to shave the heads of the victims

Over the past decade, the archaeological excavations at Sobibór, under the guidance of Yad Vashem, have made several important discoveries, including the foundations of the gas chambers, the original train platform, and a large amount of personal artifacts belonging to the victims. Among the unique items are metal discs attached to charm bracelets typically worn by children. Engraved on the discs was contact information in case the child went missing.

The most recent excavations have uncovered the remains of the building where victims undressed and their heads shaved as well as other areas bearing signs of the use of mechanical equipment to dismantle the camp. In one specific location are imprints left in the ground where trees were planted in order to in order to conceal evidence of the camp.

Prof. Havi Dreifuss, Head of the Center for the Research on the Holocaust in Poland at Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research said, “These recent findings from the excavations at Sobibór constitute an important contribution to the documentation and commemoration of the Holocaust, and help us to better understand what happened at Sobibór, both in terms of the camp’s function and also from the point of view of the victims.”

According to Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Yoram Haimi, “The significance of the research and findings at Sobibór grows with every passing season of excavation. Every time we dig, we reveal another part of the camp, find more personal items, and expand our knowledge about the camp. In spite of attempts by the Nazis and their collaborators to erase traces of their crimes, as well as the effects of forestation and time, we enhance our understanding of the history previously known to us only through survivor testimonies. In this way, we ensure that the memory of the people killed there will never be forgotten. This pendant demonstrates once again the importance of archaeological research of former Nazi death camp sites. The moving story of Karoline Cohn is symbolic of the shared fate of the Jews murdered in the camp. It is important to tell the story, so that we never forget. I wish to thank my Polish partner Wojciech Mazurek and the researchers at Yad Vashem for their dedication to the project, as well as Tel Aviv University for supporting the project, and the Polish-German Foundation who made the excavations possible.”

Relatives of Karoline Cohn, or any member of the public who can assist with details regarding her family or Sophie Kollmann, who filled out Pages of Testimony in April 1978 for Richard Else Cohn and Karoline Cohn, are requested to contact Yoram Haimi via email yoramhi@israntique.org.il

ADL, Trump, Clashing over ‘Nazi’

15 Tevet 5777 – January 12, 2017

It began with a tweet from President-elect Donald Trump (how many stories nowadays start exactly this way, one wonders), who vented: “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

In case you’ve been keeping out of the gutter that seems to be the place where our national and international news prefer to hover, we’ll enlighten you: on Wednesday, CNN reported that “a dossier, compiled by a person who has claimed to be a former British intelligence official, alleges Russia has compromising information on Trump.” Noting that said allegations are “unverified,” and the report “contains errors,” CNN nevertheless reported that the dossier includes compromising information about Donald Trump compiled by the Russians. And when we say compromising, they really, really are.

That’s why Trump was implying in his tweet that our clandestine services, who are not especially friendly to him (he did put them down a lot during and after the campaign), were behind the leaked dossier, which he insists is a total fake.

Incidentally, Trump is at war with CNN as well, and flogged their correspondent during this week’s press conference for being part of a “fake news” organization.

 

And now, because he has to, enter ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who apparently hates it when folks use the word “Nazi” too loosely. Needless to say, Greenblatt also doesn’t qualify as a big fan of the President-elect.

“The President-elect’s use of Nazi Germany to make a political analogy is not only an inappropriate comparison on the merits, but it also coarsens our discourse and diminishes the horror of the Holocaust,” Greenblatt said in a stern statement (Apparently, “Nazi” should be kept for only special occasions, like the good service?).

“There are legitimate questions on all sides regarding foreign influence in the 2016 presidential race,” Greenblatt explained, “But the United States has democratic elections, a free press, rule of law and a civil service – including our intelligence agencies – that is deeply loyal to the US Constitution. These facts invalidate any analogies between America and totalitarian societies.”

That’s always good to know, by the way.

Greenblatt continued, extra-sober: “ADL always has maintained that glib comparisons to Nazi Germany are offensive and a trivialization of the Holocaust. We have a long record of speaking out when both Democrats and Republicans engage in such overheated rhetoric. It would be helpful for the President-Elect to explain his intentions or apologize for the remark.”

OK, how about press releases that take a piggyback ride on a harmless “Nazi” from a tweeting president-to-be – does that also count as glib Holocaust trivialization? Just wondering.

In case you were wondering, President-elect Trump did not apologize, but, as expected, Greenblatt got some copy for a day (including this story), so everybody is happy.

So, for the record, we are NOT living in Nazi Germany, and next time the president wants to use the N word, he should call up Jonathan Greenblatt.

Maryland Jewish Couple Gets Nazi Note on Windshield after Hanging Black Lives Matter Flag

11 Tevet 5777 – January 9, 2017

Sonya and Mikey Franklin, transplanted Londoners living in the DC area who are also, as Mikey’s Twitter profile puts it, “Red Sea pedestrians,” on Sunday told BuzzFeed News that, just two days after they hung a Black Lives Matter flag on their window, their Rockville, Md. home was vandalized with toilet paper and eggs were thrown at their car “to scare us, and they succeeded because we’re scared,” Mikey Franklin told BuzzFeed News. “Not that people will harm us, but that there are people that would do this in our very diverse area.”

Also, on Saturday, the Franklins woke up to discover a crumpled anti-Semitic note–all caps–on their car windshield, with a yellow star and the word “Jude,” Nazi style.

The car has Black Lives Matter bumper stickers. Still, Mikey is certain “it had to be someone who knew that we were Jewish.”

Sonya, whose family hails from the Soviet Union, told BuzzFeed about the hate letter that “somehow, putting a yellow star on it, it’s made it more personal.”

Rockville Police classified the incident as a “possible hate crime and will be investigated as such,” even though there’s nothing in the all-caps text that’s outright anti-Semitic, because the Franklins explained to Sgt. Christopher Peck that “Jude” meant “Jew” in German. “We have no clue who did this,” Peck told BuzzFeed. “There’s no video cameras or surveillance video and no one has come forward as a witness.”

Franklin said the note and the vandalism came just two days after they took down a Black Lives Matter flag they hung from their kitchen window, which faces the public street.

Here’s one unexpected direction for the investigation: the Franklins received a note from the property management company of their unit telling them it’s against rules to personal item on the front of their building. So Thursday night they took down the offending flag.

First Jewish Members Appointed to Germany’s Nazi Looted Art Panel

13 Heshvan 5777 – November 13, 2016

Gary Smith, former director of the American Academy in Berlin, and Raphael Gross, director of the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture in Leipzig, have been appointed by German Culture Minister Monika Grütters as the first Jewish members of the Limbach Commission, established in 2003 to mediate in Nazi-looted art ownership disputes, The Art Newspaper reported.

The commission surprised the art world in 2014 when it concluded that the sale of the $250 million Guelph Treasure, a 40-piece trove of Medieval goldsmith works, which had been forced out of several German-Jewish art dealers from Frankfurt by Prime Minister Hermann Göring, “was not a compulsory sale due to persecution.”

And last March, Grütters faced shocked protests after telling the New York Times that if a Jew is appointed to the commission his “would be the only voice who would be prejudiced.” Needless to say, it didn’t play so good in New York City.

Minister Grütters is also introducing an increase in transparency to the workings of the commission, including a promise to publish its schedule and the reasons for its decisions. She also instituted a ten-year limit on members’ terms in office, and she plans to authorize the generation of provenance reports when necessary, paid for by the government. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approved the reforms last week.

“I expect all German museums without exception to be willing to subject disputes to the Advisory Commission as a matter of course,” Grütters said. Unlike its Dutch and Austrian equivalents, the German Nazi Loot commission can only be called if both sides of a dispute agree.

Kastner: Holocaust Hero Or Nazi Collaborator? – An Interview with Author Paul Bogdanor

2 Heshvan 5777 – November 2, 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?

German Frozen Pizza Maker Reveals Nazi Art Loot in Company Collection

29 Tishri 5777 – October 31, 2016

Dr. Oetker, a German outfit that produces baking powder, cake mixes, yogurts, frozen pizza, pudding, cake decoration, and cornflakes, announced it had discovered four works in the company art collection that have been stolen from Jews by the Nazis, The Art Newspaper reported Monday. Dr. Oetker said it had contacted the heirs of the original Jewish owners to discuss a settlement.

According to an official statement, the Dr. Oetker collection includes several hundred paintings, silver and porcelain, mostly acquired in the 1950s by billionaire Rudolf-August Oetker, owner of the private food company Oetker-Gruppe, who died in 2007. Back in 2015, the company assigned a provenance researcher to investigate its art collection, following a study of Dr. Oetker’s history during the Third Reich.

The company was founded by Doctor August Oetker in 1891, to produce “Backin” baking powder. Rudolf-August Oetker was the grandson of Dr. August Oetker. He ran the company from 1944 to 1981.

“The goal is to check whether works in the collection were originally owned by people who were persecuted by the Nazis,” Dr Oetker said in an October 26 statement, adding that if any of the works is identified as Nazi loot, a settlement would be reached with the heirs of the original owners.

Four works have already been identified as looted by the Nazis, but a spokesman for Dr. Oetker did not identify them, due to confidentiality agreements with the heirs. The spokesman also would not discuss the private collection, which rarely loans works to museums or galleries.

Republican HQ in Orange County, North Carolina Firebombed, With Threat on Adjacent Wall

16 Tishri 5777 – October 18, 2016

GOP electoral campaign headquarters was firebombed overnight Sunday (Oct. 16) in Orange County, North Carolina, setting afire not only furniture but also bipartisan relations in the state.

Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, called the incident “a horrific, horrific act of political terrorism,” in an interview with ABC News.

North Carolina is one of the swing states in the upcoming U.S. presidential election, and the race between GOP candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is getting tighter by the minute.

Both candidates condemned the attack.

In addition to the Molotov cocktail that torched the headquarters, local authorities said in their statement, posted on the website of the town of Hillsborough, that the vandals had also left a message for the campaign workers.

Spray-painted on an adjacent building was a swastika, and the threat, “Nazi Republicans leave town or else.”

The building sustained heavy smoke damage and “some fire damage,” according to the most recent statement from local officials. “The flammable substance appears to have ignited inside the building, burned some furniture and damaged the building’s interior before going out on its own. No damage estimates are available at this time,” the statement said.

The Hillsborough Police Department said in a tweet that evidence was still being processed, but that local police was receiving help from ATF, FBI, SBI and the OCNC Sheriff.

“We’re so grateful that no one was hurt and that no buildings in the [nearby] complex were destroyed,” Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens said. “I have every confidence in the joint effort of our law enforcement agencies to find and prosecute the perpetrator of this reprehensible act.”

A tip line phone number “routed directly to voice mail” that “does not record callers’ phone numbers” was listed on the town’s website.

Hitler’s Childhood Home to be Demolished by Austrian Government

16 Tishri 5777 – October 17, 2016

The home where Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was born in 1889 is to be demolished, pending passage of a law to legally ensure its destruction because the owner of the house was refusing to sell – or demolish – it. The same family has owned the property for more than a century, although the Nazi regime bought the house and used it during the reign of the Third Reich. It was returned to the owner’s family in 1952.

Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said a committee of experts ruled in favor of demolition of the former guest house, according to a report in Die Presse, a German-language Austrian newspaper. “A thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building,” Sobbotka said.

The structure, located in the western town of Braunau, will be replaced instead with a new building to be used for administrative or charitable purposes, the paper reported.

There has been discussion for some time over whether to demolish the building, or simply renovate it to change its use. However, the Austrian government wants to block the structure from becoming a pilgrimage destination for neo-Nazis. The building has been empty since 2011.

Digging for Treasure Resumes in Tracks of Illusive Nazi Gold Train

13 Av 5776 – August 16, 2016

A small band of hopeful explorers on Tuesday resumed the search for a Nazi train which was, supposedly, buried with a full cargo of stolen gold and weapons: local legend says as many as three Nazi trains were buried underground near the Polish city of Wałbrzych (Waldenburg) in Lower Silesia, south-western Poland, in January 1945, before the end of World War II.

Explorers Andreas Richter (German) and Piotr Koper (Pole), and several others, believe they’ll hit pay dirt in only a few days. A year ago, they used radar to receive a positive signal from one train beneath the city of Walbrzych. Then Polish Deputy Culture Minister Piotr Żuchowski announced that Koper’s and Richter’s radar images confirmed “with 99% probability” that a train 300 ft long is waiting to be plundered down there. But the local governor voiced his doubts about those prospects, and several teams that conducted similar surveys in the area came up empty-handed.

Nevertheless, last May, Koper and Richter secured a permit from Polish State Railways to dig for the gold train, and on Tuesday, one year to the day after their original announcement, they’re out there, digging three exploratory shafts from which they plan to start moving in on the buried treasure.

The World Jewish Congress last year issued a call on the Polish government that the train most likely holds valuables that were robbed from Jewish victims, and that once they are retrieved, a search must be conducted to locate the heirs of their owners.

Tadeusz Slowikowski, 86, is responsible for the Nazi gold train rumor. In 2015 he told the Daily Mail: “I became aware of the tunnel after saving a German man named Schulz from being attacked by two men. As gratitude for saving him, he told me about the tunnel.” That was in the 1950s, and Slowikowski has spent much of his time since searching for that train.

Local historian Pawel Rodziewicz told the AP that he had seen documentation showing without a doubt that the gold was transported to the German central bank in Berlin, and that the Nazis were not going to bury their stolen gold in Waldenburg, where the advancing Soviet Red Army could grab it. It made no sense for the Germans to invest in digging a secret railway tunnel, when for a lot less money they could ride that train home, he argued.

Of course, that’s exactly what someone who knows where the gold is buried would say to discourage competition…

German Culture Minister Promises Reform of Judenfrei Nazi Loot Commission

3 Av 5776 – August 7, 2016

German Culture Minister Monika Grütters is planning to reform the Limbach Commission, established in 2003 to mediate ownership disputes of Nazi-looted art. Ronald Lauder, the founder of the Commission for Art Recovery and president of the World Jewish Congress, has stated that the commission has been “cold and distant” in its treatment of Jews trying to claim their art that was looted by the Nazis.

The cool approach to Jewish rights of ownership of Nazi-looted property could possibly be attributed to the utter absence of Jews from the Limbach Commission.

The non-binding Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, endorsed by 44 countries in 1998, recommend that governments establish independent commissions with “a balanced membership” to “assist in addressing ownership issues.” But according to The Art Newspaper, Germany’s interpretation of the phrase “balanced membership” has not included appointing a single Jewish panel member.

Grütters told the New York Times last March that the move was intentional, because, as everyone knows, a Jewish member “would be the only voice who would be prejudiced.” Her comment generated a torrent of accusations of anti-Semitism, and the culture minister promised Lauder to appoint a Jewish member. Eventually.

“Thirteen years after it was established it is time to think about the future development of the commission in the interest of improved implementation of the Washington Principles,” Minsiter Grütters said in a recent statement, and culture bureaucrats from the 16 German states and municipal associations are in the process of establishing a committee to recommend reforms, meaning to find a Jewish person they could trust with the process of examining the Nazi-looted art. According to a spokesman for Grütters, proposals should be coming in this year.

To illustrate just how (intentionally) frustrating the recovery process has been, according to the Center for Art Law in January a task force appointed by Grütters released the results of their two-year, $2 million investigation, which found the rightful owners of five of the 1,500 works in the Gurlitt collection. Grütters has admitted her own disappointment, but seems to be taking the slow and steady approach, to avoid “a second seizure” of the art — meaning that some lying Jewish family be improperly awarded one of the stolen masterpieces. Meanwhile, the entire collection continues to be exhibited in Germany this year.

In late February, also according to the Center for Art Law, Germany announced that it will pay for at least another year of research and hire additional staff to establish the provenance of works in the Gurlitt collection. Minister Grütters reaffirmed Germany’s pledge to return any looted art to its rightful owners or their descendants, and awarded the (ostensibly meticulous) research a budget of $6.5 million.

Bianca Jagger Apologizes for Copy & Paste Nazi Tweet

6 Tammuz 5776 – July 12, 2016

Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger’s ex-wife Bianca, 71, was forced to apologize on Tuesday for a tweet she posted “at 4.15 in the morning and didn’t properly read its content,” as she later confessed. The post was a “list of UK Members of Parliament who voted for #Iraqwar,” which Biaca was clearly outraged by, lo so many years hence.

Jagger, a Jeremy Corbyn supporter, called on her Twitter followers to “read [the list] carefully, [and] understand why they want @jeremycorbyn out.”

But Jagger’s source for the list was the white power website Metapedia, whose mission statement is to offer alternative information to what’s available on “strongly biased and hostile ‘researchers’ like Searchlight, Anti-Defamation League, Southern Poverty Law Center, Simon Wiesenthal Centre, and such.” You get the point.

And so, the list of erring MPs included notes next to their names such as “Jew,” “Jewess,” “negro,” and, in the case of MP Chris Bryant (Labour): “Infamous homosexual exhibitionist” followed by all the homosexual exhibitionist things Bryant is apparently enamoured with.

Alastair Campbell, who ran communications for Tony Blair’s Labour government, tweeted Jagger: “Are we to weigh up ‘Jew,’ ‘married to Jew,’ ‘negro,’ ‘openly homosexual,’ in this careful reading/understanding?”

And MP Bryant took time out from his busy schedule of homosexual exhibitionism to tweet Jagger: “You should delete and apologize for this list describing people as ‘Jews’ and ‘homosexuals.'”

Which she did, the poor thing, and deleted the tweet and the Facebook reference, don’t ask. “I’m mortified,” she said in a statement. “I thought it was a list of members of Parliament who voted against the war in Iraq. You all know I am against racism, bigotry. I didn’t carefully read the content of the website, I thought it was a straightforward list, not a racist, homophobic and disgusting list.”

And so, for future reference, next to Bianca Jagger’s name on your lists, make sure to note: “Posts Nazi stuff when tired.”

Nazi Policy and Black Victims—Before, During, and After the Holocaust—from Africa to Berlin to North Carolina

2 Iyyar 5776 – May 10, 2016

In recent years, too many in the African American community have expressed a disconnect to Holocaust topics, seeing the genocide of Jews as someone else’s nightmare. After all, African Americans are still struggling to achieve general recognition of the barbarity of the Middle Passage, the inhumanity of slavery, the oppression of Jim Crow, and the battle for modern civil rights. For many in that community, the murder of six million Jews and millions of other Europeans happened to other minorities in a faraway place where they had no involvement.

However, a deeper look shows that proto-Nazi ideology before the Third Reich, the wide net of Nazi-era policy, and Hitler’s post-war legacy deeply impacted Africans, Afro-Germans, and African Americans throughout the twentieth century. America’s Black community has a mighty stake in this topic. Understanding the German Reich and the Holocaust is important for Blacks just as it is for other communities, including Roma, eastern Europeans, people with disabilities, the gay community, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many other groups in addition to Jews. The dots are well known to many scholars—but rarely connected to form a distinct historical nexus for either the Holocaust or the African American communities. This is understandable. The saga behind these connections started decades before the Third Reich came into existence, in a savage episode on another continent that targeted a completely different racial and ethnic group for death and destruction.

But the horrors visited on another defenseless group endured and became a template for the Final Solution. Students of the Holocaust are accustomed to looking backward long before the Third Reich and long after the demise of the Nazi war machine. African Americans should do the same.

It all begins the oft-overlooked first genocide of the twentieth century, Germany’s deliberate extermination in 1904 of the Herrero and Nama tribespeople in colonial Southwest Africa, now known as Namibia. The atrocities included explicit extermination orders, mass shootings, bonfires immolating wounded or starving Africans, the wearing of identification numbers, and organized transport in cattle cars to concentration camps. One of these camps, Shark Island, was considered a “death by labor” camp. In its campaign against the Africans, the German authorities introduced several words and concepts: Konzentrationslager or concentration camp, untermenschen or subhumans, Mischlinge or mixed race and anti-race mixing laws.

Many of the veterans of Germany’s Southwest Africa extermination campaign went on to become key Nazi activists or otherwise inspired major figures in the Third Reich. For example, Hermann Goering idolized his father, Heinrich, for his role as governor of Southwest Africa. Goering’s 1939 official Nazi biography records reveal that the young Goering “was even more thrilled by his [father’s] accounts of his pioneer work as Reichskommissar for South-West Africa … and his fights with the Herero.” Years later, Goering swore under oath that of the leading “points which are significant with relation to my later development,” he counted among the top four as “the position of my father as first Governor of Southwest Africa.”

In the 1920’s, former colonial Trooper Franz Ritter von Epp went on to hire Adolf Hitler, fund the purchase of the Nazi newspaper Völkische Beobachter, and, with Ernst Röhm, helped found the Storm Troopers. The Storm Troopers even adopted the desert sand-colored brown shirt uniforms worn by the troops deployed in Africa.

After the Treaty of Versailles stripped Germany of its African colonies, German citizens were shocked to see African soldiers patrolling their streets. It is not widely known that when France occupied post-Great War Germany, it deployed 20,000 to 40,000 colonial African troops. The Germans reacted with a bitter national protest movement, imbued with sexual imagery, called “Black Shame on the Rhine.” When a generation of Afro-Germans arose, denigrated by Hitler and the Nazis as “Rhineland Bastards,” they were among the first to be forcibly sterilized.

When the Nazis came to power, like throngs of other loyal Germans, some Afro-Germans tried to join the Nazi Party. Hans Massaquoi, son of a Liberian diplomat and a German woman, was among those who wanted to sign up with his local branch of the Hitler Youth, just like the rest of his schoolmates. Young Hans was astonished to discover that the 1935 Nuremburg Laws, defining German blood and racial status, applied to him—denying him admittance. His teacher reluctantly told him that joining the Hitler Youth was now impossible. “But I am German,” implored Hans, “my Mother says I’m German just like anybody else.” Nearly hysterical, he pressured his incredulous mother to take him to the nearest Hitler Youth recruitment home, where he was roundly told to leave.

From that moment on, Massaquoi learned to live with the twin fears that the Gestapo would knock on his door or that Allied bombs would rain down on the roof. After the war, Massaquoi was able to emigrate to the United States, where he became a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division. Later, Hans became a marcher alongside Martin Luther King in Chicago. In Chicago, he took a job with Jet Magazine and then Ebony, where he rose to become the managing editor.

Ironically, African Americans were impacted beneficially by Nazi policy again in the thirties when refugee Jewish professors, ousted from their posts in Germany, immigrated to the United States. Some 50 such refugees accepted teaching positions in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, helping to mentor the generation that fought the civil rights struggle. Among the students who credit the inspiration of German-Jewish professors is Joyce Ladner, who went on to organize civil rights protests with Medgar Evers and who would later rise to the leadership of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee [SNCC] and the Congress on Racial Equality [CORE]. Ladner’s mentor was Ernst Borinski, a Jewish sociologist who arrived from Germany in 1938 and eventually taught at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. Others include Dr. Joycelyn Elders, who went from being mentored by a German-Jewish professor to a distinguished career in medicine. In 1993, she became Surgeon General of the United States. “The German-Jewish professors had a tremendous impact on young blacks in the South,” summed up African-American attorney Jim McWilliams, who attended Talladega College.

In the forties, when African American soldiers were deployed to Europe, Nazi soldiers who encountered them treated them mercilessly, often committing massacres and war crimes against POWs.

After the fall of Berlin, returning African American soldiers discovered Nazi racial policy was in force in some 27 U.S. states that had adopted forced sterilization laws based on corrupt German eugenic pseudoscience. Ironically, this race science had been nurtured in America first and then transplanted to Germany. In American state after state, eugenic boards quoted Nazi race theory and statutes as justification to sterilize Blacks, and even confine them in camps as a social protective measure. In Connecticut, one state program even sought to implement Nazi-style race-based expulsions and organized euthanasia of those deemed unworthy of life.

We have only begun to chart the impact of German policy on those of African descent. More would be known, but such research remains almost completely unfunded and indeed unsupported. However, this much is certain: all misery bleeds the same color blood. Any man’s persecution should inspire everyman’s crusade.

Why Some Jews Are Afraid of an ‘Inner-Nazi’

28 Nisan 5776 – May 5, 2016

What is the fundamental lesson of the Holocaust for Israel and the Jewish people? There is a divergence of opinion:

Many Liberal Jews believe the main lesson of the Six Million is that we Jews should never do to others what was done to us.

We know first hand what the horrors of hatred look like, and therefore, we must distance ourselves in every possible way from behaviors which are like those of the Nazis.

This way of thinking posits that every mortal person has the potential to be a Nazi and when given power, every human and even every Jew can become abusive. But after the Holocaust, we Jews were tasked with being more ethical and virtuous than the barbarians. We took it upon ourselves to be the archetype of restraint, lest our very human Inner-Nazi be unleashed and we end up mirroring the tormentors we escaped.

I call the folks in this camp Fear-of-Inner-Nazi Jews.

The other perspective is very different.

It posits that the main lesson of the Holocaust is that Jews, having survived the hell of the Holocaust as a people, should Never Again allow anyone to do that to us again. The Zionist revolution effectuated a return to the land, to agriculture, a revival of Hebrew, and, so meaningfully, a resurrection of Jewish physical courage and military strength. Israel’s ability to put up a fight, and even to be a global leader in defense techniques and technology, is, for subscribers of this outlook, a source of pride.

This group I call the Never-Again Jews.

But not only are these outlooks divergent, they also clash.

For those in the Fear-of-Inner-Nazi faction, the Jewish State, when acting with force, can come dangerously close to being like the dreaded Nazis.

The latest trigger of this phobia took place when a soldier in Hebron shot a downed terrorist. The Inner-Nazi group immediately sensed danger: Israel was slipping morally, carrying out extrajudicial killings, vigilantism, field execution – the Inner Nazi was coming out!

For those of the Never-Again viewpoint, the Hebron terrorist came to kill Jews, like a classic Nazi, and ended up dead. Was it OK to shoot the terrorist when he was down? Maybe yes, maybe no – but that’s not the big issue. The Jewish people are at war with a global Jihad which seeks to destroy Israel and to kill Jews for being Jews. The bottom line is that Israel must, first and foremost, protect Jews, and be the Never Again country which prevents the Nazis of today from harming one hair on one Jewish head.

However, for Never-Againers it’s not only that Jews have the right to kill Nazis or Jihadists because all is fair in war.

For many of us, the very assertion that Jews have an Inner-Nazi and the given the ‘right circumstances’ we will herd people into gas chambers is preposterous! The father of Nazism, Adolf Hitler, hunted Jews precisely because we were the embodiment of morality, the “conscience of the world” which he wanted to wipe out. Anyone who really knows the Jewish and Israeli people knows that we have never been in danger of becoming Nazis. To the contrary (and contrary to global media), we are a source of light, liberty, and progress, regionally and globally.

Yet, the Fear-of-Inner-Nazi Jews are not the only ones who subscribe to the idea that Israel’s actions, unchecked, can easily approach Nazism.

Anti-Israel propaganda harps endlessly upon those Liberal Jewish fears by insinuating a nexus between Israel’s actions and Nazism.

Once the accusation has been lobbied, Fear-of-Inner Nazi Jews face a dilemma: If they believe the propaganda, they become anti-Israel. If they don’t, they bend over backwards to prove that Israel is not like that all, that we are a moral people with a moral army, and we have the Inner-Nazi in check. For Inner-Nazi Jews, the only solution is to throw the soldier who shot the downed terrorist in Hebron into the slammer and throw away the key after making a public example of him! Shackle the Inner-Nazi and hope the world sees the truth of our goodness!

In the meantime, the real Nazis of our time – the Hamas, ISIS, and Hezbollah – arm themselves and prepare for war.

We know they are digging tunnels and we know they are building up their supplies of rockets with the intent of wiping Israel out. But we don’t hit them hard and we don’t strike with fury – we are chained down, stymied by our fear of unleashing the Inner-Nazi or by the fear of being accused of having one. We can only strike when we are under full attack, and then retaliate with only a measured response. A roof-knocking rocket, a kinder-gentler moral army, which makes sure to never fully win, and certainly would never use the word “vanquish” at the end of the war. Don’t crush the enemy, be merciful to the weak, even though moments ago he tried to kill you – Remember the Holocaust!

Some people say that we Jews talk too much about the Holocaust. I don’t think so at all. I think we don’t talk about it enough.

We should take a minute every day to view photographs of dead-Jew-piles being tractored or burned. Then, after watching that, we should make a commitment each day to Never Again and act upon it by striking mercilessly at the Jihad and sending a clear signal – we have zero tolerance for Jewish injury, we have zero tolerance for Neo-Nazism. Now that we have the power to stop them, we should Never Again allow for the 6,000,001 victim. This should our fundamental take-home lesson from the Holocaust.

And let’s take it one step further: instead of fearing the Inner-Nazi who will never appear, imagine if we would embrace our inner Never Again Jewishness so that we would not only protect our own, rather, we would use our newly found strength in a new role. Liberator. Israel – post-Holocaust empowered Jews – would go out and fight today’s Nazism wherever it is, and help the world defeat the very same forces that murdered Six Million when we were weak.

Rivlin at Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony: We Will Continue to Survive and Battle Anti-Semitism

27 Nisan 5776 – May 4, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – President Reuven Rivlin said that the Holocaust is central to Israel’s identity and vowed to combat the “chronic disease” of anti-Semitism on Wednesday night during the official ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.

“The Holocaust, whether we like it or not, has become a factor in shaping the standards of our understanding of ourselves, of understanding our relationship with other nations, and our role in the world,” Rivlin said. “The Holocaust places the Jewish people before basic principles, as a people and as a nation gazing inward at ourselves and outward toward all of humanity.”

Rivlin stressed, however, that the founding of the State of Israel was no redress for the Holocaust.

“The State of Israel is not, under any circumstances, compensation for the Holocaust,” he said. “However, the Holocaust put into perspective the necessity and crucial need of the Jewish people to return to its historical roots, as a nation that takes its fate in its hands.”

Rivlin emphasized that Israel not only allows the Jewish people to take control of its own destiny, but also allows it to defend itself as a collective against the continuing phenomenon of anti-Semitism.

“Anti-Semitism and the persecution of the Jews are not a fad, or something that can be taken lightly,” Rivlin noted. “It is a difficult, chronic disease that penetrates deep into the heart and history of nations.”

“The State of Israel will deal with this anti-Semitism by ensuring, first and foremost, a national home and a Jewish army that protects the nation of survival,” added Rivlin. “We are a nation that has survived and will continue to survive thanks to our resilience and strong spirit.”

Rivlin also addressed the Holocaust survivors attending the ceremony, asking for their help in extracting the meaning of the tragedy and lessons to be learned.

“These are the years in which we should take the opportunity to try to clarify along with you how you want to shape the memory of the Holocaust and its lessons for future generations,” he said. “The number which was tattooed onto your flesh is etched into the hearts of this nation for generations and has become the living will of the Jewish people.”

Spurning Ceremonies, Israelis Invite Holocaust Survivors to Their Living Rooms for Remembrance Day

27 Nisan 5776 – May 4, 2016

By Michael Zeff/TPS

As Israel marks its national Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday evening, thousands of Israelis eschewed the traditional commemoration ceremonies in favor of more personal and intimate encounters with Holocaust survivors and witnesses in their very own living rooms.

Zikaron ba-Salon (Remembrance in the Salon) is a social initiative started six years ago by a group of friends who felt they needed a more direct and unfiltered way of connecting with the memory of the Holocaust on the solemn day.

“The stately ceremonies felt very distant and impersonal to us. We were looking for a closer and personal connection to the memory of the greatest disaster in our history,” Racheli Hazon, the Jerusalem coordinator of the initiative told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

The group invited an elderly Holocaust survivor to one of their homes, hosted him and listened to his story, later conducting a deep discussion accompanied by musical performances.

What started as a private initiative among friends quickly spread among Israelis young and old, and is now an international phenomenon with similar meetings happening as far away as Seattle.

“The year after this initiative began, the idea was replicated by some of the guests in their own living rooms. It grew, and last year approximately 150,000 individuals participated as guests, hosts, or speakers in living rooms all over the country – and even abroad,” Hazon told TPS.

Now the the Zikaron ba-Salon is a well-coordinated and organized initiative with a website in which individuals can find an event to attend, to volunteer their own living room as hosts, or register as speakers.

One surprising volunteer this year was the President of the State of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, who opened the living room of his official Jerusalem residence to 40 guests who came to listen to a heart-wrenching witness account by Meir Ginosr, an 87-year-old survivor of the Auschwitz death camp.

“Zikaron ba-Salon in the president’s living room is a remembrance in the living room of every citizen of Israel, symbolically shared by the entire nation,” commented Rivlin on the initiative.

According to Racheli Hazon, aside from having such a distinguished volunteer join their ranks this year, the project also marks the largest event held so far.

“Usually these events can’t fit more than 30 or 40 people. This year, the owner of the Tahrir bar in Jerusalem’s shuk (market) has opened his venue to over 100 individuals,” Hazon explained to TPS.

Tahrir hosted 85-year-old Yigal Halamit, who spoke about his experience during the Holocaust in Tunisia and the oft-ignored story of the many North African Jews who perished in the Holocaust by the Nazis.

“It is personally important to me to be able to share my story with these people,” Halamit told TPS. “This is a wonderful forum and a great opportunity for me to tell the story of the forgotten North African victims of the Holocaust.”

“It didn’t happen only in Europe, it happened everywhere the Nazis went, ” he added.

“These are the last opportunities we have to have actual encounters with survivors and listen to them directly and hear their stories, “ Hazon lamented. “Already there are more participating living rooms than actual Holocaust survivors to speak in them.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/spurning-ceremonies-israelis-invite-holocaust-survivors-to-their-living-rooms-for-remembrance-day/2016/05/04/

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