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Posts Tagged ‘Nazis’

Pope Francis Lashes Out at Nazi Murderers During Yad Vashem Visit

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Pope Francis has had a busy day so far in the ancient Old City of Jerusalem.

He began his day on the Temple Mount, in the Al Aqsa Mosque, visiting with the Mufti of Jerusalem and the Waqf Islamic Authority. The pontiff was quoted as telling both, “May we work together for justice and peace.”

Given the violence that has emanated week after week from that quarter towards Christians and Jews alike, that would seem to be a tall order. There is no information about the response of the Arab officials to the Pope’s comments at the mosque. On the first leg of his journey to the Holy Land, yesterday, he made an unscheduled stop at the separation barrier that was built by Israel to prevent suicide bombers from infiltrating and murdering citizens in areas of the country that were under the government’s control prior to 1967.

The Pope was then led to Judaism’s holiest site for prayer by Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch. The Kotel (Western Wall) had been cleared of visitors for security reasons earlier by police. The pontiff bowed his head in prayer with his hand on the ancient stones. He followed those silent moments of communion with the Creator by placing a note in the Wall — an ancient tradition observed by nearly everyone who comes to the Wall — and embraced close Jewish and Muslim friends with him.

Francis met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres and made a quick visit to the Mt. Herzl cemetery where he laid a wreath at the tomb of the ‘father of Zionism,’ Theodore Herzl. He then visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center in a moving ceremony where he laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance and greeted six Holocaust survivors. There the pontiff questioned the role of G-d in the slaughter of the millions of victims murdered by the Nazis.

“The Father knew the risk of freedom, he knew that His children could be lost, yet perhaps not even the Father could imagine so great a fall, so profound an abyss,” he reflected. Having lit the memorial light in the center just minutes before, he compared the Nazi Holocaust to idolatry, and standing before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, himself a survivor, lashed out against the murderers.

“Who convinced you that you were G-d? Not only did you torture and kill your brothers and sisters, but you sacrificed them to yourself, because you made yourself a god. Today, in this place, we hear once more the voice of G-d: ‘Adam, where are you?’ Hear “L-rd and have mercy,” Francis prayed. “We have sinned against You. You reign for ever.”

The Pope also received from Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev a reproduction of a painting of a Chossid engrossed in prayer created in the Lodz ghetto by a teenage victim of the Holocaust.

He is expected to celebrate Mass at the Cenacle, the upper room in the complex where some believe the tomb of the Biblical King David is located – and where Christians believe the Last Supper took place, sometime before leaving to return to the Vatican in the afternoon hours.

There have been protests against the Pope’s visit to various sites in the Old City of Jerusalem by both Muslim and Jewish groups, both saying the leader of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church is intent on defiling their respective holy places of worship.

California School District Cancels Lesson on Holocaust Denial

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Students at a school in California who were given an assignment to compare propaganda with actual evidence on the Holocaust have instead been told to abandon the project.

The order came following a firestorm of criticism and at least one death threat aimed at Southern California’s Rialto Unified School District, which assigned the homework.

According to a report published in The Daily Bulletin newspaper, the project was assigned in April to 2,000 13-and-14 year old eighth grade students, as follows:

Shen tragic events occur in history, there is often debate about their actual existence. For example, some people claim the Holocaust is not an actual historical event, but instead is a propaganda tool that was used for political and monetary gain.  Based upon your research on this issue, write an argumentative essay, utilizing cited textual evidence, in which you explain whether or not you believe the Holocaust was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain. Remember to address counterclaims (rebuttals) to your stated claim. You are also required to use parenthetical (internal) citations and to provide a Works Cited page.”

It had first been reviewed by a committee of eighth grade teachers, and sent to middle school sites in February for comment prior to distribution to the students. No objections were raised at the time, according to the spokesperson.

But the district found itself under siege on Monday, with the switchboard lines ringing off the hook.

At least one person called police repeatedly threatening death to a district spokeswoman Syeda Jafri and the interim school superintendent Mohammad Z. Islam. The incident is under investigation.

But also among the critics was Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, who slammed the assignment as inappropriate.

Rabbi Cooper told FoxNews.com on Monday, “Whatever the motivation, it ends up elevating hate and history to the same level… We should train our kids to have critical thinking, but the problem here is the teacher confused teaching critical thinking with common sense, because common sense dictates you don’t comingle propaganda with common truth.”

The rabbi advised the district to instead assign students to research the issue of Holocaust denial and meet with local survivors of the Nazis.

The school district responded in a statement saying the interim superintendent will speak with its educational services department to “assure that any reference to the Holocaust ‘not occurring’ will be stricken from any current or future argumentative research assignments. The Holocaust is and should be taught in classrooms with sensitivity and profound consideration to the victims who endured the atrocities committed,” the statement continues. “We believe in the words of George Santayana, ‘Those who cannot learn from history are bound to repeat it.”

The Los Angeles office of the Anti-Defamation League said it was satisfied with the district’s actions by Monday. “It is ADL’s general position that an exercise asking students to question whether the Holocaust happened has no academic value; it only gives legitimacy to the hateful and anti-Semitic promoters of Holocaust denial,” Associate Regional Director Matthew Friedman was quoted as saying, after having spoken with the interim superintendent on Friday.

“ADL does not have any evidence that the assignment was given as part of a larger, insidious, agenda,” a blog post quoting Friedman continues. “Rather, the district seems to have given the assignment with an intent, although misguided, to meet Common Core standards relating to critical learning skills.”

In a number of European countries today — including Germany — Holocaust denial is a criminal offense for which one can be sentenced to prison. The Nazis exterminated six million Jews out of a total of some 11 million victims murdered between 1933 and 1945, in the Holocaust that took place prior to and during World War II. Some two-thirds of European Jewry was wiped out in the slaughter, which ended with the defeat of Nazi Germany by the U.S., UK and their Allies.

Jewish Ukrainian Mayor Shot, Worry Rises as Separatists Seize More Towns

Monday, April 28th, 2014

The Jewish mayor of the eastern Ukrainian town of Kharkov was shot in the back by unidentified masked gunmen on Monday and is now fighting for his life, even as Israel’s president warned Jews around the world on Holocaust Remembrance Day to watch for signs of rising anti-Semitism.

Pro-Russian separatists captured Kharkov, eastern Ukraine’s second-largest town, on Monday, according to a report by RIA Novosti. The news outlet quoted a friend of Mayor Gennady Kernes who said, “They shot him in the back from the forest…  His lung is pierced and his liver pierced all the way through.”

Aides said the mayor had recently received numerous threats,  RT News reported. The attack, which came less than 24 hours after a clash between anti-government protesters and nationalists in the city left 14 people injured, left Kernes critically wounded.

Speaking at the opening ceremonies Monday for Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Peres spoke of the death of his family in the little town of Vishnyeva, in Poland. Two thousand Jews all died there after being locked into the wooden synagogue building by the Nazis, and then burned alive.

“Half of the Jews of Vishnyeva made aliyah to Israel, the other half, which did not, were burned alive,” the president said. “Our body was slashed in two – but our spirit remains undivided, pulsating here in Israel as a locked memory, an independent Jewish renaissance never again to be destroyed.”

The clear warning issued by the president is one the Jews in Ukraine now must heed – if they even had a chance to hear it as the rising war begins to rage around them.

So far the Jews of Kharkov seem to be safe – but the city has a bloody past in terms of protecting its Jews. More than 15,000 Jewish residents of Kharkov were murdered between December 1941 and January 1942, herded by Germans into a ghetto area set up for them about five miles from the city and periodically hauled out and shot to death. Some were just buried alive. A mass grave was discovered not far from the site, in the Drobitzki Valley.

Many of the supporters of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko are also anti-Semitic, sources told the Arutz Sheva website in an interview in February. As a result, some of the community is considering aliyah.

In the eastern Ukraine on Monday, armed gunmen also seized town of Kostyantynivka, entering the administration building and the police headquarters. International media reported that masked gunmen were wearing camouflage outfits and were armed with assault weapons.

Both towns are located in the Donetsk region, along with Sloviansk, a third city which also has now been declared an independent entity by pro-Russian secessionists.

Protesters seized a local state TV station in the city of Donetsk. The protesters demanded the launch of a ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ TV channel, and that Russian TV channels be broadcast. The Ukrainian flag was lowered from the building and the flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic was raised in its place – but later, that too was removed. Nevertheless, a source told Interfax-Ukraine that secessionist security personnel remained at the TV station to enforce the demands.

Standing to Respect Victims of the Nazi Murderers

Monday, April 28th, 2014

A siren will sound at 10 am throughout the State of Israel to bring citizens to their feet across the country as a measure of respect for those who fell as victims of the Holocaust.

The two-minute siren is an annual tradition in Israel and is known not to be an air raid siren.

If by some chance there is a rocket attack at that time, the nature of the siren will change, and will rise and fall a number of times instead.

Fight Over Long-Lost Holocaust Art Treasure Begins

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

A long-lost Monet and other art treasures stolen from Jews during the Holocaust have been discovered in the home of an 81-year-old German art collector, according to a report Wednesday on ORF Austrian state television.

The works by Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Pablo Picasso and Auguste Rodin were discovered last November in Munich among the household items that belong to Cornelius Gurlitt.

One Monet painting alone was estimated to be worth some $14 million (10 million euros). Gurlitt had squirreled away the priceless paintings in his Munich apartment for decades among nearly 1,300 works of art, according to Der Spiegel. More were found by customs officials hidden away in Gurlitt’s house in Salzburg, all stolen during the Nazi era. Hildebrand Gurlitt, his father, was known to have curried favor with the Nazis, Der Spiegel reported.

New York City resident David Toren is waiting for the German government to hand over at least one of those paintings. The octogenarian was a member of one of the last Kindertransports in August 1939 to save Jewish children from the Nazis before the gates to hell crashed shut.

Born in 1925, Toren made it to Sweden; his older brother ended up in Holland and then went on to England one day before the war began. Both of their parents ended their lives in the Nazi gas chambers.

But Toren, 88, is an attorney and the son of an art dealer who was also an attorney — and he is demanding the return of a painting that belonged to his father. The work, an oil painting by German impressionist Max Liebermann, is “Two Riders on the Beach.” It depicts two men riding horses on a beach along the foamy waves.

Toren’s father was arrested by the Gestapo the morning after Kristallnacht, and then asked to come with a Nazi general to his wealthy uncle’s home to finalize “sale” of one of his assets. Later in the day, relates Toren, his father was taken to Buchenwald concentration camp, where he was imprisoned for three weeks — the first time.

A letter by a government official dated in December 1939 documents the attempt by the Nazis to seize the art collection. “Subject: The securing of Jewish-owned art.” Among the works described was Liebermann’s painting – the artist, a “Jewish painter.”

Der Spiegel traced a carbon copy of a letter dated August 1942 showing a Breslau museum director involved in the appraisal and sale of Jewish collections for the Gestapo. In the letter, the museum director offered Hildebrand Gurlitt two Liebermann paintings in exchange for cash, one of which was “Two Riders on the Beach.” The other, “Basket Weavers,” also ended up in Gurlitt’s hands but later was auctioned off in Berlin.

Gurlitt’s lawyers are now demanding that Toren pay $415,890 (300,000 euros) for the return of his father’s painting.

In response, Toren’s son Peter, an attorney,  helped his father file a 19-page complaint demanding the Federal Republic of Germany, and by proxy the Free State of Bavaria, return the painting to Toren and his brother, its rightful inheritors.

The complaint, “David Toren, Plaintiff, v. Federal Republic of Germany and Free State of Bavaria” was filed Wednesday in Washington D.C.

Holocaust Survivor Dies before Able to Testify for Md. Rail Bill

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Leo Bretholz, who had escaped from a train transporting him to a Nazi death camp, died the weekend before he was to testify on behalf of a Maryland bill making railroad firms accountable for their actions during the Holocaust.

Bretholz, of Baltimore, died on Saturday, two days after his 93rd birthday.

He was to testify Monday before the Maryland House of Delegate’s Ways and Means Committee considering legislation that would prevent companies from winning tax-funded rail projects until they were held accountable and paid reparations to those who were forced onto the cattle cars.

He had become the face and voice of the Ad Hoc Coalition for Holocaust Rail Justice.

Bretholz was a young boy on one of the deportation trains run by SNCF, the French-owned railroad company, when he and another boy began filing at the bars that covered the train’s windows. Many others on the train begged them to stop for fear they would all be punished, but one rider urged them on, telling the boys to tell the world the deportees’ story, Bretholz recalled repeatedly during testimony and in his book, “Leap Into Darkness: Seven Years on the Run in Wartime Europe.”

“To know Leo was to love him and respect him, and our work to ensure justice for him and the thousands of other SNCF victims will continue in his memory,” according to a statement issued from the Ad Hoc Coalition for Holocaust Rail Justice.

Germany Urged to Resolve Greek Holocaust Ransom Issue

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

The World Jewish Congress urged Germany to address a request by the Greek Jewish community of Thessaloniki to be paid back for a ransom it had surrendered to the Nazis when they occupied Greece during the Second World War.

In 1942, the Greek Jewish community paid 1.9 billion drachmas (about $61 million in today’s money) to a Nazi commander for the release of about 10,000 Jews who were forced to perform hard labor on roads and railroads. About 50,000 Thessaloniki Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

The Jewish community of Thessaloniki first brought the request to return the money before Greek courts in 2007. This year, the Jewish community is suing Germany over the issue in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, although Germany’s Finance Ministry has so far rejected the request.

“Surely the German government, which has settled so many Holocaust-era claims righteously, can find a resolution for this claim, which the Jewish community of Thessaloniki in Greece has pressed for decades and is extensively documented,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said Tuesday. “As German President Joachim Gauck makes an official visit to Greece this week, now is the time to bring closure to this episode.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/germany-urged-to-resolve-greek-holocaust-ransom-issue/2014/03/05/

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