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August 24, 2016 / 20 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Nazis’

Venice Jews Mark 500th Anniversary of World’s First Ghetto

Monday, March 28th, 2016

The Jews of Venice are appealing on behalf of the Muslim immigrants who are reaching the shores of Italy as they prepare to mark the half-millennial anniversary of the first ghetto.

The event commemorates the opening of the Jewish ghetto of Venice, created on March 29, 1516 to separate the Jews from the primarily Christian population of the time.

A series of cultural events are slated to take place this Tuesday to mark that date. The Jews of Venice say they believe their history can teach Europe that minorities can integrate while preserving their identities.

University Professor Shaul Bassi told The National in an interview on Monday, “Those of us who have worked on this anniversary believe the ghetto has precious ethical and cultural lessons to educate the public about Jews as well as the broader question of cross-cultural dialogue, co-operation and co-existence.

“Today, Italian Jews are proof that a minority can keep its identity and still integrate in a process of reciprocal influence,” he said.

“Elsewhere in Europe Jews were treated worse, and Venice to some extent was a safe harbor,” said Paolo Gnignati, leader of Venice’s Jewish community. “The city wanted them to come because they needed access to Jewish trading networks; it was good business on the part of the doges.

“We were deprived of our rights here, but contributed to Europe’s identity and we are still here,” Gnignati said. “We can serve as an example to newcomers who want to participate in Europe while preserving their original identity.”

The word “ghetto” in Italian is “geto” from “gettare,” the verb “to cast.” The Jews were forced into a cramped, polluted area surrounded by canals for the next 300 years. They were locked in at night and forced to pay the wages of their Christian guards.

During the day they were required to wear yellow caps to identify them as Jews (does any of this sound familiar?) as they entered the rest of the city. They were also ordered to use Christian architects to build the five synagogues in the ghetto itself, which remain today. Because the ghetto was so small, the Jews ended up creating the first skyscrapers, building apartments one on top of the other in order to accommodate the growing population. Some of the buildings, eight or nine stories high, are still the tallest in the city.

Napoleon knocked down the gates of the ghetto when he occupied Venice in 1879, allowing Jews to live where they chose.

By the time of World War II, the city’s Jewish population had dropped from 5,000 to just over 1,000. During the war, 246 of the city’s Jews were sent to die in the concentration camps. Only eight returned.

Today in Venice only 450 Jews remain, with just a handful in the ‘ghetto.’ The five synagogues there are still open, and Venetian Jews say they’re urging incoming Muslims to learn from their history in order to survive.

Hana Levi Julian

New Zurich Museum Wing Triggers Firestorm Over Swiss Treatment of Jews

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

Who could have thought the renovation of the Kunsthaus, a Swiss fine arts museum, would reopen old wounds from such a painful past?

But it has.

Hundreds of Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn and elsewhere have been demonstrating at Swiss embassies in major capitals around the world to protest construction of a museum wing over a piece of land they say is a 14th-century sacred Jewish burial site, the New York Times reports.

Jewish community leaders in Zurich are deeply annoyed at the protests. The Orthodox leaders contend they are too intimidated to challenge the project themselves.

But three local rabbinic leaders published a public letter in Hebrew warning the cemetery search is a local matter and telling outsiders not to “meddle” with local issues.

The city engineering department did in fact make an effort to find the Jewish burial ground, and avoid it, drilling holes at every 10 feet in a circle around the entire area, at depths of up to 164 feet, to search for remains.

Urs Spinner, spokesperson for the city engineering department, said it was almost certain the Jewish cemetery no longer remains. He added the Zurich Orthodox rabbis are “working closely” with local authorities” and said the protests were due to false information.

However, as if rubbing salt into bleeding wounds, critics are also asking whether the museum should be exhibiting the spectacular art collection of Zurich businessman Emil Georg Bührle.

A former Nazi arms dealer, the collector purchased expensive French Impressionist art works that were looted from Jewish owners by Nazis.

“We were playing with open cards about the past when the vote took place in 2012,” said Björn Quellenberg, a spokesperson for the Kunsthaus. “That was the time to discuss it. No one saw any major obstacle with the fact of the Jewish cemetery” and Bührle’s past was “hotly debated.”

The Kunsthaus sells a slim book published by The Bührle Foundation noting that Bührle, who died in 1956, was forced by a Swiss court to return 13 looted artworks that he had bought during the war to their owners or descendants. He later bought back nine of them, including a Degas that had once been in the possession of Hermann Göring.

The entire collection is comprised of some 600 works; around 300 are privately owned by his three grandchildren rather than the foundation.

The project, expected to cost millions, is being financed by the city and canton of Zurich, and the museum association. The Bührle Foundation, created by descendants to oversee the collection will also contribute an undisclosed amount.

Hana Levi Julian

Krakow Gas Workers Expose Bones Digging at Plaszów Concentration Camp

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Polish gas company workers exposed bones while digging at the site of the Nazi Plaszów concentration camp and Jewish cemetery. Only a single stone marker indicates the site of the cemetery.

Police were alerted to the incident by a local Jewish community leader who received a tip from an anonymous caller. Likewise, Rabbi Eliezer Gurary, Rabbi of Kraków and the city’s Chabad-Lubavitch emissary was anonymously notified — belatedly — on Wednesday about the find.

The rabbi told JewishPress.com in a statement, “The concentration camp was built upon a Jewish cemetery, therefore there’s a great chance that these are human Jewish bones.” Gurary added that he intends to turn to the local authorities “in order to take part at the investigation and to act in order to find a solution if they are indeed human bones.”

The gas company was doing pipeline maintenance work at the time the bones were discovered, according to a report in Newsday.

Kraków Police spokeswoman Mariusz Ciarka told reporters Tuesday the bones were sent for examination to a forensic lab “to determine if they are human.”

The Plaszów concentration camp was originally intended to be a forced labor camp. It was built on the grounds of two Jewish cemeteries and populated with prisoners during the liquidation of the Kraków Ghetto, which took place on 13–14 March 1943.

Hana Levi Julian

Prince Charles Visited Saudi Arabia but Snubbed Invitation to Israel

Sunday, December 6th, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu invited Prince Charles to visit Israel when they met at the Paris conference last month, but the British nobility continues 67 years of a Royal snub to Israel, even before the “occupation”

The London Telegraph noted that Prince Charles last February visited Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The newspaper quoted one Israeli official as saying:

We’re the only democracy in the Middle East and so you ask why do the Royals go to the Arab dictatorships around us but they don’t come here?

British royalty, including Prince Charles have paid personal visits to Israel but never on an official basis since the re-establishment of the country.

Israel has recognized Princess Alice of Battenberg, the mother of the Duke of Edinburgh and who is buried in the Mount of Olives, as one of the Righteous Among Nations” for saving a Greek Jewish family from the Nazis. Prince Phillip visited her grave 19 years ago in what the royalty took pains to term a private visit.

Queen Elizabeth told the Israeli ambassador to London 18 years she would be happy to come to Israel, but no action followed the words.

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace told the Telegraph, “All overseas visits by members of the Royal family are undertaken on the advice of the British Government.”

One source explained:

Until there is a settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Royal family can’t really go there.

That does not explain why the British monarchy never visited Israel between 1949 and 1967.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

US Soldier Named ‘Righteous among the Nations’

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

A U.S. Army soldier who fought in against the Nazis is now the first American soldier to be recognized by Yad VaShem as “Righteous among the Nations” for rescuing Jewish soldiers.

Four other Americans, all of them civilians, have been recognized with the same honor.

The late Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds fought in the 422nd Infantry Regiment and was captured in the Battle of the Bulge. He was sent to the Stalag POW camp in Germany.

The Wehrmacht had an anti-Jewish policy, singling out Jewish POWs from the rest of the POW population, and many Jewish POWs were sent to extermination camps or murdered.

In January 1945, the Germans announced that all Jewish POWs in Stalag IXA were to report the following morning. Edmonds, who was the highest ranking solider in the American section of the camp ordered all his men, to fallout the following morning – Jews and non-Jews alike.

When the German camp commander, Major Siegmann, saw that all the camp’s inmates were standing in front of their barracks, he turned to Edmonds and exclaimed: “They cannot all be Jews!”

Edmonds replied, “We are all Jews.” After Siegmann took out his pistol and threatened Edmonds, the soldier declared:

According to the Geneva Convention, we only have to give our name, rank and serial number. If you shoot me, you will have to shoot all of us, and after the war you will be tried for war crimes.

The Commandant turned around and left the scene.

NCO Paul Stern, who was stood near Edmonds during the exchange and who was Netanyahu of those saved by his action, recounted the story to Yad VaShem

Stern, who was taken prisoner on December 17, 1944, added, “Although seventy years have passed, I can still hear the words he said to the German Camp Commander.”

Another Jewish soldier who was witness to the incident is Lester Tanner, who had trained in Fort Jackson where Master Sergeant Edmonds was stationed.  Tanner recalled:

He did not throw his rank around. You knew he knew his stuff and he got across to you without being arrogant or inconsiderate. I admired him for his command… We were in combat on the front lines for only a short period, but it was clear that Roddie Edmonds was a man of great courage who led his men with the same capacity we had come to know him in the States

I would estimate that there were more than one thousand Americans standing in wide formation in front of the barracks with Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds standing in front with several senior non-coms beside him, of which I was one… Edmonds, at the risk of his immediate death, defied the Germans with the unexpected consequences that the Jewish prisoners were saved.

Edmonds died in 1985.

Yad VaShem chairman Avner Shalev said, “Edmonds seemed like an ordinary American soldier, but he had an extraordinary sense of responsibility and dedication to his fellow human beings….The choices and actions of Master Sergeant Edmonds set an example for his fellow American soldiers as they stood united against the barbaric evil of the Nazis.”

Edmonds’ son, Pastor Chris Edmonds, is currently in Israel participating in a seminar sponsored by the International School for Holocaust Studies for Christian leaders.

 

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Poland Sues U.S. Prof. for Saying Poles Killed Jews than the Germans

Friday, October 16th, 2015

Poland is preparing to sue a Princeton University professor for libel in an article written last month alleging that Poles “in fact did kill more Jews than Germans during the war.”

Professor Jan T, Gross, a Polish-born Jew and historian, also stated that Polish intolerance is behind the country’s agreement to accept only 5,000 Syrian refugees instead of a larger number,

The article was re-published by the German newspaper Die Welt, prompting more than 100 complaints to the office of the Polish prosecutor. The prosecutor’s spokesman Przemyslaw Nowak told Polish television that the country’s criminal code “provides that any person who publicly insults the Polish nation is punishable by up to three years in prison.”

Gross previously has provoked Poland and wrote in a book n 2001 that Poles in the town of Jedwabne massacred several hundred Jews.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

New Jerusalem Street Honors Savior of 40,000 Jews During Holocaust

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Mayor Nir Barkat inaugurated a new street in Jerusalem in an official ceremony this week to honor Moshe (Miklós) Krausz, a little-known Hungarian Jew who saved about 40,000 Jews during the Holocaust

The street-naming publicly recognizes and honors Krausz’s work in a rare instance of recognition.

“This commemoration only begins to correct a historic injustice,” said Nachi Eyal, CEO of The Legal Forum for Israel and one of the people behind this initiative.

Eyal told Tazpit:

Krausz was a man of the World Zionist movement and the Mizrachi movement who saved tens of thousands of Jews and yet his name has been left out of the public knowledge. Krausz died alone and almost forgotten in Jerusalem after having immigrated here with the end of World War II.

Krausz served as the director of the Palestine Office for the World Zionist Movement in Budapest and was responsible for obtaining emigration permits for Jews to the British Mandate of Palestine.

Following the Nazi invasion of Hungary in 1944, Krausz, aided by his connections with Swiss Vice-Consul Carl Lutz, began producing diplomatic patronage certificates to thousands of Hungarian Jews and their entire families, effectively granting them diplomatic immunity from the Nazis.

Through his Swiss connection, Krausz also obtained extraterritorial status under the auspices of the Swiss government to many private buildings where Jews would hide from Nazi extermination.

Most prominent among these “safe houses” was a disused glass factory in Budapest. Dubbed “The Glass House” by survivors, over 3,000 Jews used the building as a hiding place and survived the Holocaust.

“Jews from all walks of life and different backgrounds huddled together in the crowded cellars,” Mordechai Newmann, a Glass House survivor who attended the ceremony told TPS. “Orthodox rabbis, socialist youth activists, Zionist Organization workers, and their families all had their place in the Glass House.”

“At night, members of Zionist Youth organizations would dress up in Nazi uniform and sneak out of the cellars to find more Jews and smuggle them into the glass house,” recounts Newmann, who was 14 at the time.

This elaborate scheme that saved such a staggering number of lives from the Nazi extermination machine went unnoticed and did not receive much public attention in Israel until now.

According to Dr. Ayala Nadivi, a historian of Hungarian Jewry, the reasons for Krausz’s hitherto anonymity might have been political. She told Tazpit:

There was quite a lot of infighting and political ego struggles between the various Jewish and Zionist bodies of the time. Krausz was a member of the Mizrachi movement, while the Jewish leadership in British Mandate Palestine was predominantly of the Mapai movement (Worker’s Party of The Land of Israel). Independently of Krausz and Lutz’s rescue efforts, Mapai established the Budapest Rescue Committee and appointed Israel Kasztner to head it.

Later, with the end of the British Mandate and the founding of the State of Israel, the same Mapai became the governing party in Israel. When Kasztner was accused of collaboration with the Nazis during his rescue activities, Krausz gave unfavorable testimony against him on trial. From that point on and despite the evident existence of records of Krausz’s rescue efforts, not a single national organization or newspaper acknowledges him.

According Eyal, it was Dr. Nadivi’s book “Between Krausz and Kasztner: The Battle to Save Hungarian Jewry” published in 2014, that was the catalyst to the reemergence of Krausz’ name on public record.

“After being told about the book by my assistant and reading it, I felt compelled to petition Mayor Barkat,” Eyal told Tazpit. “After filing a request and all the necessary paperwork, including the historic records assembled by Dr. Nedivi, the Mayor acquiesced and named a Jerusalem street after this man who saved more Jews than Schindler and Kasztner combined and was a Jew himself.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/new-jerusalem-street-honors-savior-of-40000-jews-during-holocaust/2015/08/27/

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