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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Nazis’

Irena Sendler, We Honor You

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

During World War II, Irena, a Polish Christian woman, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive. Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck, for larger kids.

Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2,500 kids/infants. Read that number again – 2,500 lives…Ultimately, she was caught, however, and the Nazi’s broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out, In a glass jar that she buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and tried to reunite the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.

In 2007 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was not selected. Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming. Today, we honor her courage, her bravery. She has been recognized as a Righteous Gentile in Yad Vashem.

May God bless her memory.Please share this to honor the sacrifice and courage of this fine human being who gave so much and saved so many.  See also www.irenasendler.org.
Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Top German Jewish leader blasts Gov’t’s Weak Stand on Neo-Nazis

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Germany’s top Jewish leader has slammed the government’s decision not to join efforts to ban the country’s most powerful neo-Nazi party.

“The decision of the Federal Government is disappointing and politically completely wrong,” Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in a statement Wednesday. “They chose hesitation and procrastination over courage and determination.”

The decision by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government not to submit a supportive brief to the Supreme Court is seen as a setback but not a final blow to attempts to ban the National Democratic Party of Germany, or NPD. Those attempts picked up steam in December, when the Bundesrat – the legislative council representing Germany’s 16 states – voted to submit a petition to the top court.

Critics had hoped for a united front of the executive, Bundesrat and Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament. Now, legislators are scrambling to build support within the Bundestag, so that at least two of the three governmental bodies will stand firm for an investigation against the NPD.

Germany’s main neo-Nazi party, which according to the latest government figures has 5,800 members, is known for its anti-democratic, anti-foreigner and anti-Semitic stances. It blames foreigners for Germany’s problems and belittles the Holocaust, while publicly trying to avoid outright Holocaust denial, which is illegal. The party has representatives in two state legislatures, where it barely passed the 5 percent vote threshold. It thus receives federal funding – about $1.7 million in 2011, according to a report in the Bild newspaper.

German law protects even the most abhorrent of speech, as long as it is not illegal. A 2003 attempt to ban the NPD failed after the Supreme Court found that government informants may have incited the very illegal acts that were then under scrutiny. The failure was seen as a great embarrassment for the government.

In the years since, the NPD has been “spreading its Nazi poison and offering many right-wing extremist groups ideological and logistical support – with German taxpayer monies, no less,” Graumann said in his statement Wednesday.

The German Women Who Stood Up to the Nazis

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

This year marks the seventieth anniversary of a remarkable public protest by ordinary German women against the Nazi regime.

From February 27 to March 6, 1943, a group of unorganized German women went into the streets of downtown Berlin, within a few city blocks of the most feared centers of Nazi power, to protest for the release of their Jewish husbands, who had just been arrested by the Gestapo. Daily giving voice to their collective demand – “give us our husbands back” – first softly, then with increasing urgency, they succeeded in achieving their goal.

For these German women, the brutal Nazi state had lost all legitimacy. Like very few others, they were willing to express this publicly, on the streets, for all to see. For decades, their story was largely absent from histories of Nazi Germany. Their story challenges the comforting, generally accepted narrative that opposition was honorable but always futile. This year’s anniversary is an opportunity to focus deserved attention on these women’s brave action – and its implications for resistance more broadly.

On February 27, 1943, as part of the Nazi plan to remove the last remaining Jews from German soil, the Gestapo arrested some 2,000 Berlin Jews who had not yet been deported because they were married to non-Jews. In response, hundreds of women – wives of those arrested – pushed their way onto the street in front of Rosenstrasse 2-4, an office of the Jewish community where these arrested Jews were being held, and began to protest.

SS men as well as policemen guarded the single entrance. Over the course of the following week the Gestapo repeatedly threatened to shoot the protesters in the street, causing them to scatter briefly before resuming their collective cry of “give us our husbands back.”

Decades later, I interviewed one of these women, Elsa Holzer, who remembered arriving on the street in search of her husband. “I thought,” she said, “I would be alone there the first time I went to the Rosenstrasse…. I didn’t necessarily think it would do any good, but I had to go see what was going on…. If you had to calculate whether you would do any good by protesting, you wouldn’t have gone. But we wanted to show that we weren’t willing to let them [our husbands] go. I went to Rosenstrasse every day, before work. And there was always a flood of people there. It wasn’t organized, or instigated. Everyone was simply there. Exactly like me. That’s what is so wonderful about it.”

During the same week of this protest, some 7,000 of the last Jews in Berlin were sent to Auschwitz. On Rosenstrasse, however, the regime hesitated; almost all of those held there were released on March 6. Even intermarried Jews who had also been sent to Auschwitz and put in work camps were returned to Germany.

Surprising as it might seem, these events on closer examination fit with the treacherous strategies of the Nazi regime for domestic control. The Rosenstrasse protest occurred as many Germans were tempted to doubt Hitler’s leadership following Germany’s debacle in the Battle of Stalingrad. As he elaborated in Mein Kampf, Hitler believed that popular support comprised the primary pillar of his authority among the German “racial” people, and his dictatorship throughout strove to maintain this basis of his power. To end this protest, the regime released the intermarried Jews, furthering, for that moment, Hitler’s goal of quelling any appearance of dissention.

The murderous Nazi regime also appeased other public protests. On October 11, 1943, on Adolf Hitler Square in the city of Witten, some three hundred women protested against the official decision to withhold their food ration cards until they evacuated their homes as part of Nazi policy to protect civilians from bombing raids. The following day Germans in Lünen, Hamm and Bochum also protested on the streets for the same reason.

In response, Hitler ordered all regional authorities not to withhold ration cards as a method of forcing civilians to evacuate their homes. This was followed by further orders by Nazi officials to refrain from “coercive measures” against evacuees who had returned. In his cold calculations, Hitler chose not to draw further attention to public protest, judging it the best way to protect his authority – and the appearance, promoted by his propaganda machine, that all Germans stood united behind him.

A Holocaust Pageant that Was too ‘Political’ for FDR

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Seventy years ago this week, 40,000 New Yorkers watched as Jewish activists and Hollywood celebrities joined hands to bring news of the Holocaust to the vaunted stage of Madison Square Garden. But a requested message of greeting from President Franklin D. Roosevelt never arrived, because the White House decided the mass murder of the Jews was too “political” to touch.

In January 1943, a Gallup poll asked Americans, “It is said that two million Jews have been killed in Europe since the war began. Do you think this is true or just a rumor?” Although the Allied leadership had publicly confirmed that two million Jews had been murdered, the poll found only 47 percent believed it was true, while 29 percent dismissed it as a rumor; the remaining 24 percent had no opinion.

The failure of the news media to treat the Nazi genocide as a serious issue contributed to the public’s skepticism. To some extent, editors were following the lead of the Roosevelt administration, which, after issuing a condemnation of the mass murder, made no effort to publicize the tragedy or aid Jewish refugees.

Ben Hecht, the newspaper columnist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter, responded in the way he knew best: he picked up his pen and began to write.

With his outsized dramatic sense in high gear, Hecht authored a full-scale pageant called “We Will Never Die.” On a stage featuring forty-foot-high tablets of the Ten Commandments, it would survey Jewish contributions to civilization throughout history, describe the Nazi slaughter of the Jews, and culminate in an emotional recitation of Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer for the dead, by a group of elderly rabbis.

“Will it save the four million [Jews still alive in Europe]?” Hecht wrote on the eve of the opening. “I don’t know. Maybe we can awaken some of the vacationing hearts in our government.”

Hecht was involved with a small group of Jewish activists led by Hillel Kook, a Zionist emissary from Palestine who operated under the pseudonym Peter Bergson. The Bergson Group booked Madison Square Garden for the evening of March 9 and set about trying to convince the established Jewish organizations to cosponsor “We Will Never Die.”

Bergson’s well-meaning attempt at Jewish unity flopped. A meeting of representatives of several dozen Jewish groups, hosted by Hecht, deteriorated into shouting matches. It was an example of what the historian Henry Feingold has described as the sad tendency of some Jewish organizations to “allow themselves the luxury of fiddling while Jews burned.”

Hecht succeeded, however, in persuading some of Hollywood’s most prominent Jews to volunteer their services. Actors Edward G. Robinson, Paul Muni, Sylvia Sydney and Stella Adler assumed the lead roles; Kurt Weill composed an original score; Moss Hart agreed to serve as director, and famed impresario Billy Rose signed on as producer.

It was Rose who decided to approach Roosevelt. Through White House adviser David Niles, Rose asked the president for a “brief message” that could be read aloud at the pageant. Nothing bold or controversial, of course – something that would say “only that the Jews of Europe will be remembered when the time comes to make the peace.”

Rose assured the White House, “There is no political color to our Memorial Service.”

But apparently even the very mention of the Jews was “political” in the eyes of official Washington. White House aides warned the president that sending the requested message would be “a mistake.” Despite Rose’s assurance, “it is a fact that such a message would raise a political question,” Henry Pringle of the Office of War Information advised.

What Pringle meant was that publicizing the slaughter could raise the “political question” of how America was going to respond to the Nazi genocide. And since Roosevelt had decided the U.S. was not going to take any specific steps to aid the Jews, raising that question would be embarrassing. Hence Rose was informed that the “stress and pressure” of the president’s schedule made it impossible for FDR to provide the few words of comfort and consolation the Bergson Group sought.

None of this deterred the irrepressible Ben Hecht and his comrades from making sure the show would go on. More than 20,000 people jammed Madison Square Garden on the frigid evening of March 9. Since there were so many people gathered on the sidewalks outside who were unable to enter the packed hall, the cast decided to do a second performance immediately after the first. The second show, too, filled the Garden.

Research Shows Nazi Camps Twice as Vast as Thought

Monday, March 4th, 2013

The network of camps and ghettos set up by the Nazis across Europe was much larger than previously believed, according to new academic research, the Independent reported.

The research team, based at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, told The Independent the new evidence could be crucial to survivors trying to bring cases for compensation against Germany and other countries for time spent in obscure or undocumented camps.

The cataloguing of all the forced labor sites, ghettos and detention facilities run by the Nazis alongside infamous death camps like Auschwitz now shows more than 42,500 institutions used for persecution and murder.

Previously it was presumed that these institutions numbered around 20,000.

The editors of the Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, which will be published in seven volumes by 2025, estimate that between 15 and 20 million were killed or imprisoned in the facilities set up by the Nazis and associate regimes from France to Russia.

Geoffrey Megargee, the director of the project, said: “The results of our research are shocking. We are putting together numbers that no one ever compiled before, even for camp systems that have been fairly well researched – and many of them have not been.”

He added: “There is a tendency for people to see the Holocaust as consisting of Auschwitz and perhaps a few other places. It’s important to understand that the system was much larger and more complex than that; that many more people knew about it and took part in it; that it was central to the entire Nazi system; and, moreover, that many other countries had their own camp systems.”

The sites included many thousands of slave labor sites used to manufacture war supplies, prisoner of war camps and military brothels where women were dragooned into having sex with Nazi troops.

Critics: Joan Should Cry a River over Crude Holocaust Joke

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has castigated comedienne Joan Rivers, whose husband’s family lost many family members in the Holocaust, for a “vulgar and offensive” joke on her show the day after Sunday’s Academy Awards Viewing Party.

After German-born supermodel Heidi Klum arrived at the Oscars in a revealing dress, the New York Daily News reported that Rivers commented, “The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens.” Rivers, as usual, laughed at her own so-called joke, and she later refused to apologize after ADL president Abraham Foxman  scolded her, saying, “Of all people, Joan Rivers should know better.”

Rivers didn’t miss a beat and defended herself by replying, “My husband lost the majority of his family at Auschwitz, and I can assure you that I have always made it a point to remind people of the Holocaust through humor.”

Foxman was aghast. “Making it worse, not one of her co-hosts made any effort to respond or to condemn this hideous statement, leaving it hanging out there and giving it added legitimacy through their silence,” he said.

Rivers and the ADL have gone head-to-head in the past. Last fall, The ADL criticized her for angry remark aimed at Costco for refusing to sell her book, “I Hate Everything…Starting With Me,” by declaring, “Germany is where banning books started, and it can start here just as quickly,” she said at the time.

Seventy Years Later, White Rose Anti-Nazi Resistance Still Resonates

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Though Sophie Scholl and the students of the White Rose resistance were executed by the Nazis seventy years ago last month, the example they set of courage in the face of authoritarian repression is as relevant today as it was seven decades ago.

Their crime: Daring to rouse the consciousness of their countrymen in the face of Nazi Germany’s destruction of all civil rights and its mass murder of European Jews.

In 1933, when Sophie was twelve and her brother, Hans, was fifteen, the Scholl siblings rejected their Lutheran upbringing and their parents’ Christian humanism and instead embraced Hitler’s philosophy of racial superiority, becoming leaders in the Hitler Youth.

But when Hans was arrested and convicted in 1938 for a same-sex relationship he had had three years earlier, when he was sixteen, their admiration for Hitler quickly ended. Gradually they became activists against the Nazi cause. By 1942, the siblings were engaging in daring forms of nonviolent resistance.

Newborn-030113In May 1942, they dubbed themselves the White Rose and joined with a handful of friends at the University of Munich to produce what became a staccato burst of six impassioned anti-Nazi leaflets. Reproducing thousands in their secret headquarters over a nine-month period – ages before the push-button efficiency of the Internet – they made dangerous train trips to distribute the leaflets throughout Germany. They mailed them to sixteen cities – Stuttgart, Vienna, Frankfurt, Berlin and Hamburg among them – in a bid to mislead the Gestapo into thinking theirs was a broad-based movement and not just a handful of students.

“Since the beginning of the war,” they declared in their second leaflet in June 1942, “300,000 Jews have been murdered in the most bestial manner. This is a crime unparalleled in human history – a crime against the dignity of Man. But why do we tell you these things when you already know them? Everyone wants to be exonerated, but you cannot be, because everyone is guilty, guilty, guilty.”

In their fourth leaflet, they wrote: “We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!”

On Feb. 18, 1943, Sophie and Hans climbed a high gallery at the University of Munich’s vast atrium. From there they scattered hundreds of their sixth leaflet down upon the heads of astonished students below in what was called the only public protest by Germans against Nazism ever to be staged.

Spotted almost immediately, they were arrested by the Gestapo and subjected to grueling interrogation. Sophie, Hans and their comrade Christoph Probst were tried in a show trial in Munich by Hitler’s “hanging judge,” Roland Freisler. They were condemned to death. Just four days after their arrest, the three were beheaded by guillotine. Hans was twenty-four, Sophie twenty-one.

But their message lived on. Their last leaflet, smuggled out to the West, was dropped by the tons over Germany. Nobel laureate Thomas Mann broadcast back to Germany from American exile, praising the “splendid young people” who “at the time when Germany and Europe were still enveloped in the dark of night, knew and publicly declared” the ugly truth about Nazism in an attempt to bring about the “dawning” of a “new faith in freedom and honor.”

Today, the White Rose students are icons in Germany. In a nationwide TV competition to choose the top ten most important Germans of all time, German voters chose Sophie and Hans Scholl for fourth place – beating out Goethe, Gutenberg, Bach, Bismarck, Willy Brandt and Albert Einstein.

A German film, “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days,” was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006, the same time that “Sophie Scholl and the White Rose” was published. Its Hebrew edition just appeared in Israel in time for the seventieth anniversary of their extraordinary protest and executions.

Despite all this, the story of the White Rose resistance remains barely known by the general public outside Germany.

But heroism like theirs is being replicated in countries around the world. There is Malala Yousafazai, the now-thirteen-year-old Pakistani children’s rights activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban last October and now says she’s ready to fight on. There are Chinese dissidents like Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010 but is languishing in a Chinese prison.

Detroit Jewish Leader on Pro-Nazi and Convicted Killer’s Hit List

Monday, February 25th, 2013

The FBI warned the head of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit that his name was on the hit list of a convicted killer and neo-Nazi sympathizer.

Scott Kaufman, CEO of the Detroit federation, was told last week that his name was on a list in a notebook kept by a Toledo man who was indicted last month on federal weapons charges.

The notebook was found Dec. 21 in the raid on the home of Richard Schmidt, 47, who served jail time for voluntary manslaughter in the 1990 killing of a Toledo man. The list made reference to the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and listed its leaders, the Toledo Blade reported.

The Rev. Wendell Anthony, the head of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, and his group also were on the list.

Federal agents who raided Schmidt’s house said they seized a video of a 2005 national meeting of the National Socialist Movement, a white supremacist neo-Nazi group, and a national list of Jewish-owned businesses, according to reports.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/detroit-jewish-leader-on-pro-nazi-and-convicted-killers-hit-list/2013/02/25/

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