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May 24, 2016 / 16 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Poland’

After Decades of Silence, Holocaust Survivors Open Up

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

By Jesse Lempel/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – When Pnina Katsir turned 80, she finally told her daughter a secret she had kept for decades: she was a survivor of the Holocaust.

“I didn’t tell anyone. My kids didn’t know,” Katsir told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) at a ceremony for Yom Hashoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, on Wednesday evening. “I decreed silence on myself in order to raise a normal, happy family – not living in the shadow of that awful time.”

Yet Katsir, now 86, boldly recounted her experiences before a crowd of dozens at the Jerusalem ceremony, including many fellow survivors, their children and grandchildren, as well as a group of female soldiers. They had gathered to share stories and commemorate the dead as part of the AMCHA organization, an Israeli psychological and social support group for Holocaust survivors, which Katsir credits with giving her the tools to finally express herself.

“There was a conspiracy of silence among survivors and Israeli society,” explained Elisheva Flamm-Oren, AMCHA’s director of planning and development. “They were afraid to tell their children and burden them with what they went through, and Israeli society also didn’t want to hear it – they preferred to project strength.”

AMCHA was started 30 years ago by Holocaust survivors and health care professionals to address this “conspiracy of silence” and provide survivors with the support they need. They now cater to 20,000 Holocaust survivors in fifteen centers across the country, boasting 480 mental health professionals and a thousand volunteers. In the past year alone they logged 186,000 hours of therapy, 30% of which took place in house calls to survivors too frail to leave their homes.

“There’s a lot of power in meeting other survivors,” Flamm-Oren told TPS. “AMCHA created a place where you can come and talk about the past without fear. We want them to know that they are normal people who went through unimaginably abnormal circumstances.”

And the survivors do more than talk. They participate in AMCHA’s creative writing seminars and theatre troupes—who recently staged a play starring a 97-year-old actress—all designed to give survivors creative outlets to process their past traumas and communicate with younger generations.

“They know how to get you to open up,” said Katsir, who read a moving composition describing her childhood in a Ukrainian ghetto, including the “nightly task” she shared with her sister to clutch their grandmother’s legs as she slept in the hopes of keeping her warm.

For many survivors, the creative process has been enormously satisfying.

“I have a kind of Holocaust disease – it actually makes me feel good to talk about the Holocaust,” Elias Feinzelberg told TPS after reciting the Kaddish, the solemn prayer for the dead, at the ceremony. Feinzelberg, a very active 98-year-old who was born in Lodz, Poland, endured nine different concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau.

“I spoke at two schools today,” Feinzelberg said, proudly pointing to the pins on his blazer bearing the names of educational institutions around the world in which he has shared his story.

“Once I opened up,” Katsir told TPS, “I realized how much energy I had wasted all these years on not talking.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

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

Elbit to Supply Combat Training System to Polish Special Forces

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

(JNi.media) Elbit Systems was selected to provide a real-time combat training and accompanying equipment for the special forces of the Polish Army, Israel Defense reported Monday. The Combat Training System is an advanced trainer based on highly realistic simulations designed specifically for the US Marines and Special Forces, offering combat scenarios from an individual combat soldier to an entire combat unit. The system simulates a wide range of operational scenarios and real battlefield elements in urban and rural combat inside buildings.

The system, which will be provided in cooperation with Swiss RUAG Defence Management and Polish Autocomp, offers scenarios with unprecedented realistic for training special forces.

As part of the project, Elbit Systems and its partners will provide combat soldiers with live fire training suits, vehicles, equipment for use in simulation and training facilities, as well as blank explosives and grenades, and even suicide bombers. Digital recording and data transmission capabilities will be provided, facilitating centralized network control for the training troops and their equipment, with recording capabilities, control and investigation of the entire training process.

The Polish Special Forces, a.k.a. Wojska Specjalne (Special Troops) is the 4th military branch of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland, formed in 2007.

JNi.Media

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

Polish Army Securing Nazi Gold Train Area

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

(JNi.media) Polish Soldiers and explosives experts on Monday launched a six-day operation to secure the area where authorities suspect a Nazi-era train loaded with looted gold is buried, news agencies are reporting. The soldiers are searching some three feet below the surface, checking for mines or any other dangerous objects, before municipal workers begin excavations come Oct. 3.

A press officer for the local government confirmed in August that a military train had been discovered in Walbrzych, near Poland’s border with the Czech Republic.

Local lore describes a train loaded with valuables that was stored in a tunnel by the retreating Nazis in 1945. In August, the town’s deputy mayor Zygmunt Nowaczyk told reporters: “The city [of Walbrzych] is full of mysterious stories because of its history. [But] now it is formal information — [we] have found something.”

“Our goal is to check whether there’s any hazardous material at the site,” Colonel Artur Talik, who is leading the search for explosives, told RT.

The discovery was made by two amateurs, one Polish, one German, who informed authorities through their attorney that they plan to reveal the location of the train if they were guaranteed a finders’ fee of 10 percent of its value. Marika Tokarska, a Walbrzych city council official, said: “In the documents they sent us, they inform us that they have found a military train from the second World War and that outside the train some guns and weapons can be seen. They also said there could be gold and some other precious things inside.”

The news site wiadomosciwalbrzyskie.pl said the train may contain as much as 300 tons of gold on board.

JNi.Media

Six Jerusalem Arab Teens Arrested for Sexual Attack on Tourist

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Jerusalem police have arrested six Arabs from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tur on suspicion of sexually attacking a Polish tourist and then photographing her.

The teenagers were only 12-14 years old, and one of the youth admitted to sexually attacking the woman, described as being in her 40s.

Police brought the gang was brought to a Jerusalem court Monday night, after the conclusion of the first day of Sukkot, to keep the minors under arrest.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Nazi Gold Train Discovery May Bring New Claims from Holocaust Survivors

Monday, August 31st, 2015

(JNi.media) A post war legend has now become a reality. The death bed confessions of a former Nazi soldier revealed the whereabouts of the “Nazi train” which remained hidden for decades in tunnels in Poland and is thought to contain gold, art and other valuables. The former solder, who was said to have participated in burying the train 70 years ago, gave directions to finding the 100-meter, armored train near Walbrzych, close to the Wroclaw-Walbryzch line (Now part of Poland, in 1945 Walbrzych was the German city of Waldenberg). Acting on the information provided by the former soldier, a Polish and German man set out to find the train and negotiated with the Polish government for a 10% finders’ fee. Attorneys for the two men approached Polish officials, and through radar of the area, it was confirmed with 99% certainty that there was a train buried in that location.

Poland’s deputy culture minister, Piotr Zuchowsky, said at a press conference, according to the Guardian, “I am 99% sure the train exists.” The fact that the train is heavily armored indicates that it likely contains extremely valuable items, but it is believed that the train is booby trapped and may also contain hazardous methane gas from having been underground so long. The train may contain 300 tons of weapons, valuables and art. It was lost when the Germans were fleeing the advance of the Red Army. Walbryzch, in the Owl mountainous, became the site of various tunnels built by slave labor and used by the Nazis to smuggle and hide valuables. The Owl mountains became the venue for the unfinished project of transporting valuables, and the project was called “Riese,” or Giant. While it is clear that the find is most likely the missing Nazi gold train, this cannot be confirmed until the train is actually recovered from underground. There are no documents discussing the existence of the train, and its history has been transmitted mainly by word of mouth.

There have been stories about the train since the end of the Second World War, but many were assigned the status of popular legends. There were people who sought the train in vain, and many attempted but had given up on finding it. Now that it is likely the train has been located, there is concern about looters coming to grab some booty, and the Polish government has issued warnings to prospective thieves that they could encounter explosives or harmful methane fumes. For obvious reasons, Polish officials have not disclosed the exact location of the train. It is said that military officials are figuring out how to defuse the hidden explosives on board and around the train, so they can approach it safely.

Locating the fabled Nazi gold train might just be a first step to recovering other trains filled with looted gold, silver and treasures the Nazis stole from their victims. “There is a story that there were three trains which came into town and have never been found,” Magdalena Woch, Director of Culture at the Ksiaz Castle told the Telegraph. “The gold may not be on the train that has been found, but in one of the better secured military trains. It is possible there are more trains in Walbryzch. There are discrepancies between maps of the area from the 1920s and the 1940s, which suggests there are tunnels under the town which have never been found. Up to 1947, the Soviets were here, and we do not know what they found.” In 1945, the Nazis were preparing Ksiaz castle for the arrival of Hitler and were constructing a bunker complex, when the Red Army approached. Lukasz Kazek, local politician and tour guide, said the Nazis did not abandon the project, but left the trains in the tunnels because they felt they would be able to prevail against the Soviet army and return to recover the valuables.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/nazi-gold-train-discovery-may-bring-new-claims-from-holocaust-survivors/2015/08/31/

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