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January 25, 2015 / 5 Shevat, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Poland’

Youngest Holocaust Survivor from Schindler’s List Tells her Story

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

The following article was first published on the IDF’s blog site. Eva Levi, 75, is the youngest person alive who lived through the horror of the Holocaust thanks to the famous Oscar Schindler. Today, a few days before Holocaust Memorial day, she tells her story.

Hello, my name is Eva Levi. I was born in Krakow, Poland and when I was two-years-old, WWII broke out. When the war was over, I was eight years old.

During the war, I was deported from a ghetto to Auschwitz and then to Czechoslovakia. I am alive today and can tell you my story thanks to two people: Oscar Schindler and my mother. Today I am married and live in Israel. I have two children and three grandchildren…. My first granddaughter, Anne, is currently in the Israeli army. Because of this, I am telling my story to the IDF.

When the war started, I was such a little girl that I didn’t understand what was happening. I didn’t have a childhood at all; I didn’t have grandfathers or grandmothers, nor did I go to kindergarten or school.

However, though this was a terrible time in my life, I had two great fortuitous things: I was lucky to have my name inscribed on Oscar Schindler’s list, of which I was the youngest person, and I was able to stay by my mother’s side.

We were first sent to the Krakow Ghetto. From this ghetto, they took us to labor camps near Krakow and this is how I got put on Schindler’s List. They then wanted to take us to Czechoslovakia but after an accident, we were transferred to Auschwitz. We stayed in the death camp for three weeks, and lived in horrendous conditions. The fear of dying was always present and renewed every time we went near the crematoria.

A particular moment stands out specifically during my time living in this hell. One day, while all the women were together in a dark building, a female Nazi officer approached my mother and told her that I was to be taken away. My mother began to cry and scream. She wouldn’t let me go. But in Auschwitz it was impossible to refuse. My mother asked her where I was being taken and the officer promised I would be going to a good place. My mother did not understand. A good place? At Auschwitz? How could that be possible? But the officer again swore to my mother that I would be taken to a good place. And indeed, they took me to a very different place inside Auschwitz.

Nobody could believe it. The place was modern and clean, a rarity at Auschwitz where everything was dirty and black. At this new place there were only well-dressed children who almost looked good. I did not understand at all where I was. I felt that I may be in paradise. There were drawings on the walls, toys, clothes. The children were obviously sad because they were alone and without parents. It was 1944 and hunger was widespread, but in this place no one starved.

One day, the Nazis called us to come to dinner. The previous days we hardly ate. A slice of bread here, a potato there. That evening, they served us dinner and we ate so much. The next morning, once again, we had a real breakfast! The Nazis were so attentive that we thought that perhaps the war was over. For lunch, we were surprised as a table was prepared and we were dressed up.

We sat as three or four smiling kind men in civilian clothes entered. Each of the men sat alongside a child. I can still remember the smell of the potatoes they served for lunch. But we ate so much the day before that I could barely stomach anything. I was not hungry at all and I began to weep. The civilian who sat next to me asked, “What is the matter dear? Are you not hungry?” And I responded that no, I was not hungry. These men were actually from the Red Cross. All of the clothes, the food, the entire place was a false display of what was happening at Auschwitz. Crematoria? They weren’t seen. Lovely, well-dressed children who felt well and weren’t hungry, that is what the Red Cross Inspectors saw.

Warsaw Demolishing Ghetto Wall, Promises Reconstruction

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Workers began demolishing a wall in Warsaw near the spot where Jews were gathered for transport to the Treblinka concentration camp, but a city official said it will be rebuilt and was torn down so trees and vegetation could be cut.

The wall borders the square in the former Warsaw Ghetto known as the Umschlagplatz and is topped with barbed wire ins some places.

It has been in poor condition for some time.

Historians reportedly are not sure whether the wall is the original from World War II.

Bartosz Milczarczyk, a City Hall spokesman, told RDC radio that the wall will be reconstructed. “I am glad that the authorities see how important for the history of both the Jews and the city are relics such as this particular wall,” Piotr Kadlcik, president of the Jewish Community of Warsaw, told JTA. “These objects, even if their historical origin is in some doubt, are an important element of the teaching of history that took place here a few decades earlier. And that we must not forget.

“I hope that as Warsaw authorities promised, the wall will be reconstructed as soon as possible.”

Italian Tourist Caught Smuggling Barbed Wire from Auschwitz

Monday, March 31st, 2014

An Italian tourist tried to smuggle a piece of barbed wire from the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum out of Poland in his suitcase.

The man was detained Sunday by border guards at the airport in Krakow. The tourist said he found the rusty piece of wire, which is nearly 16 inches long, on the ground.

“During interrogation, the man said that he took the wire as a souvenir while visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, lifted it from the ground and took it with him,” Katarzyna Walczak, a spokeswoman of the Silesian-Malopolska Border Guard, said in a statement.

The tourist faces a jail term ranging from three months to five years.

In 2009, the “Arbeit macht frei” sign was stolen from above the entrance to the Auschwitz I concentration camp. The three thieves were given sentences ranging from six months to 2 1/2 years.

Nazi Auschwitz Metal Stamps for Tattooing Found in Poland

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

An identified person or group has discovered metal stamps with embedded needles that were used on Jews at Auschwitz and which Holocaust experts said may be the first proof of original tattooing equipment at the death camp.

The director of the Auschwitz Museum, which is located on the site of the death camp, said the discovery “is one of the most important finds in years,”

The identity of the founder and how and where the stamps were located has not been revealed except for the information that they were found in Poland.

Nazis used the small stamps, to tattoo numbers on the bodies of inmates.

Museum director Piotr Cywinski was quoted by British media as saying, “We never believed that we would get the original tools for tattooing prisoners after such a long time. The sight of a tattoo is getting rarer every day as former prisoners pass away, but these stamps still speak of the dramatic history that took place here even after all these decades. They will become a valuable exhibit in forthcoming exhibitions.”

The metal stamps were put into a wooden block to form a number and then plunged into the prisoners’ skin, and ink was then rubbed into the wound to make the number appear.

The evil system was used only for a short period of time because it was too inefficient for the Nazis as they rounded up tens of thousands of Jews, most of whom were gassed, tortured to death or murdered.

Instead, the Nazis used a penholder to hold a single needle to tattoo prisoners.

Polish Cops Nab Vandal in Jewish Cemetery

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Police officers in Poland arrested a man whom they said they had caught desecrating Jewish tombstones.

The suspect, who was not named, was arrested last week at the Jewish cemetery of Andrychow, 30 miles southwest of Krakow, the news site Wadowice24.pl reported Tuesday.

At the 18th-century burial site, he had knocked down 13 tombstones before police officers arrested him, according to the report. The man, who lives in Andrychow, has several prior convictions and is unemployed, the report also said.

Poland has about 1,400 Jewish cemeteries, which the Jewish community of 40,000 cannot afford to maintain, according to community officials. Although vandalism occasionally occurs, erosion, neglect and illegal construction account for more damage, several community officials told JTA.

In 2012, the Council of Europe adopted a non-binding resolution making national governments responsible for the care of Jewish cemeteries.

Last month, unidentified individuals smashed several headstones in Subotica, a Serbian city located 260 miles south of Andrychow.

Poland’s Chief Rabbi Suspends Aide over Kosher Slaughter Controversy

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Amid reports that kosher slaughter is continuing in Poland in the face of a law prohibiting it, the country’s chief rabbi suspended an aide who appears to have misrepresented the practice to government inspectors.

The aide, Michael Alper, wrote a letter to Polish veterinarians in which he asked for permission to slaughter 250 cows after stunning them with electricity, in accordance with Polish law. The November 2013 letter, which was obtained by JTA, carried Alper’s title of “Rabbinate coordinator for Kosher production in Poland.”

But if the animals had undergone kosher slaughter, or shechitah, then they could not have been stunned, because Jewish law requires animals be conscious when they are killed, Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, told JTA Tuesday.

“Stunning cannot be used in shechitah, and saying it was used is a very serious mistake,” Schudrich said.

“What he [Alper] has written is completely unacceptable and he has been suspended from his position pending an investigation,” Schudrich added.

Alper’s letter was leaked to media amid claims that kosher slaughter has continued in Poland despite a 2012 court ruling that went into effect in January 2013 and effectively prohibited Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter. The court ruling nullified a 2004 government directive that had exempted Muslims and Jews from the Polish legal requirement of stunning before slaughter.

Poland’s Channel 1 last month ran promotional videos for a program reporting that kosher slaughter was allegedly continuing in Polish slaughterhouses. The show was supposed to air Feb. 4 but has been postponed.

A source involved in the show’s production told JTA on condition of anonymity that the program involved three slaughterhouses where animals underwent kosher slaughter without stunning but whose slaughter was reported to authorities as having been performed after stunning. Alper did the reporting of the supposed stunning, the source said.

Before his suspension, Alper was Schudrich’s representative to slaughterhouses and the Polish agriculture ministry.

“I am writing to request to carry out the slaughter of 250 heads of cattle on Nov. 23, 2013, with use of electric current to render the animals unconscious,” Alper wrote in the letter obtained by JTA.

Contacted by JTA, Alper declined to answer questions.

Schudrich would neither confirm nor deny claims that commercial kosher slaughter had taken place in Poland after January 2013. But he said that “the court’s ruling in 2012 is not a ban. It is a case of conflicting rulings that is being reviewed by the Constitutional Court.”

JTA has obtained pictures of meat labeled as kosher and produced in Poland after January 2013. One package appeared to carry certification from Rabbi Yehuda Osher Steiner of the Manchester Beth Din in Britain.

The Manchester Beth Din did not answer inquiries from JTA about that certification in time for publication.

Polish Prosecutors Clear Auschwitz Soccer Chanters

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Several Jewish organizations have criticized a Polish prosecutor’s decision not to try soccer fans who chanted about Jews and Auschwitz.

A spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office of Poznan in central Poland said last week that no charges would be brought against the fans because they did not mean to offend Jews when they chanted the slogans, according to the Glos Wielkopolski daily.

The spokesperson, Magdalena Mazur-Prus, was referring to chants at a match in September between the Lech Poznań team and Widzew, a club from the city of Lodz whose population was one-third Jewish before the Holocaust.

The Poznan fans shouted to the Lodz fans: “You belong in Auschwitz,” “ride on, Jews,” and “into the ovens,” according to the daily. It also reported the Poznan fans shouted: “Go to the gas, RTS,” an acronym which refers to the team from Lodz.

But the Poznan prosecutor’s office decided to drop charges because the chants were directed at fans, not Jews, and therefore were not intended as incitement to racial hatred, according to Mazur-Prus. “Of course, such cries are reprehensible and unacceptable, but not every wrongful conduct is a crime,” she said.

In a statement Tuesday, the president of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor said that he was appalled by the decision.

“Unfortunately, extreme anti-Semitic chants like those in Poznan are regularly heard in many European stadiums, including in England and Holland, and the reaction of the authorities is minimal,” Kantor said, adding that this case and others “demonstrate that anti-Semitism has become the last acceptable prejudice in football.”

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, urged the Polish government to intervene and overturn the municipal prosecutor’s decision.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/polish-prosecutors-clear-auschwitz-soccer-chanters/2014/01/15/

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