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November 22, 2014 / 29 Heshvan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Poland’

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.

Painting of Jews Murdering Christian Children to Go on Display

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

A controversial 18-century painting depicting the ritual murder of Christian children by Jews, will be available to viewers in the cathedral of Sandomierz, Poland. The painting, “Mord Rytualny” or “Ritual Murder,” was painted by Charles de Prevot,

A plaque will be mounted next to the painting, which will inform viewers that the Jews did not actually commit ritual murder, because their faith prohibits it.

The painting has been mounted on the wall of the cathedral for many years, but has been hidden behind a red curtain because of its offensive nature.

The painting will go on display again on Thursday, as the Catholic Church marks its international Day of Judaism.

In the eighteenth century, Charles de Prevot painted a series of paintings, “Martyrologium Romanum,” depicting the martyrdom of Christians. These paintings show brutal and realistic scenes of tortured and murdered Christians by pagans. The painting depicting the ritual murder has been covered since 2006.

Eighteen…

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

By the time I started this blog, Elie was 19, almost 20 years old and about to enter the army. By the time I really introduced Shmulik, he was close to entering the army as well. Somehow, with the lull between Shmulik leaving and Davidi entering, I have more time to share who Davidi is, long before he will enter the army.

He turned 18 this past week (though his English birthday is actually next week), full of school and wanting to start driving lessons and one other major milestone that will change who he is. He is going to Poland in a few weeks. If you’ve never been there, you can’t imagine the impact standing in a gas chamber will have on you. You just can’t imagine seeing ashes and ashes, ovens that were used to burn the remains, cemetery after cemetery, and so much more. To go as a Jew to Poland is to focus, for a time, not on those who walk the earth today, but those who are buried beneath it (if they were lucky enough to be buried).

Right before Amira was going into her last year of high school, she told me she wanted to go to Poland. Her school has a policy not to take students out of Israel and so they don’t organize a trip to Poland. It was something, this pilgrimage, that was very important to my oldest daughter but she was afraid it would be too much for her and so she asked me to come along, told me she needed me.

What could I do? I went. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done…for many reasons. I left in Israel, tiny Aliza – only 2 and a half years old. Amira’s son is now 2 and a half years old and I think Amira now realizes how hard it was for me. I missed the others terribly, but somehow, my arms ached to hold Aliza most of all. My husband was amazingly supportive. I wish, sometimes, I had gone with him. I felt bad crying in front of Amira and had I gone with Lazer, we would have cried together. But his parents were Holocaust survivors; he has no interest in going back to the places where they lost so much.

I dreaded the trip that would take me out of Israel, away from the others.Once I landed in Poland, I realized that it would be impossible for me not to see, not to feel. I had thought I was going to support Amira and yet, in many ways, she supported me. It was a brutal trip, agonizing in so many ways.

As I sat this week, listening to the itinerary of where Davidi will go, my eyes filled with tears. I know the route they will take, the places they will see, and the agonies he will feel. He is supposed to tell them if we had relatives in one of the cities where they will visit. My great-grandmother lived in Cracow with my grandfather’s two sisters. They will spend Shabbat there; walk on roads my grandfather once walked. I know only the names but not where they lived. My mother has copies of letters that her grandfather wrote to her father. I’ll have to ask her if she has copies of the envelopes…if she has an address. Do I want my Davidi to go there?

When my mother-in-law and father-in-law went back to the small village where my father-in-law had grown up as a child – many years after the war had ended – he was greeted with a knife by the woman who had moved into his father’s home. It seems Lazer’s father, had lent her some money and she thought his son had come to call in the loan. When my father-in-law explained he only wanted to show his wife and daughter the home in which he had grown up, the woman allowed him to enter.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/eighteen/2014/01/09/

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