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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Red Army’

Putin Vows: Holocaust Will Not Be Repeated

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Two years ago, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on a visit to Moscow, proposed the idea of a monument in Israel commemorating the sacrifices of the Red Army on behalf of Jews, President Putin promised to come to Israel for the inauguration ceremony.

On Monday, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, Israeli President Shimon Peres, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, and Jewish leaders from around the world unveiled the brand-new Victory Monument in Netanya, Israel.

“I am very excited to be here today,” said President Putin. “We live in a fragile world and we are obligated to make sure that this dark and tragic time in history does not repeat itself. The Jewish Holocaust was the most shameful and dark event in human history, and the Soviet Army was the one who crushed the head of the Nazi monster.”

Puttin added: “This amazing monument strengthens the respect I feel towards to the Jewish people and the State of Israel…The wings in the monument are white like the wings of the dove that symbolizes peace.”

The design of the Monument was a first-ever joint initiative of Israel and Russia, conducted by a committee of members from both countries and funded by major Jewish philanthropists led by Keren Hayesod – UIA and the World Forum of Russian Jewry.

President Putin visited Israel specifically for the inauguration ceremony.

The Monument honors the millions of Red Army soldiers who perished in the war, among them 120,000 Jews.

Alexander Levin, President of the World Forum of Russian Jewry, a persistent supporters of the monument, said, “Millions of Russian Jews around the world are united at this moment in solidarity for the brave Red Army soldiers.”

More than half a million Jewish soldiers fought with the Red Army in WWII against the Nazis.

Russia to Possess Historic Building in Heart of Jerusalem

Monday, June 25th, 2012

The transfer of one of Jerusalem’s most prime pieces of real estate to Russia will be finalized when the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) vacates its offices, following the completion of talks between Israel and Russia on Sunday.

In 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented the Sergei building and its 9-acre courtyard with gardens and fishponds in the Russian Compound as a gift to the Russian government.  He made the gesture during a visit to Moscow to persuade President Dimitry Medvedev not to sell arms to Syria and to back sanctions against Iran.  The decision to transfer the property was made by the prime minister, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Finance Minister Roni Bar-On and Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann.

Last year, the Agriculture Ministry and the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites evacuated their offices in the compound.  SPNI issued a request to continue working in the offices, but was denied by the Russian government.

Israel gained control of approximately 90 percent of the Russian compound in 1964, paying the Russian government $3.5 million in citrus fruits for the property due to lack of hard currency – hence the dubbing of the agreement the “Orange Deal”.

The Sergei building, not included in the sale, was completed in 1890, and served as a hotel for Russian aristocrats, royalty, and dignitaries on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It was named for brother of Tzar Alexander III, Grand Duke Sergei, then President of the Imperial Russian Orthodox Palestine Society.   The property had been purchased by Tzar Alexander II in 1860 from the Ottoman Empire.

When the plan to give possession of the property to Russia was announced in 2008, opponents protested the giving over of Jerusalem heritage sites to foreign entities, and warned that Russia was not a strong enough ally to trust with the property.  Then-candidate for Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also disapproved of the plan, calling it a “dangerous precedent, giving property in the heart of Jerusalem to foreign interests.”

Russia has vowed to keep the area open to the public, and says it will restore the yard and buildings for use by Russian pilgrims visiting Jerusalem today.

The SPNI announcement comes just a day before Russian Premier Vladimir Putin’s Monday arrivalin Israel on an official state visit.  The leader is expected to meet with top Israeli officials to discuss Iran’s nuclear progress.  He will also dedicate a monument in Netanya to the valor of the Red Army in World War II.  The large stone monument consisting of a pair of white wings, an unprecedented joint-state venturebetween Israel and Russia, will also honor the more than half a million Jewish Red Army soldiers who fought in the war.

Vladimir Putin Coming to Netanya Monday

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Jewish leaders from around the world will unveil the brand-new ‘Victory Monument’ in Netanya, Israel this Monday, June 25.

The Monument design was the first-ever joint initiative between Israel and Russia to commemorate the Red Army. The newly elected President Putin will be visiting Israel specifically for the inauguration ceremony.

The Monument was funded by major Jewish philanthropists, led by Keren Hayesod – UIA, and the World Forum of Russian Jewry.

A world-class design commemorating the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany in WWII, the Monument honors the millions of Red Army soldiers who perished in the war, among them 120,000 Jews.

Alexander Levin, President of the World Forum of Russian Jewry and an American citizen, will be representing Russian-speaking Jews from North America.

“This incredible monument symbolizes the historical and ever-important role the Red Army played during WWII and its part in defeating the Nazis and their horrors. Millions of Russian Jews around the world are united at this moment in solidarity for the brave Red Army soldiers,” said Levin.

More than half a million Jewish soldiers fought with the Red Army in WWII against the Nazis – 120,000 were killed.

About two years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed the idea of the monument to President Putin on his visit to Moscow. Putin promised to come to Israel for the inauguration ceremony.

Quick Takes: News You May Have Missed

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

 New Book Documents Leftist Matrix Behind Obama

A book released this week documents for the first time the radical origins of President Obama’s health-care law, revealing the principal author of the foundation for the legislation while tracing the law itself to a group funded by George Soros.

Red Army: The Radical Network That Must Be Defeated to Save America, authored by this reporter, also finds that the founders of the controversial Apollo Alliance, run by a slew of radicals, helped craft the marketing campaign behind the health-care initiative.

On Obamacare, Red Army documents how the legislation, deliberately masked by moderate, populist rhetoric, was carefully crafted and perfected over the course of decades and is a direct product of laborious work by a coalition of radical groups and activists, many with socialist designs. These activists seek to reform the U.S. health-care industry, which accounts for a significant portion of the U.S. capitalist enterprise.

Red Army reveals that the principal author of the foundation for Obamacare is third-generation progressive academic Jacob S. Hacker, a Yale professor who is an expert on the politics of U.S. health and social policy. Hacker is author of Health Care for America, the centerpiece of the George Soros-funded Economic Policy Institute’s Agenda for Shared Prosperity. Red Army finds that Hacker’s proposal for so-called guaranteed, affordable health care for all Americans is the foundation for Obama’s healthcare plan.

Hacker’s plan had its origins in the professor’s multiple other major policy papers on health care, including a 2001 plan for the Covering America project.

In 2003, Hacker first devised a public health insurance program called “Medicare Plus,” which would offer coverage to all legal residents not otherwise covered by Medicare or employer-sponsored insurance. Employers would be required to either provide a minimum level of coverage to their workers or pay a payroll tax.

That plan was the basis for the U.S. National Healthcare Insurance Act, which was first introduced Feb. 2, 2005, in the House by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. The act was sponsored by several other congressmen, all members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Red Army documents how the Progressive Caucus was founded by the Democrat Socialists of America. The book charges the caucus works as a Marxist-socialist bloc in Congress to introduce progressive legislation with socialist intent.

It also documents how a little-known marketing outfit called the Herndon Alliance helped to market Obamacare, even providing suggestions on which words supporters should use the promote the bill. Acceptable phrases include “quality affordable health care”; “American solutions”; “giving security and peace of mind”; “fair rules”; “government as watchdog”; “smart investments, investing in the future”; and “affordable health plans.”

Unacceptable words include “universal health care”; “Canadian-style health care”; “Medicare for All”; “regulations”; “free”; “government or public health care”; and “wellness.”

Red Army finds that the research component of the Herndon Alliance was provided by Celinda Lake, who teamed up with a marketing research firm, American Environics. AE uses social-values surveys to gauge public opinion.

Lake, herself, worked for a number of leftist institutions and unions, including the AFL-CIO and the SEIU. She also serves on the board of directors of the Progressive Congress Action Fund alongside Robert Borosage, whose Healthcare for America Now anticipated spending $42 million in its final push for passage of Obamacare.

AE was founded in 2004 by a team of American strategists and Canadian researchers. In April 2005, current AE managing partners Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger started AE’s American branch. One year before, Shellenberger did imaging for Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

Nordhaus and Shellenberger co-founded the Apollo Alliance sometime around 2002 and were two of its original national board members.

The Cousins Bielski

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008
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Yehuda Bielski on the right with his ensemble (Novogrudek 1937)

“You survive for a purpose that’s bigger than yourself.”

- Lt. Yehuda Bielski

In September I attended a special screening of the movie “Defiance” at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. The film attempts to depict the formation of the Bielski partisans and some of their early exploits in the dense forests of Belorussia during the Holocaust.

The daylong event was held for Bielski family members and hosted by Robert Bielsky (he spells his name with a “y” rather than an “i”), the affable son of Bielski partisan leader Tuvia. Some 150 people were on hand, while many others were unable to attend because of age, illness or distance.

Why the Bielskis? There were, after all, other Jewish partisan groups that fought bravely and heroically against their Nazi oppressors. And they too must be honored. Yet the Bielski name resounds.

Perhaps it is because their story of survival against all obstacles – slaughter, flight, hunger, fear, intramural rivalries, assassination, execution and murder, ambushes – provides an awesome inspirational message about Jewish resistance and hope.

The Bielski triumph is a moral victory of heroic dimension, and it is a testimony to the invincible human spirit in the face of monstrous evil and demonic barbarism. Extraordinary times create extraordinary people.

It was one of the darkest periods in human history, when European anti-Semitism – always hissing, spluttering and periodically bursting for over a thousand years – finally exploded. In 1933 Hitler established his dictatorship and a new Germany arose with a new kind of war. Europe was to be made Judenrein with not even the possibility of future Jewish life. The evolution of mechanized mass murder was expedited. Every single Jewish man, woman and child was in peril.

By the time the master race invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 in Operation Barbarossa, many of Poland’s 3,250,000 Jews were dead, dying or locked up in ghettos waiting to die. The combination of German deception, indifferent bystanders and ferocious hatred of local collaborators doomed the Jews.

Those trapped – like my mother, Lola Hudes, who escaped from German-occupied Lodz – fled eastward to the Russian sector. The Soviet-German non-aggression pact that divided up Poland and enabled Hitler to wage war on September 1, 1939 would afford some measure of safety in the still neutral Russian sector.

Drunk with power and conquest, the Nazis turned against their Slavic allies with frenzied ruthlessness, fury and savagery. In 1941 Hitler told his generals that the war against Russia “is one of ideologies and racial differences that will have to be conducted with unprecedented, unmerciful and unrelenting harshness.”

With the rapid advancement of German forces into Russia came a new policy against the Jews – the systematic destruction of every single Jewish person and community. No village, town or city was to be spared. No place was too far. No conditions were too difficult. And no exceptions were to be made.

In conjunction with the German army, four special mobile SS execution squads – Einsatzgruppen – were formed to follow the Wehrmacht into Russia to carry out the slaughter in which combat troops also participated. They were enthusiastically aided and abetted by local collaborators as well as Lithuanian, Latvian and Ukrainian militias and policemen who were noted for their sadism and brutality toward Jews.

Massacres began immediately and the killing was continuous. Most of the slaughter was done by mass shootings of people into trenches and pits. Sometimes little children were not shot – they were caught by their legs, their heads were smashed against trees and they were then thrown into the pits still alive.

* * *

There were hundreds of Bielskis living in the Belorussian city of Novogrudek and surrounding towns and villages. My father, Yehuda “Yudl” Bielski, was the youngest of seven siblings. His three brothers had immigrated to America long before World War II, when he was still a little boy. Two married sisters with growing families remained in Novogrudek.

A third sister had been killed as a teenager when her head was bashed in with a rock. The incident was hushed up, but Yehuda’s father wrote a letter to his sons in New York with the sensitive details.

Yehuda attended the Tarbut Zionist school and learned to play the violin and guitar. He was an excellent dancer and a superb athlete. Cleanliness and good grooming were important to him and he coined the term “malbushim” for those who neglected such matters. He was fluent in Yiddish, Polish and Russian, and spoke Hebrew and German.

Yehuda

In 1939 Yehuda was fighting at the front as a lieutenant in the Polish army. Badly wounded, he made his way to a Warsaw hospital. He had barely recovered when the good nuns there helped him escape the SS sweep. Yehuda returned home to Novogrudek, having witnessed many German atrocities along the way, and resumed a more or less normal life for the next two years.

And then, suddenly, the Final Solution arrived at Yehuda’s doorstep.

The Germans first bombed Novogrudek. Then German troops entered followed by the Einsatzgruppen. Violent assaults and shootings of Jews in the streets began immediately. They were taken into forced labor. The Germans confiscated their jewelry, money and goods. Killing and looting were widespread.

Two ghettos were established at each end of the city. They were surrounded by barbed wire and closely guarded by Lithuanians and Ukrainians. “Selections” were routine and people disappeared. They were usually taken to the nearby woods, forced to undress and shot. After one of the ghettos was liquidated, those who remained alive were transferred to the other one. The terror resumed.

Yehuda, a prisoner in the ghetto, received a letter delivered by a Christian friend from his older first cousin Tuvia, who had recently fled with his three brothers, sister and several relatives.

“We are hiding in the forest,” wrote Tuvia, “and we do not plan to submit to the Germans. Bring your wife, a few good men and we will build something together. Please do not hesitate. I hope to see you soon in the forest.”

Yehuda immediately began to plan the escape he’d been thinking about for some time. On a dark night, he led nine people to the ghetto fence surrounded by guards. Silently, fence boards were broken and the escapees crawled through a hole and then across an open field to the surrounding woods. They walked all night.

When Yehuda finally met up with his cousins, the development of the Bielski group took a new turn. It would now include non-relatives. The Bielskis decided not to turn away any Jew who came to them seeking refuge.

At a meeting held shortly after his arrival in the forest, Yehuda stood up – confident, daring, urbane – and spoke: “We have come here into the forest, my dear ones, not to eat and drink and enjoy ourselves. We have come here, every one of us, to stay alive. We must think only of one important thing: revenge and revenge again on the murderers.”

He then outlined his plan to secure weapons and attack the enemy. When it was agreed upon, Yehuda continued: “We must choose a commander and we must give our unit a name. For the responsibility of commander, I nominate my cousin, Tuvia Bielski.”

The group now included a definitive military focus. Thus the Bielski partisans emerged.

Led by the charismatic, courageous and cunning Tuvia, who had grown up with his large peasant family in a tiny rural Belorussian village, the Bielski partisan camp expanded as more and more Jews, ranging from young children to the elderly, arrived. A base camp was established surrounded by smaller camps.

People slept in camouflaged bunkers built underground. They dug wells, built a synagogue, bathhouse, makeshift hospital, school, theater, and workshops where tailors made clothes, cobblers resoled shoes and craftsmen repaired guns. A primitive forest village evolved.

People worked, quarreled, prayed, married, and conceived babies. A strict hierarchy existed and everyone knew his place. Challenges to the authority of the Bielski brothers were at times resolved through the end of a gun barrel. But despite hunger, exposure to severe winters, collaborators and German patrols, those who came under the orders and protection of the Bielskis survived while tens of thousands were massacred around them.

Meanwhile, the military unit of the Bielski partisans smuggled Jews out of ghettos; procured weapons, food and supplies any way possible; sabotaged German supply trains; retaliated against collaborators who turned Jews over to the Germans; and fought a guerilla war against German troops.

Yehuda Bielski, partisan (Belorussian Forest 1942)

Yehuda Bielski, partisan (Belorussian Forest 1942)

In Belorussia, Red Army partisan formations had also begun fighting in the forests behind German lines. Everyone was suspect to the paranoid dictator Stalin, and from the beginning these formations were put under control of the dreaded NKVD (secret police). The NKVD not only shot Russian officers suspected of disloyalty but actively targeted Polish officers regarded as enemies of the Soviet regime.

For the Bielski partisans, this presented another dangerous predicament. The necessity of cooperating with the Russians and being accepted as allies of the Red Army (which could supply them with weapons and ammunition) was vital. Though they were never Communists, it was crucial for the Bielskis to convince the Russians this was both a Soviet and Jewish struggle toward the same goal – victory over the Germans.

Subduing his quick temper and flying fists, Tuvia managed to persuade the Russians that the Bielski fighters were comrades essential to Soviet success.

Pro-German enemies surrounded them everywhere in the forest. Fighting against both the Russians and Jewish partisans were anti-Soviet and anti-Semitic Polish partisan units, the Armia Krajowa (Polish Home Army), Cossacks, and Belorussian soldiers. The appreciative Germans even allowed them to lead their own regiments.

In the vortex of this abattoir, Tuvia made it his business to shield Yehuda, the former Polish officer, from the NKVD. Though very different by education, experience and temperament, the two cousins worked well together in the forest. Both understood the nature of their enemies and the tactics required to deal with them. Tuvia also needed Yehuda’s military expertise.

And they shared something else in common. “The worst day in the forest was when we lost Ida and Sonya [the wives of Yehuda and Tuvia] in a German ambush,” a partisan tearfully recalled years later.

Yehuda became known as “the mystery man.” Somehow, he was never around when the Russians showed up. It was only after being liberated by the Soviets in 1944, when about 1,200 Jewish men, women and children walked out of the forest, that the NKVD finally caught up with him.

When Yehuda returned to Novogrudek he was summoned to NKVD headquarters, where he was interrogated. Afterward he was warned: “We know who you are. We know where you are. And we know what you did during the war. When we’re ready for you, there’s no place you can hide.”

That night, he and Lola (whom he married after she joined the Bielski partisans), wearing their darkest clothes and carrying a few meager possessions, climbed atop a coal train heading west. Hanging on for dear life to the slippery coal, they arrived in Hungary where Yehuda was recruited by the Palestinian Jewish underground.

Avoiding British patrols, he escorted 200 Holocaust survivors in a dilapidated vessel to British-occupied Eretz Yisrael. “We have to build a Jewish country,” he declared.

* * *

Once again Yehuda became “the mystery man” when he joined the Irgun underground, engaging in activities that could have ended with his neck in a British noose. About a year later Tuvia and his wife, Lilka, arrived in Palestine where they eventually moved next door to Yehuda and Lola. Both couples became parents of a daughter and two sons. Yehuda, the only Bielski to be commissioned an officer in the Israel Defense Forces, fought with distinction and honor for the creation of the new Jewish state.

Lt. Yehuda Bielski leading his men on parade (Israel 1949)

Lt. Yehuda Bielski leading his men on parade (Israel 1949)

The two families were close in form but not in substance. In some ways they could have been living at opposite ends of the globe. Lola had grown up in a cultured home with private schools, skiing holidays, doormen, and servants, and she could never reconcile herself to the profane language of the Bielski brothers, their affinity to vodka and their less positive pursuits during the war.

Underwear, for example, was a much needed and prized possession in the forest. Lola – who survived interrogation by Adolph Eichmann, escaped from the Stolpce ghetto and endured in three partisan groups – was shocked when the Bielski leadership demanded hers as the price of admission. “They gave the women’s underwear they collected to their wives and girlfriends. This was so ugly and low,” Yehuda lamented.

Lola had also witnessed the shooting of a Jewish partisan by Tuvia in the forest. And then there was the matter, mentioned earlier, of Yehuda’s dead teenage sister back in Novogrudek. According to Yehuda and the letter his father sent to his three sons in New York, Tuvia was involved in that heinous incident. So Lola and her family remained aloof, and contact was kept to a minimum in Israel and later in America.

With “Defiance” soon to be released, some Poles and Lithuanians have emerged to defame and diminish the Bielski partisans, claiming they were no better than bandits and thieves who roamed the Belorussian forests killing innocent civilians. Some people will believe almost anything about Jews, so long as it’s negative. The calumnies of anti-Semites are legendary, and in some quarters anti-Jewish prejudice remains unabated.

So as I watched my brother Y.E. Bell, an online columnist for The Jewish Press, and four generations of my Bielski relatives – lawyers, teachers, military officers, homemakers, rabbis, artists, doctors, businesspeople – enjoying themselves during that special Sunday screening, I thought about how the Bielski partisans, with all their assorted human strengths, frailties and social differences, had frustrated and ultimately foiled Hitler’s plans to eliminate them.

They survived them all – the Wehrmacht, Einzatsgruppen, SS, collaborators, Red Army, NKVD – and now it is up to their descendents, who number in the tens of thousands, to live up to their legacy and never forget or forgive.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-cousins-bielski/2008/11/19/

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