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December 8, 2016 / 8 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘the Holocaust’

Guatemala Holocaust Museum First in Central America

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Located in a colonial-era house in Guatemala City, Guatemala, the Museo del Holocausto will be the first Holocaust museum in Central America. When it opens officially, in early 2017, the museum’s permanent collection will focus on the “Holocaust by Bullets.”

Between 1941 and 1944, more than 2 million Jews were massacred when the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. Because of the region’s inadequate railway systems the Nazis were unable to easily transport the Jews to the camps. Instead, mobile execution units gathered, shot and killed the Jews outside their homes. Soviet villages became execution sites and local villagers became executioners and witnesses.

After the executions, the Nazis buried their victims in mass ditches and continued on to another village. With bodies and bullets beneath the ground, the perpetrators left behind little indication of what had taken place. Some of the murderers were tried in Nuremberg, some in the West and East Germany, but many remain unaware of the magnitude of those mass executions.

Israeli Artist Mira Maylor’s exhibit “Memories of the Holocaust through Art” debuted at the Guatemala Holocaust Museum in November, and will be on display through February 28, 2017. Maylor’s take on memory is displayed in a series of 18 pieces. Israeli Ambassador to Guatemala Moshe Bachar spoke at the show’s opening and the Israeli Embassy in Guatemala supported the exhibition.

JNi.Media

Holocaust Historian Yaffa Eliach Dead at 79

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Professor Yaffa Eliach, a pioneering scholar in Holocaust studies, who launched the first Center for Holocaust Studies Documentation & Research in the USA and introduced Holocaust Studies on the American campus passed away on Tuesday at age 79.

Born in Eishyshok near Vilna, Lithuania, Eliach was four when her town was occupied by the Germans in 1941 and most of the Jewish population was murdered. She and her family hid and survived, until the Soviet Red Army liberated their area in 1944, at which point her mother and a brother were killed by Polish militia men. Eliach emigrated to Eretz Israel in 1946, and in 1954 left for the US, where she eventually received a Ph.D. in Russian intellectual history in 1973.

She was the creator of the exhibit the Tower of Life at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, a soaring display made up of 1500 photographs depicting the people of a typical East European shtetl. The Tower of Life has been viewed by more than 20 million visitors and is considered by many to be the Museum’s most moving exhibit.

Eliach wrote the Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust (Oxford University Press). Derived from interviews and oral histories, these eighty-nine original Hasidic tales about the Holocaust provide witness, in a traditional idiom, to the victims’ inner experiences.

JNi.Media

A Little Closure on an Unspeakable Tragedy

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

On the anniversary of an event chilling even by Holocaust standards, the notorious Babyn Yar (“Babi Yar”) massacre that left an entire Jewish community dead or dying in a forest outside one of Ukraine’s largest cities – and under the noses of its remaining residents – a memorial ceremony was held at UN Headquarters, jointly hosted by Ukrainian Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko, US Ambassador Samantha Power, and Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon.

Ambassador Power shared eye-witness accounts. She described how victims, after being told to dress warmly and gather belongings, were marched beyond city limits to a nearby forest where they were instructed to leave their possessions in a pile and undress.

“The German soldiers then formed a gauntlet through which the Jews had to pass,” she told an audience made up mostly of members of the diplomatic community. Power described how naked men, women and children were whipped and beaten with sticks as they barreled through the human corridor, trying to fend off the blows with their hands.

“When they finally emerged they found themselves beside a deep ravine. Other groups of soldiers instructed them to either stand on the edge of the ravine, where they awaited their moment to be shot and tumble into the abyss, or to climb down and lay on top of already dead bodies, where they waited to be shot as bodies and dirt fell around them.”

Although the Nazis, and their collaborators, worked diligently and systematically from 10am to 6pm, they were not able to get through the tens of thousands of Jews in one day. “And so,” explained Power, “thousands more were locked in a warehouse overnight, left to contemplate their fate while the soldiers got a good night sleep, in order to be well rested for the job ahead tomorrow.”

Ambassador Danon thanked all who came to pay tribute, and conveyed the significance of the massacre. “The Jews of Kiev woke up in their homes on September 28, 1941. By the next day – Erev Yom Kippur of 1941 – 33,771 of them were dead or buried alive.” The events at Babyn Yar represented the first stage of the Holocaust explained Danon, “the deliberate, organized mass murder of six million Jews. Genocide.”

He invoked the words of a former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau. “Rabbi Lau believed that Babyn Yar was a test conducted by Hitler to see how the civilized world would react to such an event,” said Danon. “After all,” he continued, “it didn’t take place hidden away in a concentration camp.”

Ukrainian Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko also spoke at the ceremony, describing Babyn Yar as a dark point for Ukraine and for humanity.

In videotaped testimony, Babyn Yar survivor Raisa Dashekevich described how she ran naked through the gauntlet as fast as she could, clutching her baby in an attempt to shield him from being cut by a whip, all the while frantically looking for her own mother, who she’d become separated from in the chaos. She passed the last soldier in time to see her mother shot, then fall into the pit on top of other writhing bodies. Raisa held her baby jumped.

“People kept landing on us,” she recalled, “it became so dark and cold, there was so much weight on us. There was screaming, and dirt thrown over us, and terrible smells.” She remembers going in and out of consciousness, then at one point during the night, realizing her baby had gone cold. But Raisa couldn’t find any bullet holes. She realized that he hadn’t been shot, he had been crushed to death, most likely by herself. She left him there and climbed up through the layers of bodies out into the moonlight. She found her way, filthy and bloody, to a nearby farmhouse where she was saved by the kindness and bravery of the farmer’s wife.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addressed the assembly through a recorded video message, saying that although Babyn Yar was primarily a tragedy for the Jews, it was a catastrophe for all mankind. “It remains one of the hardest memories and deepest wounds for our country,” said Poroshenko, “a reminder of the terrible price that can be paid for political shortsightedness.” In what may have been a veiled reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin, he added, “It is a reminder what can happen when you condone the aggression of paranoiac dictators.”

As the ceremony drew to a close with a short and somber chamber music concert, the audience was reminded that Jews weren’t the only victims of the infamous ravine. In all, over 150,000 people were murdered at Babyn Yar.

The evening dedicated to remembering ended with a final reminder by its hosts: Please. Don’t forget.

Stephanie Granot

Study: Children of Parents Who Were Babies in the Holocaust More Prone to schizophrenia

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Results of a new study at the University of Haifa have shown no difference in the risk of developing schizophrenia between second-generation Holocaust survivors and those whose parents were not exposed to the Holocaust. However, an examination of various sub-groups showed that second-generation survivors whose parents were babies during the Holocaust are at higher risk of suffering from a more severe course of schizophrenia.

“Likely these are transmitted from the parental environment to the child,” Prof. Stephen Levine, the lead author of the study, commented. The study was undertaken by Levine and Prof. Itzhak Levav of the Department of Community Mental Health at the University of Haifa, together with Inna Pugachova, Rinat Yoffe and Yifat Becher from Israel’s Ministry of Health. The study, published in Schizophrenia Research, was based on information on 51,233 individuals who immigrated to Israel through 1966, and was made possible thanks to the cooperation of the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Health, with funds from Israel Science Foundation.

The study’s population included individuals who experienced the Holocaust directly, while the comparison group was comprised of individuals who immigrated to Israel before the Holocaust began in their countries of origin. All the second-generation subjects were born between 1948 and 1989, and were followed through 2014 to ascertain whether or not they suffered from schizophrenia.

The question of the impact of exposure to the Holocaust among second-generation survivors is the subject of disagreement among researchers. Clinical-based studies have found that trauma increases psychopathology in the offspring of Holocaust survivors, while community based studies have found that there is no such effect among adults, as noted by Levav and collaborators in two large representative samples in Israel.

The researchers sought to examine whether parental Holocaust exposure is associated with schizophrenia among second-generation survivors. The good news is that the association was not significant.

However, a more specific inquiry showed that offspring of mothers with Holocaust exposure in the womb only were 1.7 times more likely to have a more severe course of the disorder. Similarly, offspring of mothers exposed to the Holocaust in the womb and thereafter were 1.5 more likely to have a more severe course than persons not exposed. Offspring of fathers exposed in the womb and thereafter were 1.5 times more likely, and those whose fathers had been exposed at ages 1–2 had offspring whose risk of having a worse course of the disorder was higher than persons not exposed.

Transgenerational genocide exposure was unrelated to the risk of schizophrenia in the offspring, but was related to a course of deterioration in schizophrenia during selected parental critical periods of early life. This implies an epigenetic mechanism – namely arising from environmental influences on the way genes expressed themselves. The findings inform health policy decision makers about refugees who suffered from extreme adversity, and extend existing results regarding the transgenerational transfer of the effects of famine and stress in parental early life.

JNi.Media

Painter Jonasz Stern’s ‘Landscape after the Holocaust’ in Krakow Museum

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

The recorded testimony of Jonasz Stern at the Yad Vashem digital collection relates: “Testimony of Jonasz Stern, born in Kalusz, Poland, 1904, regarding his experiences in the Lvov Ghetto, his rescue from shooting in killing pits during the liquidation of the Lvov Ghetto, in hiding, in Budapest, in Romania, and in other places.”

The transcribed account follows:

“Escape from Krakow to Lvov with his wife, at the outbreak of the war; move from apartment to apartment, after the occupation of Lvov; deportation to the Lvov Ghetto, November 1941; Lvov Ghetto life including overcrowding, hunger and the lack of means of existence; “Aktion,” August 1942; obtains Aryan documents for his wife, and her move to Stryj; capture of the witness, May 1943; deportation to Janowska camp with 3,000 Jews; concentration of thousands of Jews in a field for two days, without food or water, and shooting into the crowd by the Germans; transfer of 7,000 men, women and children who are naked, in railroad cars to Belzec; escape from the train through a window which he broke when they were 6.5 kilometers from Lvov; return to the Lvov Ghetto for ten days, until the liquidation of the ghetto; deportation of thousands of Jews to Janowska camp, mid-June 1943; transfer of the Jews to the killing site in Hyclowa Gorka, the next day; escape from the shooting pit, after ten hours among the corpses of the dead and the wounded people; hides in fields and in a forest, and receives help from the local farmers, in particular from Poles from Poznan who resided in Sknilow; return to Lvov, and hides with the help of Polish friends; move to Rozniatow by train; walks on foot through the mountains and illegally crosses the border into Hungary; he is attacked by a shepherd before crossing the border, who beats him and steals his belongings; move to the Hungarian side, after wanderings in the mountains for eight days; arrival to Budapest with the help of local people; life under the protection of the Polish Committee, until the German occupation of Hungary; move to Romania, summer 1944; capture by the Gestapo, and release after the intervention of Endre Laszlo, a commander of the Hungarian Gendarmerie in a town near Budapest; life in Budapest; liberation by the Red Army.”

The account concludes with the following heartbreaking lines: “Receives information regarding the return of his wife to Krakow during the war, and that she willingly presented herself to the Gestapo, due to her lack of means of existence and exhaustion.”

Other than that, Painter Jonasz Stern left a permanent mark on the Polish art of the 20th century. Before the war, he was a member of the first Grupa Krakowska (Krakow Group), and in 1957 he co-founded Grupa Krakowska II, with members including Maria Jarema and Tadeusz Kantor. These were the two most significant artistic formations in Poland. The pre-war Group experimented with form and manifested its left-wing stance, the majority of members affiliated to the KPP, the Communist Party of Poland.

After the war had erupted, Stern fled from Krakow to Lvov. Of his paintings only one remains, the Nude Study from 1935, which is now part of the collection of the National Museum in Krakow.

After the war, Stern became a philosopher, reflecting on life, its transience and dignity. In his assemblages, he expressed his thoughts using simple symbols: scrunched-up fabric, animal and fish bones, stones, netting and – occasionally – photographs. The drama of his paintings is entirely devoid of pathos. Stern created a universe of abstract landscapes left by a world annihilated.

Jonasz Stern – Landscape after the Holocaust

Aug. 5 – Sep. 25 2016, Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków (MOCAK), 4 Lipowa St. 30-702 Kraków, Poland. Tuesday–Sunday 11 AM – 7 PM, Monday – closed. phone +48 12 263 40 00.

JNi.Media

Why Some Jews Are Afraid of an ‘Inner-Nazi’

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

What is the fundamental lesson of the Holocaust for Israel and the Jewish people? There is a divergence of opinion:

Many Liberal Jews believe the main lesson of the Six Million is that we Jews should never do to others what was done to us.

We know first hand what the horrors of hatred look like, and therefore, we must distance ourselves in every possible way from behaviors which are like those of the Nazis.

This way of thinking posits that every mortal person has the potential to be a Nazi and when given power, every human and even every Jew can become abusive. But after the Holocaust, we Jews were tasked with being more ethical and virtuous than the barbarians. We took it upon ourselves to be the archetype of restraint, lest our very human Inner-Nazi be unleashed and we end up mirroring the tormentors we escaped.

I call the folks in this camp Fear-of-Inner-Nazi Jews.

The other perspective is very different.

It posits that the main lesson of the Holocaust is that Jews, having survived the hell of the Holocaust as a people, should Never Again allow anyone to do that to us again. The Zionist revolution effectuated a return to the land, to agriculture, a revival of Hebrew, and, so meaningfully, a resurrection of Jewish physical courage and military strength. Israel’s ability to put up a fight, and even to be a global leader in defense techniques and technology, is, for subscribers of this outlook, a source of pride.

This group I call the Never-Again Jews.

But not only are these outlooks divergent, they also clash.

For those in the Fear-of-Inner-Nazi faction, the Jewish State, when acting with force, can come dangerously close to being like the dreaded Nazis.

The latest trigger of this phobia took place when a soldier in Hebron shot a downed terrorist. The Inner-Nazi group immediately sensed danger: Israel was slipping morally, carrying out extrajudicial killings, vigilantism, field execution – the Inner Nazi was coming out!

For those of the Never-Again viewpoint, the Hebron terrorist came to kill Jews, like a classic Nazi, and ended up dead. Was it OK to shoot the terrorist when he was down? Maybe yes, maybe no – but that’s not the big issue. The Jewish people are at war with a global Jihad which seeks to destroy Israel and to kill Jews for being Jews. The bottom line is that Israel must, first and foremost, protect Jews, and be the Never Again country which prevents the Nazis of today from harming one hair on one Jewish head.

However, for Never-Againers it’s not only that Jews have the right to kill Nazis or Jihadists because all is fair in war.

For many of us, the very assertion that Jews have an Inner-Nazi and the given the ‘right circumstances’ we will herd people into gas chambers is preposterous! The father of Nazism, Adolf Hitler, hunted Jews precisely because we were the embodiment of morality, the “conscience of the world” which he wanted to wipe out. Anyone who really knows the Jewish and Israeli people knows that we have never been in danger of becoming Nazis. To the contrary (and contrary to global media), we are a source of light, liberty, and progress, regionally and globally.

Yet, the Fear-of-Inner-Nazi Jews are not the only ones who subscribe to the idea that Israel’s actions, unchecked, can easily approach Nazism.

Anti-Israel propaganda harps endlessly upon those Liberal Jewish fears by insinuating a nexus between Israel’s actions and Nazism.

Once the accusation has been lobbied, Fear-of-Inner Nazi Jews face a dilemma: If they believe the propaganda, they become anti-Israel. If they don’t, they bend over backwards to prove that Israel is not like that all, that we are a moral people with a moral army, and we have the Inner-Nazi in check. For Inner-Nazi Jews, the only solution is to throw the soldier who shot the downed terrorist in Hebron into the slammer and throw away the key after making a public example of him! Shackle the Inner-Nazi and hope the world sees the truth of our goodness!

In the meantime, the real Nazis of our time – the Hamas, ISIS, and Hezbollah – arm themselves and prepare for war.

We know they are digging tunnels and we know they are building up their supplies of rockets with the intent of wiping Israel out. But we don’t hit them hard and we don’t strike with fury – we are chained down, stymied by our fear of unleashing the Inner-Nazi or by the fear of being accused of having one. We can only strike when we are under full attack, and then retaliate with only a measured response. A roof-knocking rocket, a kinder-gentler moral army, which makes sure to never fully win, and certainly would never use the word “vanquish” at the end of the war. Don’t crush the enemy, be merciful to the weak, even though moments ago he tried to kill you – Remember the Holocaust!

Some people say that we Jews talk too much about the Holocaust. I don’t think so at all. I think we don’t talk about it enough.

We should take a minute every day to view photographs of dead-Jew-piles being tractored or burned. Then, after watching that, we should make a commitment each day to Never Again and act upon it by striking mercilessly at the Jihad and sending a clear signal – we have zero tolerance for Jewish injury, we have zero tolerance for Neo-Nazism. Now that we have the power to stop them, we should Never Again allow for the 6,000,001 victim. This should our fundamental take-home lesson from the Holocaust.

And let’s take it one step further: instead of fearing the Inner-Nazi who will never appear, imagine if we would embrace our inner Never Again Jewishness so that we would not only protect our own, rather, we would use our newly found strength in a new role. Liberator. Israel – post-Holocaust empowered Jews – would go out and fight today’s Nazism wherever it is, and help the world defeat the very same forces that murdered Six Million when we were weak.

Yishai Fleisher

Honoring the ‘Jewish Schindler’ You’ve Never Heard Of

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

By Joshua B. Dermer/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – It’s the Holocaust rescue story that often goes untold—Jews who put their lives on the line to save their fellow Jews.

Shmuil Markowitz Pevzner (1912-1991), a Jew who saved 300 children from the Druskininkai Soviet Pioneers Camp during Operation Barbarossa, was honored by B’nai B’rith World Center and the Jewish National Fund at their 14th annual Holocaust commemoration ceremony on Thursday at the B’nai B’rith Martyr’s Forest Scroll of Fire Plaza in Jerusalem.

“We are unique in the sense that we are the only ceremony that recognizes Jewish rescuers on an annual basis,” said B’nai B’rith Director Alan Schneider in an interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “It’s not an area of strong academic research, though that is something we would like to encourage.”

Born in Belorussia, Pevzner served as director of the Polish troupe at the Druskininkai camp in Lithuania. He brought the 300 children—150 of whom were Jewish—by train to the Soviet Far East while under German aerial attack. Pevzner established a home for the children in the Udmurtia Republic, where he cared for them through extreme weather conditions until the end of the war.

Pevzner was represented by his son, Dr. Mark Pevzner, and grandson, Boris Pevzner.

According to Schneider, while commemorations in previous years have included rescuers from Germany, France, Slovakia, and Eastern Europe, this is the first year the organization is recognizing a Russian.

“The organizers seek to right the historical record by giving due recognition through the ceremony and citation to Shmuil Pevzner for rescuing these vulnerable children, some of whom were as young as seven,” Schneider said. “We salute his dedication to the children and support for them through emotional and physical hardships to become upstanding youngsters and adults.”

Schneider explained that obtaining first-hand testimony is increasingly difficult as the survivor population ages.

“As these annual events take place, people hear about it and they get in touch with us to have their rescuer recognized, which is what happened this year. We are constantly active on our Facebook page and many people write to us,” Schneider said.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/honoring-the-jewish-schindler-youve-never-heard-of/2016/05/05/

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