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October 25, 2016 / 23 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘the Holocaust’

Spurning Ceremonies, Israelis Invite Holocaust Survivors to Their Living Rooms for Remembrance Day

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

By Michael Zeff/TPS

As Israel marks its national Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday evening, thousands of Israelis eschewed the traditional commemoration ceremonies in favor of more personal and intimate encounters with Holocaust survivors and witnesses in their very own living rooms.

Zikaron ba-Salon (Remembrance in the Salon) is a social initiative started six years ago by a group of friends who felt they needed a more direct and unfiltered way of connecting with the memory of the Holocaust on the solemn day.

“The stately ceremonies felt very distant and impersonal to us. We were looking for a closer and personal connection to the memory of the greatest disaster in our history,” Racheli Hazon, the Jerusalem coordinator of the initiative told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

The group invited an elderly Holocaust survivor to one of their homes, hosted him and listened to his story, later conducting a deep discussion accompanied by musical performances.

What started as a private initiative among friends quickly spread among Israelis young and old, and is now an international phenomenon with similar meetings happening as far away as Seattle.

“The year after this initiative began, the idea was replicated by some of the guests in their own living rooms. It grew, and last year approximately 150,000 individuals participated as guests, hosts, or speakers in living rooms all over the country – and even abroad,” Hazon told TPS.

Now the the Zikaron ba-Salon is a well-coordinated and organized initiative with a website in which individuals can find an event to attend, to volunteer their own living room as hosts, or register as speakers.

One surprising volunteer this year was the President of the State of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, who opened the living room of his official Jerusalem residence to 40 guests who came to listen to a heart-wrenching witness account by Meir Ginosr, an 87-year-old survivor of the Auschwitz death camp.

“Zikaron ba-Salon in the president’s living room is a remembrance in the living room of every citizen of Israel, symbolically shared by the entire nation,” commented Rivlin on the initiative.

According to Racheli Hazon, aside from having such a distinguished volunteer join their ranks this year, the project also marks the largest event held so far.

“Usually these events can’t fit more than 30 or 40 people. This year, the owner of the Tahrir bar in Jerusalem’s shuk (market) has opened his venue to over 100 individuals,” Hazon explained to TPS.

Tahrir hosted 85-year-old Yigal Halamit, who spoke about his experience during the Holocaust in Tunisia and the oft-ignored story of the many North African Jews who perished in the Holocaust by the Nazis.

“It is personally important to me to be able to share my story with these people,” Halamit told TPS. “This is a wonderful forum and a great opportunity for me to tell the story of the forgotten North African victims of the Holocaust.”

“It didn’t happen only in Europe, it happened everywhere the Nazis went, ” he added.

“These are the last opportunities we have to have actual encounters with survivors and listen to them directly and hear their stories, “ Hazon lamented. “Already there are more participating living rooms than actual Holocaust survivors to speak in them.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Israeli Labour Party Ponders Cutting Ties to British Labour Over Anti-Semitism

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

By Jesse Lempel/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – The Israeli Labour Party is considering cutting ties to its British counterpart amid an ongoing wave of British Labour officials dismissed due to anti-Semitic comments, including remarks advocating the deportation of Israel’s Jews and claims that Hitler supported Zionism.

MK Isaac Herzog, head of Israel’s Labour Party and Opposition leader, told Channel 10 News on Monday that he is “considering suspending relations” with British Labour and that “it’s possible there may be no other resort.” Herzog went on to explain that the majority of British Labour rejects these anti-Semitic views, which are held by “only a small and loud minority.”

Herzog’s announcement follows a letter by Labour MK Nachman Shai calling on Herzog to promptly sever ties with British Labour under its current chairman, Jeremy Corbyn.

“There is a toxic atmosphere of hatred and fanaticism in British Labour,” Shai wrote. “It is no longer a sister Party with which we can have close relations and coordinate policy.”

“When one of the Labour leaders creates a twisted connection between Adolf Hitler and Zionism this is no longer a warning sign – this is a moral collapse that requires immediate and unequivocal action,” Amir Peretz, another Israeli Labour MK and former Party chairman, wrote on his Facebook page.

Peretz was referring to comments made by former London Mayor and Labour Member Ken Livingstone last week, arguing that Adolf Hitler supported Zionism because he wanted to deport German Jews. Livingstone was suspended from Labour following the remarks, and the Party has said it will investigate anti-Semitism in its ranks.

Three more British Labour officials were suspended on Monday for anti-Semitic comments they had posted to Facebook, including comments referring to Israel “drinking Gaza blood” and accusing Israel of orchestrating last year’s ISIS terror attacks in Paris as punishment for a French UN vote in support of the Palestinians.

The scandal in British Labour comes at a sensitive time, with important local elections coming up in England on Thursday—including a contentious and racially-charged race for London mayor—which coincides with Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Herzog sent a letter to British Labour head Jeremy Corbyn on Saturday inviting him to bring a delegation to visit Israel’s Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem. “While Ken Livingstone is surely anti-Semitic beyond repair,” Herzog wrote, “I’m sure there remain many Labour Party activists with a willingness to engage and better understand the scourge of anti-Semitism.”

“Yad Vashem is open to all visitors,” said Simmy Allen, Yad Vashem’s director of international communications, in an interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “Our vast resources are at the disposal of anyone who would like to learn about the Holocaust and experience a visit to Yad Vashem.”

It appears unlikely, however, that Corbyn will take Herzog up on the offer, leading Israeli Labour members to openly ponder whether they must dissociate from their British counterpart.

“With sister Parties like this, who needs enemies?” tweeted Itzik Shmuli, a Knesset member with the Labour Party.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Remembering Rabbi Eliezer Silver

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

My Zaidi, Rabbi Eliezer Silver, was born in Lithuania in 1882 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1907. He was elected the first president of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the U.S. and Canada, in 1929, and is known for having helped save many thousands of Jews in the Second World War. In November 1939, Rabbi Silver convened an emergency meeting in New York City to discuss the recent developments in Nazi occupied Europe. It was at this meeting that the Vaad Hatzalah (Rescue Committee) was formed, with Rabbi Silver as president.

He also is credited with launching a fund-raising campaign, collecting more than $5 million, which helped to provide thousands of visas to Jewish refugees in Eastern Europe. Today that $5 million is worth $83.86 million.

I was born at the Margaret Hague Hospital in Jersey City. Mother and I lived with my gentle, caring grandmother Rose Slutsky. For the first three years of my life I was surrounded by loving aunts, uncles and cousins. After my first birthday, and until I was 19, we spent joyous summers in Belmar, N.J.

During that time, WWII, Daddy, Dr. Nathan Silver z”l, was a Captain in Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army, fighting against the Nazi’s extermination of Jews in Europe.

Zaidi had announced that he was only coming east if I was a boy! Rather, Zaidi came to meet me at the hospital as soon as I was born.

That is how early this wondrous man became an integral part of my life.

I had a special relationship with my Zaidi. For ten years I sat opposite him at Friday night Shabbos dinners. I remember his pride when I recounted my learning Baba Metziaperek Hamfkid aytzel chavero.

I listened to grandfather carefully and intently, and after a time I understood and was able to speak his native Litvak Yiddish, his Mama Loshen (the only grandchild to do so).

Early on I knew the gravity of his mission: Not just by the way he spoke: It was in his essence. To this day I proudly remember and continue to say the Four Questions in Yiddish.

I recall often, with a deep sense of humility, how special I felt when Zaidi would bless me and place his hands over my head.

My mother, of blessed memory, Lillian Silver, z”l, spoke a perfect Litvak Yiddish. Most thought she was his daughter. The enormity of her respect and admiration for him was palpable.

Even though Daddy and Zaidi were less verbal, they could speak volumes to each other with a mere few words. It was a special father-son bond, and Daddy cared for him until his passing in 1968.

Daddy, Dr Nathan Silver, was a cardiologist and Army captain. Zaidi wore his uniform throughout postwar Europe in his search of any and all surviving Jews. This was the same uniform Dad wore when, tasked directly by General George Patton, to examine the heinous infamous Hermann Goering who had an alleged chronic cardiac condition. Dad pronounced him fit to stand trial. The night before his trial, the Nazi coward committed suicide.

Zaidi went to Catholic orphanages all over Post War Europe to rescue living Jewish children, and in the morning when the priests or nuns told him that there were no Jewish children, he decided to return at night when they were about to go to sleep. As he entered the large room of (non-existent) Jewish refugee children, he resolutely recited the Shema, and they all joined in the prayer. He told the priests at each orphanage that “these are my children.”

He left every single orphanage with Jewish children.

Zaidi was a true patriot. He spoke with every American president since Taft in behalf of Jews and regarding Jewish matters. Taft’s own descendants forged ties with the Silver family. His son Sen. Robert Taft was Zaidi’s attorney in a mikva case he won (pro bono). Taft’s grandson Sen. Robert Taft personally assisted me in behalf of the plight of Soviet Jewry. He also helped my mother in her many worthwhile endeavors.

Judy Silver-Shapiro

Netanyahu Attacks Deniers of Mufti-Holocaust Links

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu preceded his flight to Germany Wednesday for a meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel with by rejecting criticism of his remarks last night that linked Mufti al-Husseini with the Holocaust.

Opposition leader Yitzchak Herzog, his cohorts on Israel Radio’s Kol Yisrael (Reshet Bet) and the Palestinian Authority were all over the Prime Minister Wednesday morning, accusing him of re-writing history and inciting Arabs.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments on the Mufti during his speech to the World Jewish Congress were perfectly timed, giving him ammunition to carry with him when talking with Merkel about Palestinian Authority incitement.

He rejected criticism that his comments implied that Hitler was not responsible for the slaughter of 6 million Jews, and he explained:

It is absurd. I had no intention to absolve Hitler of responsibility for his diabolical destruction of European Jewry. Hitler was responsible for the Final Solution to exterminate six million Jews. He made the decision.

It is equally absurd to ignore the role played by the Mufti, Haj Amin al -Husseini, a war criminal, for encouraging and urging Hitler, Ribbentropp, Himmler and others, to exterminate European Jewry. There is much evidence about this, including the testimony of Eichmann’s deputy at the Nuremberg trials, not now, but after World War II. He said:

He replied to Arab criticism that he false accused the Mufti of advising Hitler to burn Jews and said:

There is much evidence about this, including the testimony of Eichmann’s deputy at the Nuremberg trials, not now, but after World War II. He said:

‘The Mufti was instrumental in the decision to exterminate the Jews of Europe. The importance of his role must not be ignored. The Mufti repeatedly proposed to the authorities, primarily Hitler, Ribbentropp and Himmler, to exterminate the Jews of Europe. He considered it a suitable solution for the Palestinian question’.

Eichmann’s deputy, added:

‘The Mufti was one of the instigators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and was a partner and adviser to Eichmann and Hitler for carrying out this plan’.

He reminded listeners that “Haj Amin al-Husseini is still a revered figure in Palestinian society. He appears in textbooks and it is taught that he is one of the founding fathers of the nation, and this incitement that started then with him, inciting the murder of Jews – continues.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Ben Carson’s Defenders Say Comment on Holocaust and Jewish Guns Has Merit

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

(JNi.media) American psychiatrist, author and television personality Keith Ablow, who is also a contributor on psychiatry for Fox News Channel, has weighed in on the Ben Carson controversy regarding the hypothetical question of whether or not Jews would have fared better had they owned guns during the Holocaust.

In his new book “A Perfect Union,” Carson wrote that “through a combination of removing guns and disseminating propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance.”

What Carson’s comment revealed was not so much his knowledge of the Nazi state’s effort to dehumanize, disenfranchise, relocate and execute millions of Jews, through a policy of terror, starvation and brutality, but perhaps the fact that he did not know enough not to step on the third rail of American national politics — Jewish sensibilities about the Holocaust. His comment about “little resistance” sounded too close to the notion of “sheep to slaughter” Jews have tired of hearing.

ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt tried to put it charitably when he noted: “Ben Carson has a right to his views on gun control, but the notion that Hitler’s gun-control policy contributed to the Holocaust is historically inaccurate. The small number of personal firearms available to Germany’s Jews in 1938 could in no way have stopped the totalitarian power of the Nazi German state.”

But Keith Ablow stood up for Carson, stating simply: “Ben Carson is right, and Jonathan Greenblatt is wrong.” And he explained: “What Greenblatt fails to account for is that the surrendering of firearms by Jews when required to by Nazi authorities was not merely the surrender of guns and ammunition. Those material items would not have been sufficient to defend against the Third Reich’s military.”

As is often the case, context is crucial in understanding these seemingly conflicting views. According to Stephen P. Halbrook, author of “Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and ‘Enemies of the State,’” There were an estimated 20,000 German Jews who owned guns, either for hunting, or souvenirs taken home after their service in WW1. As soon as Adolf Hitler became Germany’s Chancellor, in 1933, the Nazi government used official records to disarm potential opponents—communists, socialists and Jews. They conducted mass searches and seizures of guns, and Police revoked gun licenses of Social Democrats and others who were not “politically reliable.”

In 1938, Halbrook reports, Hitler signed a new Gun Control Act, prohibiting Jews from working in the firearms industry, and also banning .22 caliber hollow-point ammunition. Then, following the shooting of a German diplomat in Paris by a teenage Polish Jew, the Nazis engaged in Kristallnacht, the Night of the Broken Glass, which was, in fact, presented as a massive operation in search of Jewish owned weapons. The Nazis also ransacked Jewish homes and businesses and set fire to synagogues, but the excuse for all of the above was the notion that the dangerous Jews were harboring illegal weapons.

It is always a tricky business to judge the behavior of people in the past using the mindset of the present. But while Ben Carson misunderstand the sense of helplessness German and later Polish Jews felt, deserted as they were by practically the entire gentile world in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the point he makes is still valid. Gun ownership is an effective bulwark against a tyrannical regime, and the proof is that the first thing such a regime would go after are individually owned guns.

And, possibly, to take Carson’s notion another step, even in the most decrepit conditions, in a starved and diseased Warsaw Ghetto, a small band of Jews, scantily armed, managed to hold the Nazi army at bay for nearly a month, from April 19 to May 16, 1943. So Jews have shown that finally possessing guns made a big difference, contributing to the most heroic chapter in our own history.


Timely: New Book Explores How 100,000 Jewish Refugees Were Saved by US

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

(JNi.media) As Syrian refugees risk their lives to immigrate to other countries, many are reminded of the attempts of Jews to escape Nazi persecution in the 1930s and 1940s. In 1944, the US government created the War Refugee Board, in an effort to save Jews from the raging European Holocaust. Heather Voight’s new book, “Passionate Crusaders: How Members of the US War Refugee Board Saved Jews and Altered American Foreign Policy during World War II,” her debut work, is the first book ever to focus exclusively on the War Refugee Board and its accomplishments. A well-researched work, it will be of interest to anyone interested in immigration issues in America, today and yesterday.

By January 1944, Treasury Department officials Henry Morgenthau, John Pehle, and Josiah DuBois had already convinced President Franklin Roosevelt to create the War Refugee Board, an agency with the authority to provide rescue and relief for Jews and other groups persecuted by the Nazis. Scholars have criticized the Board for its inability to save more Jews, insisting the agency should have been created sooner. Heather Voight’s research shows that despite its shortcomings, the War Refugee Board changed history and forever altered American foreign policy. Its creation ended the cycle of indifference that the government and the American public had shown to victims of the Holocaust. In the words of Henry Morgenthau, from 1944-1945 “crusaders, passionately persuaded of the need for speed and action” risked their reputations and sometimes their lives to save Jews.

Voight’s book doesn’t merely tell readers the War Refugee Board was important—it shows how it was created, the actions it took to save lives, and the determination of its members to combat anti-Semitic and anti-immigration attitudes. “Passionate Crusaders” shines a light on the agency that President Franklin Roosevelt created in the midst of a State Department scandal, was staffed by mostly non-Jews who risked their reputations and sometimes their lives working for the Board, saved more than 100,000 Jews using a combination of diplomatic and clandestine methods, and pressured the War Crimes Commission to change its definition of war crimes–the same definition used today.

“I first read about the War Refugee Board while working on my college thesis,” Voight told an interviewer. “When I started to talk about the Board to other people, I got a lot of blank stares. Despite the number of people aided by the War Refugee Board and its lasting impact on American foreign policy, few Americans have ever heard of it. I wrote this book to tell the story of the Board’s members who tried to do so much in so little time.”


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.


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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