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July 25, 2016 / 19 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Warsaw Ghetto’

Belgian Jewish Schools Close Down in Fear of Terrorism

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Belgium Jewish’s schools shut down Friday, Chabad cancelled  a public Friday night dinner, and several Jews have stopped going to synagogue in the wake of Thursday’s counter-terror raid that ended with Belgian police killing two terrorists but still looking for others.

A Jewish school in Amsterdam also shut its doors Friday.

Jews fear a repeat of last week’s savage attack on a kosher deli in Paris, where four Jews were murdered and several others were held hostage until police stormed the store and ended the siege.

Belgium’s Joods Actueel reported that schools in Brussels and Antwerp were closed on Friday based on intelligence information from officials, including the Mossad, that it was “too dangerous” to allow children to go to school.

“We were informed that we are a potential target and therefore take no chances, said Isi Morsel, head of the organizing power of the largest Jewish school Jesode Hatora.

He is confident that schools will be able to re-open on Monday.

Confidence is the last thing Jews in Belgium, if not in all of Europe, have these days.

Belgian police have said that guarding Jewish’s schools does not mean they can prevent terror because they are not equipped,  with the proper weapons and training to challenge the animals from ISIS and other Islamic radical barbarians.

The director of the Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCE) thinks that perhaps Jews could take up the slack by arming themselves with guns.

RCE director Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director general of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE) and the European Jewish Association (EJA) wrote to European Union officials “We hereby ask that gun licensing laws are reviewed with immediate effect to allow designated people in the Jewish communities and institutions to own weapons for the essential protection of their communities, as well as receiving the necessary training to protect their members from potential terror attacks.”

A Jewish cartoonist was among the victims of attack by radical Islamists on the Charles Hebdo offices in Paris last week, and four Jews were gunned down in the attack on a kosher deli in Paris two days later.

And Rabbi Margolin wants to allow Jews to carry guns?

That would mean terrorists, armed with assault rifles and prepared by months of military training, would be able to add a few pistols to their arsenal after killing their Jewish victims who would barely be able to pull their pistols out of holster before being sliced by machine-gun fire.

Perhaps Rabbi Margolin thinks that Belgian Jews are in the Warsaw Ghetto and are living in underground sewers, needing guns to fight off the Nazis.

Or perhaps he thinks that fighting terrorists is like a cowboys and Indians movie.

The recent attacks in France “have revealed the urgent need to stop talking and start acting,” Rabbi Margolin wrote.”Right now Jews do not feel safe.”

Right now?

Jew in Europe felt safe last month, or last year?

Hundreds of Jews, from Israel and elsewhere, wear a hat and not a kippa in the streets of many European cities because they are afraid of being spat on, beaten, robbed and killed.

Rabbi Margolin also wrote, “People are afraid to come to synagogue. People are afraid to go to Jewish schools.”

 

“[The police] are not doing enough, for sure. We just need more. The best solution is having at least two police officers at each Jewish institution, 24 hours a day. Until that happens we need to be able to feel secure in other ways” and allowing Jews to carry guns would “allow our people to feel protected.”

He is not talking about training Jews with assault rifles and counter-terror tactics, or even a bit of karate.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

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.”

JTA

Holocaust Researcher Yisrael Gutman Dies at 90 in Jerusalem

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Warsaw Ghetto survivor and researcher Israel Gutman has died in Jerusalem at the age of 90. He was born in Warsaw, where he was wounded in the Jewish uprising against the Nazis in 1943. He is survived by two daughters and three grandchildren.

Gutman survived three concentration and death camps, including Auschwitz, but his parents and all of his brothers and sisters died or were killed in the Ghetto. He survived the January 1945 death march from Auschwitz to Mauthausen, where he was liberated by U.S. forces.

Gutman moved to Israel after the war and spent the rest of his life researching the Holocaust. He was the chief historian at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and was a professor of history at Hebrew University.

Jewish Press News Briefs

In Memory of Irena Sendler

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Years ago, I first heard the story of Irena Sendler. In the dark world of World War II, she was a tiny light shining brightly; a reminder that there are good people, even in the ugliest of situations. Today is the 8th day of the Hebrew month of Av. We start our days with the setting of each sun – our 24 hours does not stretch from midnight to midnight, but from sundown to sundown and so tonight begins the 9th day of Av. It is, by any calculation, the saddest day on the Jewish calender. What we lost, what was done to us on this day – throughout the thousands of years we have wandered, cannot be measured, nor can our grief.

Tonight we will sit on the floors or our synagogues, our homes, on hilltops and community centers. This is a sign of mourning as we listen to the book of Eicha – Lamentations, as it is quietly read – here in Israel, in our neighborhood, our city, our country, and also around our world. It won’t rain here in Israel; but the heavens will cry with us. And we will wait for some bit of light to come back into our world, some sign that better times are coming.

It seems particularly appropriate to post this guest blog post about Irena Sendler – a reminder that in the darkest of times, a small light of humanity and hope brings forth the greatest hopes.

Tomorrow, wherever you are – please remember that only in the darkest of places, can we see the smallest of lights more clearly. They are a sign, if we have the faith to grasp it. May God bless the memory of Irena Sendler and may she always look down upon Israel, knowing that there are many who live today because of “her” children.

In Memory of Irena Sendler

The recent 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising focused the world’s attention, if only for a few moments, on the unspeakable horror that befell European Jewry just a generation ago. Ceremonies were held and speeches were made but when all is said and done, if our present generation doesn’t take necessary action to ensure that the events of World War II are remembered, the world will blithely and conveniently forget.

Just how easy it is to forget was emphasized by the recent research of a group of Kansas City schoolgirls who reignited interest in a story that had almost been swept into the dustbin of history. In 1999, while researching the Holocaust, the girls heard snippets of a story about a “female Oskar Schindler” who saved over 3000 Jews in Nazi Poland. The girls followed up on the story and due to their interest the amazing tale of Irena Sendler has been commemorated in a project that includes a book, a website and a performance.

Irena Sendler was a Polish social worker in 1939. When the Nazis invaded Poland she joined the Zagota underground and assisted Jews who were trying to escape from the Nazi dragnet. Together with her Zagota comrades she forged identity documents and helped the escaping Jews locate safe hiding places.

In 1941 the Nazis established the Warsaw ghetto and gathered almost half a million Jews into the small ghetto walls. Sendler obtained documents that identified her as a nurse who specialized in infectious diseases and she began to enter the ghetto to bring in foods and medicines.  Sendler quickly realized that the Nazis intended to murder all of the Jews in the ghetto and she developed strategies to move children to the “safe” part of Poland. She started by transferring orphans that she found on the streets but soon started to knock on doors in an attempt to convince Jewish parents to allow her to relocate their children.

When interviewed about her activities 60 years after the events, Sendler admitted that the memories of those conversations still gave her nightmares. “Those scenes over whether to give a child away were heart-rending. Sometimes, they wouldn’t give me the child. Their first question was, ‘What guarantee is there that the child will live?’ I said, ‘None. I don’t even know if I will get out of the ghetto alive today.”

Paula Stern

Irena Sendler, We Honor You

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

During World War II, Irena, a Polish Christian woman, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive. Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck, for larger kids.

Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2,500 kids/infants. Read that number again – 2,500 lives…Ultimately, she was caught, however, and the Nazi’s broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out, In a glass jar that she buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and tried to reunite the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.

In 2007 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was not selected. Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming. Today, we honor her courage, her bravery. She has been recognized as a Righteous Gentile in Yad Vashem.

May God bless her memory.Please share this to honor the sacrifice and courage of this fine human being who gave so much and saved so many.  See also www.irenasendler.org.
Visit A Soldier’s Mother.
Paula R. Stern

The Holocaust Then And Now

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

One of my searing early memories from Israel is a visit nearly four decades ago to the Ghetto Fighters Museum in the Beit Lohamei Hagetaot kibbutz. The world’s first Holocaust museum, it was built soon after the Independence War by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Despite its posted visiting hours the museum was closed when I arrived. Not yet socialized to Israeli indifference to the yekke virtue of promptness on which I had been raised, I politely knocked on the door. Then I knocked more loudly, and insistently. After a few moments of mounting frustration, I pounded assertively. Finally, a janitor appeared and beckoned me inside.

Directly ahead was a display case with a single tiny pair of child’s shoes. It was hard to imagine a more poignant remnant from the brutally destroyed Warsaw community. Its brave leaders, young men and women in their twenties, had chosen to resist the Nazi onslaught rather than die in gas chambers.

Their desperate but doomed rebellion erupted on April 19, 1943, the eve of Passover. Three weeks later, Szmul Zygielbojm, a member of the Polish government in exile in London, wrote: “I cannot continue to live and to be silent while the remnants of Polish Jewry, whose representative I am, are being murdered. . . . I wish to give expression to my most profound protest against the inaction in which the world watches and permits the destruction of the Jewish people.” Then he committed suicide.

On May 16, after nearly 50,000 Jews were rounded up for deportation to death camps and 13,000 heroic fighters had been relentlessly hunted down and murdered, Nazi commander Jürgen Stroop triumphantly declared: “The Jewish Quarter of Warsaw is no longer in existence.”

Thirty-four surviving fighters escaped through the sewers, among them Zivia Lubetkin, one of the underground leaders of the uprising. After the war, she married Yitzhak Zuckerman, who had commanded the ZOB resistance organization in Warsaw. They were among the founders of kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot, built on memories of Jewish annihilation.

I visited the ghetto museum to pay homage to the 7-year-old Jewish boy from Warsaw, exactly my age at the time, whose iconic photograph was indelibly imprinted in my memory. Standing among a group of Jews “forcibly pulled out of dug-outs,” according to the photo caption from Stroop’s report, his arms were raised in surrender, bracketing his terror-stricken face. Wearing a cap, coat and knee socks, he was properly dressed for his final journey, surely to Treblinka.

As I completed my visit, the janitor approached and had me follow him downstairs. There, in her office, I met Zivia Lubetkin, about whom I knew nothing at the time. She brusquely asked about my background, my reasons for coming to Israel, and my response to the exhibits.

When I mentioned the shoes, her eyes blazed. I was, she sharply reminded me, old enough to remember the Holocaust. I was a Jew. I might have been among those children. With children of my own, she asked pointedly, how could I justify my decision to raise them in galut? I had no answers. I remained silent.

These memories were recently revived while reading Edward Rothstein’s “An Evolving Holocaust Message” in the International Herald Tribune (September 7). The message that Rothstein perceptively illuminated is that Israeli Holocaust museums – most conspicuously Lohamei HaGetaot – have decided to emphasize the “universal lessons” of the annihilation of six million Jews. “Indifference to the suffering of others,” not merely to Jews, must be confronted. The museum director mentioned plans to expand its mission to encourage “tolerance” between Jews and Arabs.

At kibbutz Yad Mordechai, which commemorates the courage of Warsaw Ghetto uprising leader Mordechai Anielewicz, the museum director concurs. She wants it to shift focus from “racism and xenophobia” to “peaceful coexistence” (as though future Nazis and their emulators can be taught by a museum visit to be civilized).

With this shift, Rothstein notes, Israeli Holocaust museums – with the conspicuous exception of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem – are emulating the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. It has become the model for universalizing the Holocaust, while underscoring the fashionable message of multicultural tolerance that its sponsors wish to convey.

That Israeli Holocaust museums should emulate their Diaspora counterpart reveals something profoundly dismaying about contemporary culture in the Jewish state. The Nazis targeted Jews for annihilation; now Israel confronts Muslim nations that are determined to destroy it. Yet despite eighty years of unrelenting Judeophobia, including the slaughter of six million European Jews and the expulsion of 700,000 Mizrahi Jews from their Middle Eastern homes, Holocaust museums are focusing on the necessity to be nice to neighbors rather than underscore the appalling consequences of hating Jews.

Jerold S. Auerbach

The Moral Disgrace Of America’s Aristocracy

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day is the anniversary of two starkly contrasting events of April 19, 1943 – the first day of the gallant but doomed Warsaw Ghetto uprising and of the ignominious Anglo-American Bermuda Conference on the Refugee Problem, which State Department diplomats organized to deflect pressure to rescue Jews from the Nazi death machine.

Most of the Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto perished but the American diplomats went on to comfortable, if not highly successful, careers – and to largely avoid the wrath of historical judgment.

One might ask, given all of the articles and books written about the American response to the Holocaust, hasn’t the diplomats’ role been thoroughly examined? Remarkably, the answer is no, not because their conduct has been ignored but rather because it has been submerged in the American collective guilt approach that underpins many historical assessments.

Consider the State Department’s treatment in arguably the most influential book on the subject of the past twenty-five years, The Abandonment of the Jews, by David Wyman, an exhaustive scholarly study of the American response. The 29-page summation chapter titled “Responsibility” (“America’s response to the Holocaust was the result of action and inaction on the part of many people”) devotes less than a page to the State Department, while three full pages are spent on the wartime rivalries of American Jewish groups. The book also contends that “direct proof of anti-Semitism in the department is limited” and that “plain bureaucratic inefficiency” was one explanation for the State Department’s behavior.

These highly educated, patrician diplomats, in fact, rank among the worst villains in American history. They were part of a now all-but-vanished American aristocracy that existed outside the experience or even awareness of most of their fellow Americans.

Sheltered in a hermetically sealed aristocratic archipelago, many went from elite northeast boarding schools to Ivy League educations to diplomatic postings. Imbued with an intoxicating sense of Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism, anti-Semitic (sometimes virulently), and mindlessly conformist (at the Groton School, many of whose graduates went to the State Department, nonconformists were waterboarded by fellow students with the approval of the headmaster), they had a heartless indifference to the sufferings of human beings from different ancestries, religions, or economic classes.

In 1940, the head of the Division of European Affairs was Jay Pierrepont Moffat. As a young diplomat in Warsaw shortly after the end of World War I, Moffat had watched desperate refugees flee oncoming Soviet armies: “they sounded like so many cackling geese and generally behaved in a manner that made us pray like the pharisee, ‘Lord, I thank Thee that I am not as other men.’ ”

His successor, Ray Atherton, arranged for an anti-Semitic French Nazi collaborationist to become a governor-general in liberated North Africa (where he continued to oppress Jews).

Loy Henderson, who worked in the State Department on East European issues in the 1940s, blamed “international Jewry” for support of the Soviet Union and, after a visit to New York City, commented of the inhabitants jostling him in the street that “They seemed to have little in common with me.”

William Phillips, an undersecretary of state, in the 1930s described Atlantic City as “infested with Jews.”

William Bullitt, an ambassador to the Soviet Union during FDR’s first term, called an official in the Soviet Foreign Ministry a “wretched little kike.”

Breckinridge Long, a wartime assistant secretary of state, regarded Mein Kampf as “eloquent in opposition to Jewry and Jews as exponents of Communism and chaos.”

They were lethally efficient bureaucratic operators. In 1942, when the first cable reports of Nazi Germany’s genocidal scheme reached the State Department from its legation in Switzerland – “in Fuhrer’s headquarters plan under consideration all Jews at one blow exterminated” – the Division of European Affairs suppressed the information (even from American Jews). Then, in early 1943, when informed by the legation that 6,000 Jews were being killed each day at a single location in Poland, the division’s head, Ray Atherton, and three colleagues instructed the legation “in the future we suggest that you do not accept reports submitted to you” from the legation’s Jewish sources about the exterminations.

Several months later, the division blocked a proposal, endorsed by FDR, to rescue 70,000 Romanian Jews on the ground that these Jews were “enemy aliens” since Romania was a German ally, and that, even if the rescue succeeded, there were no “other areas” to put the Jews.

Finally, at the Bermuda Conference, a “facade for inaction,” as a British delegate admitted years later, Breckenridge Long forbade any proposals that would solely benefit Jews and blocked any meaningful rescue initiatives.

Christian lawyers in the Treasury Department discovered the State Department’s cover-up and battled to save the Romanian rescue plan. Outraged, they considered the diplomats an underground “movement to let the Jews be killed,” “vicious men,” “accomplices of Hitler,” and “war criminals in every sense of the term.” Few historians have rendered such a judgment.

Gregory J. Wallance

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-moral-disgrace-of-americas-aristocracy/2012/04/18/

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