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August 29, 2016 / 25 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘World War II’

Raoul Wallenberg’s Fate Revealed in Diary of Former KGB Chief

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

For the first time ever, historians finally know, without doubt, what happened to the Swedish diplomat who saved so many thousands of Jewish lives from the Nazi hordes in Hungary during World War II.

In the 632-page tome, “Notes From a Suitcase: Secret Diaries of the First K.G.B. Chairman, Found Over 25 Years After His Death,” one finds the memoirs of one of the most important men in Soviet history, and the answer to one of the most painful questions of the last century.

“I have no doubts that Wallenberg was liquidated in 1947,” wrote state security chief Ivan A. Serov, head of the KGB from 1954 to 1958, in a memoir not only rare but in fact probably entirely forbidden to write.

Wallenberg disappeared in Budapest in 1945, and although there have been countless searches for clues to his fate, none have turned up the slightest breath of evidence as to what happened to him.

But his fate is found in this text, because the grandaughter of Ivan A. Serov, 57-year-old retired ballerina Vera Serova was wise enough, and kind enough, not to throw away the papers discovered by workers in suitcases as they renovated a garage four years ago at a “dacha” left to her in northwestern Moscow by her VIP grandfather.

The soldiers of the Soviet Union were occupying Budapest at the time of Wallenberg’s disappearance, and it was known that as a Swedish diplomat, he had strong ties with the Americans and the highest echelons of the Third Reich. That made him suspect to the Russians.

Neither ever gave up a clue, however, until this summer when the diaries of the original head of the clandestine KGB, found tucked into the wall of a little vacation cottage in Russia, were published.

Although few indeed are memoirs written by Kremlin officials – for obvious reasons – this one, penned by Serov, contained a treasure.

The multiple references to previously unknown documents on Wallenberg definitively put to rest the endless questions about the fate of the heroic diplomat. The most important of all is the fact that Wallenberg, though dead at the time of the posthumous investigation, was ultimately found by the USSR not to have been a “spy” after all.

It was Serov who carried out that probe at the behest of Nikita S. Khrushchev, who requested the inquiry after Stalin, telling Serov to respond to Sweden and help in the purge of Molotov. Although he failed to uncover the full circumstances of Wallenberg’s death, he said, he found no evidence of espionage.

There is a mention of the cremation of Wallenberg’s remains. And there is a reference to something said by Serov’s predecessor, Viktor Abakunov, who was tried and executed in 1954, in the final Stalin purge. During the interrogation of the former head of state security, his torturers learned that it was Stalin and then-foreign minister Vyacheslav M. Molotov who had issued the order to “liquidate” Wallenberg.

Serov also said he had read a Wallenberg file — despite the fact the Soviet Security Service had for years denied that any such files existed. Hans Magnusson, a retired senior diplomat interviewed by the New York Times, directed the Swedish side of the Swedish-Russian Working Group and said there should have been a file created for every prisoner. But, he said, “The Russians said they did not find one.”

Vera Serova has one, however, in her grandfather’s memoirs. She has published them now to restore his reputation, she said.

Serov did many evil things in his life: he established the secret police that were used to terrorize the population in Poland and East Germany; he helped deport thousands of minorities considered a threat to Soviet rule in Russia; he wielded enormous power as head of state security.

Hana Levi Julian

More Jews Flee to Israel, Escaping Terror in France

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

More Jews are fleeing the rising terror and anti-Semitism in France. On Tuesday 145 new French immigrants landed at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.

The 38 families range from infancy to age 88 and include 78 children. They arrived with the assistance of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

The organization is helping new Israeli immigrants in addition to the regular benefits received by olim from the Jewish Agency for the State of Israel.

Most of the new olim — 111 of the immigrants — came from Paris. Many left behind not just their homes, but successful businesses as well, which they had to sell prior to their aliyah.

Those who arrived Tuesday cited the drastic rise in anti-Semitism in France as the main reason for leaving their homes.

Hana Levi Julian

How Much Do Young People Know About the Holocaust? [video]

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Do you know how many people were killed by the Nazis in World War II? Do you know how many Jews were killed? Do you know what D Day was and where it took place? Can you name the Allies of World War II? Do you know who Winston Churchill was? What the “Final Solution” was?

Apparently many college students don’t.

Here’s a video that shows exactly why Holocaust Memorial Day programs are essential.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

US Soldier Named ‘Righteous among the Nations’

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

A U.S. Army soldier who fought in against the Nazis is now the first American soldier to be recognized by Yad VaShem as “Righteous among the Nations” for rescuing Jewish soldiers.

Four other Americans, all of them civilians, have been recognized with the same honor.

The late Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds fought in the 422nd Infantry Regiment and was captured in the Battle of the Bulge. He was sent to the Stalag POW camp in Germany.

The Wehrmacht had an anti-Jewish policy, singling out Jewish POWs from the rest of the POW population, and many Jewish POWs were sent to extermination camps or murdered.

In January 1945, the Germans announced that all Jewish POWs in Stalag IXA were to report the following morning. Edmonds, who was the highest ranking solider in the American section of the camp ordered all his men, to fallout the following morning – Jews and non-Jews alike.

When the German camp commander, Major Siegmann, saw that all the camp’s inmates were standing in front of their barracks, he turned to Edmonds and exclaimed: “They cannot all be Jews!”

Edmonds replied, “We are all Jews.” After Siegmann took out his pistol and threatened Edmonds, the soldier declared:

According to the Geneva Convention, we only have to give our name, rank and serial number. If you shoot me, you will have to shoot all of us, and after the war you will be tried for war crimes.

The Commandant turned around and left the scene.

NCO Paul Stern, who was stood near Edmonds during the exchange and who was Netanyahu of those saved by his action, recounted the story to Yad VaShem

Stern, who was taken prisoner on December 17, 1944, added, “Although seventy years have passed, I can still hear the words he said to the German Camp Commander.”

Another Jewish soldier who was witness to the incident is Lester Tanner, who had trained in Fort Jackson where Master Sergeant Edmonds was stationed.  Tanner recalled:

He did not throw his rank around. You knew he knew his stuff and he got across to you without being arrogant or inconsiderate. I admired him for his command… We were in combat on the front lines for only a short period, but it was clear that Roddie Edmonds was a man of great courage who led his men with the same capacity we had come to know him in the States

I would estimate that there were more than one thousand Americans standing in wide formation in front of the barracks with Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds standing in front with several senior non-coms beside him, of which I was one… Edmonds, at the risk of his immediate death, defied the Germans with the unexpected consequences that the Jewish prisoners were saved.

Edmonds died in 1985.

Yad VaShem chairman Avner Shalev said, “Edmonds seemed like an ordinary American soldier, but he had an extraordinary sense of responsibility and dedication to his fellow human beings….The choices and actions of Master Sergeant Edmonds set an example for his fellow American soldiers as they stood united against the barbaric evil of the Nazis.”

Edmonds’ son, Pastor Chris Edmonds, is currently in Israel participating in a seminar sponsored by the International School for Holocaust Studies for Christian leaders.

 

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Former Auschwitz Radio Operator Charged with Accessory to Murder

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

German authorities have charged a 91-year-old woman for her role in the murder of 260,000 Jews in the Auschwitz death camp during the Holocaust.

The woman, who has not been identified, served in the Nazi SS and worked as a radio operator for the camp’s commandant in 1944. Prosecutors plan to charge her as an accessory to murder because she aided the operation of the death camp.

The woman’s trial will come on the heels of the trial of Oskar Gröning, the so-called “bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” who was sentenced to four years in prison earlier this year for serving as an SS guard at Auschwitz.

Up until 2011, German authorities only prosecuted people who served in senior Nazi positions. But that year, John Demjanjuk, who had volunteered as an SS guard, was found guilty of accessory for the murder of more than 27,000 Jews at the Sobibor death camp.

Since then, German authorities have been going after other people who could be charged as accessories to Nazi crimes. But among the 6,500 former SS members who served in Auschwitz and were still living at the time of prosecution, only 50 have been convicted, according to The Telegraph.

JNS News Service

Ashes of Holocaust Victims Buried after Secretly Kept in French School

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

The atrocities of the Holocaust still are being discovered.

Rabbis in Strasbourg, France on Sunday carried a single coffin containing several Jews’ ashes and remains that were used for experiments during the Holocaust by August Hirt, a notorious Nazi anatomy researcher.

Their remains in test tubes and jars had been locked up in a French medical school until this past July, when a researcher found a letter dated 1952 and which referred to the atrocity. After the discovery of the letter, the jars and test tubes were found behind a glass cupboard in a locked room.

The only victim whose remains were identified was Menachem Taffem, a Polish Jew who was gassed to death in the Auschwitz gas chambers.

The corpses of 86 Holocaust victims were sent to the institute at the University of Strasbourg for Hirt to carry out research. Some of the remains were buried after the war, others were locked up secretly and yet others were known and kept for legal and scientific intentions.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Auschwitz Provides Tourists with Outdoor Showers to ‘Cool Down’

Monday, August 31st, 2015

How sensitive does the world have to be Jews when it comes to anything that can be associated with Holocaust?

The question has come up twice in four days, once with Hillary Clinton’s “boxcar” comment’ and now with the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp site offering tourists, including Israelis, outdoor showers to cool down from a heat wave.

Clinton’s reference to alleged Republican candidates’ promoting the idea of shipping out Mexican immigrants in “buses and boxcars” touched a raw nerve among sensitive American Jews, especially those who vote Republican.

She maintained, as reported here, that she never had the Holocaust in mind, although her defense that Jeb Bush used the term was totally out of line since he used the word to emphasize that shipping out illegal immigrants in boxcars is exactly what the United States should not do.

The showers at Auschwitz is harder to defend but illustrates the difference in mindset between the slogan among Jews “Never Forget” and the concept among others “to get over it and move on.”

It is difficult to imagine that the management at the former death camp purposely set up outdoor showers, in the midst of a heat wave, to mock Jews.

However, no one apparently realized that tourists, and not only Jews, would associate the effort to offer people a relief from the heat with the gas chambers that killed more than a million Jews, many of whom thought they were going to have their first real shower in what seemed like eternity.

On a Facebook page that posted a picture of the sprinklers, several people expressed anger while many other simply shrugged off as a “funny” coincidence.

One of the most tasteless postings was that people should “not fall for the same trick again.”

One Israel tourist told Yediot Acharonot website, “When we got off the bus I saw the sprinklers. I was in shock. I felt my stomach turn over.”

He said that when he mentioned to one of the workers at the site that the sprinkler “reminds me of the gas chambers,” she replied she was sorry.

It is not clear what she was sorry about – that the shower system was insensitive or that the tourist couldn’t get over the past.

Most estimates are that fewer than 500,000 Holocaust survivors remain alive worldwide. Their numbers are dwindling quickly, and the question of sensitivity in this age of political correctness is one that will not go away.

It all depends who is being offended. There is an egregious concern not to offend Muslim and homosexuals.

Jews are another story. And when it comes to Israel, there is not much to talk about, except, of course, for the “occupation.”

What do you think?

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/auschwitz-provides-tourists-with-outdoor-showers-to-cool-down/2015/08/31/

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