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August 30, 2015 / 15 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘World War II’

British Teens Accused of Holocaust Theft at Auschwitz

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Two British teenage boys were caught stealing precious historic artifacts at the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camps, Polish police said Tuesday.

The two 17-year-olds were detained Monday by police on suspicion of stealing belongings of prisoners who were inmates of the camps during the Holocaust in World War II.

They were spotted Monday afternoon lurking near a building where German Nazi guards used to store belongings confiscated from the prisoners in the camps, said a spokespersons for the museum at the site.

Both of the boys are students at the Perse School of Cambridge, England and were participating in a school history trip at the time of the incident, according to a statement by the school.

The teens “attempted to keep some items of historical importance which they had found on the ground,” the school claimed. “We understand they have explained that they picked up the items without thinking and they have apologized unreservedly for the offense they have given, and expressed real remorse for their action,” said the Perse School spokesperson.

A body search turned up a piece of spoon, a number of buttons, two pieces of glass and a fragment of a razor, which may have been stolen from the site, police said.

Both boys were questioned through an interpreter, according to regional police. If found guilty, they could face up to 10 years in prison for the offense. The spokesperson for the Perse School said the students are cooperating “fully” with the authorities.

Apparently it is not unusual for visitors to try to steal artifacts from the death camp, as horrific as that may seem to some. According to the museum curators, a Swedish man was imprisoned in 2010 for masterminding the theft of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Makes Freedom) sign posted over the entry gate and which heralded the arrival of prisoners at the death camp at Auschwitz.

Red Cross Says it ‘Failed to Protect Jews’ Murdered by Nazis

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

The Red Cross failed to protest Jews murdered by the Nazis, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said at the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps in Geneva said that

Peter Maurer said in the keynote address:

The ICRC failed to protect civilians and, most notably, the Jews persecuted and murdered by the Nazi regime. It failed as a humanitarian organization because it lost its moral compass….

The ICRC did not see Nazi Germany for what it was. Instead, the organization maintained the illusion that the Third Reich was a ‘regular partner’, a state that occasionally violates laws, not unlike any army during World War I, occasionally using illegal means and methods of warfare.

World Jewish Congress president Ron Lauder told the audience, “World silence and indifference to the fate of the Jewish people led to the Holocaust. The Red Cross chose silence as well.”

The Geneva-based ICRC was the principal humanitarian institution maintaining communications with both the Allied and Axis powers in World War II.

The Red Cross assisted and protected to Allied prisoners of war held by Nazi Germany but not for Jewish deportees as Berlin.

The ICRC also did not publicly denounce the deportation of Jews to concentration camps.

Maurer declared at the event, called “Remembering the Shoah: The ICRC and the International Community’s Efforts in Responding to Genocide and Protecting Civilians,” that “never again” may only be an expression because “we cannot guarantee that a humanitarian catastrophe of the extent of the Holocaust will not happen again. On the contrary, we witness a catalogue of atrocities, every day, in wars across the globe.”

Lauder noted that the ‘ICRC needs to lead in struggle between good and evil’… and has an important obligation that goes beyond relief work.

Left unsaid was that the Red Cross actually helped Nazi criminals escape Germany during the war.

Also left unsaid was the Red Cross’ paralysis during the captivity of Israel soldier Gilad Shalit after he was kidnapped by Hamas. The Red Cross failed to convince Hamas to honor the Geneva Convention and allow communication with his family but continued to make sure that Gaza Arabs could visit their terrorist relatives in Israeli prisons.

Lauder at 70th Bergen-Belsen Liberation Ceremony: ‘Silence Emboldens Tyrants’

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

A ceremony was held today, April 26, in Lohheide, Germany, to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen Nazi death camp which took place on April 15, 1945.

More than fifty thousand people perished in the Bergen-Belsen camp, which was really several connected camps that housed and killed Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and others considered “undesirable” by the Nazi regime. Anne Frank and her sister Margot were among the tens of thousands who died at Bergen-Belsen.

Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, gave an impassioned speech to the gathered crowd.

Lauder spoke not only of the specifics of the horrors visited upon the world and, in particular, the Jewish people, during World War II, but he also made pointed references to the dangers of similar horrors lurking on the horizons at the present time.

Lauder reminds everyone that it was not only the Nazis, and not only the German people and not only the rest of Europe which were complicit in this horror, but everyone who was silent and failed to act.

Lauder also points out that there was a voice that was silent, but not because they chose to look elsewhere, but because they were silenced: the Jews. And he points out that the Jews need not be silent ever again in the face of threats to their existence, because there is a Jewish homeland whose purpose is to ensure the continuance of the Jewish people.

No doubt he is talking about Iran.

Lauder also speaks at length about the resilience and self-reliance of the Jewish people in the aftermath of the Holocaust. How the Jews left the Displaced Persons camps and never looked back.

“They refused to be victims,” Lauder said. “Jews all over the world helped their fellow Jews get back on their feet. They were never used as political pawns.”

Do you have any doubt to whom he is referring?

The following is Lauder’s speech in its entirety. It is worth your while to read the whole thing.

We come here today to remember. We remember the evil of this terrible place. We also remember that world silence led to this evil.

And we gather with an uncomfortable awareness that anti-Semitism has returned to Europe once again.

Seventy years ago, as Nazi Germany was collapsing, and the greatest war in history was coming to an end. The saddest irony was that Jews, the people who should have been happiest about Hitler’s defeat, were not to be heard.

There were no Jewish victory celebrations like those in New York or Trafalgar Square or Moscow. There was no jubilation. The reason is all around you. For Jews, the awful realization of loss suddenly set in. Mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, grandparents, friends, over one million children – all gone. Half of the world’s Jews murdered.

Right now, we stand on one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the world. But there are no gravestones. There are no markers. The victims buried here lost not just their lives; the Nazis took their identities as well.

When British troops entered the gates here at Bergen-Belsen they took pictures and, for the first time, the world finally understood the extent of the Nazi horror.

We saw the bulldozers pushing naked bodies into open pits. The walking skeletons. The unbelievable sadness and loss. It has always struck me that battle-hardened soldiers, who saw some of the worst combat in Europe, became emotional years later when they talked about entering Bergen-Belsen.

Seventy years on, we all know about the crime. We know the perpetrators – but they were not just Germans and Austrians. There was complicity in practically every country in Europe. My own country, the United States – the beacon of liberty – shut its doors to Jews desperately trying to leave.

‘Enigma’ Code-Breaker’s Notebook Sells at Auction for $1M

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

A 56-page handwritten notebook belonging to World War II Nazi code-breaker Alan Turing sold for more than $1 million at auction Monday by Bonhams in New York.

Turing, a British pioneer in computers and a mathematical genius, led a team of cryptographers in cracking the “unbreakable” Enigma code of Nazi Germany’s military. He is believed to have had a significant impact on helping to end the war.

The notebook, which dates from 1942, is believed to be the only extensive Turing manuscript in existence; its sale price was considered by the auction house to be a tribute to the code-breaker.

Part of the proceeds from the $1,025,000 sale will be donated to charity, according to NBC News. The identity of the person who purchased the manuscript were withheld by Bonhams at the request of the buyer.

Cassandra Hatton of Bonhams said in a statement to media, “It has been a great privilege to have been involved in this sale and we are immensely pleased that all the people who bid for this unique item and indeed the wider public have recognized Turing’s importance and place in history.”

The 2014 Oscar-winning movie, “The Imitation Game” was based on the real life story of Alan Turing and his race against time to break the “Enigma” code.

What A Century Has Wrought

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

A century ago, on August 1, 1914, World War I broke out. The date in the Jewish calendar was Tisha B’Av, the annual fast day marking destruction of both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem as well as other Jewish national calamities. No one could have forecast the horrific conflagration that eventually took over 16 million lives and devastated great swaths of Europe.

Officially, hostilities ended on November 11, 1918. But they weren’t yet over. The economic and political malaise the war caused in Russia provoked the 1917 revolution, soon followed by the Bolshevik October Revolution that toppled the czar. The Soviet state took over, a cruel dictatorship that over the next 70-plus years terrorized its citizens and murdered at least 20 million of them, brutally incarcerating and torturing many millions more.

Following World War I, civil war broke out between the Soviet Red Army and pro-czarist forces joined by marauding bands that together massacred as many as 100,000 Jews in Ukraine. The civil war lasted until 1921. Simultaneously, war broke out with newly independent Poland, which fought to gain territory that once belonged to pre-partition Poland back in the 18th century.

After the war, the huge Austro-Hungarian Empire ceased to exist, divided now into several states, with much territory annexed to neighboring states. Vanquished Germany also lost territory to the new Poland, and was deprived of all foreign colonies.

So demoralized were Germans by the combination of ignominious defeat, humiliating peace terms, and economic collapse that they became easy pickings for the scapegoat-seeking ideology of the Nazi party, which blamed the Jews for the world’s problems and would, once in power, unleash a conflagration far more horrific than the First World War.

Meanwhile, World War I had sown chaos throughout the centuries-old Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. Many Jews fled or were forced to evacuate the war-zones; most chassidic courts of Galicia (the Austro-Hungarian part of Poland), for example, now relocated, at least temporarily, to Vienna.

The Russian commander-in-chief, the czar’s uncle, sought a scapegoat for Russian defeats and accused the Jews – who spoke Yiddish, closely related to German – of being a fifth column favoring Germany. Accordingly he expelled millions of Jews who lived close to the war zones – in Lithuania, Latvia, Russian regions of Poland, western White Russia and Ukraine – forcing them to find refuge deeper within Russia.

The evacuations and hostilities wrought havoc on the traditional Torah education system, and boys and young men now often grew up in a spiritual vacuum. Of course, for much of the previous century, the secularist Haskalah movement had already made serious inroads in Jewish communities throughout Eastern Europe, its influence constantly growing. But now the situation was exacerbated. Even after hostilities ended, it was already too late to revive many young people’s loyalty to Yiddishkeit, which was replaced by the spread of attractive secular ideologies.

As the new regime consolidated its hold on the Soviet Union, most public expressions of religion, including Torah schools, were banned. Russia had long been the world’s greatest fortress of Torah Judaism, but now Yiddishkeit was forced underground. Before long, most Jewish youth there were weaned from loyalty to their religion, although the deeply engrained anti-Semitism of their neighbors served to remind them of their Jewish roots.

Meanwhile, most Jews who had emigrated to Western Europe and North America, although not persecuted, cast off religious observance. Even those who remained faithful usually did so by making compromises.

The situation in Germany deteriorated and the Nazis came to power in 1933. Immediately they instituted official anti-Jewish persecution, which intensified year by year. Everyone realized this would soon spread throughout Europe; it was only a question of time.

The Holocaust Survivor Who Fought in Every Israeli War (Video)

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Ze’ev Tibi Ram is one of two Holocaust survivors who fought in every Israeli war.

He perfectly symbolizes “Shoah ve Tkuma”- Holocaust and rebirth. As a Holocaust survivor, Tibi understands better than anyone the importance of protecting the Jewish state.

He lost his whole family in the Holocaust but survived Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.

After being separated from his mother and eventually finding her at the end of the war, she disappeared and Tibi never saw her again. His brother survived until the end of the war, but died shortly after.

Now, Tibi gives lectures to soldiers about the Holocaust and his extensive military experience. He is also the proud grandfather of an IDF soldier

He says life has been good – except for that one insane year of Nazi persecution.

The Parchment of Rebuke That Came Home

Monday, April 28th, 2014

On a day in which the cruelties of the Nazis and the devastation of the Holocaust is uppermost of the minds of the People of Israel, there are yet numerous examples of how we are shown there are sparks of hope among the ashes.

Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, Dean of the Migdal Ohr Institutions, was presented with one such example. The rabbi sat in his home in Migdal Ha’emek in bewilderment, re-examining the piece of Torah parchment he was given. Cut by a Nazi almost 70 years ago from a Torah scroll in an Eastern European synagogue, the sacred parchment was used by the Luftwaffe officer as a wrapping for his ID card during World War II.

How did Rabbi Grossman come into the possession of such a unique and shocking piece of history?

 Moti Dotan, the Head of the Lower Galilee Regional Council, had recently returned from a ceremony honoring of the 25th anniversary of the twin cities pact between the Regional Council and the Hanover district in Germany.

Dotan was approached at the conclusion of the event by a member of the Hanover District Council. “My father, Werner Herzig, died a few weeks ago,” said the man. “Before his death he said he wanted to share with me a secret. He told me he had fought in World War II and told me about his involvement in those awful crimes, such as his participation in the burning of a synagogue on the Russian front. ‘It’s important for me to tell you this, because today there are those who don’t believe that it happened’ he told me.”

 Dotan relates that Herzig junior gave him the ID document and parchment and asked him to locate a holy man in the Galilee and present it to him. “I thought of the holy work that Rabbi Grossman does, and that he was the most suitable person to receive the document and parchment,” says Dotan. “When I came to him to give him the document, I shared with him the story. As he held the parchment tears started to flow from his eyes,” recalls Dotan. He said that Rabbi Grossman symbolizes to him all that is good in Judaism, and will make proper use of the item.

 Rabbi Grossman held the piece of parchment and read from the text. The parchment is from the Book of Deuteronomy, in the weekly portion of “Ki Tavo.”

He read: “…and distress which your enemies will inflict upon you, in your cities… Then the Lord will bring upon you and your offspring uniquely horrible plagues, terrible and unyielding plagues, and evil and unyielding sicknesses… Also, the Lord will bring upon you every disease and plague which is not written in this Torah scroll, to destroy you. And you shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of the heaven for multitude” (Deuteronomy 28, 57-62). These verses are known as the verses of admonishment.

Rabbi Grossman is convinced that this is a “Supreme message of Divine providence. After 60 years, this document arrives in Israel, wrapped in these words of scolding, and is calling on us ‘to awaken.’ After all, the German could have cut the parchment from any of the Five Books of Moses, and he specifically cut out the section that speaks suffering, servitude and then of redemption,” he said.

Rabbi Grossman has shown the ID book and parchment to young people, and tells of the great excitement it causes. “It’s a tangible object, which you can see with your own eyes. You can see here the embodiment of evil; how after the destruction of a synagogue, this man had the audacity to enter and cut from the Torah scroll, only because he thought that the parchment was a suitable way to preserve his document.”

Rabbi Grossman has vowed to continue to visit schools and young people with the document and to share this awe-striking story with them.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/the-parchment-of-rebuke-that-came-home/2014/04/28/

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