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January 19, 2017 / 21 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘World War II’

Dutch Researcher Doubts Anne Frank Was Turned In

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Researcher Dr. Gertjan Broek of the Anne Frank House issued a report on Friday suggesting it wasn’t betrayal that led to the Frank family’s hiding place being raided in August 1944, but that their hiding place was found by accident. Dr. Broek used known sources as well as newly discovered information, including Anne Frank’s diary entries from March 1944 not previously used as a primary source, to develop his new perspective on the event.

From July 6, 1942 until August 4, 1944, during the German occupation of the Netherlands, the rear annex of the canal-side building at 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam served as a hiding place for a group of Jews. One of them was Anne Frank. Her father Otto had moved his company to that location at the end of 1940. A handful of his employees helped the people taking refuge there for just over two years, until they were discovered and arrested along with two of their helpers. Of the inhabitants of the Secret Annex, only Otto Frank survived the war.

The scene has been portrayed on stage and in films, writes Broek, “booted Germans determinedly taking the long flight of stairs up to the Secret Annex. A while later, the people in hiding and two helpers carted away in a vehicle. And the telephone call, another well-known part of the story: shortly before the raid an anonymous caller supposedly revealing the whereabouts of the inhabitants of the Secret Annex to the Sicherheitsdienst or SD (German Security Service).”

But how accurate is this portrayal? Broek asks. “Did the investigators who entered the building actually know there were Jews hiding on the premises?”

Official records say that between half past ten and eleven o’clock in the morning a few investigators appeared in front of the building at 263 Prinsengracht and took the stairs to the second-floor offices. There they found a group of employees busy with their daily activities. Those were the four people directly involved with helping the hidden Jews: Jo Kleiman, Bep Voskuijl, Miep Gies, and the company’s acting director Victor Kugler.

The investigators questioned Kugler, then searched the building with him. The others stayed behind in the office. Bep Voskuijl left the premises without being noticed. Miep Gies’ husband Jan arrived as usual around noon and just walked into the office, which means the building and the office were not being guarded. Bep told Jan about what was going on upstairs and he left immediately. Jan then told Kleiman’s brother who worked nearby and together they walked to the bridge opposite the building, where a vehicle was now standing in front of the door. At one o’clock, the hiding Jews, Kleiman, and Kugler were driven away.

Three of the hunters’s names are known: Silberbauer, Grootendorst, and Gringhuis. It has been assumed that hunting down and arresting Jews was their primary activity, but newly discovered sources suggest otherwise.

Of the three, Karl Silberbauer, an Austrian policeman, was directly involved in eight other cases involving jewelry, securities, and cash, and only one other raid of Jews in hiding.

Willem Grootendorst had been with the Amsterdam police for thirty years before going to work for the Sicherheitsdienst from April 1943 until March 1945. He regularly arrested both Jews and non-Jews targeted by the Sicherheitsdienst.

Gezinus Gringhuis had worked for the Amsterdam police since 1918. From August 1942 until April 1944 he was dispatched to the Bureau Jewish Affairs and later the Sicherheitsdienst, focusing on violators of the anti-Jewish regulations, such as those going into hiding. Gringhuis also oversaw the confiscation of furniture from the homes of deported Jews. From May to November 1944, he worked in criminal inquiries for the Special Unit of the Central Investigation Division in The Hague. This means that his presence at the Franks’ hiding place was not part of his duties, and that he was not engaged in hunting down Jews.

In November 1945, Otto Frank wrote letters expressing his certainty that he and his family had been betrayed. Looking through mug shots, he recognized Gringhuis and Grootendorst.

In 1946, Frank and his team expressed suspicions against Willem van Maaren, who had begun working in Frank’s warehouse in March 1943. Van Maaren, who was not taken into confidence, was considered a risk. In fact, Anne, who never met him, commented negatively about him in her diary.

According to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf of November 22, 1963, Otto Frank said about Van Maaren: “We suspected him all along and reported him to the postwar authority investigating people accused of collaborating with the Nazi occupier.” However, on the very same day, the Utrechtsch Nieuwsblad quoted Frank as saying: “I never took any actions against the warehouse worker. I do not know the man and I have no evidence against him.” Van Maaren was investigated and released for lack of evidence by a Dutch district court judge.

Anne Frank’s biographer Melissa Müller suggested that Lena Hartog, the wife of another warehouse worker, was the betrayer.

Otto Frank’s biographer Carol Ann Lee believed Dutch National Socialist Tonny Ahlers was the betrayer.

In the 2003 publication Who betrayed Anne Frank? authors David Barnouw and Gerrold van der Stroom of the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, established that the theories related to Van Maaren, Hartog, and Ahlers do not stand up to scrutiny.

Dutch journalist Sytze van der Zee pointed to Ans van Dijk, who was executed in 1948 for betraying Jews, as the one who betrayed the Franks.

“The Anne Frank House’s current investigation into the above mentioned suspects has not provided convincing evidence to support any of these theories,” Dr. Broek reports. Indeed, despite decades of research, betrayal as the cause for the Franks’ capture never resulted in conclusive proof. Broek suggests that more was going on in the building than just Jews being hidden there, and the authorities raided 263 Prinsengracht for other reasons.


First Cousins Reunite at Yad Vashem for the First Time

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

Sisters Henia and Rywka Borenstein went through life believing they were alone. Their parents had died when they were young, and they were told that their extended family had been wiped out in the Holocaust.

Over 75 years after their onslaught of the Holocaust, they received a phone call that would change their lives. On Tuesday at Yad Vashem, they met first cousins for the first time, thanks to the efforts of the Reference and Information Services Department in the Yad Vashem Archives Division and a Page of Testimony found on Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names.

First cousins embracing for the first time.

First cousins embracing for the first time.

Born in Warsaw in 1912, Nisan Band had five sisters. In 1939, Nisan and his wife Ida, left behind their extended family and fled the Nazis to the USSR, where he remained until his death in 1983. Throughout the years, Nisan was convinced that his entire family had been murdered in the Holocaust; however, he never gave up hope of finding some remnants of his family. His children, Fania and Gennadi, immigrated to Israel with their families in the 1990s.

Pre-war family photos.

Pre-war family photos.

Earlier this year, following a “roots trip” to Poland, Fania (b. 1949) searched Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Holocaust Victims’ Names, and found a Page of Testimony that a Symcha Borenstein had filled out in memory of Fania’s father, Nisan Band. At the foot of the form, Symcha noted that he was Nisan’s brother-in-law.

Last week, Fania and her son, Evgeni, came to Yad Vashem to find out who, they believed, had mistakenly commemorated Nisan. Sima Velkovich of Yad Vashem’s Reference and Information Services Department conducted a search of the Pages of Testimony as well as the ITS (International Tracing Service) database, where she discovered that, unbeknown to Nisan, his sister Jenta Borenstein (née Band) had also been in the Soviet Union during the war and survived together with her husband and their four children.

Hercz-Lejb (b. 1924), Abram (b. 1927) and Rywka (b. 1931), were all born in Warsaw, and Hana (b. 1942)was born in Siberia. In September 1948, Jenta and Symcha immigrated to Israel together with their two daughters, Rywka and Hana. Sima’s investigation of the story also revealed that Rywka and Hana (known as Henia), still live in Israel today.

On Tuesday at Yad Vashem, Rywka and Henia met with their first cousins, Fania and Gennadi, as well as Fania’s son Evgeni, for the first time.

Nisan Band before the war.

Nisan Band before the war.

“It is difficult to describe how I feel,” remarked Fania Bilkay, who shared old family pictures she had saved of her father Nisan in Poland before the war. “I am deeply moved and very happy. My father always searched for members of his family and dreamed of finding them. He was alone. But ultimately, in this meeting today, his dream has finally come true.”

When Henia received the call from Yad Vashem that she has a cousin who was looking for her, she was in shock. “I grew up believing that our entire family was murdered in Poland. My parents never talked about the Shoah or their past lives. At first, I thought this news was a mistake. However, today when we met, I felt a connection at first sight; my family has grown overnight. Thanks to Yad Vashem, we discovered that we are not alone.”

Evgeni expressed his deep gratitude to Yad Vashem for its “important and meaningful work… this illustrates the connection that exists between all Jews. Here in one place, in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem has the capability of reuniting families even after all hope is lost.”

A family reunion such as this one, which occurred thanks to information filled out on Pages of Testimony, is rare. Nevertheless, Yad Vashem is committed to aiding anyone in search of lost family members.

“Yad Vashem has embarked on a mission to uncover the names of those who have no one to remember them, and we will not rest until our mission is complete,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. “I urge families who will be gathering shortly for the holiday of Hanukah to check and make sure that their loved ones who were murdered in the Holocaust are remembered and recorded in Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names, and submit Pages of Testimony for those victims whose names are not yet recorded.”

About the Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names

To date, Yad Vashem has identified over two-thirds of the Jews murdered during the Holocaust. The names of 4.6 million Shoah victims are recorded on the Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names – available online at www.yadvashem.org in English, Hebrew, and Russian, Spanish and German. For more information, or for assistance in filling out Pages of Testimony, please contact the Shoah Victims’ Names Recovery Project: names.outreach@yadvashem.org.il

Hana Levi Julian

Holocaust Banknote Forger Adolf Burger Dead at 99

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Holocaust survivor Adolf Burger, who was forced by the Nazis to counterfeit British banknotes, died in Prague on Tuesday at the age of 99.

During World War II, before his native country Slovakia deported its Jewish citizens to German concentration camps in 1942, Burger, a typographer, received government-sponsored waivers from deportation for his skills that were considered indispensable for the country’s economy. Meanwhile, he started printing false baptismal certificates for Jews to help them evade deportation. He was arrested for this enterprise in August 1942, and he and his wife were deported to Auschwitz. His wife was murdered at the camp and he was selected for Operation Bernhard, a secret Nazi plan to destabilize the British economy by flooding the global economy and the British Empire with forged Bank of England £5, £10, £20, and £50 notes.

It was the largest counterfeiting operation in the history of economic warfare, and the first that employed the full technical, scientific, and management expertise of a sovereign state to produce and deploy bogus currency with the aim of destabilizing an enemy’s economic standing.

Burger was transferred from Auschwitz to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, and eventually to the Mauthausen camp network, where he was liberated by the US Army in May 1945.

Burger wrote his memoirs, and in the 1970s told the NY Times, “When I was liberated by the Americans I went home very calmly, never had a bad dream. […] For years I was silent, I didn’t want to speak about this any more. It was only when the neo-Nazis started with their lies about Auschwitz that I began.”

His memoirs, titled The Commando of Counterfeiters, were published in 1983. Adolf Burger visited London to launch the book, and visited the Bank of England, where the Chief Cashier presented him with one of the notes which he had forged in the concentration camp more than sixty years earlier.

Screenwriter and director Stefan Ruzowitzky’s The Counterfeiters received an Oscar in 2008. Burger, who checked every draft of the screenplay, is played by the German actor August Diehl.


Sweden Officially Declares WWII Hero Raoul Wallenberg Dead

Monday, October 31st, 2016

On October 31, 2016 – 71 years after he disappeared in Hungary — Sweden has officially declared World War II hero Raoul Wallenberg dead.

Wallenberg was formally pronounced dead by Swedish authorities, according to a report published Monday in the Expressen newspaper, confirmed by the Swedish Tax Authority. He is believed to have died in captivity in the hands of the Soviet Union.

The authority set the date of Wallenberg’s death as July 31, 1952, in accordance with a rule that a missing person is presumed dead five years after his disappearance.

Wallenberg dropped out of sight after his arrest by the Red Army in 1945. After an initial denial, the Soviet Union claimed in 1957 that Wallenberg had died of a heart attack in a USSR prison on July 17, 1947.

The decision to formally declare him dead was reached on October 26 after an application from Wallenberg’s trustee, according to the Associated Press, quoting Pia Gustafsson, head of the Swedish Tax Authority’s legal department.

The Swedish envoy is credited with having saved the lives of at least 20,000 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust.

Hana Levi Julian

ISIS Executes Hundreds in Mosul as Iraqi Forces Close In

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

Islamic State (Da’esh / ISIS) terrorist forces executed hundreds of civilians Friday in the city of Mosul as tens of thousands of Iraqi and Peshmerga military and coalition forces closed in.

The terrorists murdered 284 men and boys, an Iraqi intelligence source told CNN, after having rounded them up from villages in and around the Mosul area to be used as human shields.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said, “There is a grave danger that [ISIS] fighters will not only use … people as human shields but may opt to kill them rather than see them liberated.” He added that any of the terrorists who were captured or who surrendered “should be held accountable in accordance with the law for any crimes they have committed.”

And in fact, in a move echoing one of the most grotesque by the Nazis during the Holocaust, ISIS operatives used a bulldozer to dump the dead bodies in a mass grave at the scene of the executions, the defunct Mosul College of Agriculture in the northern section of the city, according to the source quoted by CNN.

All of the victims were shot, including children, said the source who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with media. CNN could not independently confirm the claim.

Knowing their days were numbered, the ISIS terrorists blew up the Mishraq sulfur plant in the city on Wednesday, killing two people with the toxic white smoke, and injuring numerous others. At least 500 people arrived at the Qayyarah Health Center complaining of problems with their breathing.

The terrorist group also ignited the oil wells, sending thick black smoke boiling up into the sky. Doctors treated their patients with oxygen but were forced to send at least eight to Makhmur hospital, they told the AFP news agency.

At least 50 ISIS terrorists were killed and dozens of others were wounded in a separate terrorist assault on the northern city of Kirkuk — launched as a diversion from Mosul — which ended Saturday after 36 hours of heavy clashes.

All of the ISIS attackers were killed or blew themselves up, according to Kirkuk police Brig.-Gen. Khattab Omer. But 13 workers at a power plant north of the city were killed, in addition to a local TV reporter.

Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga Kurdish fighters also surrounded and isolated the town of Hamdaniya, 12 miles southeast of Mosul, according to a U.S. military official in Baghdad.

U.S. and coalition aircraft were providing air support during the battles in Kirkuk and around Mosul on Saturday. In Kirkuk, 175 kilometers (109 miles) southeast of Mosul, Peshperga forces went house to house in mop-up operations.

Hana Levi Julian

Prof. John Michael Kosterlitz is 2016 Nobel Laureate in Physics

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

The Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to three British citizens who today live and work in the United States, and who “revealed the secrets of exotic matter” – David Thouless, Duncan Haldane, and John Michael Kosterlitz.

Thouless, 82, is a professor emeritus at University of Washington, and won one half of the award himself. Haldane, 65, is a physics professor at Princeton University in New Jersey, and Kosterlitz, 73, is a physics professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. The two men split the second half of the award.

Kosterlitz was born during World War II, in 1942, to German Jewish immigrants in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Together the three British citizens were awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden, for “theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.” All three of the scientists now work in the United States.

Each worked to use topological concepts in physics, a branch of mathematics used to discover new information about the world around us. Their discovery helps to explain how matter can exist in strange states in some realms, thus providing scientists with the information they need to further explore the potential of new materials.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Holocaust Survivor, Speaker Max Mannheimer, 96, Passes Away

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

Holocaust survivor and speaker Max Mannheimer passed away Friday at the age of 96 in a Munich hospital, Gabriele Hammermann, director of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial said in a statement.

“The memorial and its employees are mourning a good friend,” Hammermann said.

Steffen Seibert, a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote on Twitter that she was “mourning Max Mannheimer — Holocaust survivor, reminder against oblivion and great reconciler. We owe him thanks.”

Mannheimer had been an adviser to the German government on the design and conception of its commemorative works on the Holocaust.

He dedicated his entire life to serving as a witness to the atrocities of the Nazi Third Reich and the memories of the six million Jews whose lives were stolen by them in the Holocaust they perpetrated during World War II. After the war, he painted under the name “ben jakov” — his Hebrew name — to cope with the terrible memories, later writing a book “Late Diary.”

Of his entire family and a new wife, only he and his brother Edgar survived.

Born in the Czech Republic in 1920, he personally survived two death camps, Auschwitz and Dachau, and was a transient resident of Theresienstadt concentration camp prior to those.

After seeing a swastika during a trip to the United States in 1986 and in response, suffering a nervous breakdown, Mannheimer spent the rest of his life giving speeches in schools, universities and concentration camp memorials to ensure that the world never forgot the horror humanity was capable of. Until that point, he had remained silent about the nightmares and depression he suffered, never speaking about his experiences.

Mannheimer was a recipient of the German cross of merit and the French Légion d’honneur. To the younger generation of Germans, his message was simple:

“You aren’t responsible for what happened. But you are responsible for ensuring that it won’t happen again.”

Boruch Dayan HoEmes.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/holocaust-survivor-speaker-max-mannheimer-96-passes-away/2016/09/24/

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