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Category : In the News

‘We were slaves to Hitler in Germany’

Aviram Paz. Photo by Gil Eliyahu

Haaretz, By Judy Maltz, March 19, 2015

Just in time for Passover, a quirky kibbutznik shares his rare collection of Haggadot used by soldiers and Holocaust survivors at seders held in the 1940s.

He’s a carpenter by profession, but Aviram Paz prefers to be known as a collector. And he collects pretty much everything.

There’s a vast collection of Hanukkah menorahs on display in the main room of his modest home on Kibbutz Mishmar Ha’emek, some his own creations. In a back room, behind lock and key, is a collection of books from previous centuries about expeditions to the Holy Land.

In a chest of wooden drawers in a nearby corridor is a neat collection of military emblems from around the world. Directly underneath is a collection of pins commemorating Israeli Independence Day. Beneath that is an assortment of Israeli youth movement paraphernalia. And the list goes on.

But by far his favorite is the collection of rare Passover Haggadot used mainly by Jewish soldiers and Holocaust survivors gathered around seder tables in the 1940s. (more…)

Buddy Elias, Anne Frank’s cousin and guardian of her legacy, dies at age 89

Bernhard (Buddy) Elias, Anne Frank’s cousin, is shown in New York on June 7, 2005. (TINA FINEBERG/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Associated Press, March 18, 2015

Bernhard (Buddy) Elias, the first cousin and last close relative of teenage Holocaust diarist Anne Frank, has died at age 89.

The Anne Frank Fonds said Wednesday that Elias died peacefully Monday at his home in Basel, Switzerland, surrounded by his family.

Anne Frank became famous for a diary she kept while her family went into hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam when she was 13. The Jewish teenager died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March, 1945.

The son of Anne’s aunt, Elias presided over the Basel-based Anne Frank Fonds, which holds the rights to her diary. The book, describing the family’s life in hiding, has been read by millions since it was first published in 1947. (more…)

Op-Ed: Hasn’t Germany learned anything from its history?

Anti-Israel demonstration in Berlin. Is anti-Semitism not the German society’s problem? (Archive photo: Tzach Goldberger)

YNet, By Eldad Beck

Germany has discovered the most efficient way to fight anti-Semitism: Deny its existence or claim that anti-Semitism is basically a legitimate way of criticizing Israel.

BERLIN – The media frenzy in Germany in the past few days over the recommendation issued by the president of the Central Council of Jews not to walk around with a skullcap in “problematic neighborhoods” (meaning neighborhoods with a population which is mostly made up of Muslim immigrants) points to the German public’s superficial way of dealing with the local anti-Semitism problem.

“How can such a thing happen in today’s Germany, 70 years after the Holocaust?” is the politically correct question heard from every direction.

How can it, really? A number of other much more serious incidents have taken place in recent months without creating any excitement. First, the anti-Semitic rampage in the anti-Israel protests which took place in the past summer on the streets of Germany’s cities during the conflict between Hamas and Israel. (more…)

This Day in Jewish History / Nazis begin their final assault on Krakow Ghetto

Deportation of Jews from the Krakow Ghetto, March 1943 Photo by WikiMedia

Haaretz, By David B. Green, March 13, 2015

Some able Jews were spared for labor, including in Oskar Schindler’s plant, but the Nazis wanted the city ‘clean.’

On March 13, 1943, German forces occupying the Polish city of Krakow began a two-day final assault on the Jewish ghetto there, expelling those they did not kill on the spot to either a labor camp or death camp.

Jews had lived in Krakow since at least the 13th century. By September 6, 1939, when German troops conquered the city, Jews made up about a fifth of Krakow’s population – some 56,000 out of 250,000. By November, as refugees poured in from the vicinity around Krakow, that number had risen to 70,000.

Krakow was made the capital of the General Government, as the Third Reich called those parts of Poland that it occupied but did not annex. Hans Frank, the governor-general of the regime, had his headquarters there, which may explain the Nazis’ declaration in May 1940 of their intention to make it the “cleanest” city in the General Government. (more…)

Tracing Jewish Heritage Along the Danube

The Shoes on the Danube Bank in Budapest, a memorial to the victims of Hungary’s fascist party Arrow Cross.

The New York Times, By LISA SCHWARZBAUM, March 13, 2015

Like many who share my hair texture and fondness for rugelach, I am the descendant of Jewish forebears who boarded boats in the first half of the 20th century to escape bad times for our people in Central and Eastern Europe. These intrepid emigrants took to the water, settled in America and built a Jewish-American culture of creative assimilation. I owe them my life.

Like about a third of the 120 or so fellow travelers with whom I spent seven nights on the Danube River last November, I boarded a boat called the AmaPrima in Budapest to float back to some of the same places so many of those same emigrants were — history has confirmed — lucky to leave behind. I was bound on a Jewish heritage tour, combining two growing travel trends: roots and rivers.

In my case, the combination was a special-interest option laid over a popular Danube itinerary that AmaWaterways has been offering since the company entered the river-cruise market in 2002. On the water, we were all in the same boat as it powered from the Hungarian capital of Budapest to Bratislava, Slovakia; Vienna, Linz and Salzburg, all in Austria; and, finally, Regensburg and Nuremberg, in Bavaria, Germany.

Each day, we shared the same abundant (nonkosher) meals and modest smartphone- and tablet-photography skills. Each night we repaired to our similar small, sweet, meticulously plumped cabins. (Our vessel could hold a maximum of 164 passengers.) (more…)

Poland memorial to shed light on Warsaw Ghetto during Nazi occupation

The Warsaw Ghetto. Photo by Wikipedia

Haaretz, By Roman Frister

A unique memorial is in the works dedicated to the archive of Polish-Jewish historian Emanuel Ringelblum, which includes 30,000 documents about life and death in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Nazi occupation.

Work has recently begun on the memorial, which will consist of an underground concrete pit, dug two meters deep, that is meant to symbolize the cellar where Ringelblum and others collected and hid wartime documents. A copy of each of the documents will be showcased in a glass vitrine placed within the concrete pit.

The memorial is being built on Nowolipki Street in Warsaw, where the rare collection – which was added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in 1999 – was hidden in 1942 and 1943. The collection is safeguarded at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, which makes it accessible to researchers. (more…)

U.K. conference questions legality of Israel’s existence

A screen shot of the conference website. Photo by www.southampton.ac.uk

By Haaretz, March 9, 2015

MP Mark Hoban calls on University of Southampton to reconsider hosting ‘provocative’ and ‘one-sided’ event.

England’s University of Southampton is hosting a conference next month questioning the legality of the State of Israel, an event that Conservative MP Mark Hoban called “provocative” and “one-sided.”

“While I fully support the principles of freedom of speech and the right to question, I find it concerning that an institution as respected as the University of Southampton should host a hard-line, one-sided forum questioning and delegitimising the existence of a democratic state,” Hoban, a former U.K. government minister who represents the southeastern English town of Fareham, wrote in a letter to the university’s vice chancellor, Don Nutbeam.

“Whatever ones thoughts on the actions of its Government, the State of Israel stands as the only democracy in a region blighted by political, religious and social persecution,” he added. (more…)

In U.C.L.A. Debate Over Jewish Student, Echoes on Campus of Old Biases

Rachel Beyda, a sophomore at U.C.L.A., was appointed to a student council board after it debated her Jewish background. Credit Emily Berl for The New York Times

The New York Times, By ADAM NAGOURNEY, MARCH 5, 2015

LOS ANGELES — It seemed like routine business for the student council at the University of California, Los Angeles: confirming the nomination of Rachel Beyda, a second-year economics major who wants to be a lawyer someday, to the council’s Judicial Board.

Until it came time for questions.

“Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community,” Fabienne Roth, a member of the Undergraduate Students Association Council, began, looking at Ms. Beyda at the other end of the room, “how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?”

For the next 40 minutes, after Ms. Beyda was dispatched from the room, the council tangled in a debate about whether her faith and affiliation with Jewish organizations, including her sorority and Hillel, a popular student group, meant she would be biased in dealing with sensitive governance questions that come before the board, which is the campus equivalent of the Supreme Court. (more…)

Auschwitz Museum offers online lessons for visitors

Holocaust survivors at Auschwitz. Site had a record 1.5 million visitors last year (Photo: AP)

Ynetnews and AP

Site of former Nazi death camp has seen number of visitors rise for years, yet many have little knowledge about World War II and events that took place there.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum has launched online lessons to prepare would-be visitors to the memorial site, many of whom today know almost nothing about World War II or Nazism.

The site of the former Nazi death camp has seen the number of visitors rise for years, reaching a record 1.5 million last year, mostly young people, says Andrzej Kacorzyk, director of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.

But at the same time museum officials say visitors increasingly know less and less about the war or what happened at Auschwitz, where more than one million people, mainly Jews, were murdered. (more…)

Ernő Egri Erbstein: Tragic tale of Jewish soccer hero who defied Nazis

The wreckage of the airplane which crashed into the Superga hillside in 1949.

CNN, James Masters, March 3, 2015

The name Ernő Egri Erbstein may be almost forgotten — but his story should not.

It is a tale of human endurance, defiance, heroism and tragedy during one of the darkest times of the 20th century.

Brought to light by a new book, “The Triumph and Tragedy of Football’s Forgotten Pioneer” by British author Dominic Bliss, it reveals how a Hungarian Jew established himself as one of soccer’s most sought after and successful coaches at a time when his life was placed in peril following the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

A survivor of the Holocaust, Erbstein went on to lead Torino to great success, establishing the Italian club as one of the heavyweight powers of European football before tragedy struck.

In May 1949, Erbstein lost his life in an airplane crash near Turin which killed all on board including the players of his team. (more…)