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Category : In the News

A Righteous Gentile (1925-2015) and the Israeli colonel she saved

Wanda Bulik with a photo of Matti Greenberg. Photo by Courtesy

Haaretz, By Ofer Aderet | May 11, 2015

In 1941, when she was on her way on the train to her English and dance lesson, Wanda Bulik, a 17-year-old Polish girl, noticed a cute little boy of three who looked like he was lost. “He has traveled back and forth three times already,” the conductor on the train between Warsaw, she studied, and the suburb Wesola, where she lived, told her. The little curly blond boy smiled at her. He held a package in his hand in which there was a note with his name, Tolek Weinstein (Wajnsztajn), along with a request to take care of him. Inside the package were clothes.

Bulik took the boy home to her parents. “He was so handsome. What else could I do?” she said afterwards. She told her parents: “He will be my child.” When it turned out the boy was circumcised, her parents were scared at first, knowing the fate of Poles who hid Jews from the Nazis and were caught by the Gestapo. In they end they gave in and agreed to take him in, even though they already had five children of their own. “He slept in my room. I bathed him. Dried him off and sewed clothes for him,” said Bulik.

Tolek called her mother. She treated him as her son. A policemen who was a family friend would warn them of German raids and searches. That is how the Jewish boy survived the Holocaust in the home of a Polish family. “I was one of the children of the family. I grew up there as a Polish child in every way, I went to first grade,” said Tolek last week. He is now 75 years old, having grown up to become a colonel in the Israel Defense Forces with the name Matti Greenberg. (more…)

Emerging from the rubble of Warsaw: A survivor remembers his Holocaust childhood

This photograph, taken in 1947 in Dzierzoniow, Poland, shows Moshe Tirosh as a boy with his mother and siblings. Photo by AP

Haaretz, By Vanessa Gera, May 10, 2015

AP – The young boy emerged from the rubble of Warsaw, clinging to a woman he knew only as Mrs. Wala. She turned and walked off, and 7-year-old Mieczyslaw Kenigswein was alone, lost in the Holocaust.

He is now 78, an Israeli with a Hebrew name, Moshe Tirosh. During a visit to Warsaw, he recalled surviving the war not knowing if his parents were dead or alive — and how random twists of fate saved his life.

Tirosh’s earliest memories are of hunger and misery in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Called Miecio as a boy, he was nearly 5 when his mother, Regina, gave birth to her third child under floorboards, biting her knuckles to keep from screaming so the Germans would not discover them.

The parents made the excruciating decision to part with the infant to increase his chances of survival. (more…)

Campus Debates on Israel Drive a Wedge Between Jews and Minorities

Celebrating Israel’s Independence Day last month at U.C.L.A. Some students said that while they had never hidden that they were Jewish, they felt uncomfortable voicing their support for Israel. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

New York Times, By JENNIFER MEDINA and TAMAR LEWINMAY 9, 2015

LOS ANGELES — The debates can stretch from dusk to dawn, punctuated by tearful speeches and forceful shouting matches, with accusations of racism, colonialism and anti-Semitism. At dozens of college campuses across the country, student government councils are embracing resolutions calling on their administrations to divest from companies that enable what they see as Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians.

And while no university boards or administrators are heeding the students’ demands, the effort to pressure Israel appears to be gaining traction at campuses across the country and driving a wedge between many Jewish and minority students.

The movement is part of the broader Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, or B.D.S., which has spread in recent years both in Europe and the United States. The issue has received intense attention on campus particularly since the conflict in Gaza last summer, which killed hundreds of Palestinians. The movement’s goal is to isolate and punish Israel for its policies toward Palestinians and its occupation of the West Bank.

There are now Israel-related divestment groups at hundreds of major colleges, including the University of Michigan, Princeton, Cornell and most of the University of California campuses. Their proposals are having mixed success: So far this year, students have passed them on seven campuses and rejected them on eight. (more…)

2015 March of the Living Ceremony – Auschwitz-Birkenau – Holocaust Remembrance Day

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, Auschwitz survivor and ex-Polish foreign minister, dies at 93

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski Photo by AP

Haaretz, By The Associated Press, April 25, 2015

Bartoszewski was widely respected not only for his wartime resistance, but also as a historian, author of books on World War II history, social activist and politician.

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a former Auschwitz prisoner and member of Poland’s underground World War II resistance who helped save Jews and later served twice as the country’s foreign minister, died Friday in Warsaw. He was 93.

Bartoszewski died after being taken to a hospital in Warsaw on Friday afternoon. His death was confirmed by a number of leaders, including President Bronislaw Komorowski, who wrote on Twitter that he was deeply saddened.

“This is a huge loss; a great Pole has left us,” Komorowski wrote.

Poland’s former prime minister Donald Tusk, now EU Council president, said that Bartoszewski was “not to be substituted by anyone.” In Tusk’s government, Bartoszewski was deputy minister in charge of international dialogue, chiefly with Germany and Israel. (more…)

March of the Living Survivor Testifies at Trial of Accused Nazi War Criminal Oskar Gröning

Watch an interview with Bill Glied on CTV News Channel: http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=596783

March of the Living 2015

JWire

70 years after the end of the Second World War 11,000 participants, both Jews and non-Jews, joined the 27th March of the Living from Auschwitz to Birkenau.

Coming from over 45 countries, they took part in the annual march from the gates of Auschwitz to a commemoration ceremony at Birkenau following a week’s preparation in Poland during which they learned the universal lessons of the Holocaust including the importance of fighting hatred, intolerance, racism and fascism. To date over 220,000 young people have taken part in the March of the Living since 1988.

This year saw delegations from, among others, the United States, Canada, UK, Mexico, Panama, Greece, Australia, Morocco, France, Austria, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa with each delegation accompanied by a Holocaust survivor who tell their personal story. The March of he Living was attended this year by the Minister of Education and Women’s Affairs of Austria, Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek, and the Ambassador of the United States to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Keith Harper, who lit two of the six torches at the end of the ceremony.

The march was opened by the sound of the Shofar and Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, Chairman of the March of the Living, who said, “Let us march against intolerance, against hate and for a better future for all humanity.” (more…)

Blind Israelis march from Auschwitz and Birkenau with their guide dogs

Jerusalem Post

A 28-minute documentary film, “Blind Love,” recounts a trip in 2013 to Poland of a delegation of six blind Israelis who lead the viewer on a different kind of journey.

It was in the Majdanek Concentration Camp that Liron Artzi, a 30-year-old blind attorney from Tel Aviv, lost control and broke down in tears.

She was touring Jewish sites in Poland with a group of six blind Israelis and their guide dogs to take part in the annual March of the Living.

The cold sliced right through her coat. The tour guide’s description of the scene – a large room with rows of exposed water pipes and shower heads on the ceiling, adjacent to the Majdanek gas chambers – sliced through her heart.

The tears ran down Artzi’s face and would not stop. From a place of profound grief she cried silently without uttering a sound. Partially hidden by a dark hood against the bitter cold, her face froze in a grimace that bared her teeth and could have been mistaken for a smile were it not for the persistent flow of tears.

She reached down for her guide dog, Petel, a Labrador mixed with Golden Retriever, who with keen canine intuition recognized her need for comfort. Petel responded by licking Artzi’s tears, the warm, coarse tongue sweeping Artzi’s face, her nose red from the cold and her open, sightless eyes.

The moment was captured in a 28-minute documentary film, “Blind Love,” recounting the trip in 2013 to Poland of a delegation of six blind Israelis who lead the viewer on a different kind of journey. In the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, a blind woman touches an old gravestone carved lovingly many years before. Her hands caress every crevice, each Hebrew letter, reading the stone with her fingertips as if it were a page of Braille. It makes one think of the last time someone touched that marker, when the Jewish dead in Warsaw had living relatives to visit their graves.

(more…)

Participants from around the world look back at what the March of the Living means for them

Jerusalem Post

The most transformative moments of my trip were those spent with people who endured the horrors of the Holocaust. The survivors’ passion and drive were unlike those I’ve ever encountered in any other human beings…Without the slightest sign of fatigue, they shared with us deeply personal stories with universal implications about human suffering, perseverance, and heroism.

One moment… left a particularly lasting impression on me, took place at the closing ceremony in Birkenau. Against the backdrop of barbed wire fences and ruins of crematoria, the survivors were getting ready to light the candles for Kaddish. Each stepped forward and read out the names of his or her family members who perished at the hands of the Nazis. One woman approached the microphone but was unable to speak. She stood in front of us and cried. Another survivor came up to her and said, “Wait, don’t cry. Look! Look at them! They are here for you!” She was right. “I looked around me and I realized that with me were hundreds of young people who wanted to learn, who wanted to remember, who wanted to prevent things like this from happening in the future.

I gained hope by listening to them and by sharing with them my own fears and insecurities. I came to realize that this is the only route to hope. We must listen; we must welcome opportunities to become exposed to other cultures and to other peoples; and we must educate each other. Hope can only be realized through mutual understanding.

Only through such an understanding can we promote knowledge and diminish hatred. And then, maybe, just maybe, will we be able to say “never again.”

Bart Bonikowski – Poland (more…)

Chief Rabbi Lau: ‘Even if you want, you won’t forget’ the Holocaust

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau stands at the gates of Auschwitz.. (photo credit:REUTERS/MICHAL LEPECKI)

Jerusalem Post, by David Stromberg

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau explains why he participates every year in the March of the Living and what it means to remember and not forget.

Twenty seven years ago former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, himself a survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp, was asked to lead the first March of the Living – a three-kilometer walk from the extermination camps of Auschwitz to Birkenau, ending with a memorial ceremony in front of barracks bombed during the Second World War. The impetus for the march was to make a statement of presence in the very spot where an attempt was made to annihilate the Jewish people.

“We wanted to emphasize: ‘We’re here,’” says Lau. “On the route that our forebears walked as the march of death – we wanted to walk the march of life.”

Lau was asked to lead the ceremony in three languages – Hebrew as the language of the State of Israel, English as the international language, and Yiddish in memory of the dead as well as for the survivors who still spoke the language. Along with him were then Education and Culture Minister Yitzhak Navon and seven MK’s who were also themselves Holocaust survivors, including Dov Shilansky and Shevah Weiss. (more…)