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Holocaust Is Not a Matter of Opinion

by: Contributing Writer

Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 22:21:25 PM EDT

Jews being selected for labor or death in the gas chambers at Auschwitz.
— by Yaron Sideman, Consul General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region

Last Monday I participated in the dedication of the Holocaust and Liberators Memorial on the grounds of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. I participated in this emotional ceremony along with Ohio Governor John Kasich, who spearheaded the project and shepherded it until its completion this week.

The Holocaust is not a matter of opinion. It is an undisputable historical fact. Holocaust denial is, therefore, a despicable practice rooted in one of the most ancient and ugly form of hatred — anti-Semitism. The fact that Holocaust deniers these days are not always overt neo-Nazis parading around with swastikas, but rather so-called academics operating within established university settings, only makes it all the more troubling.

More after the jump.

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Courage of the Spirit tells of one man's struggle under the Nazis

by: NorbertW

Mon May 12, 2014 at 12:25:38 PM EDT

75 Years after his imprisonment in a Nazi fortress, the account of Rabbi Dr. William Weinberg imprisonments and escapes has now been published!  
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Never Forget, Never Give Up Hope

by: Contributing Writer

Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 09:41:11 AM EDT

Today is Yom HaShoah, which commemorates the destruction of European Jewry in the Holocaust. In a world rife with Holocaust denial, we must never forget and never give up hope.

Cartoon courtesy of Yaakov "Dry Bones" Kirschen.

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An Unusual Holocaust Film

by: RonitTreatman

Sat Apr 19, 2014 at 22:57:25 PM EDT

— by Ronit Treatman

The life of a Jewish dwarf who miraculously survived the Holocaust is the inspiration for a new motion picture project.

The Lilliput will illustrate how Abraham Kerber was able to defeat the odds of surviving the war by using his weaknesses as strengths. This dark fairy tale, which is being shot in Gabin and Lodz, Poland, promises to be one of the most moving new films being produced about the Holocaust.

American stage, television, and movie actor Mark Povinelli will star as "Umchik," as Abraham was affectionately called. Povinelli was one of the seven dwarves in Mirror, Mirror, and a regular on the television show Are You There, Chelsea?  

More after the jump.

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Life-Affirming Holocaust Painting Draws Attention in Reading

by: rebgoldie

Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 00:00:00 AM EDT

— by Rabbi Goldie Milgram

What is your reaction to this Holocaust painting by Juliette Aristides?

Now on display in a one woman show Observations at the Reading Public Museum that continues until September 14, the large canvass titled 1945 (Bendheim Remembrance) attracts rapt and immediate attention. Ownership of the painting quietly changed hands during the opening weekend, shortly after Alison Rotenberg brought her husband Dr. Larry Rotenberg MD, a child survivor of the Holocaust, over to see saying: "We're buying this." The Rotenbergs plan to temporarily place the work in their Reading, Pennsylvania home, for depth of contemplation and then move it to a more permanent, public venue.

See their interview following the jump, and see Dr. Rotenberg's article A Child Survivor/Psychiatrist's Personal Adaption in the Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry.

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An Unknown Country: Documentary on Ecuador's Jews

by: RonitTreatman

Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 10:36:12 AM EDT

— by Ronit Treatman

Exotic, tropical Ecuador is a paradisaical destination for a romantic vacation. But who knew that it was also a refuge for Jews fleeing the Holocaust? They joined the Sephardic community, which had been there since the beginning of the Spanish colonization.

Emmy award-winning producer and writer Eva Zelig has been producing a new documentary about this community's story, which is also that of her own family, for the last three years. The project was largely financed by a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.  

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Philly Delegation Participates in Holocaust Remembrance Journey

by: Contributing Writer

Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 18:22:29 PM EDT

Photos by Shahar Azran, courtesy of FIDF
— by Jen Glantz

Over 100 prominent Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) lay leaders and supporters from the United States and Panama, including a delegation from Philadelphia, were accompanied by over 50 IDF officers as they toured the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in Poland as part of the ten-day FIDF "From Holocaust to Independence" journey to Poland and Israel.

The delegation visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, which was the largest of the Nazi's Concentration Camps. The delegation also listened to the personal story of a Holocaust survivor from Israel, Asher Aud, in Auschwitz 2-Birkenau, where mass exterminations of Jews took place throughout the war.

More after the jump.

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Kerry in Israel: "No Option Is Off The Table" for Iran

by: Contributing Writer

Thu Apr 11, 2013 at 07:14:58 AM EDT

Photo by Yad Vashem
— by Jacob Miller

Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Israel to meet with Israeli officials this week. Secretary Kerry met with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

Before meeting with President Peres, Secretary Kerry spent Yom Hashoah — Holocaust Memorial Day — laying a wreath at Yad Vashem.

Before Secretary Kerry's meeting with President Peres he delivered remarks:

Well, Mr. President, thank you very, very much for an extraordinarily generous and warm welcome. It's really such an honor to be here today to share in Yom HaShoah and to be there at Yad Vashem to lay a wreath on behalf of the American people, but most importantly to simply share in the uniqueness of that expression of sorrow and honor for this remarkable moment in history that we marked.

Continued after the jump.

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Why I Could Write a Positive Holocaust Book

by: Contributing Writer

Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 02:29:59 AM EDT

Jews in Auschwitz being seperated to go to either labor or gas chambers
— by Marta Fuchs, MLS, MFT

I am a member of a generation that wasn't supposed to have been born, living proof that Hitler's Final Solution to whatever "Questions" he had about the Jewish people didn't succeed completely. I am also the grateful daughter of loving parents whose sense of optimism and belief in people miraculously prevailed despite it all.

I'm filled with gratitude for my parents' love and protection; for giving me a sense of family connection and continuity by telling me about life and people before; for recounting the sorrowful details of their Holocaust past while also honoring the individuals who showed them human kindness in those abandoned days.

More after the jump.

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by: Publisher

Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:59:37 AM EDT

Imagine a world without hate. The ADL produced a powerful 80 second video that you should watch and share, as well as a list of actions we can all take to fight bigotry.
— by Steve Sheffey

President Obama's trip to Israel left no doubt about his strong support for Israel. He emphasized America's unshakeable alliance with Israel.  He told the world that Israel does not exist because of the Holocaust, but because of Israel, such a Holocaust will never happen again. He reiterated that the only path to Palestinian independence is through direct talks with Israel.

President Obama reaffirmed America's commitment to Israel's security and to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He reiterated that America stands with Israel because of shared values and because it is in our fundamental national security interest to stand with Israel.

More after the jump.

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Never Forget: Help Pennsylvanians Remember the Holocaust

by: Publisher

Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:48:36 AM EDT

— by Ed Snyder

A bill was introduced by State Representative Brendan Boyle. The bill would amend the Public School Code of 1949 to require all public and nonpublic schools in Pennsylvania to include in their existing curriculum age-appropriate education for grades 6-12 on the Holocaust and other
modern genocides.

The bill in the Education Committee and is coming up for a vote on April 8. We are urging everyone to contact Mr. Paul Clymer (chair of the Education Committee) He can be contacted by calling tel. 717-783-3154. Please leave a message indicating you support the bill. Also have your friends and relatives do likewise.

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Film Chat: From Swastika to Jim Crow

by: leebarzel

Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 18:33:46 PM EST

— by Hannah Lee

On Monday, the National Museum of American Jewish History again waived its admission fee and opened its doors on a day when it is usually closed to the public, and hosted a full day of programs in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The museum's new exhibit is "Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow," about the experiences of Jewish refugee scholars who were driven from Europe by the Nazis who found teaching positions at black institutions in the American South of Jim Crow laws. And, in keeping with the spirit of the day, the museum organized a screening of the documentary film that inspired the exhibit, as well as a discussion with one of the filmmakers, Steven Fischler, of Pacific Street Films. Up to 900 people visited that day.

More after the jump.

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Book Chat: Exodus to Shanghai

by: leebarzel

Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 18:00:00 PM EST

— by Hannah Lee

Heartbreaking are the testimonies of Jews who sought every avenue of escape from Nazi-controlled Europe, but were foiled at every turn, with diplomatic and bureaucratic obstacles. They had limited access to accurate news. They had limited resources to buy their freedom and even the ones with means and the forethought found themselves victims of covetous maneuvers. Nazi regulations forbade bringing most valuables from the country and limited cash to 10 Marks or $10 per person.

First-hand testimonies are found in a book published in July, Exodus to Shanghai: Stories of Escape from the Third Reich by Steve Hochstadt.

More after the jump.

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We Don't Paint with the Ashes of Our Dead

by: rebgoldie

Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 00:00:00 AM EST

— by Rabbi Goldie Milgram, Judaism Editor

Old wounds were opened for Holocaust survivors and those who care about them when art gallery owner, Martin Bryer, placed on show a painting made of ashes of the Holocaust victims' murdered at Majdanek extermination camp. He initially claimed his decision to have "no moral flaws" but ultimately succumbed to world-wide pressure to withdraw the painting from exhibition. This is the letter that I sent to him:

Dear Mr. Bryer:

In the 1980's in Vineland, a New Jersey Holocaust survivor went back to Auschwitz on a pilgrimage to visit the ashes of her entire family and reflect upon her experience. While sitting, her hand stroking some loose earth, she came upon a significant piece of jawbone. Distressed to the extreme, she put it into her pocketbook. Back in the states, she came into my office, when I was serving as a Jewish Federation executive, saying she'd not meant to remove it from the site, but in her distress had done so. She placed it on my desk asking what to do now.

Letter continued after the jump.

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Press Release

by: Teddy Graham

Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 16:11:24 PM EST

PRESS RELEASE   20 November 2012

75 Year wins 2012 USA Best Book Award

Teddy Goldstein, who celebrated his 75th birthday last week, has just been awarded First Prize in the USA Best Book Awards (e-Book historical fiction category) for his novel, Toxic Distortions.  Described by Roger Katz, (until recently manager of Hatchards of Piccadilly in London)  as   "A stylishly written and cunningly plotted Holocaust revenge thriller with a gripping narrative of retribution moving to a tense and shattering conclusion, which combines the time frame of a Tarantino movie with the pace and detail of an early Frederick Forsyth novel", the book also throws new light on the venality of the Nazis and raises important questions about the wording on Holocaust memorials and the morality of the Americans who used the results of SS doctors' camp experiments to save their own pilots during the Pacific War.  The work was inspired by a chance meeting at the London Jewish Cultural Centre between the author and Marcel Ladenheim, a survivor who was hidden 'in plain view' at the age of 4 in occupied Paris and survived as a result of the courage of a young French woman.  Copies may be obtained  from amazon as well as on Kindle and other e-book formats.  

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Veterans Day: Honoring Red Ball Express Death Camp Liberators

by: Lee Bender

Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 22:06:35 PM EST

Alexandra Bochova with Jewish War Veteran Paul Ouslander. Photo: Dan Benau.
Veterans Day Program Honoring African American Liberators of the Concentration Camps and the Special Unit Called "The Red Ball Express"

— by Lee Bender

It was an amazing contrast: a beautiful, mild Sunday afternoon outside on Veterans Day, November 11, 2012. But inside Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El, Wynnewood, was honoring some special heroes of World War II who liberated concentration camps in Europe and witnessed some of the most heinous crimes in human history. In an incredibly moving program, before an audience of 225, including many students and scouts, tribute was paid to the African American soldiers of the U.S. Army who liberated the camps, many of whom were members of a segregated unit known as The Red Ball Express. This program, as in past years, was the brainchild of Ed "The Sage" Snyder of TBH-BE, and co-sponsored with the Israel Advocacy Committee and Mens Club. Special guests in attendance were from the neighboring Zion Baptist Church of Ardmore, and many survivors, liberators and prisoner of war, war veterans, Jewish war veterans and American Legion.

More after the jump.

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Romney Still Won't Answer Elie Wiesel

by: Publisher

Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 20:33:20 PM EDT

— by Steve Sheffey

Something is not right about a candidate for President of the United States ignoring a request from Elie Wiesel.

It's now been more than eight months since Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel asked Mitt Romney to "speak to his own church and say they should stop" performing posthumous proxy baptisms on Jews, including Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

The Huffington Post reported on February 14, 2012 that Wiesel, who has devoted his life to fighting intolerance, said that the posthumous baptisms were "not only objectionable" but "scandalous." Said Wiesel:

"I wonder if as a candidate for the presidency Mitt Romney is aware of what his church is doing. I hope that if he hears about this that he will speak up."

But as I wrote in April, Romney didn't speak up. In an email accidentally sent to the Huffington Post reporter, Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho suggested that the campaign ignore the request. And so they have, for eight months.

Even after the Boston Globe reported on February 29, 2012 that members of the Mormon Church posthumously baptized Daniel Pearl, the reporter killed by Islamic terrorists whose last words were an affirmation of his Judaism, Romney said nothing in response to Wiesel's request.

More after the jump.

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Amazing Reunion Of Holocaust Survivors After 50 Years!

by: RonitTreatman

Tue Oct 16, 2012 at 11:43:15 AM EDT

Henry Stern was one of the fortunate ones.  In 1937, his family embarked on the last boat of Jewish refugees to leave Germany legally.  They sailed for New York.  The family settled in Opelika, Alabama.  As news of the Holocaust trickled out, Henry never stopped hoping that some of the relatives left behind had somehow survived.  In 2004, with the aid of the internet, he succeeded.  Here is an amazing clip of Mr. Stern's reunion with his cousin Fred Hertz.
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Miracles & Meals: Recipes From The Holocaust

by: RonitTreatman

Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 21:54:52 PM EDT

— by Ronit Treatman

Philadelphia resident Ruth Kessler is featured in the new cookbook Miracles & Meals, a compilation of 115 stories and over 250 recipes collected from Holocaust Survivors around the world. Miracles & Meals may be purchased from her website.

More after the jump.

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I am Nothing without Them: Holocaust Olympics Solidarity Tattoo

by: rebgoldie

Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 00:00:00 AM EDT

Today is the Jewish festival of Tu b'Av, which after Tisha b'Av, brings the message that we can overcome trauma, live again and find. First, we have to love ourselves and have inner strength and conviction we merit existence and support. The photos chosen for this article show an expression of love, remembrance and resistance. I never thought a tattoo could bring me to tears again after seeing number tattoos on Shoah survivors. But these photos are powerful, too, because they are about resistance.

More after the jump.

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Holocaust, Holocaust, Holocaust

by: Publisher

Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:27:43 AM EDT

— Rabbi Avi Shafran

When Palestinian Authority presidential adviser Ziad Al-Bandak paid his respects recently at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the Palestinian's visit there "a marketing of a false Zionist alleged tragedy."

A newly appointed Romanian government official, Dan Sova, averred earlier this year that "No Jew suffered on Romanian territory" during World War II. (Tens of thousands of Romanian Jews were killed on Romanian territory, and hundreds of thousands others deported to their deaths. The historian Raul Hilberg concluded that "no country, besides Germany, was involved in massacres of Jews on such a scale.")

We tend to get exercised by Holocaust denial, and for good reason. The refusal to accept the facts that part of the ostensibly civilized world went on a genocidal murder spree over the years 1938-1945 and that most of the rest of the world didn't much care implies a certain regret that the genocide failed.

In the end, though, deniers of that historical truth are-at least outside the Arab world-generally marginalized, recognized as either mentally deficient or depraved.

More after the jump.

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Wallenberg - Perlasca: Heroes of the Hungarian Jews

by: RonitTreatman

Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 16:34:10 PM EDT

The stamp features the portraits of five diplomats awarded the honor of Righteous Among the Nations.
Perlasca is the first on the left.

— by Meir Deutsch

Did you know that this August is the anniversary of two great heroes of the Hungarian Jews?  It is the 100th birthday of Raoul Wallenberg, and the 20th anniversary of the death of Giorgio Perlasca.  Exactly who were they, and what did they accomplish?

Biographies of Raoul Wallenberg and Giorgio Perlasca follow the jump.

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Gov. LePage Compares IRS to Gestapo... Again

by: Publisher

Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 08:02:35 AM EDT

— by David Streeter

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) today denounced Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage for doubling down on his stunningly inappropriate comments comparing the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo at a fundraiser Thursday morning. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:

Comparing a long-standing federal agency to Hitler's secret police, especially in the context of providing millions of Americans with much-needed health care insurance is simply absurd. That this is LePage's second time doing so in the past week is completely unacceptable -- even with Monday's tepid apology. Trivializing the suffering and deaths of millions at the hands of the Gestapo is completely unacceptable, and the governor -- indeed any elected official -- should know better than this. LePage -- who is just the latest in an increasingly long line of Republicans who have crassly invoked the Holocaust for their own political purposes -- must give a true apology at once.

More after the jump.
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Pennsylvania Senate Candidate Praises Holocaust Rhetoric

by: Publisher

Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 17:23:54 PM EDT

(NJDC) Once again, a Republican candidate for office has condoned — and even applauded — the use of offensive Holocaust rhetoric. Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Tom Smith took the stage at the Blair County Tea Party FreedomFest 2012 where he praised a Tea Party speaker who he said spoke "eloquently"-despite the fact that he had just finished comparing President Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler.

The Huffington Post's John Celock reported:

'As the gentleman that was speaking before me was so eloquently saying about so many things,' Smith said prior to giving a speech regarding Obama's energy policies.

Smith is challenging Democratic Sen. Bob Casey and has been backed by several national Tea Party groups including the Tea Party Express.

[Preceding spekaer Phil] Waite started by discussing what he called the history of various economic and governmental policies, including those that he deemed socialist. He said the Obama administration is employing socialist policies, similar to those employed by the Communists in the Soviet Union and Fascists in Germany.

'I will not allow a group of Marxist, Socialist law professors, left-wing extremists to annihilate my country without a fight,' Waite said.

Waite launched into a diatribe about the Nazi Party and Hitler, saying that Obama and Hitler both wanted to centralize power and strip local governments' authority.

'All other parties were outlawed, all free elections were outlawed, 45 million dead people later, we ended that regime,' Waite said. 'Why? Because you had a slick, quick talker and someone who said 'you don't need to worry about responsibility, we'll take good care of you. Just walk the party line and smile.' And you know how that ended up.'...

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party was quick to condemn Smith and Waite.

'The speaker's comments were shocking, but it's not surprising that ... Tom Smith applauded the extremism of his fellow Tea Partier,' party spokesman Mark Nicastre said in an email. 'After all Smith is a self-proclaimed 'Tea Party guy', who founded his own local Tea Party. Throughout his campaign, Smith has embraced all of the extreme policies and extreme rhetoric of the Tea Party, and this is just the latest example of how out-of-touch Tom Smith is with middle-class Pennsylvanians.'

As we have said repeatedly, invoking the Holocaust to make a political point is never acceptable and the use of this type of language should be condemned by all. Period.  

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If Only Anne Frank Had Been Packing A Luger

by: Publisher

Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 16:23:23 PM EDT

Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher (R-OH) campaign video offensively blames Holocaust on gun control.

— by David A. Harris

Using the memories of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust to make a political point is never appropriate, under any circumstances. For Ohio Republican House candidate Samuel Wurzelbacher to imply that these innocent lives were taken because of gun control laws is simply beyond the pale. Wurzelbacher — who is just the latest in a long line of Republicans who seem to think it is acceptable to use the Holocaust for political gain-must apologize and remove this offensive video immediately."

With this video, Wurzelbacher joins the ranks of other Republicans such as presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, Governor Rick Scott (R-FL), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Representatives Allen West (R-FL), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and Trent Franks (R-AZ), WV Senate candidate John Raese and FL House candidate Adam Hasner who have shamefully abused the Holocaust to make political points.

Hunter Walker of the New York Observer reported today:

Samuel 'Joe The Plumber' Wurzelbacher, the 2008 campaign microcelebrity and Ohio congressional candidate, has an interesting theory about the Holocaust. Yesterday, Mr. Wurzelbacher released a campaign web video in which he blamed the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide on gun control laws.

'In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917 one-point-five million Armenians, unable to defend themselves were exterminated,' Mr. Wurzelbacher says in the clip. 'In 1939, Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945, six million Jews and seven million others unable to defend themselves were exterminated.'

Mr. Wurzelbacher's video features footage of him on a shooting rage blasting fruits and vegetables with a shotgun. As the clip draws to a close, Mr. Wurzelbacher, gun in hand, proclaims, 'I love America.'

The description of the video describes gun ownership as 'our last line of defense' from tyranny and poses a rather existential question about Mr. Wurzelbacher's produce shooting hobby.

'If you hunt or just like shooting guns, the 2nd Amendment will always be a good thing. History also tells us it's our last line of defense in the face of an out-of-control government,' the description says. 'And killing fruits and vegetables is... what?'

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How the Nazis Co-Opted Science for Their Goals

by: leebarzel

Thu May 03, 2012 at 04:56:43 AM EDT

By Hannah Lee

Now on display at the Free Library's main branch is a traveling exhibit from the Holocaust Memorial Museum on how the Nazis used science to justify their contemptible work, titled Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race.  I was horrified to learn that all German geneticists believed in eugenics, including the Jewish ones such as Dr. Richard Goldschmidt (who re-established himself at the University of California at Berkeley).  This felt devastatingly comparable to discovering in the permanent exhibit at the National Museum of American Jewish History that there had been rabbis of the American South who supported slavery.

More after the jump.

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Obama Vows Never Again At Holocaust Memorial Museum

by: Publisher

Mon Apr 23, 2012 at 22:57:16 PM EDT

— by David A. Harris

This morning, President Barack Obama commemorated the memory of those who perished during the Holocaust while speaking at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I was honored to be present, alongside Holocaust survivors Charlene Schiff, Alfred Munzer, Morris Rosen, Louise Lawrence-Israels and an array of Jewish community leaders.

President Obama was led on a tour of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and Museum Director Sara Bloomfield.

At the end of the tour, the President walked slowly and wordlessly into the Hall of Remembrance, a somber look on his face and Elie Wiesel keeping pace on his right side.

The two men, both in dark suits, walked up to the dais holding the eternal flame, and paused there in a moment of silent reflection. The President and Mr. Wiesel lit a candle and observed a moment of silence in the Hall of Remembrance.  The President placed a candle in front of the Buchenwald section of the wall in memory of the concentration camp his great-uncle helped liberate at the end of World War II.

The President was introduced by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate & Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel. During his address, the President eloquently noted "'never again' is a challenge to reject hatred in all its forms, including anti-Semitism," and that "'never again' is a challenge to defend the fundamental right of free people and free nations to exist in peace and security" — including Israel. Indeed, the heart of the President's message is his pledge that "never again" must truly mean never again — and the American people and our government both have a role in translating this aspiration into reality. President Obama called for all of us to stand against indifference and ignorance, and to work together to prevent and end genocide in our time.

Obama's plan would allow the United State to impose sanctions against foreign entities, specifically in Iran and Syria, for using technology to carry out human rights abuses.

President Barack Obama also announced that he will award a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a former officer in the Polish Underground during World War II who was among the first to provide eye-witness accounts of the Holocaust to the world.  The Medal of Freedom is the Nation's highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

President Obama said,

"We must tell our children about how this evil was allowed to happen-because so many people succumbed to their darkest instincts; because so many others stood silent.  But let us also tell our children about the Righteous Among the Nations.  Among them was Jan Karski-a young Polish Catholic-who witnessed Jews being put on cattle cars, who saw the killings, and who told the truth, all the way to President Roosevelt himself.  Jan Karski passed away more than a decade ago.  But today, I'm proud to announce that this spring I will honor him with America's highest civilian honor-the Presidential Medal of Freedom."

Last Thursday, Pres. Obama released a statement honoring the Jewish day of remembrance Yom HaShoah.
"On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, I join people of all faiths across the United States, in Israel and around the world in paying tribute to all who suffered in the Shoah - a horrific crime without parallel in human history,"

Karski served as an officer in the Polish Underground during World War II and carried among the first eye-witness accounts of the Holocaust to the world.  He worked as a courier, entering the Warsaw ghetto and the Nazi Izbica transit camp, where he saw first-hand the atrocities occurring under Nazi occupation.  Karski later traveled to London to meet with the Polish government-in-exile and with British government officials.  He subsequently traveled to the United States and met with President Roosevelt.  Karski published Story of a Secret State, earned a Ph.D at Georgetown University, and became a professor at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service.  Born in 1914, Karski became a U.S. citizen in 1954 and died in 2000.

President Obama's words this morning exemplified his commitment to tikkun olam (repairing the world) by ensuring that the pledge of "Never Again" is fully realized.

Transcript follows the jump.

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John Raise (R-WV) Smoking Restrictions Like Holocaust

by: Publisher

Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 09:01:11 AM EDT

Last week West Virginia Republican Senate Candidate John Raese made an insensitive comparison between the Holocaust and smoking restrictions:
I don't want government telling me what I can do and what I can't do because I'm an American. But in Monongalia County you can't smoke a cigarette, you can't smoke a cigar, you can't do anything. And I oppose that because I believe in everybody's individual freedoms and everybody's individual rights to do what they want to do and I'm a conservative and that's the way that goes.

But in Monongalia County now, I have to put a huge sticker on my buildings to say this is a smoke free environment. This is brought to you by the government of Monongalia County.  Ok?

Remember Hitler used to put Star of David on everybody's lapel, remember that? Same thing.

Yesterday — which was Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 19, 2012 — Raise doubled down defending his obscene remarks:
No, this is not a standard line, nor a misstatement. It is a loss of freedom. As Ronald Reagan once said, there is no such thing as partial freedom, there is only freedom.

NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris commented:
Comparing smoking restrictions to the Holocaust is never acceptable on any day of the year. But for West Virginia Republican Senate candidate John Raese to apparently defend those comments on Holocaust Remembrance Day takes the insensitivity and callousness of his remarks to the next level. Raese-who is just the latest Republican to use this type of inappropriate rhetoric-must apologize immediately and quit defending his offensive remarks.
With this remark, Raese joins the ranks of other Republicans such as who have shamefully abused the Holocaust to make political points.
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The Soap Myth Off Broadway: "Unreliable Memories" & the Holocaust

by: Lisa Grunberger

Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 20:33:21 PM EDT

— by Lisa Grunberger

Although I saw it over 48 hours ago, The Soap Myth,  playing in New York City at the Black Box Theatre, through April 22, continues to haunt me. This is the theatre of witness at its best - provocative and  morally ambiguous that raises more questions than it answers.  Playwright Jeff Cohen and director of the National Jewish Theatre, Arnold Mittelman's The Soap Myth explores the claim that the Nazis made soap out of Jewish bodies.  

More after the jump.

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Letter to a Prisoner

by: NorbertW

Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 01:21:10 AM EDT

— by Norbert Weinberg

The archivist at Brandenburg found, among the legal documents, a personal letter to my father from a friend of his, Oskar Gellman, dated January 17, 1936, with an extra note by Erna, whom I assume to be his wife.

His friend not only decided to appraise him of the mundane events of his acquaintances during the time her was in prison, but also to entertain him and keep his spirit up. Why the wardens would have kept just this letter, I have no clue, but the writer is so very vivid and ascerbic in his wit, that perhaps they kept it as an example of how funny these Jews could be. His writing verges on the Rabelaisian and he pokes sharply at his friends and acquaintances.

It is a window on the mood of Jews in the early years of  the Hitler reign, as the Nuremberg laws were taking effect while the ultimate horror  awaiting them was something as yet unimagineable...

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