Archive for the ‘Holocaust’ Category

Holocaust survivor: This is not the America I came to – wtvr.com

Holocaust survivor Sonia K. survived four concentration camps. She recently spoke with CNN about her view of the events in Charlottesville.

When I came to the United States in 1949 after the Second World War, the world had just witnessed the horrific culmination of centuries of anti-Semitism: the indefensible murder of 6 million Jews.

In the 1930s, we all believed that nothing like the Holocaust could ever happen, and for the past seven decades, weve said that nothing like it can ever happen again.

But the last few months have felt like 1938 all over again, the year when Kristallnacht a night when riotous violence against Jews swept through Nazi Germany announced the brutal persecution to come. Im scared not for myself, but for my children, my grandchildren, and all children.

Some might dismiss the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, as the actions of unhinged or fringe individuals. Others might believe President Trumps comments equating neo-Nazi and anti-fascist protesters are merely reflective of his often exaggerated speech. However, Holocaust survivors know all too well that what starts as a protest or an offhand comment can turn into something far worse. In the 1930s, the warning signs of what was to come were similar to the events unfolding today and society didnt listen. We cant afford to make that mistake again.

I was born in Poland and forced to live in theWarsaw Ghettountil mid-1943, when I was taken to Majdanek concentration camp and then Auschwitz. By the time I was liberated in April 1945, I had survived four concentration camps. I met my husband in the Mittenwald camp, and we lived in Germany for four years after the war before settling in Buffalo, New York.

Thinking back, it seems almost impossible that I survived when so many of my neighbors and family members perished. But the human spirit and the strength to persevere are powerful forces.

Despite all that I had endured, I was surprised to find that when I temporarily settled in Germany after my liberation, some of my neighbors did not know what I had been through. In the four years that I lived there before coming to the United States, everyone claimed that they hadnt known that their Jewish neighbors were disappearing. How could that be?

Today, I know.

The biggest mistake that was made during the Holocaust was that people didnt speak up. The Holocaust took place because individuals, groups and nations made decisions to act or not to act. The world was quiet then, but we must not be quiet again. Now we know better. We must all commit to making the world a better, kinder and more understanding place. Perhaps its as simple as speaking out when you see something wrong and saying, I know better. But please, never be a bystander or a perpetrator.

This is not the America I came to. Its easy to say, Never forget, to assume that the world has learned its lesson. But unless we move beyond simply remembering, and take an active part in standing against anti-Semitism and racism, we could find ourselves repeating a regrettable history. We all need to be on guard, resist and fight.

Five years ago, I participated in Witness Theater, a program run by Selfhelp Community Services. Through the program, I had the privilege of meeting high school students who learned our stories and bore witness to our experiences. Its critical that we relate to the younger generation and share our stories so they can carry them on when we are no longer here. They will honor our legacy and live the lessons we shared so that never again can truly mean never again.

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Holocaust survivor: This is not the America I came to – wtvr.com

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Holocaust  Comments Closed

Bill O’Reilly Says Trump Defended Nazis Because He Doesn’t Get How Bad the Holocaust Was – Slate Magazine (blog)

Trump visits Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, on May 23.

AFP/Getty Images

As hard as these past several days have been for people whod prefer to have a consistently anti-Nazi president, they have been even more trying for those tasked with defending our commander in chief. One of those defenders is Bill OReilly, the former Fox News host ousted from the network for the same behavior that somehow did not prevent Donald Trumps election. OReilly now hosts his own podcast, but apparently felt the need to address the controversy over Trumps response to Charlottesville via the written word.

Isaac Chotiner is a Slate staff writer.

Trumps defenders have generally taken three approaches: They have argued that of course Trump hates Nazis but the media is making a big deal over nothing; or that the real issue is Confederate heritage, which deserves real respect; or that in the 19th century many evil racists were Democrats, so there. (The last two arguments dont really mesh, but never mind.) OReilly, however, takes an entirely original and dare I say bold tack. The problem isnt Democrats or the media. And it certainly isnt a racist and bigoted president. No, its a lack of historical knowledge. As he writes in the Hill:

Perhaps youve heard: OReilly is the best-selling author of the Killing series, which includes such historically dubious books as Killing Kennedy, Killing Lincoln, and Killing Jesus. This makes him extraordinarily well-positioned, in his own mind, to bring the past to bear on this latest Trump controversy. IfDonald Trumpand millions of others had really studied the evil of the Third Reich, OReilly writes, the Charlottesville political debacle might have been avoided in the sense that zero tolerance for the supremacists could have actually united the country.

OReilly goes on to worry that in todays America, only Jews know about Hitlers evil. For everyone else, including the president of the United States, the Holocaust is just a bad thing that happened a long time ago. What most people dont get is that the crimes of Hitler’s regime and the population that allowed it were so terrible that words cannot come close to description, OReilly explains. President Trump did not understand that and it has hurt him. He was trying to make other points in the midst of the revulsion of white supremacists marching in Charlottesville.

Lets grant part of OReilly unstated premise: The president is probably not poring over history books when the grinding work of the presidency ends every evening. But that hardly explains why Trumps gaffes and errors always happen to oh-so-perfectly reinforce the cause of white nationalism.

Lest anyone think this op-ed is actually mildly tough on Trump, OReilly adds that, The result of the president’s remarks has been to give his legions of enemies license to brand him, his staff, and his supporters Nazi sympathizers. That is not true, but truth is always the first casualty of hysteria we have our leadership under sustained, vicious attack and even more ideological strife on our hands.

Does OReilly have a solution to this madness? If Americans finally begin to learn about and truly understand the past, then something positive might emerge from this awful situation. We can only hope. Deliverance may be at hand, however: His bio line informs us that the next book in the Killing series is out next month.

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Bill O’Reilly Says Trump Defended Nazis Because He Doesn’t Get How Bad the Holocaust Was – Slate Magazine (blog)

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Trump Official Reportedly Praised Defender of Holocaust Deniers – Haaretz

Teresa Manning, a deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, praised Joseph Sobran, who had a long history of negative statements about Jews and their alleged influence in the U.S.

WASHINGTON — An official appointed by the Trump administration to a senior position at the Department of Health and Human Services at one time praised a defender and politicalally of Holocaust deniers, according to a report published on Monday by Mother Jones magazine. Teresa Manning, a deputy assistant secretary at HHS, who was a vocal anti-abortion activist and is now responsible for family planning policy, once called Joseph Sobran, a writer who strongly defended Holocaust deniers, the finest columnist of his generation and a national treasure,Mother Jones reported.

The quotes attributed to Manning are from 2003, when she hosted a panel at aconference of anti-abortion activists. Sobran, who was one of the speakers at the conference, was a leading voice on abortion issues and also had a long history of negative statements about Jews and their alleged influence in the United States.

In introducing Sobran, Manning reportedly said: He has been called the finest columnist of his generation as well as a national treasure. I wholeheartedly agree with both statements.

The report publishedon Mondaynotes that just a few months before thatevent, Sobran was a speaker at a conference organized by the Institute for Historical Review, an organization devoted to denyingthe historical facts of the Holocaust and promoting research that calls the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis, the methods used to exterminate the Jews and other core elements of the Holocaust into question.

Sobran praised the anti-Semitic organization on multiple occasions and wrote in an article in 2001 that the group was being threatened by Jewish thugs who are narrow-minded and refuse to hold a debate on the true nature of the Holocaust.

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Obviously, something disastrous happened to the Jews during World War II; even the revisionists dont deny that, he wrote. But does the word Holocaust accurately sum up the Jewish misfortune? Maybe so; maybe the secular Jewish-Zionist thugs and pressure groups are essentially right. But thats a conclusion Id want to reach as a free man, not because a different conclusion might result in my kneecaps being broken. And in this controversy, I know which side is appealing to my mind, and which is going for my kneecaps.

Sobran also defended David Irving, the Holocaust denier whose libel suit against historian Deborah Lipstadt was the subject of a book that she wrote as well as the film Denial. In his2001 article, Sobran called Irving brilliant and added that Irving has been fined $18,000 in Germany for arguing that an Auschwitz cyanide chamber was a mere replica. He was correct, but he had to pay anyway.

Sobran also remarked: The Holocaust controversy is so bitter that it cant even be called a debate. One side refuses to debate, denying that there is anything to debate.

At the 2002 conference that took place just months before Manning praised him at the anti-abortion event, Sobran came to the defense of the Institute for Historical Review, saying in my thirty years in journalism,nothing has amazed me more than the prevalent fear in the profession of offending Jews, especially Zionist Jews. The Holocaust, he said, has become a device for exempting Jews from normal human obligations.

In 1993, he wasfired as a columnist for the conservative National Reviewby editor William F. Buckley, who had once mentored Sobran and now disparaged his contextually anti-Semitic writing, Mother Jones noted.

Sobran died in 2010. His anti-Semitic rhetoric was mentioned in his Washington Post obituary, and according to the Mother Jones report, he had been well-known in right-wing political circles as early as the 1990s, long before Manning praised him as a national treasure in 2003. The magazine said Manning failed to respond to a request for comment for its article.

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Trump Official Reportedly Praised Defender of Holocaust Deniers – Haaretz

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Bozeman May Soon Be Home to A Holocaust Museum – kmmsam

So, as far as World War IIgoes, and the killing of six million Jews, I thought I knew all about it. I also know of millions of other people who were also killed by the Germans handicapped people, homosexuals, gypsies, communists and others were rounded up and sent to concentration caps.

I had heard the stories in school about the skin of Jews being used for soap and lamp shades. So I thought I understood the Holocaust. I didnt see any reason to go to a Holocaust museum.

A few years ago, I was doing my morning show in Houston, Texas. After the show, I had the rest of the day to kill. Driving, looking around the city, I turned the corner and there it was Houston had a Holocaust museum. Well, maybe a fast in and out. I mean, I know the terrible story. Museums like this were not for people like me,

I grew up in New York City, which has a good size Jewish community, spent most of my life in Hollywood, again another large Jewish community. I went to my friends bar mitzvah. I had Jewish roommates. I considered myself almost a Jew. But I was here. I had some time. I went into the Holocaust museum.

I was there over three hours to see pictures, notes, glasses of people who were killed, hear the stories of people who were tortured, had experimental surgeries, some while awake Stop.

I was crying. It hit me so hard. How could therebe such hate? How could one human do this to another human?

That afternoon changed my life.

When I heard Bozeman was raising money for a Holocaust museum, I was very happy. If people could experience what I experienced it could be life changing. I saw an interview on the local news. I talked to a local rabbi about the project, a few prominent Jews. Most saw this as a good thing for our town. Some worried it might be a second-rate Holocaust museum. The majority said yes, it would be a good thing for Bozeman. A very small number thought it was a mistake and the Holocaust museum group would not be able to raise the funds.

For my two cents, I hope they do get the money, it would be an honor to have a Holocaust museum in Bozeman.

Dominick

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The French Film Critic Who Saw Jerry Lewis’s Infamous Holocaust Movieand Loved It – Vanity Fair

Left, Jean-Michel Frodon moderates a class at the Doha Film Insitute in 2015; Right, Jerry Lewis directs “The Day the Clown Died” in 1972 in Paris.

Left, by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images; Right, from STF/AFP/Getty Images.

Jerry Lewis died on Sunday at the age of 91, leaving behind at least one big mystery: the fate of The Day the Clown Cried, an unreleased 1972 Holocaust film that Lewis directed and starred in. It tells the story of a fictional German clown, Helmut Doork, who is sent to a Nazi concentration camp as a political prisoner and ends up entertaining Jewish children at an adjoining death camp. In the films climax, Helmut distracts the children with jokes and pratfalls as he leads them to the gas chambers, ultimately joining them inside. You will be only partially relieved to know that this was intended to be Lewiss first dramatic role.

Lewis shot the film mainly in Sweden, but due to money troubles (not enough) and rights issues (very tangled), as well as personal problems (a Percodan addiction), The Day the Clown Cried was never completed. It exists only in a rough-cut version that has never been publicly screened. The pictures rarity, its unlikely (even ghastly) subject matter, and the fact that it was made by the writer-director-star of The Nutty Professor and Hook, Line and Sinker, has made The Day the Clown Cried arguably the most notorious lost film in movie historya kind of Holy Grail for connoisseurs of presumed bad taste.

Actors and comedians, notably Patton Oswalt, have produced staged readings of the films screenplay. In 2016, 30 minutes of footage from the film even leaked online. A year earlier, Lewis had donated his print of the film, along with the rest of his filmography, to the Library of Congresswith the proviso that The Day the Clown Cried not be screened until at least 2024. So there is hope for some, at least, that the movie will eventually see the light of day.

Twenty-five years ago, I wrote a then-definitive oral history of the making of The Day the Clown Cried for Spy magazine, which included interviews with several people who had managed to see Lewiss print of the film, including the actor and writer Harry Shearer. I began work on an as-yet uncompleted update of this history several years agobut in honor of Lewiss passing, I would like to present this previously unpublished interview with Jean-Michel Frodon, who saw a print of The Day the Clown Cried in the early 2000s. Frodon, a former film critic for Le Monde and editor of Cahiers du Cinema, is Frenchand, perhaps needless to say, has a more positive view of the film than do its handful of American viewers.

Vanity Fair: So youve seen a rough cut of the film, some kind of work print?

Jean-Michel Frodon: Yes, Ive seen what I supposeof course, it is not possible to be totally sureis the most complete version. It is not finished, obviously. Nevertheless, you can see what the film would have been. It tells the story from beginning to end in the proper order, and comparing it with the script, no major scene is missing. Of course there [is] some editing that could be done, and certainly sound work, and perhaps there are a few errors. But basically I can say I have seen the film.

What circumstances did you see it under?

A French film director, Xavier Giannoli, happened to own this video of it and asked me to his office to see it. This was a long time ago. Im not sure the exact date, but I would say around 2004 or 2005. At this point he asked me to keep it secret, which of course I did. Until one day, he openly talked about having this print on a radio program. So I felt I had no longer to keep this secret. [Frodon did not know how Giannoli got his print, and Giannoli himself did not respond to multiple requests for an interview.]

So what did you think? Is The Day the Clown Cried any good?

Yes. Im convinced its a very good job. Its a very interesting and important film, very daring about both the issue, which of course is the Holocaust, but even beyond that as a story of a man who has dedicated his life to making people laugh and is questioning what it is to make people laugh. I think it is a very bitter film, and a disturbing film, and this is why it was so brutally dismissed by those people who saw it, or elements of it, including the writers of the script.

Having read both the original script [by Charles Denton and Joan OBrien] and Jerry Lewiss rewrite, my fear for the film would be that it uses the Holocaust as a way to redeem this unhappy clown, that there is an inherent imbalance and sentimentality in that conceit.

Hes not redeemed at all! First hes suffering all the way through and then he dies. What kind of redemption is that?

Well, again, Im only going off the scripts. But Helmut starts off as this very cynical character and by the end, theres a line where he says something to the effect that he never had children, but now he does. Helping these children has given him purpose.

He is walking into the gas chamber to die with the children he took care of. This is not what you can call redemption. Maybe it is a moral redemption, but for what? Hes not guilty of much before, so he has nothing to redeem. Of course the film is connecting a genuine historical situation, and a dramatic one, with an individual situation, but for me this is a very meaningful way to do it.

Tell me about the experience of watching the film. It feels to me that if the script were fully realized, especially the ending, it would be almost impossible to watch.

I dont know why it would be impossible to watch. There are many things that are difficult to watch. This film finds what I consider a cinematic answer to some real, serious issues, using a kind of stylized setting, both in the costumes and the sets. Its not pretending to be realistic at all. Instead, it has a very obvious fairy-tale feelingnot fairy tale, but tale. There are no fairies here, but there details like in the Grimm brothers, like this kind of stylized background with a train rolling along the countryside where the children are being kept, and afterwards, when Helmut leads them [to the gas chambers] like the Pied Piper. So the film uses an unrealistic way to relay events we know about, events that have been shown so many times in very realistic ways.

In an essay, youve compared The Day the Clown Cried to Schindlers List, where most of the main characters surviveand you make the point that The Day the Clown Cried is more honest about the actual events on that point, since everyone we care about in Lewiss film dies.

One of the shocking things to me about Schindlers List is that it was made to be as much of a crowd-pleaser as possible, with several tricks, one of them being addressing the evocation of the slaughtering of 6 million persons through the survival of a few of them. This is for me a very clever maneuver.

If The Day the Clown Cried had been finished and released in 1972, would it have been the first mainstream film to deal directly with the Holocaust? Off the top of my head, I cant think of any earlier ones. In at least that sense it might have been pioneering.

It would depend on what you would call mainstream. There were several films about the Holocaust made in Eastern Europe in this time, which maybe doesnt entitle them to be called mainstream. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis [a 1970 Italian film directed by Vittorio De Sica] addresses the issue of the Holocaust, but it doesnt show the camps.

Now that I think of it, there was also The Diary of Anne Frank in 1959. But as you say with The Garden of Finzi-Continis, it doesnt portray the camps themselves. There were films about survivors, too, like The Pawnbroker in 1964.

There had been many images of concentration camps, but mostly in documentaries, not in fictional films.

What did you think of Jerry Lewiss performance in The Day the Clown Cried?

Its a very bizarre project. Hes not indulging himself, but he is self-caricaturing. Hes depicting himself as a clown who is a very unsympathetic character, as a man, and who is losing his professional abilities and making mistakes on stage. He is very selfish and totally stupid, which drives him directly to the camps. And there he has a very sick expression on his face. There are very long scenes where his expression almost totally dissolves, which is very different from what he used to do in his previous films. Its as if he doesnt know how to react. And then when he starts to perform again, hes pretty much like a robot. Its a very rare style of performance for him, compared to what he used to do. Especially in his facial work.

It sounds like there might be hints of the performance he would later give in The King of Comedy [1983], where his character is very cold, even cruel.

Yes, absolutely. It does.

Can you remember any one particular scene, maybe with the children, where you felt he was showing something unusual or particularly powerful as an actor?

There are the scenes in the camps where he starts performing for the prisoners. Because at the beginning, he doesnt perform for the childrenhe performs for his fellow prisoners. And in those scenes he is kind of at a distance to his own performance, because he despises the situation. It is insulting for him to have to perform under these conditions. And then, while there is this very bizarre interaction with the prisoners, there are also the children, who are beyond the barbed wire [in another part of the camp]. And the evolution of his understanding of what hes generating for these audiencesthe prisoners and the children, and also the German guardsis very interesting. For me, one of the many elements that draw such negative reaction to the film in the U.S. is that this performance is very far from what is expected from him. There is this idea in the U.S. that we know what he is supposed to do as a comedianand that is not what he does here.

I wonder if there would be a similar reaction today if it was announced that Adam Sandler, say, was going to do a Holocaust moviethat this is just not appropriate material for this particular performer.

I dont know, because Roberto Benigni received approval, generally speaking, even I believe in the U.S. and Israel [for Life Is Beautiful, his 1997 Oscar-winning comedy set in a concentration camp]. Im not sure what would happen if someone made The Day the Clown Cried today.

From a Cuban perspective, it is [about] the corruption of the ruling class, says curator Carol A. Wells, of Alfred Hitchcocks Rope. Here you have these two guys with the best education possible, and what do they do with it? They dont try to make society better; they try to commit the perfect murder.

Like other Cuban silk screens, this poster homes in on a fairly innocuousthough wholly memorableprop from the movie its advertising. For Stanley Kubricks The Shining, artist Ral Valds chose to depict Dannys red tricycle and some blood-stained tracks.

Designed more than a decade after the films release, Antonio Fernndez Reboiros poster for John Hustons Moby Dick is rooted in late 60s psychedelia. Its a surrealist take on a movie filled with dark and choppy hues.

Why did [Cubans] want to watch Singin in the Rain? Whats revolutionary about Singin in the Rain? says Wells. Its entertaining, its fun. If you try to put yourself in Cuban shoes for a second, a lot of the films will give a view of the United States you dont necessarily see.

Artist Claudio Sotolongo uses art deco imagery for a quiet, minimalist take on the Liza Minnelli love-triangle musical centered on a cabaret performer in 1930s Berlin.

Nelson Ponce Snchezs propaganda-esque silk screen, featuring a brain wearing the iconic Droog bowler hat hovering over a juicer, is an entertaining, on-the-nose look into the madness and misery of Kubricks film.

This film centers on a virus that makes people deliriously happy. Soon, though, it also causes the economy to collapse as people stop buying drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and stocks. The government vaccinates everybody against it, says Wells. What a parable for socialism [though] I am sure [the filmmakers] didnt mean that.

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From a Cuban perspective, it is [about] the corruption of the ruling class, says curator Carol A. Wells, of Alfred Hitchcocks Rope. Here you have these two guys with the best education possible, and what do they do with it? They dont try to make society better; they try to commit the perfect murder.

Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

Like other Cuban silk screens, this poster homes in on a fairly innocuousthough wholly memorableprop from the movie its advertising. For Stanley Kubricks The Shining, artist Ral Valds chose to depict Dannys red tricycle and some blood-stained tracks.

Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

Designed more than a decade after the films release, Antonio Fernndez Reboiros poster for John Hustons Moby Dick is rooted in late 60s psychedelia. Its a surrealist take on a movie filled with dark and choppy hues.

Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

Why did [Cubans] want to watch Singin in the Rain? Whats revolutionary about Singin in the Rain? says Wells. Its entertaining, its fun. If you try to put yourself in Cuban shoes for a second, a lot of the films will give a view of the United States you dont necessarily see.

Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

For this silk screen advertising Francis Ford Coppolas seminal mob movie, artist Antonio Prez used religious iconography, including a seal featuring angels, demons, and assault weapons.

Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

She wasnt a dumb blonde; she was extremely intelligent, but she was also very left, says Wells of Marilyn Monroeone of the few Hollywood stars whose face appeared on a Cuban silk screen, as it does here for a documentary about her life and career.

Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

The cult Joan Crawford-Bette Davis film, about an aging starlet who holds her sister hostage, gets a very colorful interpretation in this Ren Azcuy-design silk screen, which manages to capture Janes past as a happy child performer and her eventual downfall as an old murderer deliriously twirling on the beach.

Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

Chaplin is a huge hero in Cuba, says Wells. They named their main theater after Charlie Chaplin. One of the very first films Cuba would show during its mobile cinema events was the silent film stars Modern Times.

Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

Artist Claudio Sotolongo uses art deco imagery for a quiet, minimalist take on the Liza Minnelli love-triangle musical centered on a cabaret performer in 1930s Berlin.

Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

Nelson Ponce Snchezs propaganda-esque silk screen, featuring a brain wearing the iconic Droog bowler hat hovering over a juicer, is an entertaining, on-the-nose look into the madness and misery of Kubricks film.

Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

This film centers on a virus that makes people deliriously happy. Soon, though, it also causes the economy to collapse as people stop buying drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and stocks. The government vaccinates everybody against it, says Wells. What a parable for socialism [though] I am sure [the filmmakers] didnt mean that.

Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

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The French Film Critic Who Saw Jerry Lewis’s Infamous Holocaust Movieand Loved It – Vanity Fair

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Holocaust survivor: This is not the America I came to – WGN-TV

Editorys Note: Holocaust survivor Sonia K. survived four concentration camps. She recently spoke with CNN about her view of the events in Charlottesville.

When I came to the United States in 1949 after the Second World War, the world had just witnessed the horrific culmination of centuries of anti-Semitism: the indefensible murder of 6 million Jews.

In the 1930s, we all believed that nothing like the Holocaust could ever happen, and for the past seven decades, weve said that nothing like it can ever happen again.

But the last few months have felt like 1938 all over again, the year when Kristallnacht a night when riotous violence against Jews swept through Nazi Germany announced the brutal persecution to come. Im scared not for myself, but for my children, my grandchildren, and all children.

Some might dismiss the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, as the actions of unhinged or fringe individuals. Others might believe President Trumps comments equating neo-Nazi and anti-fascist protesters are merely reflective of his often exaggerated speech. However, Holocaust survivors know all too well that what starts as a protest or an offhand comment can turn into something far worse. In the 1930s, the warning signs of what was to come were similar to the events unfolding today and society didnt listen. We cant afford to make that mistake again.

I was born in Poland and forced to live in theWarsaw Ghettountil mid-1943, when I was taken to Majdanek concentration camp and then Auschwitz. By the time I was liberated in April 1945, I had survived four concentration camps. I met my husband in the Mittenwald camp, and we lived in Germany for four years after the war before settling in Buffalo, New York.

Thinking back, it seems almost impossible that I survived when so many of my neighbors and family members perished. But the human spirit and the strength to persevere are powerful forces.

Despite all that I had endured, I was surprised to find that when I temporarily settled in Germany after my liberation, some of my neighbors did not know what I had been through. In the four years that I lived there before coming to the United States, everyone claimed that they hadnt known that their Jewish neighbors were disappearing. How could that be?

Today, I know.

The biggest mistake that was made during the Holocaust was that people didnt speak up. The Holocaust took place because individuals, groups and nations made decisions to act or not to act. The world was quiet then, but we must not be quiet again. Now we know better. We must all commit to making the world a better, kinder and more understanding place. Perhaps its as simple as speaking out when you see something wrong and saying, I know better. But please, never be a bystander or a perpetrator.

This is not the America I came to. Its easy to say, Never forget, to assume that the world has learned its lesson. But unless we move beyond simply remembering, and take an active part in standing against anti-Semitism and racism, we could find ourselves repeating a regrettable history. We all need to be on guard, resist and fight.

Five years ago, I participated in Witness Theater, a program run by Selfhelp Community Services. Through the program, I had the privilege of meeting high school students who learned our stories and bore witness to our experiences. Its critical that we relate to the younger generation and share our stories so they can carry them on when we are no longer here. They will honor our legacy and live the lessons we shared so that never again can truly mean never again.

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Holocaust survivor: This is not the America I came to – WGN-TV

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My lunch with Holocaust survivors – Houston Chronicle

Photo: Yi-Chin Lee, Houston Chronicle

Holocaust survivors Rosine Chappell, left, and Ruth Steinfeld share a potato latke at Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen in Houston.

Holocaust survivors Rosine Chappell, left, and Ruth Steinfeld share a potato latke at Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen in Houston.

Holocaust survivors Pauline Rubin and Bill Orlin chat with Ziggy Gruber.

Holocaust survivors Pauline Rubin and Bill Orlin chat with Ziggy Gruber.

My lunch with Holocaust survivors

By the time the blintzes and rugelach arrived, the diners were making the usual protests and groans.

“Do you have a carry-out service,” Pauline Rubin asked, “for people to be carried out?”

“That’s it,” promised Ziggy Gruber, the owner of Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen on Post Oak. (But it wasn’t. He actually brought out a plate of strudel minutes later.)

But the pillowy blintzes and rugelach dusted with sugar were hard to resist.

August is New York Deli Month, something that sounds like a manufactured publicity stunt until you count the number of restaurants that truly commit themselves to carrying on this tradition. Then you realize it’s akin to historic preservation.

Gruber, the co-founder of the month, can talk about the history of every item on his restaurant’s lengthy menu. And that talk inevitability leads to meditations on loss, the origins of so many of these items transformed irrevocably by the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.

I was sharing a table with Rubin and four other Holocaust survivors, Rosine Chappell, Bill Orlin, Ruth Steinfeld and Ben Waserman to mark the month.

“When we get together, there’s that bond,” said Waserman. “I always look forward to it.”

There are only about 200 survivors still living in the Houston area, according to an estimate from Holocaust Museum Houston, to which these survivors are all connected.

Many of those 200 are known as child survivors. Their experiences of the Holocaust can be different from those captured in documentaries, and their stories are lesser known. Rubin’s mother asked her how she even remembered any of it, unaware that she did.

Others, like Orlin, spent decades insisting they weren’t survivors because they were never in the camps.

But when he was 16, after years of constant moves and harsh conditions, he could count each one of his ribs. “Sometimes, for meals, I had water from a ditch,” he remembered.

For survivors, he said, food is life.

Pickles

The meal starts with something sour: pickles. Easy to overlook, pickles can tell you all you need to know about the worth of a deli. They hold a special place in the pantheon of Eastern European Jewish foods. Can you imagine, in the dead of winter, something green and crisp still?

And food is serious business.

REDISCOVERING TRADITIONS: New cookbook explores Jewish food as global cuisine

Before Chappell takes her seat, she gives Gruber a hard time about his stuffed cabbage it’s too sweet, she tells him, not like it was made back in Romania. When he promises to make her a special Romanian dessert next time, all is forgiven.

Matzo ball soup, potato knishes, kishke

The matzo balls are bigger than baseballs and elicit immediate objections from the diners. “I can’t eat all that,” Chappell insists, as others pass plates to sample a bit of the stick-to-your-ribs appetizers.

“Can we come back tomorrow?” Steinfeld jokes.

With a group whose origins stretch from Belgium to Romania, the names of the foods are sometimes different, and for several minutes the table simply names dishes present and not, dishes they love and remember and have searched for again on trips back but often cannot find.

Thanks Elie Wiesel’s “Night” and “The Diary of Anne Frank,” many people know the story of Jewish children during the Holocaust. But their experiences are unique. An estimated 1.5 million children died in the Holocaust. For those who survived, their stories reveal the reaches of the Holocaust’s evil.

Gruber, co-owner of Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen, chats with, from left, Ben Waserman, Rosine Chappell, Ruth Steinfeld and Bill Orlin in Houston.

Gruber, co-owner of Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen,…

Steinfeld calls her childhood in Germany “wonderful,” but that wouldn’t last. “I never wanted to say I’m German, even though I was born there,” she said. A year after her older sister, Steinfeld was born in 1933, the same year Hitler was appointed Chancellor.

It was the same for Waserman, who grew up in Berlin in the 1930s. “I knew even as a child that I was not wanted there,” he said.

In Romania, Chappell remembers life growing increasingly tough for Jews. “Christ killer” was what passersby on the street called her. Chappell’s father had been born in New York, meaning she was also an American citizen. They always intended to go back, Chappell said, but after Romania’s Iron Guard took over in 1940, their path out seemed lost.

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Stuffed cabbage, kasha varnishkes, Romanian steak, gulash, kugel, latkes

Many survivors have someone or something they credit for their own survival. The family that took them in, their father’s persistence and cunning, the pair of wooden shoes that protected my own great uncle’s feet in Auschwitz.

Waserman wonders if, for him, it was his mother’s last-minute plea with a guard at Theresienstadt, a camp in Czechloslovakia where he, his brother and mother had been sent after being found in hiding. A guard was preparing to put him on the train headed for Auschwitz, where his father had already been killed, but his mother pleaded with the guard, explaining that she was only half Jewish. The guard changed his mind and pulled him off the train.

Steinfeld was also saved from perishing in the camps because of a decision her parents made. The family had been deported to an internment camp in the French Pyrenees. Though their parents had been separated, they managed to communicate and agreed to give up their girls to a Jewish organization called Oeuvres de Secours aux Enfants.

The girls stayed first with a family, pretending to be Catholics and going by different names, before being sent to an orphanage.

A harrowing forced trek across Poland might have been what saved Orlin. After the Germans invaded Poland, his family was rounded up and forced to march 50 miles to Warsaw with the other Jews from his town. But when the Russians also invaded, splitting Poland, his family was on the Russian side.

They continued on, moving from country to country to survive before coming to a displaced persons camp and later, Canada and the United States. Chappell, too, eventually made it to New York City. Russian troops liberated Theresienstadt in 1945. A relative helped Steinfeld and her sister come to the United States in 1946. And Rubin was reunited with her family after the war ended, moving to Indiana in 1950.

But that was far from the end for them.

After spending four years with another family, Rubin struggled to adjust to life with her own mother and father, thinking she had already been homes all those years, and she had to learn for herself what it meant to be Jewish.

Others shared similar stories. “When I came to America, I had to be Jewish again,” said Steinfeld. It wasn’t always comfortable to remember. “I am Jewish, I am happy to be Jewish, but I still have a thought that Jews are not welcome,” she said.

In Corpus Christi, Chappell remembered being one of only a few Jews.

BIGGER VISION: Expanded Holocaust Museum Houston to open in 2019

But from across the country, they each found their way to Houston, a hazy destination most imagined would be full of cowboys.

“When I went down Main Street, I thought I was in paradise. Later, I found out I wasn’t,” said Steinfeld with a laugh.

Little by little, their lives continued. They got jobs and married, had children and careers. But their experiences never left them.

“It took me years to admit I belonged to a synagogue,” said Chappell. “To this day, I call it a ‘congregation’ sometimes.”

Chappell, left, was born in Romania and Steinfeld, right, in Germany.

Chappell, left, was born in Romania and Steinfeld, right, in Germany.

For years, Steinfeld said, she did everything to please her mother, sure she would return to her one day. When she met a German Jewish boy in Houston something that was hard to do, according to her she married him. It wasn’t until 1981 that she learned both her parents died in Auschwitz.

“It was the biggest change in me to have to stop looking for my parents,” she said.

Most of them didn’t talk about what happened to them. “I didn’t want my children to feel my pain,” said Waserman.

Some, like Orlin and Chappell, felt they weren’t really survivors and so they didn’t talk like they were.

Others required the push of family and friends to speak about it. When Rubin had the opportunity to honor the family that took her in for Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel, she wrote her story down for the first time. She showed it to her husband. “He said, ‘I didn’t know,'” she remembered.

Both survivors, the two had never talked about their years in hiding.

Rugelach, blintzes, strudel

When the Holocaust Museum Houston opened in 1996, they found an outlet in each other and the museum.

Several of them still speak in schools and places of worship about their experiences.

“Where’s your number?,” the crowds will ask, wanting to see the tattoos that were used to mark prisoners in Auschwitz.

And as more survivors pass on, there’s a rush to capture their stories. “There are questions I would like to ask,” said Rubin, “and there’s no one left to ask.”

“For survivors,” says Orlin, “food is life.”

“For survivors,” says Orlin, “food is life.”

It is hard to quantify what was lost in the Holocaust, even for survivors. Studies have shown that the trauma changed the stress hormones of not only survivors but their children, as well. Survivors talk about losing their childhoods and languages, losing their names to new ones adopted when they went into hiding or came to the United States. When they search for remnants of what was, they often come up empty handed.

“I was in Bialystok when I was seven,” said Orlin. “I went back in 2000 and I asked for bialys,” the Yiddish word for the baked, circular onion-topped rolls from Poland. “They didn’t know what I was talking about,” he said. There were no Jews left.”

They hope their stories teach tolerance, but many are troubled by what they have seen recently. Waserman remembers the segregated landscape he arrived in, and he’s quick to correct people who say that the horrors of the Holocaust came at the hands of the regime alone, not neighbors. “I grew up with anti-Semitism,” he said, “A lot of Germans hated Jews.”

When Steinfeld reads the headlines today, she said, “I keep thinking about me and how lucky I was that nobody said I couldn’t come [to the U.S.].”

By now, the containers of leftovers are numbering in the tens.

With promises to return to Ziggy’s and see each other soon, the diners start to gather their things and make their way toward the door.

But first, the plates make one final pass around the table.

Leah Binkovitz (@leahbink), formerly of the Houston Chronicle, is now a staff writer for Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

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Three Deadly Days: One Town’s Experience of the Holocaust – New York Times

Photo Credit Peter O. Zierlein

A BOY IN WINTER By Rachel Seiffert 242 pp. Pantheon Books. $25.95.

In an essay in The Guardian in late May, the British author Rachel Seiffert asked, When power changes hands, when the mood of your country shifts, how far is too far? Since she went on to wonder, What if its not just in your own country, but in others too? you might think she meant to address the news that dominated Britain that week: the craven terror attack at a concert in Manchester; the summit in Brussels where President Trump shocked Americas NATO allies by scolding them rather than reaffirming the importance of their bond; and the looming snap election that would erode popular support for Brexit, the British withdrawal from the European Union. But Seiffert had another global stage in mind, another century. She was thinking of the setting of her fourth novel, A Boy in Winter, of Ukraine in November 1941, when Hitlers forces were sweeping through the countryside, beating back Stalins Red Army and conducting mass executions and deportations.

Then, as now, ordinary people found themselves in an unpredictable, turbulent environment, unsure how to respond. Time would reveal who acted badly and who acted well; but Seifferts purpose is not to pass judgment. Her abiding concern, ever since she learned as a child that her German maternal grandparents had supported Hitlers Reich (her grandfather as a doctor in the Waffen SS, her grandmother as a Nazi Party member), has been to explore the motivations, contradictions and weaknesses of the bystanders, victims and perpetrators of the Holocaust. How does it feel to be on the wrong side of history? she asked in the Guardian article, adding, The times being what they are I have found myself turning again and again to the question. Her new novels inclusive, impartial vision awakens a contemporary readers conscience by highlighting the individuals role in collective error: How we respond when a principle is at stake.

The characters in A Boy in Winter are as distinct and intricate as the wooden figures of animals, people, farmhouses and fruit trees that a boy named Yankel carves to distract his little brother, Momik, as they hide under the rafters of a building on the edge of a Ukrainian town. While they play, out of sight, German soldiers and Ukrainian auxiliary police are rounding up the towns Jews for resettlement. In the room below the boys, a simple country girl named Yasia overhears their murmured conversation, which sets off a ticking fear inside her because the language theyre speaking isnt Ukrainian. Are they Jew children? she wonders. The thought hadnt occurred to her when she spotted them wandering the empty streets that cold, menacing morning. Preoccupied by the reckless mission that had brought her to town the hope of meeting her fianc, Mykola, who serves in the auxiliary police Yasia had scooped up the children, taken them to her cousins workplace and gone about her business. The boys needed hiding so she hid them, they needed feeding so she fed them; that was all she was doing, she told herself. She knew little of Jews; nothing to speak of. There are none who farm with her father, or in Mykolas village either. But as sirens blare and gunfire echoes across the town, she becomes aware of the risk she has taken. Her cousins neighbors are terrified. The Germans had registered all the local people on their lists; will ordinary Ukrainians be singled out next? They wont take us, one insists. Its only the Jews theyre after, another agrees. But Yasia knows its only a matter of time before a nervous neighbor reports her for harboring the boys. She longs to send them off down the alleyways and be rid of them. But she cant bring herself to do it: That would be shameful. How long can her conscience override her instinct for self-preservation?

While Yasia wrestles with that decision, the boys parents, Ephraim and Miryam, stand amid their hastily gathered possessions in a brick factory, crowded alongside hundreds of the areas Jewish residents. Ephraim is angry that his elder son has disobeyed him, running away with his little brother instead of accompanying their parents to line up with dignity at the factory, as the occupiers had commanded. We will endure it, Ephraim had told Yankel; but the boy chose another course, evidently remembering his adventurous Uncle Jaakov, long since emigrated to Palestine. Ephraim, who believes his family should be all together in their time of need, resents his brother-in-law for leaving their community. But most of his anger is directed at his misguided wife, who trusts that the boys will find refuge somewhere. There are others, Miryam tells her husband. Yankel will find them. To Ephraim, this is navet. He cannot trust his sons to such uncertainty. But what certainty exists in uncertain times?

As Ephraim broods, two other men confront their own collapsing autonomy. One is Otto Pohl, a German engineer who had tried to salve his conscience and save his skin by joining a roadworks corps instead of signing up with the Wehrmacht. At the brick factory, he belatedly realizes the impossibility of maintaining a moral high ground: Out here, they can do anything they want. There is no law or truth or trust, no sense of reason. The other man is Yasias headstrong fianc, Mykola. He had deserted the Red Army when the Germans invaded, then joined the auxiliary police because We had the Soviets, remember? Well, now we have new masters. It will be just the same, he tells Yasia. We just have to live to see them gone again. What will Mykolas new masters demand of him? Shivering on the dogleg of cleared land, between the back wall of the factory and the scrub where a pit has been freshly dug, he awaits instructions, gulping liquor from a flask being passed along the line, watching his barrack mates flinging bundles theyve seized from the Jews who stumble through the mud between the rows of trucks. Observing Mykolas distress, an SS sergeant asks, Did you think this would be orderly? Mykola doesnt answer: He doesnt know what he thought it would be.

The experiences Seiffert describes reflect actual wartime accounts, and the character of Otto Pohl was inspired by Willi Ahrem, a German commandant at a forced labor camp in the Ukrainian town of Nemirov, who warned Jewish laborers in advance of a massacre and helped some to escape, though he couldnt save many. Today hes recognized as one of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem. It was Ahrems story, Seiffert wrote in The Guardian, that prompted her to revisit the question that haunts her: What do you do when you have tried so hard to do the right thing, and yet you find yourself in the midst of such a great wrong?

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Three Deadly Days: One Town’s Experience of the Holocaust – New York Times

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Judge sentences antisemitic teen vandals to meet Holocaust survivor – The Jerusalem Post

A giant menorah outside the White House in Washington. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Three teens pleaded guilty to criminal damaging charges for twisting a large decorative menorah in the front yard of an Arizona familys home into a swastika.

The teens, who were arrested in March and charged as juveniles in the December incident in a residential neighborhood in Chandler, Arizona, offered the guilty pleas Thursday in Maricopa County Court.

They were sentenced to serve 30 hours of community service, along with writing an apology letter to the victims and paying restitution. They also must meet with a Holocaust survivor and write an essay on what they learned about the Holocaust and how their desecration of the menorah affected the community, the CBS affiliate in Phoenix reported.

The Maricopa County Attorneys Office has not yet decided how to charge the fourth vandal in the incident, Clive Jamar Wilson, 19, who posted an apology to the family on Facebook after he was arrested.

Parents Naomi and Seth Ellis said they built the 7-foot menorah in front of their house after their three sons, ages 5, 6 and 9, asked for lights in their yard like their neighbors Christmas decorations.

Police helped Naomi and Seth Ellis dismantle the swastika early in the morning before Ellis children saw it. The menorah was rebuilt and replaced. About 100 members of the familys synagogue and their rabbi and neighbors gathered in the Ellis front yard to light the rebuilt menorah.

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Judge sentences antisemitic teen vandals to meet Holocaust survivor – The Jerusalem Post

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Holocaust survivor: This is not the America I came to – wtvr.com

Holocaust survivor Sonia K. survived four concentration camps. She recently spoke with CNN about her view of the events in Charlottesville. When I came to the United States in 1949 after the Second World War, the world had just witnessed the horrific culmination of centuries of anti-Semitism: the indefensible murder of 6 million Jews. In the 1930s, we all believed that nothing like the Holocaust could ever happen, and for the past seven decades, weve said that nothing like it can ever happen again. But the last few months have felt like 1938 all over again, the year when Kristallnacht a night when riotous violence against Jews swept through Nazi Germany announced the brutal persecution to come. Im scared not for myself, but for my children, my grandchildren, and all children. Some might dismiss the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, as the actions of unhinged or fringe individuals. Others might believe President Trumps comments equating neo-Nazi and anti-fascist protesters are merely reflective of his often exaggerated speech. However, Holocaust survivors know all too well that what starts as a protest or an offhand comment can turn into something far worse. In the 1930s, the warning signs of what was to come were similar to the events unfolding today and society didnt listen. We cant afford to make that mistake again. I was born in Poland and forced to live in theWarsaw Ghettountil mid-1943, when I was taken to Majdanek concentration camp and then Auschwitz. By the time I was liberated in April 1945, I had survived four concentration camps. I met my husband in the Mittenwald camp, and we lived in Germany for four years after the war before settling in Buffalo, New York. Thinking back, it seems almost impossible that I survived when so many of my neighbors and family members perished. But the human spirit and the strength to persevere are powerful forces. Despite all that I had endured, I was surprised to find that when I temporarily settled in Germany after my liberation, some of my neighbors did not know what I had been through. In the four years that I lived there before coming to the United States, everyone claimed that they hadnt known that their Jewish neighbors were disappearing. How could that be? Today, I know. The biggest mistake that was made during the Holocaust was that people didnt speak up. The Holocaust took place because individuals, groups and nations made decisions to act or not to act. The world was quiet then, but we must not be quiet again. Now we know better. We must all commit to making the world a better, kinder and more understanding place. Perhaps its as simple as speaking out when you see something wrong and saying, I know better. But please, never be a bystander or a perpetrator. This is not the America I came to. Its easy to say, Never forget, to assume that the world has learned its lesson. But unless we move beyond simply remembering, and take an active part in standing against anti-Semitism and racism, we could find ourselves repeating a regrettable history. We all need to be on guard, resist and fight. Five years ago, I participated in Witness Theater, a program run by Selfhelp Community Services. Through the program, I had the privilege of meeting high school students who learned our stories and bore witness to our experiences. Its critical that we relate to the younger generation and share our stories so they can carry them on when we are no longer here. They will honor our legacy and live the lessons we shared so that never again can truly mean never again.

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Bill O’Reilly Says Trump Defended Nazis Because He Doesn’t Get How Bad the Holocaust Was – Slate Magazine (blog)

Trump visits Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, on May 23. AFP/Getty Images As hard as these past several days have been for people whod prefer to have a consistently anti-Nazi president, they have been even more trying for those tasked with defending our commander in chief. One of those defenders is Bill OReilly, the former Fox News host ousted from the network for the same behavior that somehow did not prevent Donald Trumps election. OReilly now hosts his own podcast, but apparently felt the need to address the controversy over Trumps response to Charlottesville via the written word. Isaac Chotiner is a Slate staff writer. Trumps defenders have generally taken three approaches: They have argued that of course Trump hates Nazis but the media is making a big deal over nothing; or that the real issue is Confederate heritage, which deserves real respect; or that in the 19th century many evil racists were Democrats, so there. (The last two arguments dont really mesh, but never mind.) OReilly, however, takes an entirely original and dare I say bold tack. The problem isnt Democrats or the media. And it certainly isnt a racist and bigoted president. No, its a lack of historical knowledge. As he writes in the Hill: Perhaps youve heard: OReilly is the best-selling author of the Killing series, which includes such historically dubious books as Killing Kennedy, Killing Lincoln, and Killing Jesus. This makes him extraordinarily well-positioned, in his own mind, to bring the past to bear on this latest Trump controversy. IfDonald Trumpand millions of others had really studied the evil of the Third Reich, OReilly writes, the Charlottesville political debacle might have been avoided in the sense that zero tolerance for the supremacists could have actually united the country. OReilly goes on to worry that in todays America, only Jews know about Hitlers evil. For everyone else, including the president of the United States, the Holocaust is just a bad thing that happened a long time ago. What most people dont get is that the crimes of Hitler’s regime and the population that allowed it were so terrible that words cannot come close to description, OReilly explains. President Trump did not understand that and it has hurt him. He was trying to make other points in the midst of the revulsion of white supremacists marching in Charlottesville. Lets grant part of OReilly unstated premise: The president is probably not poring over history books when the grinding work of the presidency ends every evening. But that hardly explains why Trumps gaffes and errors always happen to oh-so-perfectly reinforce the cause of white nationalism. Lest anyone think this op-ed is actually mildly tough on Trump, OReilly adds that, The result of the president’s remarks has been to give his legions of enemies license to brand him, his staff, and his supporters Nazi sympathizers. That is not true, but truth is always the first casualty of hysteria we have our leadership under sustained, vicious attack and even more ideological strife on our hands. Does OReilly have a solution to this madness? If Americans finally begin to learn about and truly understand the past, then something positive might emerge from this awful situation. We can only hope. Deliverance may be at hand, however: His bio line informs us that the next book in the Killing series is out next month.

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Trump Official Reportedly Praised Defender of Holocaust Deniers – Haaretz

Teresa Manning, a deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, praised Joseph Sobran, who had a long history of negative statements about Jews and their alleged influence in the U.S. WASHINGTON — An official appointed by the Trump administration to a senior position at the Department of Health and Human Services at one time praised a defender and politicalally of Holocaust deniers, according to a report published on Monday by Mother Jones magazine. Teresa Manning, a deputy assistant secretary at HHS, who was a vocal anti-abortion activist and is now responsible for family planning policy, once called Joseph Sobran, a writer who strongly defended Holocaust deniers, the finest columnist of his generation and a national treasure,Mother Jones reported. The quotes attributed to Manning are from 2003, when she hosted a panel at aconference of anti-abortion activists. Sobran, who was one of the speakers at the conference, was a leading voice on abortion issues and also had a long history of negative statements about Jews and their alleged influence in the United States. In introducing Sobran, Manning reportedly said: He has been called the finest columnist of his generation as well as a national treasure. I wholeheartedly agree with both statements. The report publishedon Mondaynotes that just a few months before thatevent, Sobran was a speaker at a conference organized by the Institute for Historical Review, an organization devoted to denyingthe historical facts of the Holocaust and promoting research that calls the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis, the methods used to exterminate the Jews and other core elements of the Holocaust into question. Sobran praised the anti-Semitic organization on multiple occasions and wrote in an article in 2001 that the group was being threatened by Jewish thugs who are narrow-minded and refuse to hold a debate on the true nature of the Holocaust. We’ve got more newsletters we think you’ll find interesting. Please try again later. This email address has already registered for this newsletter. Obviously, something disastrous happened to the Jews during World War II; even the revisionists dont deny that, he wrote. But does the word Holocaust accurately sum up the Jewish misfortune? Maybe so; maybe the secular Jewish-Zionist thugs and pressure groups are essentially right. But thats a conclusion Id want to reach as a free man, not because a different conclusion might result in my kneecaps being broken. And in this controversy, I know which side is appealing to my mind, and which is going for my kneecaps. Sobran also defended David Irving, the Holocaust denier whose libel suit against historian Deborah Lipstadt was the subject of a book that she wrote as well as the film Denial. In his2001 article, Sobran called Irving brilliant and added that Irving has been fined $18,000 in Germany for arguing that an Auschwitz cyanide chamber was a mere replica. He was correct, but he had to pay anyway. Sobran also remarked: The Holocaust controversy is so bitter that it cant even be called a debate. One side refuses to debate, denying that there is anything to debate. At the 2002 conference that took place just months before Manning praised him at the anti-abortion event, Sobran came to the defense of the Institute for Historical Review, saying in my thirty years in journalism,nothing has amazed me more than the prevalent fear in the profession of offending Jews, especially Zionist Jews. The Holocaust, he said, has become a device for exempting Jews from normal human obligations. In 1993, he wasfired as a columnist for the conservative National Reviewby editor William F. Buckley, who had once mentored Sobran and now disparaged his contextually anti-Semitic writing, Mother Jones noted. Sobran died in 2010. His anti-Semitic rhetoric was mentioned in his Washington Post obituary, and according to the Mother Jones report, he had been well-known in right-wing political circles as early as the 1990s, long before Manning praised him as a national treasure in 2003. The magazine said Manning failed to respond to a request for comment for its article. Want to enjoy ‘Zen’ reading – with no ads and just the article? Subscribe today

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Bozeman May Soon Be Home to A Holocaust Museum – kmmsam

So, as far as World War IIgoes, and the killing of six million Jews, I thought I knew all about it. I also know of millions of other people who were also killed by the Germans handicapped people, homosexuals, gypsies, communists and others were rounded up and sent to concentration caps. I had heard the stories in school about the skin of Jews being used for soap and lamp shades. So I thought I understood the Holocaust. I didnt see any reason to go to a Holocaust museum. A few years ago, I was doing my morning show in Houston, Texas. After the show, I had the rest of the day to kill. Driving, looking around the city, I turned the corner and there it was Houston had a Holocaust museum. Well, maybe a fast in and out. I mean, I know the terrible story. Museums like this were not for people like me, I grew up in New York City, which has a good size Jewish community, spent most of my life in Hollywood, again another large Jewish community. I went to my friends bar mitzvah. I had Jewish roommates. I considered myself almost a Jew. But I was here. I had some time. I went into the Holocaust museum. I was there over three hours to see pictures, notes, glasses of people who were killed, hear the stories of people who were tortured, had experimental surgeries, some while awake Stop. I was crying. It hit me so hard. How could therebe such hate? How could one human do this to another human? That afternoon changed my life. When I heard Bozeman was raising money for a Holocaust museum, I was very happy. If people could experience what I experienced it could be life changing. I saw an interview on the local news. I talked to a local rabbi about the project, a few prominent Jews. Most saw this as a good thing for our town. Some worried it might be a second-rate Holocaust museum. The majority said yes, it would be a good thing for Bozeman. A very small number thought it was a mistake and the Holocaust museum group would not be able to raise the funds. For my two cents, I hope they do get the money, it would be an honor to have a Holocaust museum in Bozeman. Dominick

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The French Film Critic Who Saw Jerry Lewis’s Infamous Holocaust Movieand Loved It – Vanity Fair

Left, Jean-Michel Frodon moderates a class at the Doha Film Insitute in 2015; Right, Jerry Lewis directs “The Day the Clown Died” in 1972 in Paris. Left, by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images; Right, from STF/AFP/Getty Images. Jerry Lewis died on Sunday at the age of 91, leaving behind at least one big mystery: the fate of The Day the Clown Cried, an unreleased 1972 Holocaust film that Lewis directed and starred in. It tells the story of a fictional German clown, Helmut Doork, who is sent to a Nazi concentration camp as a political prisoner and ends up entertaining Jewish children at an adjoining death camp. In the films climax, Helmut distracts the children with jokes and pratfalls as he leads them to the gas chambers, ultimately joining them inside. You will be only partially relieved to know that this was intended to be Lewiss first dramatic role. Lewis shot the film mainly in Sweden, but due to money troubles (not enough) and rights issues (very tangled), as well as personal problems (a Percodan addiction), The Day the Clown Cried was never completed. It exists only in a rough-cut version that has never been publicly screened. The pictures rarity, its unlikely (even ghastly) subject matter, and the fact that it was made by the writer-director-star of The Nutty Professor and Hook, Line and Sinker, has made The Day the Clown Cried arguably the most notorious lost film in movie historya kind of Holy Grail for connoisseurs of presumed bad taste. Actors and comedians, notably Patton Oswalt, have produced staged readings of the films screenplay. In 2016, 30 minutes of footage from the film even leaked online. A year earlier, Lewis had donated his print of the film, along with the rest of his filmography, to the Library of Congresswith the proviso that The Day the Clown Cried not be screened until at least 2024. So there is hope for some, at least, that the movie will eventually see the light of day. Twenty-five years ago, I wrote a then-definitive oral history of the making of The Day the Clown Cried for Spy magazine, which included interviews with several people who had managed to see Lewiss print of the film, including the actor and writer Harry Shearer. I began work on an as-yet uncompleted update of this history several years agobut in honor of Lewiss passing, I would like to present this previously unpublished interview with Jean-Michel Frodon, who saw a print of The Day the Clown Cried in the early 2000s. Frodon, a former film critic for Le Monde and editor of Cahiers du Cinema, is Frenchand, perhaps needless to say, has a more positive view of the film than do its handful of American viewers. Vanity Fair: So youve seen a rough cut of the film, some kind of work print? Jean-Michel Frodon: Yes, Ive seen what I supposeof course, it is not possible to be totally sureis the most complete version. It is not finished, obviously. Nevertheless, you can see what the film would have been. It tells the story from beginning to end in the proper order, and comparing it with the script, no major scene is missing. Of course there [is] some editing that could be done, and certainly sound work, and perhaps there are a few errors. But basically I can say I have seen the film. What circumstances did you see it under? A French film director, Xavier Giannoli, happened to own this video of it and asked me to his office to see it. This was a long time ago. Im not sure the exact date, but I would say around 2004 or 2005. At this point he asked me to keep it secret, which of course I did. Until one day, he openly talked about having this print on a radio program. So I felt I had no longer to keep this secret. [Frodon did not know how Giannoli got his print, and Giannoli himself did not respond to multiple requests for an interview.] So what did you think? Is The Day the Clown Cried any good? Yes. Im convinced its a very good job. Its a very interesting and important film, very daring about both the issue, which of course is the Holocaust, but even beyond that as a story of a man who has dedicated his life to making people laugh and is questioning what it is to make people laugh. I think it is a very bitter film, and a disturbing film, and this is why it was so brutally dismissed by those people who saw it, or elements of it, including the writers of the script. Having read both the original script [by Charles Denton and Joan OBrien] and Jerry Lewiss rewrite, my fear for the film would be that it uses the Holocaust as a way to redeem this unhappy clown, that there is an inherent imbalance and sentimentality in that conceit. Hes not redeemed at all! First hes suffering all the way through and then he dies. What kind of redemption is that? Well, again, Im only going off the scripts. But Helmut starts off as this very cynical character and by the end, theres a line where he says something to the effect that he never had children, but now he does. Helping these children has given him purpose. He is walking into the gas chamber to die with the children he took care of. This is not what you can call redemption. Maybe it is a moral redemption, but for what? Hes not guilty of much before, so he has nothing to redeem. Of course the film is connecting a genuine historical situation, and a dramatic one, with an individual situation, but for me this is a very meaningful way to do it. Tell me about the experience of watching the film. It feels to me that if the script were fully realized, especially the ending, it would be almost impossible to watch. I dont know why it would be impossible to watch. There are many things that are difficult to watch. This film finds what I consider a cinematic answer to some real, serious issues, using a kind of stylized setting, both in the costumes and the sets. Its not pretending to be realistic at all. Instead, it has a very obvious fairy-tale feelingnot fairy tale, but tale. There are no fairies here, but there details like in the Grimm brothers, like this kind of stylized background with a train rolling along the countryside where the children are being kept, and afterwards, when Helmut leads them [to the gas chambers] like the Pied Piper. So the film uses an unrealistic way to relay events we know about, events that have been shown so many times in very realistic ways. In an essay, youve compared The Day the Clown Cried to Schindlers List, where most of the main characters surviveand you make the point that The Day the Clown Cried is more honest about the actual events on that point, since everyone we care about in Lewiss film dies. One of the shocking things to me about Schindlers List is that it was made to be as much of a crowd-pleaser as possible, with several tricks, one of them being addressing the evocation of the slaughtering of 6 million persons through the survival of a few of them. This is for me a very clever maneuver. If The Day the Clown Cried had been finished and released in 1972, would it have been the first mainstream film to deal directly with the Holocaust? Off the top of my head, I cant think of any earlier ones. In at least that sense it might have been pioneering. It would depend on what you would call mainstream. There were several films about the Holocaust made in Eastern Europe in this time, which maybe doesnt entitle them to be called mainstream. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis [a 1970 Italian film directed by Vittorio De Sica] addresses the issue of the Holocaust, but it doesnt show the camps. Now that I think of it, there was also The Diary of Anne Frank in 1959. But as you say with The Garden of Finzi-Continis, it doesnt portray the camps themselves. There were films about survivors, too, like The Pawnbroker in 1964. There had been many images of concentration camps, but mostly in documentaries, not in fictional films. What did you think of Jerry Lewiss performance in The Day the Clown Cried? Its a very bizarre project. Hes not indulging himself, but he is self-caricaturing. Hes depicting himself as a clown who is a very unsympathetic character, as a man, and who is losing his professional abilities and making mistakes on stage. He is very selfish and totally stupid, which drives him directly to the camps. And there he has a very sick expression on his face. There are very long scenes where his expression almost totally dissolves, which is very different from what he used to do in his previous films. Its as if he doesnt know how to react. And then when he starts to perform again, hes pretty much like a robot. Its a very rare style of performance for him, compared to what he used to do. Especially in his facial work. It sounds like there might be hints of the performance he would later give in The King of Comedy [1983], where his character is very cold, even cruel. Yes, absolutely. It does. Can you remember any one particular scene, maybe with the children, where you felt he was showing something unusual or particularly powerful as an actor? There are the scenes in the camps where he starts performing for the prisoners. Because at the beginning, he doesnt perform for the childrenhe performs for his fellow prisoners. And in those scenes he is kind of at a distance to his own performance, because he despises the situation. It is insulting for him to have to perform under these conditions. And then, while there is this very bizarre interaction with the prisoners, there are also the children, who are beyond the barbed wire [in another part of the camp]. And the evolution of his understanding of what hes generating for these audiencesthe prisoners and the children, and also the German guardsis very interesting. For me, one of the many elements that draw such negative reaction to the film in the U.S. is that this performance is very far from what is expected from him. There is this idea in the U.S. that we know what he is supposed to do as a comedianand that is not what he does here. I wonder if there would be a similar reaction today if it was announced that Adam Sandler, say, was going to do a Holocaust moviethat this is just not appropriate material for this particular performer. I dont know, because Roberto Benigni received approval, generally speaking, even I believe in the U.S. and Israel [for Life Is Beautiful, his 1997 Oscar-winning comedy set in a concentration camp]. Im not sure what would happen if someone made The Day the Clown Cried today. From a Cuban perspective, it is [about] the corruption of the ruling class, says curator Carol A. Wells, of Alfred Hitchcocks Rope. Here you have these two guys with the best education possible, and what do they do with it? They dont try to make society better; they try to commit the perfect murder. Like other Cuban silk screens, this poster homes in on a fairly innocuousthough wholly memorableprop from the movie its advertising. For Stanley Kubricks The Shining, artist Ral Valds chose to depict Dannys red tricycle and some blood-stained tracks. Designed more than a decade after the films release, Antonio Fernndez Reboiros poster for John Hustons Moby Dick is rooted in late 60s psychedelia. Its a surrealist take on a movie filled with dark and choppy hues. Why did [Cubans] want to watch Singin in the Rain? Whats revolutionary about Singin in the Rain? says Wells. Its entertaining, its fun. If you try to put yourself in Cuban shoes for a second, a lot of the films will give a view of the United States you dont necessarily see. Artist Claudio Sotolongo uses art deco imagery for a quiet, minimalist take on the Liza Minnelli love-triangle musical centered on a cabaret performer in 1930s Berlin. Nelson Ponce Snchezs propaganda-esque silk screen, featuring a brain wearing the iconic Droog bowler hat hovering over a juicer, is an entertaining, on-the-nose look into the madness and misery of Kubricks film. This film centers on a virus that makes people deliriously happy. Soon, though, it also causes the economy to collapse as people stop buying drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and stocks. The government vaccinates everybody against it, says Wells. What a parable for socialism [though] I am sure [the filmmakers] didnt mean that. PreviousNext From a Cuban perspective, it is [about] the corruption of the ruling class, says curator Carol A. Wells, of Alfred Hitchcocks Rope. Here you have these two guys with the best education possible, and what do they do with it? They dont try to make society better; they try to commit the perfect murder. Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. Like other Cuban silk screens, this poster homes in on a fairly innocuousthough wholly memorableprop from the movie its advertising. For Stanley Kubricks The Shining, artist Ral Valds chose to depict Dannys red tricycle and some blood-stained tracks. Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. Designed more than a decade after the films release, Antonio Fernndez Reboiros poster for John Hustons Moby Dick is rooted in late 60s psychedelia. Its a surrealist take on a movie filled with dark and choppy hues. Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. Why did [Cubans] want to watch Singin in the Rain? Whats revolutionary about Singin in the Rain? says Wells. Its entertaining, its fun. If you try to put yourself in Cuban shoes for a second, a lot of the films will give a view of the United States you dont necessarily see. Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. For this silk screen advertising Francis Ford Coppolas seminal mob movie, artist Antonio Prez used religious iconography, including a seal featuring angels, demons, and assault weapons. Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. She wasnt a dumb blonde; she was extremely intelligent, but she was also very left, says Wells of Marilyn Monroeone of the few Hollywood stars whose face appeared on a Cuban silk screen, as it does here for a documentary about her life and career. Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. The cult Joan Crawford-Bette Davis film, about an aging starlet who holds her sister hostage, gets a very colorful interpretation in this Ren Azcuy-design silk screen, which manages to capture Janes past as a happy child performer and her eventual downfall as an old murderer deliriously twirling on the beach. Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. Chaplin is a huge hero in Cuba, says Wells. They named their main theater after Charlie Chaplin. One of the very first films Cuba would show during its mobile cinema events was the silent film stars Modern Times. Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. Artist Claudio Sotolongo uses art deco imagery for a quiet, minimalist take on the Liza Minnelli love-triangle musical centered on a cabaret performer in 1930s Berlin. Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. Nelson Ponce Snchezs propaganda-esque silk screen, featuring a brain wearing the iconic Droog bowler hat hovering over a juicer, is an entertaining, on-the-nose look into the madness and misery of Kubricks film. Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. This film centers on a virus that makes people deliriously happy. Soon, though, it also causes the economy to collapse as people stop buying drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and stocks. The government vaccinates everybody against it, says Wells. What a parable for socialism [though] I am sure [the filmmakers] didnt mean that. Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Holocaust  Comments Closed

Holocaust survivor: This is not the America I came to – WGN-TV

Editorys Note: Holocaust survivor Sonia K. survived four concentration camps. She recently spoke with CNN about her view of the events in Charlottesville. When I came to the United States in 1949 after the Second World War, the world had just witnessed the horrific culmination of centuries of anti-Semitism: the indefensible murder of 6 million Jews. In the 1930s, we all believed that nothing like the Holocaust could ever happen, and for the past seven decades, weve said that nothing like it can ever happen again. But the last few months have felt like 1938 all over again, the year when Kristallnacht a night when riotous violence against Jews swept through Nazi Germany announced the brutal persecution to come. Im scared not for myself, but for my children, my grandchildren, and all children. Some might dismiss the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, as the actions of unhinged or fringe individuals. Others might believe President Trumps comments equating neo-Nazi and anti-fascist protesters are merely reflective of his often exaggerated speech. However, Holocaust survivors know all too well that what starts as a protest or an offhand comment can turn into something far worse. In the 1930s, the warning signs of what was to come were similar to the events unfolding today and society didnt listen. We cant afford to make that mistake again. I was born in Poland and forced to live in theWarsaw Ghettountil mid-1943, when I was taken to Majdanek concentration camp and then Auschwitz. By the time I was liberated in April 1945, I had survived four concentration camps. I met my husband in the Mittenwald camp, and we lived in Germany for four years after the war before settling in Buffalo, New York. Thinking back, it seems almost impossible that I survived when so many of my neighbors and family members perished. But the human spirit and the strength to persevere are powerful forces. Despite all that I had endured, I was surprised to find that when I temporarily settled in Germany after my liberation, some of my neighbors did not know what I had been through. In the four years that I lived there before coming to the United States, everyone claimed that they hadnt known that their Jewish neighbors were disappearing. How could that be? Today, I know. The biggest mistake that was made during the Holocaust was that people didnt speak up. The Holocaust took place because individuals, groups and nations made decisions to act or not to act. The world was quiet then, but we must not be quiet again. Now we know better. We must all commit to making the world a better, kinder and more understanding place. Perhaps its as simple as speaking out when you see something wrong and saying, I know better. But please, never be a bystander or a perpetrator. This is not the America I came to. Its easy to say, Never forget, to assume that the world has learned its lesson. But unless we move beyond simply remembering, and take an active part in standing against anti-Semitism and racism, we could find ourselves repeating a regrettable history. We all need to be on guard, resist and fight. Five years ago, I participated in Witness Theater, a program run by Selfhelp Community Services. Through the program, I had the privilege of meeting high school students who learned our stories and bore witness to our experiences. Its critical that we relate to the younger generation and share our stories so they can carry them on when we are no longer here. They will honor our legacy and live the lessons we shared so that never again can truly mean never again.

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Holocaust  Comments Closed

My lunch with Holocaust survivors – Houston Chronicle

Photo: Yi-Chin Lee, Houston Chronicle Holocaust survivors Rosine Chappell, left, and Ruth Steinfeld share a potato latke at Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen in Houston. Holocaust survivors Rosine Chappell, left, and Ruth Steinfeld share a potato latke at Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen in Houston. Holocaust survivors Pauline Rubin and Bill Orlin chat with Ziggy Gruber. Holocaust survivors Pauline Rubin and Bill Orlin chat with Ziggy Gruber. My lunch with Holocaust survivors By the time the blintzes and rugelach arrived, the diners were making the usual protests and groans. “Do you have a carry-out service,” Pauline Rubin asked, “for people to be carried out?” “That’s it,” promised Ziggy Gruber, the owner of Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen on Post Oak. (But it wasn’t. He actually brought out a plate of strudel minutes later.) But the pillowy blintzes and rugelach dusted with sugar were hard to resist. August is New York Deli Month, something that sounds like a manufactured publicity stunt until you count the number of restaurants that truly commit themselves to carrying on this tradition. Then you realize it’s akin to historic preservation. Gruber, the co-founder of the month, can talk about the history of every item on his restaurant’s lengthy menu. And that talk inevitability leads to meditations on loss, the origins of so many of these items transformed irrevocably by the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. I was sharing a table with Rubin and four other Holocaust survivors, Rosine Chappell, Bill Orlin, Ruth Steinfeld and Ben Waserman to mark the month. “When we get together, there’s that bond,” said Waserman. “I always look forward to it.” There are only about 200 survivors still living in the Houston area, according to an estimate from Holocaust Museum Houston, to which these survivors are all connected. Many of those 200 are known as child survivors. Their experiences of the Holocaust can be different from those captured in documentaries, and their stories are lesser known. Rubin’s mother asked her how she even remembered any of it, unaware that she did. Others, like Orlin, spent decades insisting they weren’t survivors because they were never in the camps. But when he was 16, after years of constant moves and harsh conditions, he could count each one of his ribs. “Sometimes, for meals, I had water from a ditch,” he remembered. For survivors, he said, food is life. Pickles The meal starts with something sour: pickles. Easy to overlook, pickles can tell you all you need to know about the worth of a deli. They hold a special place in the pantheon of Eastern European Jewish foods. Can you imagine, in the dead of winter, something green and crisp still? And food is serious business. REDISCOVERING TRADITIONS: New cookbook explores Jewish food as global cuisine Before Chappell takes her seat, she gives Gruber a hard time about his stuffed cabbage it’s too sweet, she tells him, not like it was made back in Romania. When he promises to make her a special Romanian dessert next time, all is forgiven. Matzo ball soup, potato knishes, kishke The matzo balls are bigger than baseballs and elicit immediate objections from the diners. “I can’t eat all that,” Chappell insists, as others pass plates to sample a bit of the stick-to-your-ribs appetizers. “Can we come back tomorrow?” Steinfeld jokes. With a group whose origins stretch from Belgium to Romania, the names of the foods are sometimes different, and for several minutes the table simply names dishes present and not, dishes they love and remember and have searched for again on trips back but often cannot find. Thanks Elie Wiesel’s “Night” and “The Diary of Anne Frank,” many people know the story of Jewish children during the Holocaust. But their experiences are unique. An estimated 1.5 million children died in the Holocaust. For those who survived, their stories reveal the reaches of the Holocaust’s evil. Gruber, co-owner of Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen, chats with, from left, Ben Waserman, Rosine Chappell, Ruth Steinfeld and Bill Orlin in Houston. Gruber, co-owner of Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen,… Steinfeld calls her childhood in Germany “wonderful,” but that wouldn’t last. “I never wanted to say I’m German, even though I was born there,” she said. A year after her older sister, Steinfeld was born in 1933, the same year Hitler was appointed Chancellor. It was the same for Waserman, who grew up in Berlin in the 1930s. “I knew even as a child that I was not wanted there,” he said. In Romania, Chappell remembers life growing increasingly tough for Jews. “Christ killer” was what passersby on the street called her. Chappell’s father had been born in New York, meaning she was also an American citizen. They always intended to go back, Chappell said, but after Romania’s Iron Guard took over in 1940, their path out seemed lost. To read this article in one of Houston’s most-spoken languages, click on the button below. Get Gray Matters sent to your inbox. Sign up now! Stuffed cabbage, kasha varnishkes, Romanian steak, gulash, kugel, latkes Many survivors have someone or something they credit for their own survival. The family that took them in, their father’s persistence and cunning, the pair of wooden shoes that protected my own great uncle’s feet in Auschwitz. Waserman wonders if, for him, it was his mother’s last-minute plea with a guard at Theresienstadt, a camp in Czechloslovakia where he, his brother and mother had been sent after being found in hiding. A guard was preparing to put him on the train headed for Auschwitz, where his father had already been killed, but his mother pleaded with the guard, explaining that she was only half Jewish. The guard changed his mind and pulled him off the train. Steinfeld was also saved from perishing in the camps because of a decision her parents made. The family had been deported to an internment camp in the French Pyrenees. Though their parents had been separated, they managed to communicate and agreed to give up their girls to a Jewish organization called Oeuvres de Secours aux Enfants. The girls stayed first with a family, pretending to be Catholics and going by different names, before being sent to an orphanage. A harrowing forced trek across Poland might have been what saved Orlin. After the Germans invaded Poland, his family was rounded up and forced to march 50 miles to Warsaw with the other Jews from his town. But when the Russians also invaded, splitting Poland, his family was on the Russian side. They continued on, moving from country to country to survive before coming to a displaced persons camp and later, Canada and the United States. Chappell, too, eventually made it to New York City. Russian troops liberated Theresienstadt in 1945. A relative helped Steinfeld and her sister come to the United States in 1946. And Rubin was reunited with her family after the war ended, moving to Indiana in 1950. But that was far from the end for them. After spending four years with another family, Rubin struggled to adjust to life with her own mother and father, thinking she had already been homes all those years, and she had to learn for herself what it meant to be Jewish. Others shared similar stories. “When I came to America, I had to be Jewish again,” said Steinfeld. It wasn’t always comfortable to remember. “I am Jewish, I am happy to be Jewish, but I still have a thought that Jews are not welcome,” she said. In Corpus Christi, Chappell remembered being one of only a few Jews. BIGGER VISION: Expanded Holocaust Museum Houston to open in 2019 But from across the country, they each found their way to Houston, a hazy destination most imagined would be full of cowboys. “When I went down Main Street, I thought I was in paradise. Later, I found out I wasn’t,” said Steinfeld with a laugh. Little by little, their lives continued. They got jobs and married, had children and careers. But their experiences never left them. “It took me years to admit I belonged to a synagogue,” said Chappell. “To this day, I call it a ‘congregation’ sometimes.” Chappell, left, was born in Romania and Steinfeld, right, in Germany. Chappell, left, was born in Romania and Steinfeld, right, in Germany. For years, Steinfeld said, she did everything to please her mother, sure she would return to her one day. When she met a German Jewish boy in Houston something that was hard to do, according to her she married him. It wasn’t until 1981 that she learned both her parents died in Auschwitz. “It was the biggest change in me to have to stop looking for my parents,” she said. Most of them didn’t talk about what happened to them. “I didn’t want my children to feel my pain,” said Waserman. Some, like Orlin and Chappell, felt they weren’t really survivors and so they didn’t talk like they were. Others required the push of family and friends to speak about it. When Rubin had the opportunity to honor the family that took her in for Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel, she wrote her story down for the first time. She showed it to her husband. “He said, ‘I didn’t know,'” she remembered. Both survivors, the two had never talked about their years in hiding. Rugelach, blintzes, strudel When the Holocaust Museum Houston opened in 1996, they found an outlet in each other and the museum. Several of them still speak in schools and places of worship about their experiences. “Where’s your number?,” the crowds will ask, wanting to see the tattoos that were used to mark prisoners in Auschwitz. And as more survivors pass on, there’s a rush to capture their stories. “There are questions I would like to ask,” said Rubin, “and there’s no one left to ask.” “For survivors,” says Orlin, “food is life.” “For survivors,” says Orlin, “food is life.” It is hard to quantify what was lost in the Holocaust, even for survivors. Studies have shown that the trauma changed the stress hormones of not only survivors but their children, as well. Survivors talk about losing their childhoods and languages, losing their names to new ones adopted when they went into hiding or came to the United States. When they search for remnants of what was, they often come up empty handed. “I was in Bialystok when I was seven,” said Orlin. “I went back in 2000 and I asked for bialys,” the Yiddish word for the baked, circular onion-topped rolls from Poland. “They didn’t know what I was talking about,” he said. There were no Jews left.” They hope their stories teach tolerance, but many are troubled by what they have seen recently. Waserman remembers the segregated landscape he arrived in, and he’s quick to correct people who say that the horrors of the Holocaust came at the hands of the regime alone, not neighbors. “I grew up with anti-Semitism,” he said, “A lot of Germans hated Jews.” When Steinfeld reads the headlines today, she said, “I keep thinking about me and how lucky I was that nobody said I couldn’t come [to the U.S.].” By now, the containers of leftovers are numbering in the tens. With promises to return to Ziggy’s and see each other soon, the diners start to gather their things and make their way toward the door. But first, the plates make one final pass around the table. Leah Binkovitz (@leahbink), formerly of the Houston Chronicle, is now a staff writer for Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research. Bookmark Gray Matters. Can you imagine, in the dead of winter, something green and crisp still?

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Holocaust  Comments Closed

Three Deadly Days: One Town’s Experience of the Holocaust – New York Times

Photo Credit Peter O. Zierlein A BOY IN WINTER By Rachel Seiffert 242 pp. Pantheon Books. $25.95. In an essay in The Guardian in late May, the British author Rachel Seiffert asked, When power changes hands, when the mood of your country shifts, how far is too far? Since she went on to wonder, What if its not just in your own country, but in others too? you might think she meant to address the news that dominated Britain that week: the craven terror attack at a concert in Manchester; the summit in Brussels where President Trump shocked Americas NATO allies by scolding them rather than reaffirming the importance of their bond; and the looming snap election that would erode popular support for Brexit, the British withdrawal from the European Union. But Seiffert had another global stage in mind, another century. She was thinking of the setting of her fourth novel, A Boy in Winter, of Ukraine in November 1941, when Hitlers forces were sweeping through the countryside, beating back Stalins Red Army and conducting mass executions and deportations. Then, as now, ordinary people found themselves in an unpredictable, turbulent environment, unsure how to respond. Time would reveal who acted badly and who acted well; but Seifferts purpose is not to pass judgment. Her abiding concern, ever since she learned as a child that her German maternal grandparents had supported Hitlers Reich (her grandfather as a doctor in the Waffen SS, her grandmother as a Nazi Party member), has been to explore the motivations, contradictions and weaknesses of the bystanders, victims and perpetrators of the Holocaust. How does it feel to be on the wrong side of history? she asked in the Guardian article, adding, The times being what they are I have found myself turning again and again to the question. Her new novels inclusive, impartial vision awakens a contemporary readers conscience by highlighting the individuals role in collective error: How we respond when a principle is at stake. The characters in A Boy in Winter are as distinct and intricate as the wooden figures of animals, people, farmhouses and fruit trees that a boy named Yankel carves to distract his little brother, Momik, as they hide under the rafters of a building on the edge of a Ukrainian town. While they play, out of sight, German soldiers and Ukrainian auxiliary police are rounding up the towns Jews for resettlement. In the room below the boys, a simple country girl named Yasia overhears their murmured conversation, which sets off a ticking fear inside her because the language theyre speaking isnt Ukrainian. Are they Jew children? she wonders. The thought hadnt occurred to her when she spotted them wandering the empty streets that cold, menacing morning. Preoccupied by the reckless mission that had brought her to town the hope of meeting her fianc, Mykola, who serves in the auxiliary police Yasia had scooped up the children, taken them to her cousins workplace and gone about her business. The boys needed hiding so she hid them, they needed feeding so she fed them; that was all she was doing, she told herself. She knew little of Jews; nothing to speak of. There are none who farm with her father, or in Mykolas village either. But as sirens blare and gunfire echoes across the town, she becomes aware of the risk she has taken. Her cousins neighbors are terrified. The Germans had registered all the local people on their lists; will ordinary Ukrainians be singled out next? They wont take us, one insists. Its only the Jews theyre after, another agrees. But Yasia knows its only a matter of time before a nervous neighbor reports her for harboring the boys. She longs to send them off down the alleyways and be rid of them. But she cant bring herself to do it: That would be shameful. How long can her conscience override her instinct for self-preservation? While Yasia wrestles with that decision, the boys parents, Ephraim and Miryam, stand amid their hastily gathered possessions in a brick factory, crowded alongside hundreds of the areas Jewish residents. Ephraim is angry that his elder son has disobeyed him, running away with his little brother instead of accompanying their parents to line up with dignity at the factory, as the occupiers had commanded. We will endure it, Ephraim had told Yankel; but the boy chose another course, evidently remembering his adventurous Uncle Jaakov, long since emigrated to Palestine. Ephraim, who believes his family should be all together in their time of need, resents his brother-in-law for leaving their community. But most of his anger is directed at his misguided wife, who trusts that the boys will find refuge somewhere. There are others, Miryam tells her husband. Yankel will find them. To Ephraim, this is navet. He cannot trust his sons to such uncertainty. But what certainty exists in uncertain times? As Ephraim broods, two other men confront their own collapsing autonomy. One is Otto Pohl, a German engineer who had tried to salve his conscience and save his skin by joining a roadworks corps instead of signing up with the Wehrmacht. At the brick factory, he belatedly realizes the impossibility of maintaining a moral high ground: Out here, they can do anything they want. There is no law or truth or trust, no sense of reason. The other man is Yasias headstrong fianc, Mykola. He had deserted the Red Army when the Germans invaded, then joined the auxiliary police because We had the Soviets, remember? Well, now we have new masters. It will be just the same, he tells Yasia. We just have to live to see them gone again. What will Mykolas new masters demand of him? Shivering on the dogleg of cleared land, between the back wall of the factory and the scrub where a pit has been freshly dug, he awaits instructions, gulping liquor from a flask being passed along the line, watching his barrack mates flinging bundles theyve seized from the Jews who stumble through the mud between the rows of trucks. Observing Mykolas distress, an SS sergeant asks, Did you think this would be orderly? Mykola doesnt answer: He doesnt know what he thought it would be. The experiences Seiffert describes reflect actual wartime accounts, and the character of Otto Pohl was inspired by Willi Ahrem, a German commandant at a forced labor camp in the Ukrainian town of Nemirov, who warned Jewish laborers in advance of a massacre and helped some to escape, though he couldnt save many. Today hes recognized as one of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem. It was Ahrems story, Seiffert wrote in The Guardian, that prompted her to revisit the question that haunts her: What do you do when you have tried so hard to do the right thing, and yet you find yourself in the midst of such a great wrong?

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Holocaust  Comments Closed

Judge sentences antisemitic teen vandals to meet Holocaust survivor – The Jerusalem Post

A giant menorah outside the White House in Washington. (photo credit:REUTERS) Three teens pleaded guilty to criminal damaging charges for twisting a large decorative menorah in the front yard of an Arizona familys home into a swastika. The teens, who were arrested in March and charged as juveniles in the December incident in a residential neighborhood in Chandler, Arizona, offered the guilty pleas Thursday in Maricopa County Court. They were sentenced to serve 30 hours of community service, along with writing an apology letter to the victims and paying restitution. They also must meet with a Holocaust survivor and write an essay on what they learned about the Holocaust and how their desecration of the menorah affected the community, the CBS affiliate in Phoenix reported. The Maricopa County Attorneys Office has not yet decided how to charge the fourth vandal in the incident, Clive Jamar Wilson, 19, who posted an apology to the family on Facebook after he was arrested. Parents Naomi and Seth Ellis said they built the 7-foot menorah in front of their house after their three sons, ages 5, 6 and 9, asked for lights in their yard like their neighbors Christmas decorations. Police helped Naomi and Seth Ellis dismantle the swastika early in the morning before Ellis children saw it. The menorah was rebuilt and replaced. About 100 members of the familys synagogue and their rabbi and neighbors gathered in the Ellis front yard to light the rebuilt menorah. Share on facebook

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August 21, 2017   Posted in: Holocaust  Comments Closed


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