Obama to Honor Four Who Protected Jews During Holocaust

US President Barack Obama waves to the press as walks to board Marine One at the White House in Washington, DC, January 25, 2016.  (AFP/Nicholas Kamm)Two Americans and two Poles to be awarded Righteous Among the Nations medals at first ceremony held in US

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama is slated honor four people, including Americans from Indiana and Tennessee, for risking their lives to protect Jews during the Holocaust.

The United Nations has designated Wednesday as International Holocaust Remembrance Day to commemorate the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp in southern Poland in 1945.

Six million Jews were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust.

Obama was scheduled to join Jewish leaders at a ceremony Wednesday at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, where Righteous Among the Nations medals are to be presented posthumously.

It’s the first time the ceremony is being held in the United States. Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the US, said Obama’s participation “will be a worthy tribute to the worthiest among us.”

Last year, Obama said the international anniversary was an opportunity to reflect on progress “confronting this terrible chapter in human history” and on continued efforts to end genocide.

“Honoring the victims and survivors begins with our renewed recognition of the value and dignity of each person,” Obama said in a written statement last January. “It demands from us the courage to protect the persecuted and speak out against bigotry and hatred.”

Americans Roddie Edmonds of Knoxville, Tennessee; Lois Gunden of Goshen, Indiana; and Polish citizens Walery and Maryla Zbijewski of Warsaw are being recognized by Yad Vashem for protecting Jews from harm during the Holocaust.

Yad Vashem, based in Jerusalem, is the world’s Holocaust education and research center.

Righteous Among the Nations is an official title awarded by Yad Vashem on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Master Sgt. Edmonds participated in the landing of US forces in Europe and was taken prisoner by the Germans. When the Germans ordered all Jewish prisoners of war to report, Edmonds defied the order by figuring out how to keep the Jewish POWs from being singled out for persecution.

Gunden, a French teacher, established a children’s home in southern France that became a safe haven for children, including Jewish children she helped smuggle out of a nearby internment camp. She protected the children when French police showed up at the home.

The Zbijewskis hid a Jewish child in their Warsaw home until the girl’s mother could take her back.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.


Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese Diplomat Who Saved Thousands from the Nazis, Gets His Own Movie

‘Persona Non Grata,’ a feature-length biopic about the Holocaust hero, premieres next week

This coming Sunday, January 31, the man who saved my grandfather and thousands of other Jews from the Holocaust will finally be getting his own film adaptation. “Persona Non Grata,” which will have its U.S. premiere next week at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, tells the story of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese consul who granted 3,500 transit visas to fleeing Lithuanian Jewish refugees–including many yeshiva students–without the approval of his government.

As Yad Vashem recounts:

The Japanese consul asked for time to obtain authorization from his superiors to grant the visas. Nothing indicated that the Japanese Foreign Ministry would agree to this unusual request. However, Sugihara was very troubled by the refugees’ plight and therefore began issuing visas at his own initiative and without having obtained his ministry’s support. Nine days later the response from Tokyo arrived. The proposal was rejected, and authorization to grant transit visas was denied. Sugihara decided to continue with the distribution of the visas anyhow. His wife later described how the predicament of the desperate Jewish refugees had impacted her husband. After the meeting with the delegation he was troubled and contemplative until he decided to go ahead and disobey his orders. Within a brief span of time before the consulate was closed down and Sugihara had to leave Kaunas, he provided approximately 3,500 transit visas. Thanks to Sugihara they were able to leave Europe and the murder that was to begin a year later. Among the recipients of visas were many rabbis and Talmudic students. Their narrow escape enabled them to re-establish the Jewish traditional schools elsewhere.

Ultimately dismissed from the Japanese Foreign Service, Sugihara lived out his post-war life in obscurity, doing menial work to support his family. He was eventually tracked down in 1968 by one of the Jews he saved, then an economic attaché to the Israeli Embassy in Tokyo, and brought to Israel, where he received a hero’s welcome. In 1984, Yad Vashem recognized Sugihara as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. Two years later, he died.

Though Sugihara’s story has been the subject of several documentaries, it has not received biopic treatment until now. “Persona Non Grata” was directed by Japanese-American director Cellin Gluck, filmed in Poland, and stars Toshiaki Karasawa in the lead role.

Watch the trailer below:

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet and the editor of the English-language blog of the Israeli National Archives. Follow him on Twitter @Yair_Rosenberg.


Non-Jewish Germans Honored for Preserving Local Jewish History

BERLIN (JTA) — A preacher, teachers, business leaders and an artist were among the non-Jewish Germans who were recognized for helping preserve local Jewish history.

On Monday, they were presented with the Obermayer German Jewish History Awards in the Berlin Senate as Germany prepares to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday, the 71st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

The winners of the 16th annual awards, which were established by the late U.S. philanthropist Arthur Obermayer, have faced a mix of support and resistance over the years.

One awardee, Peter Franz of Weimar, was undeterred when neo-Nazis destroyed an exhibit on local Jewish history and left two pigs’ heads
outside the Praeger Haus, a memorial and meeting center he helped create in his town.

In Frankenthal, some residents did not want brass “Stumbling Block” memorials to former Jewish residents in front of their homes, said
award winner Werner Schaefer. “Then our mayor personally approached the homeowners” and convinced them, he said.

In Berlin, after years of “paying lip service” to the history of “Aryanization” of Jewish businesses, local retailers in 2013 finally joined in an annual commemoration of Kristallnacht, said Nils Busch-Petersen, managing director of the Berlin-Brandenburg Retailers Association, who won a distinguished service award.

In general, local politicians and city administrations have been supportive, the awardees agreed.

“But there are also many people who remain silent” about local Jewish history, said Almut Holler of Norden, a retired pastor who shared the award with retired teacher Walter Demandt.

The other awardees are:

Elizabeth Quirbach and Hans Schulz, who helped turn the site of a former Jewish school and rabbi’s house in Braunsbach into a museum and educational center.

Reinhard Fuehrer, former member and leader of Berlin’s House of Representatives, who earned a distinguished service award for early
support for the Obermayer Awards and his work to preserve Europe’s largest Jewish cemetery, in Weissensee.

Elmar Ittenbach, who wrote a history of Thalfang’s Jewish community and a biography of Rabbi Samuel Hirsch, a founder of Reform Judaism in the 19th century.

Also Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the opening of an exhibition in Berlin featuring 100 works created by concentration camp prisoners and ghetto residents on loan from the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. According to news reports, 24 of the artists represented in the exhibition, “The Art of the Holocaust,” did not survive the Shoah.


Remembering David Stoliar, the Only Survivor of 1942 Struma Disaster

During World War II, a ship holding an estimated 800 Jews fleeing the Holocaust, was torpedoed by a Soviet submarine. Everyone aboard was killed except for David Stoliar, then 19 years old. This week, we learned of his death at the age of 91.

Last Saturday, the New York Times ran an obituary about David Stoliar, the only survivor aboard the Struma, a ship carrying an estimated 800 Romanian, Bulgarian, and Russian Jews, all fleeing the Holocaust. The ship, adrift in the Black Sea, was ultimately torpedoed by a Soviet submarine, killing every passenger except for Stoliar, then 19 years old. This week, through the Times obit, we learned that Stoliar actually died in May 2014; the Times notes they learned of his death through a blurb in newspaper in Oregon, where he Stoliar lived. It’s valuable nonetheless, that the Times decided to run an obituary, and it’s especially remarkable given that today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Stoliar’s story is a remarkable one, to say the least. Born in Romania in 1922, the son of a textile manufacturer, Stoliar was asleep on the ship when the torpedo struck, hurling him into the sea among debris and bodies. “I was one of the lucky ones who was blown up into the air, and I fell into the sea,” Stoliar told the Times in 2000. “When I came to the surface, there was nothing except a tremendous amount of debris and many, many people swimming in the water. It was very, very cold, and we had a hard time moving our feet and our hands.”

…Alone now, Mr. Stoliar thought of giving up. He took out a jackknife to slit his wrists, but his fingers were too numb to open the blade. A short while later, about 24 hours after the Struma had sunk, a large ship appeared in the distance. He waved frantically, and saw figures on deck waving back.

Soon a rowboat approached. He was pulled aboard, wrapped in blankets and taken to a Turkish fishing village. His hands and feet were frostbitten. He was hospitalized in Istanbul, then jailed for six weeks, apparently to keep him from the news media. Referring to the Turks, he recalled, “I was the only witness to their inhumanity, really, from the beginning to the end.”

Here’s a transcript (video here) of Stoliar speaking about the Sturma disaster with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1997:

During the journey to Istanbul, first of all we could hardly move because we were told that, you know, because of so many people, if there are too many of us on the deck on one side, the, the vessel can be in danger. So, first of all, they wanted us to move as little as possible and also, once we are on a deck for a few hours, also to try to keep the vessel in balance by not going too much on one side or the other. So we were directed, some people on the left side, some people on the right side, then go slowly. In other words, there was a possibility that the vessel may get out of balance if, if we move too much. So the conditions were such that you just stayed in your bunker as much as you can, without, without moving. So there was no way of getting cleaned up or, or even, even, you barely managed to, to drink water, never mind about washing or something like that. And as the time went by, it was getting naturally worse and worse and worse.

A year later, Stoliar made safe passage to Palestine, where he served in the British Army’s Jewish Brigade. In 1948, he fought for the Israeli Army in the Arab-Israeli war, the war of independence. Read the entire New York Times obituary here.


Israel Releases Adolf Eichmann’s Handwritten Final Plea, Written Two Days Before He Was Hanged

Detail of a poster by Coy Howard, 1974. (Library of Congress)This is a sponsored post on behalf of Yale University Press and their Jewish Lives series.

The Marx Brothers turned the contrasting roles of high art and popular art on their heads. Like Chaplin, the Marx Brothers used popular art to convey truth once confined to the rarefied precincts of high culture, especially in the realm of comedy. Unlike Chaplin, they burst the form of popular art in the course of doing so. Ever since Lenny Bruce made his dark non-joke about Jackie “hauling ass,” we have become accustomed to one comedian after another—Sam Kinison, Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Margaret Cho, Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Lewis Black—uttering the unutterable. With the exception of Bruce, whose nightclub act failed to attain the reach that the Marx Brothers did with their style of frank, brute intensity, there has never been a comedian who so uncompromisingly substituted raw, shocking truthfulness for humor. The Marx Brothers’ audiences laughed, not only because they were tickled and delighted, but because the scales fell helter-skelter from their eyes. There are slapstick routines and out-and-out jokes, to be sure, but so much of the Marx Brothers’ humor consists of simply saying or doing something in a social situation that is true to the social and psychological dynamics of the situation, but which no one would ever say or do in public.

What is hard to realize when watching the films is that the Brothers were not merely acting, but living. For all their fastidiousness about lines and timing—Groucho would notoriously throw out one perfectly good scene after another because they did not meet his anxious standards—they existed in their films the way they conducted themselves in ordinary life.

Arthur Marx, in his memoir, My Life with Groucho, recalls what it was like to be at the dinner table with his father and his three famous uncles:

They were loud, raucous, and never took anything seriously. The jokes would fly back and forth across the table so rapidly you couldn’t keep up with them. And all the brothers but my father were accomplished at the art of doing table tricks. They’d be springboarding silverware into glasses of water, making rabbits out of napkins, pulling cards from their sleeves, and perhaps shooting dice with sugar cubes.

“Groucho never knew how to talk normally,” said the actress Maureen O’Sullivan, who appeared in A Day at the Races, and whom Groucho unsuccessfully tried to seduce offscreen. “After a while,” she said about his rapid-fire patter, “your face starts to crack.” Asked whether Groucho’s screen persona was like his actual personality, Susan Marx, Harpo’s wife, replied: “You bet your life it is!”

In the mid-1930s, when the Brothers’ career was at a turning point and they left Paramount Pictures for MGM, anxious that their low-earning previous picture, a semiflop called Duck Soup, had spelled the end of their careers, they found themselves in the anteroom to Irving Thalberg’s office. Thalberg was as feared as he was famously difficult to see, and he kept the nervous brothers waiting for hours. Finally they each lit up a cigar and began to blow smoke under Thalberg’s door, shouting “Fire!” The next time they went to see him he ushered them into his office right away, but then kept them waiting for hours while he went down the hall to the office of Louis B. Mayer, the studio head. When Thalberg returned, he found the brothers sitting naked before a crackling fire in his fireplace, roasting potatoes.

In the late 1920s, Groucho moved to Great Neck, Long Island, buying a ten-room, two-story stucco house equipped with a special bluestone gravel driveway where he could park his beloved Lincoln. At the time, Great Neck was home to many illustrious entertainment figures, such as George M. Cohan, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Eddie Cantor, as well as the likes of P. G. Wodehouse and Eugene O’Neill (whom Groucho enjoyed mercilessly parodying in his films). In 1931, Groucho gave up his Great Neck home to bring his long-suffering first wife, Ruth, and their two children, twelve-year-old Arthur and his little sister, Miriam, to Hollywood in order to join Groucho’s brothers there. Before that, however, he took the family on a trip to Europe, along with his brothers, of course—they seemed never to go anywhere without each other. Arriving back in New York, Groucho became exasperated with the official process of reentering the country through customs. He filled out the declaration of purchases form without, one might say, breaking character:

Name: Julius H. Marx

Address: 21 Lincoln Rd., Great Neck, Long Island Born: Yes

Hair: Not much

Eyes: All the better to see you with Occupation: Smuggler

List of Items Purchased Out of the United States, Where Bought, and the Purchase Price: Wouldn’t you like to know?

After filling out the form, Groucho turned to his wife, Ruth, in front of the customs officials, and asked her whether she was still carrying the opium. The customs agents grabbed Groucho, Ruth, and their two small children. They took the family into a room, made them all strip naked, and examined them for hidden goods. Then they had the family wait, presumably clothed once again, for hours while the officials meticulously searched their luggage.

Such incidents are revered episodes in the biographical lore surrounding the Marxes’ lives. They are presented merrily, as yet more examples of the Brothers’ spirit of liberating freedom and anarchy. This misses their dark side. To be sure, by the time the incidents I’ve recounted took place, Groucho and his brothers had become world famous for being abusive toward respectability and authority. But they were as much the passive victims of destructive temperaments as the artistically triumphant products of same. There is nothing funny about two small children being strip-searched and forced to watch their parents undergo the same humiliating process.

Groucho’s dark, compulsive assault not just on propriety but on the basic premises of social life is what makes the Marx Brothers’ movies so strange, and so original. The humor, as I’ve noted, is often not humor. It is the spectacle of seeing something so uncivilized and natural that it has all the appearance of a freakish exception to human nature. It is like watching a wild animal that does not know it is being watched. It is the acting style of people who are not really acting.

The most unforgettable acting is the product of untethered, otherworldly, orphan personalities who are chosen by acting rather than the other way around. They fall helplessly through the social cracks and tumble into their vocation. Louis Malle expresses this superbly at the beginning of Uncle Vanya on 42nd Street. We see the actors coming in off the street, talking to one another as themselves, changing into their costumes as themselves, and then, imperceptibly, seamlessly, becoming the characters they are playing.

The same transformation takes place in Al Pacino’s film about playing Richard III, Looking for Richard. At one point, we see Pacino at the Cloisters, New York City’s museum of medieval art. Pacino is walking outside, through a colonnade. He is wearing a gorgeous overcoat, which recalls the lush overcoat Marlon Brando wore in Last Tango in Paris, another movie about the blurred lines between living and acting that interweaves Brando’s life story with that of his character in that film. One minute Pacino is talking as Pacino. Then he does a kind of pirouette and, while still talking and walking as Pacino, becomes Shakespeare’s hunchbacked king.

Though Groucho and his brothers are hardly ever regarded as actors, they possessed a great actor’s inborn vulnerability to his or her eventual calling. The similarity to Pacino in this respect is striking. Like them, he grew up virtually parentless, in a crowded tenement where he was often lost in the crowd. Pretense became an almost biological necessity. The young Pacino was always one step away from pretending to be someone else as a means to fulfilling who he really was. I once wrote a profile of him for a magazine, and he held me rapt over the phone late one night as he described the Louis Malle–like moment when the cast of The Godfather met for the first time at an Italian restaurant in East Harlem. By the end of the dinner, Pacino said, Brando

was responding to me without knowing me, as if I was that kid, who was not quite decided as to what he wanted to do, and that, somehow, as his son, I had something that Marlon wanted to cultivate, and that he was sensitive to in his youngest son.

What Pacino, who had been abandoned by his father when he was two, didn’t say was that it was he who had responded to Brando as his father.

Groucho and his brothers also had what you might call a natural richness born of deficiency. They drifted, simultaneously, into their stage personas and the completion of their development—or lack thereof—as people. Though young Julius had his heart set on becoming a doctor, his marginal position in his parents’ household and his compensatory passion for words drew him helplessly toward the world of entertainment. His ideal and the model that he based both his stage persona and his personality on was his uncle Al Shean, the famous vaudevillian. In Groucho and Me, Groucho describes Shean’s appearances at 179 East 93rd Street:

I have now told you about three uncles who were all nice fellows, but miserable failures in their respective careers. [This tally does not include his devastating portrait of his father, the failed tailor.] I might as well confess all and tell you that I also had an uncle who was a great success. He was my mother’s brother. His name was Shean, and with a partner named Gallagher, he sang a song [“Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean”] that, today, is as much a part of America as baseball.

He goes on to talk about how Shean had been a pants presser in a New York City sweatshop. Shean had a beautiful voice, Groucho relates, and he organized a quartet in the shop, who sang while they worked, with the result that they got themselves fired. That impelled Shean to enter show business. Groucho continues:

Originally, I wanted to be a doctor. But my uncle Al’s success convinced my mother that the theater was a soft and lucrative racket, and that I had better forget about the Hippocratic oath. … My uncle Al was a handsome dog, and when he came to visit us things started moving. We were all rushed to different stores to buy the foods he liked. … At the end of the meal, each of the boys got a buck from Uncle Al. Since my allowance was only a nickel a week, this gift of a dollar meant luxury for many weeks. …

When my uncle came to visit us he had long hair down his neck, pre-Presley sideburns, a frock coat, a gold-headed cane and a silk hat. … By the time Uncle Al left the house, there would be quite a crowd hanging around the front stoop. On leaving, he would toss a handful of nickels in the air and watch the kids scramble for them.

Here was glamour!

And here was Julius’s vocation in the form of a familiar family routine. Think of the characters Groucho plays, and of the way they make their entrance. In Cocoanuts Hammer is immediately surrounded by a crowd of bellboys, who are dependent on him for their livelihood. A wealthy, privileged crowd of admirers jubilantly greets Groucho when, in Animal Crackers, he makes his entrance as the celebrated explorer Captain Spaulding. In Horse Feathers, Professor Wagstaff is introduced to a quiet and respectful faculty as the new president of Huxley College. In Duck Soup, Groucho, as Rufus T. Firefly, becomes leader of the country of Freedonia just minutes into the film. In A Night at the Opera, Margaret Dumont plays a wealthy patron of the arts around whom various important suitors, including the head of the Metropolitan Opera, hungrily orbit. When the film begins, she is waiting in a restaurant for Groucho’s Otis Driftwood, a sort of freelance impresario, who is horribly late. Nevertheless, he has her in his thrall. In A Day at the Races, Hugo Z. Hackenbush is the only means of salvation for the struggling Standish Sanitarium. His arrival is greeted with celebration and relief—despite the fact that, unbeknownst to the celebrants, he is actually a veterinarian.

Each of these characters makes his entrance as a larger-than-life figure, absurdly idealized or romanticized, or at least inflated, by the inhabitants of his social milieu. In every case, Groucho is reenacting Uncle Al’s sudden dramatic appearances at the Marxes’ household. Just as Uncle Al’s glamour lay in the fact that he was an actor who made his living playing fictional characters, Groucho’s fictional character is always pretending to be someone he is not. Since Julius’s persona as Groucho was really who Julius was, the circle is complete. Uncle Al the actor finds his continuation in Julius playing Groucho impersonating a grand figure who has the same stature Uncle Al once enjoyed at the Marxes’.

To make things even more confusing—and clarifying at the same time—Groucho’s characters all exist right on the cusp of making some kind of fortune. They first appear to the fictional world around them as successful, prosperous figures who are expected, at any moment, to shower those around them with coins. Here was glamour! A glamour every bit as impressive as Uncle Al himself tossing a handful of nickels in the air to the neighborhood kids.

Excerpted from Groucho Marx: The Comedy of Existence, by Lee Siegel. Copyright © 2016 by Lee Siegel. Excerpted by permission of Yale University Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Lee Siegel writes about culture and politics for the New York Times, the New Yorker, and the Wall Street Journal.


Top Israeli Honor Eludes Goering’s Brother, Who Heroically Saved Jews

Albert Goering — the brother of Nazi minister and air force chief Hermann Goering — Albert, sibling of Hitler’s Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering, said to have enabled hundreds to escape Nazi regime, but Yad Vashem doubts his eligibility as a Righteous Among the Nations

An upcoming BBC documentary is set to highlight the remarkable story of Albert Goering — the brother of Nazi minister and air force chief Hermann Goering — who is said to have saved hundreds of Jews and political dissidents during World War II.

However, despite the evidence pointing to Albert’s efforts to enable Jewish people and others to escape the Nazis, he is not in line for nomination as a Righteous Among the Nations, the highest honor bestowed by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Israel’s official Holocaust institute.

“There are indications that Albert Goering had a positive attitude to Jews and that he helped some people, but we do not have sufficient proof, i.e., primary sources, showing that he took extraordinary risks to save Jews from danger of deportation and death,” Yad Vashem told The Times of Israel on Monday.

Reports by the Gestapo, US Army interrogation records and survivor testimonies suggest that the younger Goering risked his life to save victims of the Nazi regime by obtaining exit permits for Jews and transferring their assets out of Germany. For instance, he is said to have secured the release of his Jewish former boss Oskar Pilzer, and to have helped Pilzer and his family escape from Germany. There is evidence Albert Goering also used his family connections to help get Jewish prisoners out of concentration camps, and to prevent the Gestapo from investigating his activities.

Veteran BBC journalist Gavin Esler details Albert Goering’s remarkable story in a Radio 4 program being broadcast on Wednesday, which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In a preview account of his personal interest in the Goering family history published by the Daily Mail on Sunday, Esler reported a remarkable anecdote — that Albert Goering’s father was Jewish, the result of an adulterous affair between his mother, Fanny, and Hermann von Epenstein, a doctor and businessman.

Fanny’s husband, Heinrich, was in the German diplomatic service, where he served as the consul in Haiti and as the governor-general of the German protectorate in German South-West Africa — modern-day Namibia. Epenstein acted as guardian for the family while Heinrich was away carrying out his duties abroad.

Kesler wrote that Albert’s only daughter, Elizabeth Goering Klasa, has claimed her father told her mother he was not Heinrich’s son but the progeny of Epenstein, making Hermann his half-brother.

The revelation adds a twist to Albert’s wartime heroics, since under the Nazis’ genocidal anti-Semitic doctrine, having just one Jewish grandparent was enough to condemn a person as being intolerably Jewish.

Explaining why it was not ready to honor Albert Goering, Yad Vashem told The Times of Israel that “the title of Righteous Among the Nations is awarded by a special commission, comprised of Holocaust survivors, researchers and historians, and chaired by a retired Supreme Court justice, which operates according to a well-defined set of criteria and rules.

“Each rescue story is carefully examined to see whether it meets the criteria, the most basic of which is that a person risked his/her life to save Jews from deportation and murder. The stories must be substantiated with survivor testimony or archival documentation of the period. Only such documentation, i.e., primary sources, can provide a basis for recognition.

“Thus far, Yad Vashem has not received any documentation that may enable this case [Albert Goering’s] to be presented to the commission.”

Yad Vashem noted that “books or articles are works of analysis and interpretation and therefore cannot be used for the purpose of recognition as Righteous.”

After the war, Albert Goering spent two years in prison while Allied authorities sorted out his story.

Adolf Hitler with Göring on balcony of the Chancellery, Berlin, 16 March 1938 (Wikipedia)
Adolf Hitler with Goering on the balcony of the Chancellery, Berlin, March 16, 1938 (Wikipedia)
His older brother, who led Germany’s air force during the war and was the second-highest-ranking Nazi tried at Nuremberg, committed suicide in 1946, on the night before he was due to be hanged.

It has been reported that the younger Goering, burdened by his notorious family name and legacy, became depressed and alcoholic following the war. He died in 1966.

More than 26,000 people have been designated “Righteous Among the Nations,” the most famous being Oskar Schindler, whose efforts to save more than 1,000 Jews were documented in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film “Schindler’s List,” and Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who is credited with having saved at least 20,000 Jews before mysteriously disappearing.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.


90-Year-Old Auschwitz Survivor Triumphs in Sell-Out Dance Duet

Eva Fahidi, a Hungarian Holocaust survivorAs Eva Fahidi’s performance premiers in Berlin, the Hungarian’s newfound love of expression through movement truly proves it is never too late

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AFP) — “It’s never too late,” smiles Eva Fahidi, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who, at the age of 90, is currently starring in a sold-out duet production with a much younger dancer.

“First I felt only my limits, what I can’t do,” the handsome white-haired Fahidi told AFP during a rehearsal in a Budapest studio.

“Then slowly, as I learned to warm up, it was wonderful how my old body wanted to do something again,” she added, after gracefully completing a stretch on the floor.

Her show, called “Sea Lavender or The Euphoria of Being”, has played to full houses eight times in Budapest’s prestigious Vigszinhaz Theatre since its October launch.

It now premieres in Berlin on January 24, three days before a UN-designated Holocaust memorial day marking the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi death camps.

The 100-minute long performance, which incorporates both dance and speech, looks at how an elderly woman with a traumatic past and a younger person communicate with each other.

Director Reka Szabo told AFP she got the idea for the show last year when she heard Fahidi speak at a presentation of her memoir.

“She talks about her life and the Holocaust in a way that makes you feel like she is not a victim but a human being trying to deal with her past, to be able to live a full life,” said Szabo who runs the Symptoms dance-theatre company.

Fahidi was an 18-year-old schoolgirl when she was put on a train and deported from Debrecen in eastern Hungary to Auschwitz — one of nearly 440,000 Hungarian Jews sent to death camps between May and July in 1944.

Some 49 of her relatives perished in the Holocaust, including her parents and 11-year-old sister. She last saw her mother and younger sibling on a sorting ramp after arriving at Birkenau.

Fahidi recalls how one insignificant gesture decided their fate.

“A small movement of the finger from (camp doctor) Josef Mengele meant life or death, whether you go right to work or left to the gas chambers. I went right,” she said.

After the camp’s liberation, it took Fahidi nearly six decades before she was ready to open up about her trauma.

A 2003 visit to the camp exactly 59 years after her first journey there prompted her to write her memoir.

“It dawned on me that this was my vocation, to tell as many people as I could about Auschwitz, it’s the least I can do,” she said.

Her book — “The Soul of Things” — was published in German in 2004 and later translated by Fahidi into Hungarian. English and Finnish editions are also planned.

These days, dance is Fahidi’s chosen tool of expression.

“Gestures and movements can be freer than words and say more about a person,” she said, in reference to her duet with 36-year-old dancer.

Even her own grandchild who had previously balked at reading or hearing about the Holocaust was “amazed” by the show, Fahidi adds.

One of the most powerful moments occurs when Cuhorka lifts Fahidi like a baby, according to the show’s director.

“People often cry when watching that scene, although it has nothing to do directly with the Holocaust,” Szabo noted.

The show’s name, she explains, was inspired by a plant able to grow in poor soil, a symbol of Fahidi’s tough life.

Last April, Fahidi came once again face to face with her past when she appeared as a plaintiff at the closely covered trial of Oskar Groening, known as the “Bookkeeper of Auschwitz”. Groening was sentenced to four years in jail as an accessory to murder in 300,000 cases.

The pain does not fade but you learn to live with it, Fahidi says.

“Not a day goes past when I don’t think of Auschwitz,” she observed.

“But I discovered that hatred is just a burden. What happened happened, but I am still alive — a happy person who enjoys living.”


Holocaust Survivor and Folk Singer Herschel Melamed Passes Away at 98

A version of this post appeared in Yiddish here

Can you say with certainty that someone sings in an authentic Yiddish style? Fortunately, we have materials to help us figure it out — the records and CDs of folksingers, the recorded compilations from Ruth Rubin, Sofia Magid, Ben Stonehill and others; the recordings in the “Vernadsky Library” in Kiev, and the homemade family recordings that show up from time to time.

Meanwhile, it’s clear that you can’t speak only about one style, or even several. It all depends on the age of the singer, their birthplace and where they grew up.

Even in my family, two singers can sing in completely different styles. My grandmother Lifshe, from the small town Zvinyetshke, sang with a lamenting, sad voice, inviting listeners to sympathize with the suffering she expressed. My mother, from the larger city of Chernowitz, sang with less ornamentation but with a more secure feeling.

In the new recording from Brooklyn resident Herschel Melamed, “A Long Life In Yiddish,” you also hear a folksinger who sings in an authentic folk style. The CD includes 18 songs, and although the project was not undertaken as a commercial enterprise, it looks and sounds professional. In fact, two discs were produced with the same songs: one without musical accompaniment, and the second with the help of musicians Avi Fox-Rosen and Alec Spiegelman.

Herschel Melamed was born in Opalin, Poland and grew up in Luboml, where he worked in his brother Kalman’s shoe shop. At the beginning of the Second World War he became a soldier in the Polish Army and was later sent by the Soviets to a communal farm in the Ural Mountains, where he spent the war. His daughter Myra told me that he might have stayed there, but he learned that his younger brother Laizer had survived, so he left the communal farm and traveled westward to Chernowitz, where he married and where his daughter was born.

From Chernowitz the family traveled to Poland and then to Israel. In 1964 they came to America, where Kalman was already living. There, Kalman found him work as a cutter of ladies coats, which he did until he retired.

According to Myra Melamed, in his youth her father dreamed about becoming a cantor but didn’t have the money to study. He remained a folksinger and entertained the company around him. Mainly, it was a Jewish audience, but not always — in the Polish and Russian armies other soldiers enjoyed his singing in their languages. In Chernowitz, Melamed performed at weddings, and in Florida, in his later years, he was also invited to take the stage.

Happily, he recorded these songs when he turned 80, when his voice was still strong and sweet. The first songs on the CD are familiar prayers, and you can understand why he had ambitions to be a cantor. He sings with devotion but he doesn’t embellish unnecessarily.

Almost all the songs on the recording are familiar, but it’s worth hearing how Melamed sings them. He doesn’t rush, and he puts soul into his performance. The literary, poetic songs are especially suited to his unhurried, heartfelt style. When he sings with a faster tempo, it actually sounds more fascinating. I recommend “A Long Life In Yiddish” to anyone interested in Yiddish music, but especially to younger singers who want to learn at least one kind of authentic folk style.

Read More: http://forward.com/the-assimilator/191462/how-to-sing-like-a-real-folk-singer/?utm_source=Email%20Article&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Email%20Article

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