Category Archive: History

German nationalist calls for end to Nazi guilt

Leading member of Alternative for Germany party says Berlin Holocaust memorial a ‘monument of shame’

2016-02-25_Plenum_im_Thüringer_Landtag_by_Olaf_Kosinsky-13-e1484703021503Aprominent member of the nationalist Alternative for Germany party wants to end the country’s decades-long tradition of acknowledging and atoning for its Nazi past.

Bjoern Hoecke leads the party in the eastern state of Thuringia. He said Germany needs to perform a “180-degree turn” when it comes to remembering its past.

Hoecke said Tuesday that the Berlin memorial to the millions of Jews killed in the Holocaust is a “monument of shame.” He told party supporters in the eastern city of Dresden that no other country would erect such a memorial in its capital and called instead for Germany to take a “positive” attitude toward its history.

Nazi Germany was responsible for the murder of more than 6 million Jews and other minorities before and during World War II.

Source

‘British Schindler’ Honored by Royal Mail Commemorative Stamp

Sir Nicholas Winton rescued 669 Jewish children from Europe in 1939 shortly before the outbreak of the Holocaust.

ShowImage (2)The British Royal Mail postal service has issued a stamp honoring Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 Jewish children from Europe in 1939 shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.

Winton arranged for eight trains carrying the children to travel from Prague to the UK, utilizing Britain’s Kindertransport program allowing for refugees under 17 from the continent to gain asylum if they had a hosting family.

Winton bribed Nazi officials, arranged for forged travel documents and found families to take the children in and pay a £50 deposit for their eventual return travel fees.

The families of most of the children rescued were murdered during the Holocaust Winton, who died last year aged 106, is one of six humanitarians honored in the Royal Mail’s presentation pack issued on Tuesday, including Sue Ryder, John Boyd Orr, Eglantyne Jebb, Joseph Rowntree, and Josephine Butler.

“Sir Nicholas Winton was a true hero of our time and it is fantastic that Royal Mail is recognizing this remarkable man in such a special way,” said Karen Pollock MBE, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust in the UK.

“The Holocaust Educational Trust is thrilled that this commemorative stamp is now available for everyone to purchase and spread the story of Sir Nicholas’s extraordinary selflessness far and wide.”

Source

Unprecedented work underway to preserve Auschwitz

Conservators face challenge of preserving horrible reality of Nazi concentration camp over 70 years after it was built

POLAND-GERMANY-HISTORY-WWII-MUSEUMOSWIECIM, Poland (AFP) — Brick by brick, plank by plank, workers at the former Nazi German death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau carefully clean its barracks to preserve the Holocaust symbol for future generations.

“This is the largest preservation project in the history of the museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau. It’s unprecedented,” museum spokesman Pawel Sawicki told AFP.

Along with the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria, the barracks bear witness to Nazi Germany’s killing of around 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, at this camp, which it built in 1940 in the southern city of Oswiecim after occupying Poland.

“Preserving a barrack requires a completely different approach than one used to preserve a church for example. There, the goal is to return the building to its original state, so its most beautiful state,” says site manager Ewa Cyrulik.

“Here, the goal is to leave everything unchanged. The biggest compliment for us is when someone says they can’t really see a difference afterwards,” she tells AFP.

The task is all the harder because these types of poorly constructed barracks have never been preserved before, according to the Auschwitz team.

“My colleagues in the building industry laughed when I told them what I was doing. They said it’d be easier to just tear down the wall and rebuild it brick by brick than to restore it the way we’re doing,” says Szymon Jancia, a construction expert at the site.

“We’re aware that people come here specifically to see authentic objects and buildings,” Cyrulik adds for her part.

Protected from the weather by tents 12 meters (39 feet) high, the two barracks under restoration number among the camp’s oldest.

Work on the barracks began in September 2015 and will continue for another couple of years, while the entire project will take more than a decade and cost millions of dollars.

Auschwitz-Birkenau is really two camps, located three kilometers (two miles) apart.

While Auschwitz has been subject to preservation work in the past, none of the brick barracks at Birkenau have been seriously restored before.

Only simple maintenance work was carried out to respond to critical repairs.

Birkenau’s buildings are much more fragile than those at Auschwitz, which were built long before Nazi Germany took them over and originally served as military barracks.

Birkenau’s buildings on the other hand were meant specifically for the camp and were built in a slapdash manner, using less robust materials.

Their walls are thin, barely the thickness of a brick, and have buckled in places because the roof is too heavy. The wooden frame is rotting. The foundations have been eroded by groundwater.

“It’s a miracle they’re still standing,” says Jancia.

In total, 45 brick buildings at Birkenau will undergo restoration work.

The team will preserve whatever parts are in good condition, and replace those that are in a poor state or threaten the integrity of the entire building.

“Whatever we replace has to be visible to the eye, so as not to be confused with the original,” Cyrulik says while pointing to layers of paint in a slightly different color.

Kneeling in a cramped hole, workers carefully remove earth to get at the foundations that have been weakened by groundwater.

They work by hand, without recourse to machines, as is the case elsewhere on-site.

Inside a nearby tent, they have built a six-meter-long model wall that is propped up by metal bars.

“It’s a wall we built using the same materials and featuring the same flaws as those in the actual barracks,” Jancia says.

“It lets us test preservation methods. The walls are held up by the very same car jacks used for changing a tyre.”

The entire project has so far cost 12 million zlotys (2.7 million euros, $2.9 million) in funding secured by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.

Created in 2009, it manages the funds meant to preserve the site of the former Nazi German camp.

To date, donors have contributed 101 million euros, including 60 million from Germany, as well as big donations from the United States, Poland, France and Austria.

Source

Through studying the Holocaust, Cambodians deal with own genocide

In a meeting of minds, a small town Indiana teacher and a Cambodian scholar documenting the Khmer Rogue atrocities create a workshop for comparative genocide education in Battambang

Kelly-with-intepretor-e1481836641970-965x543NOBLESVILLE, Indiana — Neighbor turned against neighbor. Family members disappeared. Faced with ostracism or even death, youth pledged allegiance to a cause they hadn’t necessarily sought — and committed unspeakable crimes against their countrymen.

There are still landmines in Cambodia, where an estimated 1.7 million people died between 1975 to 1979 under the extremist Khmer Rouge government. Today, however, many of these landmines are not physical, rather unspoken tragedy that looms from the past into the nation’s future.

Some 70% of Cambodians were born after the notorious Killing Fields, but mandatory education about the genocides only began in 2009. And while the Khmer Rouge government ostensibly fell in 1979, in a pragmatic attempt to unify and stabilize a nation reeling from murder and betrayal, Cambodian politicians quickly formed alliances with Khmer Rouge members: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, one of the longest-serving leaders in the world, is himself a former member.

Cambodia is now facing a turning point, said Youk Chhang, executive director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam), the world’s largest archive of photography and documents relating to the Khmer Rouge.

“On the one hand, Cambodians run a real risk of losing a firm grip on understanding, memorializing and ultimately accepting a difficult past. On the other hand, a rapidly globalizing Cambodia must take on new challenges of sustainable growth, democratic integrity and human rights,” said Chhang, who was named Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” of 2007.

DC-Cam was founded in 1994 through a grant to Yale University from the United States Congress’ Cambodian Genocide Justice Act. Today an NGO, the organization addresses the country’s genocidal past while working to preserve memory and justice.

Chhang told The Times of Israel that one way to deepen the understanding of the Cambodian tragedy is through the study of other global genocides.

Enter Kelly Watson, an eighth grade English teacher from Noblesville, Indiana, who recently spent a week in Battambang, Cambodia, teaching about the Holocaust.

Sound like the wrong cue for this post-genocide Cambodian stage play? That’s because Watson wasn’t exactly typecast.

The long windy road to Battambang

Meeting with The Times of Israel a day after running a marathon — not her first or last for this year — Watson said she was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The small city near the Ohio border has, among its quaint nicknames, the moniker “The City of Churches.”

In a cute coffee shop chosen to show off the historic Noblesville town square, Watson said that in her first gig as an English teacher back in the mid-1990s in Lebanon, Indiana, she wasn’t what one could call an expert in the Holocaust when her department chair handed her a rummage sale copy of Elie Wiesel’s “Night” to teach the class.

Watson laughed and said at that point in her life the sum-total of her Holocaust education was a vague memory of watching Meryl Streep’s “Holocaust” mini-series in 1978 and a supposition she’d probably once read “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

Reading the Wiesel masterpiece memoir set in the Nazi death camp Auschwitz, she quickly understood she just didn’t have the professional background or tools to do the topic justice. But she couldn’t find the appropriate resources in Indiana.

The early 1990s, however, was a tipping point for Holocaust awareness in the United States. With “Schindler’s List” and the much publicized opening of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in 1993, the topic was becoming more accessible to a growing audience.

And so, although she’d never before left the state of Indiana on her own, Watson applied and was accepted to the Washington, DC, museum’s Belfer National Conference for Educators. That conference led to a subsequent fellowship at USHMM, and eventually Watson became a part of the museum’s Regional Education Corps.

In between her day job as an eighth grade English teacher (now at Fishers Junior High) and parenting, Watson began to lecture, among other places, at Indiana’s Bureau of Jewish Education, which today supports the Holocaust Education Center of Indiana. She had become the resource she herself had sought.

While acquiring the skills to be an expert Holocaust educator at USHMM, Watson met a number of like-minded teachers who wanted to apply the lessons learned from the genocide against the Jews in other conflict zones. Independently, these friends organized trips to teach in Rwanda and Bosnia, before eventually founding a non-profit in 2011 called the Educators’ Institute for Human Rights.

Watson is currently an educational program director for EIHR. The project, she said, teaches the best practices of Holocaust and comparative genocide education to teachers, who bring them into the classroom.

Two years ago, with the Rwandan and Bosnian programs ongoing since 2011, EIHR was ready to expand to other conflict zones. Watson chose Cambodia and said she “blindly emailed” DC-Cam’s Youk Chhang, whom she calls “a force.” He immediately responded and the past two years were spent in planning.

In October, Watson was the first EIHR emissary to Cambodia, where she presented on the Holocaust to 100 Cambodian history teachers.

Searching for Anne Frank of the Killing Fields

With enough troubles of their own in their recent past, why should Cambodians want to learn about the Holocaust?

“The history that precipitated the Holocaust carries lessons for every human being regardless of culture, religion, or circumstance,” Chhang explained to The Times of Israel.

“Cambodians, even the generations born after the genocide collapsed in 1979, understand the suffering of survivors and the impact of genocide on a people and society,” he said. “No genocide, mass atrocity, or social upheaval can be compared to another, but there are certainly general trends, insights, and lessons that have great value in the classroom. We need to study and teach these lessons not only for our own society but other societies suffering today and in the future.”

In 2002, Chhang initiated and edited a translation of “The Diary of Anne Frank” into Khmer. It was distributed to high school students and also broadcasted on local radio stations “to inspire the local population to learn about their own Anne Frank of the Killing Fields at home,” said Chhang.

“Cambodians studying the Holocaust… can discern lessons that are useful today. The resilience of the survivors of the Holocaust is a reference for how Cambodians can overcome their past,” Chhang said.

In 2007, DC-Cam published its high school history text book, which included Cambodia’s own genocidal past. “In 2009, it became compulsory for all high schools across the country – which is over 1,700 high schools,” said Chhang.

Despite exposure to “The Diary of Anne Frank,” Cambodians know little about Jews or Judaism, or the Holocaust, said Watson. With Watson’s help and that of teachers like her, Chhang is hoping to change that. He said DC-Cam has a variety of proposed national projects to integrate more Holocaust and other cross-cultural mass atrocity education into Cambodian public schools.

“As the principle partner working with the Cambodian Ministry of Education, we intend to incorporate more educational modules addressing the Holocaust as well as other examples of mass atrocity,” said Chhang.

Finding patterns amongst the pain

The US Holocaust Museum is currently hosting two exhibits through October 2017, which highlight the Khmer Rouge period: “Cambodia 1975-1979” features survivor testimony, photographs and videos, and “I Want Justice!” depicts efforts of post-genocide retribution on perpetrators — from the Nazi Nuremberg trials to today’s prosecution of several key Khmer Rouge members.

In late November, a 2014 conviction was upheld of two surviving top Khmer Rouge leaders of crimes against humanity, including extermination, enforced disappearances and political persecution. Currently, they are on trial for, among other crimes, separate allegations of the genocide of Cambodia’s ethnic Vietnamese and Chams.

In addition to museums, the comparative study of genocide among scholars is now de rigueur. Across the globe, there are undergraduate and graduate university programs for Genocide Studies, most with a concentration on the Holocaust.

The Yale University Genocide Studies Program, however, was founded in 1998 after originally concentrating on Cambodia (the genesis for the NGO DC-Cam). Today, the program covers topics ranging from Ancient Genocides to War Crimes and Truth Commissions.

Prof. Ben Kiernan is the founding director of the Yale program. In an email exchange with The Times of Israel, he said teaching about genocides in countries that have experienced them highlights patterns and “offers citizens access to very important data for predicting and hopefully preventing future outbreaks.”

Exhaustively collecting information and comparing it with other cases, allows scholars to “explore what similarities exist (for instance in the statements, plans, and activities of the perpetrators), and therefore try to identify in advance what might become the signposts to the next case of genocide, and enable humanity to stop it before it occurs,” said Kiernan.

“At the very least, careful comparison of different cases of mass murder often reveals unexpected similarities,” he said.

In many instances, what may seem like politically motivated “purges” could in fact be something even more sinister. Taking the case of Cambodia as an example, he stated, “although the mass murder that took place there in 1975-1979 appeared to many observers to be far from an ethnic genocide, but rather a case of political mass murder, in fact the groups that suffered the highest proportions of killings were ethnic groups, namely the Vietnamese, Muslim Cham and ethnic Chinese minorities, even though in absolute numbers the ethnic Khmer majority suffered the most.”

Using the ‘other’s genocide as safe space

Through learning about the Holocaust and the seven stages of genocide, Watson felt Cambodian history teachers “did see the connections and that’s what I was hoping for.”

According to Watson, teaching a comparative study of genocide has other, more immediate and personal implications as well. In looking at their own genocide through the prism of the Holocaust, after decades of suppression of memories, the Cambodian teachers may feel “safer” in addressing them, she said.

“You don’t compare genocides in terms of the amount of pain they caused. Every genocide is absolutely unique,” said Watson. It’s not easy to address an issue “when you’re surrounded by it,” she said. In Cambodia, “the war is still very much with them.”

Many teachers in conflict countries are survivors of genocide themselves, if not the children of survivors. It is important, said Watson that they feel part of a community that understands what it means to be facing a classroom filled with children or grandchildren of perpetrators.

After this first initial visit by Watson, there are plans for more Educators’ Institute for Human Rights teacher trainings in Cambodia, as well as a swap with teachers in the US. Through the dissemination of their personal experiences, alongside the acquisition of theoretical knowledge of genocide, DC-Cam’s Chhang hopes these teachers can make a positive change in the world.

“The circumstances that precipitated the descent into violence and the dehumanization of people bear witness to ways to improve the human condition and make the statement ‘never again’ really matter,” said Chhang.

Source

Court faults German TV for calling Nazi camps ‘Polish’

Polish citizen Karol Tendera, 95, brought the case against Germany’s ZDF channel over wording in a promotional trailer

aushwitz-copy-635x357WARSAW, Poland — An appeals court in Poland on Thursday ruled that a German broadcaster must publicly apologize to an Auschwitz survivor for having described Nazi-German death camps as “Polish”.

“Every Pole won’t necessarily be offended but the plaintiff was. He went from being a victim to the culprit” because of the erroneous wording, the judge wrote in his ruling.

Polish citizen Karol Tendera, 95, brought the case against Germany’s ZDF channel over the wording in a 2013 promotional trailer for a documentary about the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek.

The Nazi death camps were set up and entirely controlled by Germany in occupied Poland.

A lower court had earlier dismissed the case by saying ZDF had “effectively” explained its behavior in two letters it sent to Tendera and a statement posted on its website.

But the appeals court in the southern city of Krakow overturned the earlier decision and called for more, asking ZDF to publish its apology for a month on its website.

It said the wording had violated Tendera’s rights, including his dignity and national identity.

Warsaw monitors global media closely for descriptions of such camps as Polish, having also censured British and US media in the past.

Even if the term is used as a geographical indicator, Warsaw says it can give the impression that Poland bore responsibility for the Holocaust, whereas it was one of the greatest victims of the slaughter.

Poland was attacked and occupied by Nazi Germany in World War II, losing six million of its citizens, including three million Jews in the Holocaust.

The government said this year it would seek fines or jail terms of up to three years against anyone who referred to the camps as Polish.

Source

Report on Anne Frank’s capture sparks frustration among experts

Following release of study suggesting Holocaust diarist and her family were not betrayed, Anne Frank House responds to criticism of its ‘obvious mistakes’

amsterdam-132-e1400073323897-847x543Exactly how the Holocaust’s most famous victim came to be captured by the Nazis has intrigued the public for decades. A new study produced by the Anne Frank House is providing the latest set of theories to embroil researchers yet again.

Released earlier this month, the report examines events and people surrounding the arrest of Anne Frank, her family and four other Jews who hid in the backrooms of an Amsterdam office building belonging to the company of Anne’s father, Otto Frank. Unlike most prior studies, the new report focuses on possibilities other than the traditionally accepted “betrayal phone call” narrative, wherein someone who knew of the Jews in hiding reported them to authorities.

Calling the betrayal “an assumption that simmers on,” the Anne Frank House’s chief researcher, Gertjan Broek, told The Times of Israel the topic of the arrest is “one of the most frequently asked questions.”

To prepare their report, Broek and his team spent two years looking into details tied to the Nazis’ August 4, 1944, raid on the Secret Annex. According to Broek, there is no hard evidence behind a phone call having taken place, and it is just as likely that authorities descended on the office to investigate illegal workers, forged ration coupons, or other suspicious business practices.

In other words, Anne Frank and her family were not necessarily “betrayed,” but could have been the victims of happenstance in a Nazi-occupied city brimming with resistance activities. In Amsterdam, “everything was a risk, everything. [People could not] evade taking chances or risks,” said Broek.

However, the focus on possibilities other than a betrayal has irked some researchers, including Germany-based Melissa Müller, author of an acclaimed biography on Anne Frank published in 1998. According to Müller, the Anne Frank House’s new study is short on new facts and makes “obvious mistakes,” she said.

“This theory is not new at all, and there are not enough reliable sources to switch over to these ‘new’ explanations for the raid on the Prinsengracht,” said Müller. The Prinsengracht is a winding Amsterdam canal along which Frank’s office building resided, adjacent to a neighborhood — the Jordaan — filled with black market and resistance activity during 1944.

According to Müller and researcher Gerlof Langerijs, with whom she partnered to answer The Times of Israel’s questions, mistakes and “a lack of proof” in the Anne Frank House’s report have damaged its credibility.

“The reactions in the Netherlands are very negative,” said Müller. “[Broek] does not have any proof and is just causing confusion,” she said.

For instance, Müller took issue with Broek’s claim that the two-hour raid on the canal building was significantly longer than a normal Nazi arrest of Jews in hiding. According to Müller, two hours for such a raid was “not long at all, measured in 1944 circumstances and slower life speed,” said the author.

Müller also disagreed with the report’s claim that a lack of working telephone lines in Amsterdam during early August 1944 would have made a betrayal phone call unlikely. In Müller’s opinion, this is an example of researchers boosting a theory with questionable assumptions.

Müller does, however, agree with Broek that the betrayal phone call is something of a red herring, or, as she put it, “a mystification, and a typical example of how a story is passed on from one person to the next,” said Müller.

Another point of contention for Müller and Langerijs is the study’s assessment of workers in the warehouse below the Secret Annex, as well as travelling sales representatives who regularly visited the building. That some of these men and women were under the gaze of authorities for illegal activities has been known for decades, said Müller, yet there is still no evidence connecting one of them to the raid.

“Saying that there was ‘messing around with ration cards and illegal workers’ [as the study] suggests much, but proves nothing,” said Müller.

According to Broek and others at the Anne Frank House, the new research “doesn’t make claims that can’t be substantiated,” and possibilities such as the arrest being tied to something other than a phone call about Jews in hiding should be considered.

“Despite decades of research, betrayal as a point of departure has delivered nothing conclusive,” said Annemarie Bekker, spokesperson for the Anne Frank House, one of the Netherlands’ top tourist attractions.

“Our new investigation does not refute the possibility that the people in hiding were betrayed, but illustrates that other scenarios should also be considered,” Bekker told The Times of Israel. “Hopefully more researchers will see reason to follow up on new leads,” she said.

The ultimate ‘cold case’

For several decades, according to biographer Melissa Müller, the Anne Frank House “thought it was not their task to do any deeper research on the story by themselves, although they had some fine researchers on their staff,” she said.

“Back then the suggestions to take a deeper look into certain subjects were constantly put off the table,” said Müller. “To go public with this kind of research is new to them,” she said, referring to the report released this month about the fateful raid on Otto Frank’s office building.

In 2002, researchers including Müller’s colleague, Gerlof Langerijs, presented the Anne Frank House with a flowchart of possible “external factors,” or leads, which the Nazis might have been pursuing when they decided upon a raid, said Müller.

That it took the Anne Frank House 14 years to pursue these leads is “remarkable,” said Müller, who published an updated and expanded edition of her Anne Frank biography in 2013.

“In the past there were more and more urgent moments to point out this possibility,” said Müller.

“Many people think it is not much more than a publicity attempt,” said Müller of the study. “Just another theory after many theories have already been published — lacking convincing facts. In their letters to the editor, people complain about the study’s conclusion [being] based on ‘coincidences,’” she said.

According to Broek, he and Müller have met several times to discuss “every detail of Anne Frank’s life, and [the arrest] is always a part of the conversation,” he said. Broek emailed Müller a series of questions related to his study one year ago, to which the author responded, he said.

“I have not heard of any confusion inside of the Netherlands or outside of it,” said Broek about Müller’s claim the study is causing confusion.

Among other researchers of Anne Frank and the Nazi occupation in Amsterdam, there is general admiration for the arrest study. However, there is also frustration about an ongoing lack of closure.

“I still have the same opinion as I had before the publication of the new study of the Anne Frank House,” said Ad van Liempt, an expert on the deportation of Jews from the Netherlands during WWII and author of the book, “Hitler’s Bounty Hunters.”

Calling the study “well done and very interesting,” van Liempt added, “it is disappointing that there is no concrete conclusion. We cannot blame Mr. Broek and his research team. They did a good job, offered us a new view but couldn’t prove it. That is what, unfortunately, often happens in history research,” said van Liempt, who provided feedback to the Anne Frank House during the report’s creation, according to Broek.

“We know about thousands of Jews in the Netherlands, whether they were betrayed or not,” van Liempt told The Times of Israel. “But we don’t know about the most famous family of all, and sure, this bothers. I am still very curious, but I am afraid that I will never know what happened in this case,” said van Liempt.

Researchers close to Anne Frank’s story have expressed similar frustration, along with concerns that future research be directed toward appropriate ends.

“I cannot imagine that this new theory of happenstance rather than betrayal would have made one iota of difference to Miep Gies and the rest of the helpers, much less to Anne and the other six people in hiding who were murdered,” said journalist Steve North, referring to the Dutch woman who took care of the Jews in hiding and rescued Frank’s diary after the arrest.

North was the last journalist to interview Miep Gies before her death in 2010. He told The Times of Israel that Gies — were she still living — “might question why a new vague and ambiguous ‘research study’ was necessary at this particular time,” said North, whose 1998 interview with Gies took place in her Amsterdam apartment, where some of the Frank family’s furniture remained after the war.

‘I can only hope that this study was motivated by the search for an historical truth, and not by a need to keep the rewarding business of Anne Frank well-marketed’
“I can only hope that this study was motivated by the search for an historical truth, and not by a need to keep the rewarding business of Anne Frank well-marketed and flourishing,” said North.

Another writer who interviewed Gies is Alison Leslie Gold, author of the 1987 book, “Anne Frank Remembered,” in which Gold partnered with Gies to tell Frank’s story from the perspective of the woman who hid and cared for eight Jews in the Secret Annex and — rarely mentioned — an “underground” Dutch student who hid in her and husband Jan Gies’ apartment.

“I hesitate to weigh in,” said biographer Gold, “since analyzing the arrests from this ‘new’ angle — though it might shut some doors — also opens new doors, presents new implications, poses new questions,” Gold told The Times of Israel.

“It seems as if many more dots need to be connected before we reconfigure the tragedy that ended or blighted the lives of so many,” said Gold.

Source

Author P.G. Wodehouse’s apologia of Nazi-Germany broadcasts revealed

Branded a traitor in his native England, humorist began an unpublished memoir of his time being held in Berlin, but manuscript never saw the light of day

p-g-_wodehouse_1930-e1483039390735-635x357Details from an unpublished work by author P.G. Wodehouse — in which he reveals his feelings over controversial radio broadcasts he made while held by the Nazis in Germany that saw him branded a traitor in Britain — came to light this week.

The Times of London was given access to the pages which Wodehouse stopped writing after just a few chapters when friends advised him against revisiting his controversial war years.

Wodehouse, who gained fame on both sides of the Atlantic with his tales of bumbling aristocrat Bertie Wooster and inimitable butler Jeeves, made a series of radio broadcasts from Berlin in the summer of 1941 titled “How to be an Internee Without Previous Training” in which he gave a light-hearted account of his experiences while being held prisoner by the Germans.

The original typed sheets held by the New York Public Library were never published, but a copy has now been placed in the British Library.

The pages — an incomplete memoir and apologia defending himself against accusations of being a Nazi sympathizer — include the comedy writer’s responses to critics of his wartime actions. Wodehouse’s most notable critic was his former friend, A.A. Milne, who authored the Winnie-The-Pooh children’s stories.

Although Wodehouse never expressed any support or sympathy for the Nazi cause, the programs went down badly in Britain that had just suffered the Blitz, the heavy German air raids during 1940 and 1941. He was vilified in parliament, his work banned from the BBC and some libraries removed his books from their shelves.

In prose typical of his style, Wodehouse wrote “the global howl that went up as a result of my indiscretion exceeded in volume and intensity anything I have ever experienced since that time in my boyhood when I broke the ­curate’s umbrella and my aunts started writing letters to one another about it.”

Wodehouse admits in the papers that the broadcasts were a grave mistake but notes that it did not occur to him that there was any harm in them at the time.

“I overlooked completely the dangerous possibility that a wave of pro-German sentiment might be created in the United States by such revelations on my part as that when in camp I read Shakespeare, that when internees ran out of tobacco they smoked tea, that the Kommandant at Huy had short legs and didn’t like walking up hills, and that there was an unpleasant smell in my cell at Loos prison.”

Wodehouse, and his wife Ethel, were living in Le Touquet, France when the Germans invaded in 1940. The couple tried to escape but their car broke down and they were unable to make another attempt before being captured by the Germany army.

The Germans interned all male enemy nationals under the age of 60 and that included Wodehouse who was born in 1881. He was sent first to a former prison in Loos, a suburb of Lille, then moved through Belgium and finally held at Tost in Upper Silesia, German-held at the time, now Polish territory. Wodehouse was later moved to a hotel in Berlin and he made the broadcasts from the city. He remained in Germany with his wife until September 1943 after which he was allowed back to Paris and was in the city when it was liberated in August 1944.

Shortly after the liberation Wodehouse was questioned on separate occasions by British intelligence officers from MI6 and MI5 who both concluded that while the broadcasts were folly, there was no reason to prosecute him. However, the public animosity in his homeland remained and Wodehouse moved to the US in 1947, never returning to Britain. He was eventually honored with a knighthood in 1975, a month before his death. The MI5 report exonerating Wodehouse was only made public in 1980.

Feuding with Milne

The document also brought to light some details of his feud with fellow author Milne.

Wodehouse and Milne had been friends before the war but their relationship soured as a result of the broadcasts. One undated exchange came after Milne had recalled that Wodehouse, who had no children, once told him he would like a son but only if the boy was born aged 15.

“You see the advantage of that,” Milne wrote, according to the report. “Bringing up a son throws considerable responsibility on a man, but by the time the boy is 15 one has shifted the responsibility on to the housemaster.”

In response, Wodehouse skewered Milne for including his own son, Christopher Robin, in the Winnie-The-Pooh books.

“You misunderstand me, Mr [sic] Milne,” he wrote. “I was simply talking as one businessman to another. When we ­authors have infant sons, our first thought is to cash in on them, and what I meant was that you had nipped in first and cleaned up on your infant son so thoroughly that the racket was busted.

“By the time you had finished exploiting the commercial possibilities of the young Milne, infant sons had reached saturation point and there was no more money in the game. The public will accept one Christopher Robin going hoppity hoppity hop, but not a sort of Russian ballet of the offspring of rival authors going hoppity hoppity hop, too.”

Wodehouse explained his reasons for making the broadcasts, saying he wanted to express gratitude to his US fans who wrote to him while he was held and also that a speech using the same themes he made to some 200 fellow British prisoners when he was held in Tost had been very well received.

“I remember at the time being conscious of a slight smugness at the thought that I had it in me to treat internment lightly, a sort of complacent feeling that by not making heavy weather about it I was keeping my end up and proving myself worthy to associate with these fellow internees of mine,” he wrote. “But if you are going to condemn authors for being smug, you will hardly know where to start.”

Source

Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ is German bestseller, again

First reprint of Nazi leader’s anti-Semitic manifesto since WWII sells 85,000 copies in year, topping nonfiction list

000_jk1ti-635x357BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — The first reprint of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in Germany since World War II has proved a surprise bestseller, heading for its sixth print run, its publisher said Tuesday.

The Institute of Contemporary History of Munich (IfZ) said around 85,000 copies of the new annotated version of the Nazi leader’s anti-Semitic manifesto had flown off the shelves since its release last January.

The respected institute said that far from promoting far-right ideology, the publication had enriched a debate on the renewed rise of “authoritarian political views” in contemporary Western society.

It had initially planned to print only 4,000 copies but boosted production immediately based on intense demand. The sixth print run will hit bookstores in late January.

The two-volume work had figured on the non-fiction bestseller list in weekly magazine Der Spiegel over much of the last year, and even topped the list for two weeks in April.

The institute also organized a series of presentations and debates around “Mein Kampf” across Germany and in other European cities, which it said allowed it to measure the impact of the new edition.

“It turned out that the fear the publication would promote Hitler’s ideology or even make it socially acceptable and give neo-Nazis a new propaganda platform was totally unfounded,” IfZ director Andreas Wirsching said in a statement.

“To the contrary, the debate about Hitler’s worldview and his approach to propaganda offered a chance to look at the causes and consequences of totalitarian ideologies, at a time in which authoritarian political views and rightwing slogans are gaining ground.”

‘Not reactionaries or radicals’

The institute said the data collected about buyers by regional bookstores showed that they tended to be “customers interested in politics and history as well as educators” and not “reactionaries or rightwing radicals.”

Nevertheless, the IfZ said it would maintain a restrictive policy on international rights. For now, only English and French editions are planned despite strong interest from many countries.

The institute released the annotated version of “Mein Kampf” last January, just days after the copyright of the manifesto expired.

Bavaria was handed the rights to the book in 1945 when the Allies gave it control of the main Nazi publishing house following Hitler’s defeat.

For 70 years, it refused to allow the inflammatory tract to be republished out of respect for victims of the Nazis and to prevent incitement of hatred.

But “Mein Kampf” — which means “My Struggle” — fell into the public domain on January 1 and the institute said it feared a version without critical commentary could hit the market.

Partly autobiographical, “Mein Kampf” outlines Hitler’s ideology that formed the basis for Nazism. He wrote it in 1924 while he was imprisoned in Bavaria for treason after his failed Beer Hall Putsch.

The book set out two ideas that he put into practice as Germany’s leader going into World War II: annexing neighboring countries to gain Lebensraum, or “living space,” for Germans, and his hatred of Jews, which led to the Holocaust.

Some 12.4 million copies were published in Germany and from 1936, the Nazi state gave a copy to all newlyweds as a wedding gift.

Source