Category Archive: Third Generation

March recalls Krakow ghetto liquidation

An annual march of remembrance was held to mark the 69th anniversary of the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto.
The march retraces the steps of one that took place on March 13 and 14, 1944, when some 6,000 Jews living in the Krakow ghetto in the Podgorze district were marched from the ghetto to a work camp in Plaszow several miles away. Another 2,000 were sent to the Auschwitz death camp, while another 1,000 were shot in the center of the ghetto, now known as Ghetto Heroes’ Square, where Sunday’s march began.
Tadeusz Jakubowicz, the president of Jewish Community of Krakow and reportedly the only Pole who lived in the ghetto from the beginning to the end of its existence, led the march.
“I am happy to see how many people come here every year,” said Jakubowicz, who as a 5-year-old made the walk that is mirrored by the annual march with his mother.
Israel’s ambassador to Poland, Zvi Rav-Ner, remarked that “Some people claim that the Holocaust never happened. Let’s not forget those who died here and in Plaszow, and those who were trying to help them.”
March participants from Poland, Israel and the United States put flowers under the remnants of the ghetto wall, which was erected by the Nazis in 1941. The ceremony ended with the recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish under the monument commemorating victims of Holocaust at the site of the Plaszow labor camp.

A Jewish Hockey Player at History’s Indelible Crossroad

DÜSSELDORF, Germany — A hockey jersey hung in each player’s locker. It bore Germany’s national colors, black trimmed in red and gold. The front was emblazoned with an eagle above the word Deutschland. This would be Evan Kaufmann’s first time wearing the jersey. He removed it from the hanger and turned it around to see his family name spelled in capital letters. He would recall feeling a tingle of excitement. He felt something else, too, emotions that crisscrossed like the laces of his skates. He was proud to wear the jersey but also solemn about what history had done to the name on the back. His great-grandfather starved to death by the Nazis. His great-grandmother herded to extermination on a train to Auschwitz. His grandfather shuttled between ghettos and concentration camps, surviving somehow, finding a displaced sister after the war, pushing her from a hospital in a wheelbarrow after her lower left leg was amputated because of frostbite.
“Obviously, you never want to forget,” Kaufmann said. “But everybody deserves a second chance and a right to rectify their mistakes. Most people today had nothing to do with it. I’m not going to hold it against a whole country for what happened long ago. You’re never going to move forward if you keep doing that.”
“I have mixed emotions,” said Menachem Z. Rosensaft, a New York lawyer who is the vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants. “I think everyone has to make his own decisions in this respect. It is clear for Kaufmann that hockey is the most important priority. Just like there are Israelis or other Jews who have settled in Germany out of economic or career convenience, he is doing the same. I do not presume to judge him.” At the same time, Rosensaft said he felt “a bitter aftertaste and a certain degree of sadness” for Kaufmann. “He has effectively turned his back on the United States and has willingly taken on citizenship to identify henceforth as a German,” Rosensaft said. “That, in terms of his family history, is at best a somber reality. There is a question in my mind whether a Jew should voluntarily go to Germany and take on that role.”

Israeli survey finds school Holocaust lessons have minimal impact

A new survey to mark International Holocaust Memorial Day has found that only 6 percent of Israeli children cite history lessons as a significant source of learning about the Holocaust. The survey shows school education has a very limited influence on shaping young Israelis’ understanding of the Holocaust. Only one half of one percent said the Holocaust memorial ceremonies, which take place for Israeli children throughout their school years, were significant in their Holocaust education.

A quiet drama is taking place among ultra-Orthodox Holocaust survivors

Maybe you’ll reconsider?” Shoshi Horowitz pleads with her mother, Hanna Glendoar. “We have to fill in a Page of Testimony, and we have to do it now.” But Glendoar, 85, shrugs her shoulders and once again refuses. She can’t explain the profound internal obstacle. The information she has is a gold mine for quite a number of people – her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, over 200 people, as evidenced by the family tree hanging in her living room – who have never heard from her in any systematic way what happened to her during “that” period, the Holocaust, and the names of her 44 relatives who were killed. She has never given her testimony for documentation in Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Center, or anywhere else.

Taking a different approach to the Holocaust’s lessons

When Abbey Weintraub strolled into Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts one Sunday afternoon, she did not have paintings and sculptures in mind. Weintraub, a 28-year-old Boston resident, was part of a group of three dozen or so young Jews who went to the MFA to watch and discuss a film about a Nazi leader.

Morocco university holds first Holocaust conference in Arab world

The world’s first colloquium in the Arab world for the study of the Holocaust took place this week, in large measure thanks to the groundwork laid by a program that seeks to educate American high school graduates about the history of cooperation between Jews and the other nations. The symposium, hosted by Al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco and co-sponsored by the Israel gap-year program Kivunim, included three days of presentations and panels on the Nazi genocide, its repercussions for Morocco, and the historical relationships between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East.
The only Holocaust conference held in the Muslim world prior to this took place in Tehran, Iran in December 2006, and was widely denounced by Jewish leaders as an attempt not to gain a greater understand of those events, but to cast doubt on their ever having taken place. The groundbreaking Ifrane conference received the support of local Jewish community leaders and was attended by mainstream historians of the Holocaust, coexistence facilitators, government representatives – including the American Ambassador and emissaries of the Moroccan king – and ordinary Moroccan Muslims and Jews.
The conference was originally the idea of a group of Muslim students at Al-Akhawayn University in the Atlas Mountains, who formed a “Mimouna Club” — named for the post-Passover holiday of Jewish-Arab fraternity. The club shared their idea with students from the Kivunim program that they had met who were visiting the country to learn about Moroccan Jewish history. Kivunim Founding Director Peter Geffen, who accompanied the group, realized the historic importance of such an opportunity and agreed to help organize the event, bringing some of those same Kivunim students back to Morocco this week to attend the conference.
During World War Two, when Morocco was occupied by the French, who were in turn occupied by the Vichy regime that collaborated with the Nazis, Moroccan King Mohammed V is said to have protected the Jews living in his domain from suffering the fate that befell the Jews of Europe. On March 18, 2009, his grandson, the ruling monarch Mohammed VI, honored that tradition of inter-religious solidarity when he publicly proclaimed that he and the Moroccan people perceive the Shoah “as a wound to the collective memory, which we know is engraved in one of the most painful chapters in the collective history of mankind.”
While Muslims came to the conference to learn more about Jewish history, the Kivunim students were also there to learn about the history of Muslim-Jewish cooperation. Conference participant and 2009-10 Kivunim graduate Aaron Weinberg, whose parents are both Jewish educators in Chicago, was so moved by what he learned of Morocco’s Jews that he decided to make them a focus of his post-secondary education at Brandeis University. He says that the extraordinary alliances between the Moroccan Muslim and Jewish communities which existed prior to the emigration to Israel of most of the latter in the 1950s represents a positive model for Jewish-Gentile relations that should be taught in Jewish schools, alongside the history of the Holocaust.
“The Shoah was a tragedy unparalleled in the history of the Jewish people,” says Weinberg, but he is concerned that Holocaust horror stories might be eclipsing all other Jewish narratives. “How we teach our children about the Holocaust should be a centerpiece of Jewish education, but should not be the end-all and be-all,” he says. “Jewish history is not: ‘They wanted to kill us; we won; let’s eat!'” Weinberg says he is frightened by a trajectory of Jewish pedagogy that teaches fear of the other. “There are forces within our community that are trying to undermine those of us who are trying to build bridges between peoples,” he says.
The historic bridges between Jews and others have been part of Kivunim’s core curriculum since its beginnings in 2005-6. In addition to earning 30 academic credits from the Oxford University Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies and experiencing the length and breadth of Israel, Kivunim participants travel to a dozen countries all told, as far afield as Germany and Spain, Greece and Turkey, Morocco and India. Geffen says that one of the purposes of the program is to not just teach students Diasporic Jewish history, but to make them comfortable with cultural differences and instill in them what he calls a ‘world consciousness’. He is convinced that despite the many anti-Semitic attacks that Jewish people have faced throughout history, it is precisely their ability to integrate and ingratiate themselves into host societies all over the world that should be esteemed.

Jews march to Auschwitz to honor Holocaust victims

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — About 7,000 Jews marched to the former German Nazi death camp of Auschwitz on Monday in memory of the 6 million Holocaust victims.Participants in the 20th annual March of the Living were carrying Israeli flags. They started from the former camp’s gate with the infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” (“Work Sets You Free”) sign.The crowd walked about 3 kilometers (2 miles) from the red brick buildings of Auschwitz I to the wooden barracks and gas chambers of Birkenau, or Auschwitz II, where a memorial ceremony was held at a monument to the camp’s victims.The march, which is traditionally held on Holocaust Memorial Day, also included some Holocaust survivors.Between 1942-1945, Jews from across Europe were brought to Birkenau by rail and killed in its gas chambers. At least 1.1 million people — mostly Jews, Poles and Gypsies — died that way or from starvation, disease and forced labor at the camp that German Nazis built in occupied Poland during World War II.The Auschwitz camp was liberated Jan. 27, 1945 by Soviet troops.Meanwhile, in Lithuania dozens of people paid tribute to the nearly 200,000 Jews who died 70 years ago when the Nazis invaded the country.Waving Israeli and Lithuanian flags, about 100 demonstrators paid tribute to the dead by marching to the Holocaust survivor memorial outside the capital, Vilnius.

Wiesel offers students first-hand account of Holocaust

Twenty-one Chapman University freshman listened intently this week as Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Nazi death camp survivor Elie Wiesel discussed the role of religion and morality in the face of immense, terrifying evil.

Wiesel, 82, a witness to the human suffering experienced in the Auschwitz, Buna and Buchenwald concentration camps, was in his element — assuming the burden of memory for the millions who did not survive the Holocaust.

The much-honored writer and professor clearly relished the exchanges in the main library at the campus in Orange. When a student spoke to him, it was as if the two of them were the only people in the room. His words, spoken in accented English and a soft, low voice, visibly affected the students.

One wanted to know how Wiesel managed to overcome the memories of the deaths of his father, mother and sister to write his first book, “Night,” an autobiographical account of the atrocities he and fellow Jews suffered at Nazi concentration camps.

With deep sadness in his eyes, Wiesel replied, “Only those who were there know what it was like. We must bear witness. Silence is not an option.”

Another student asked, “How can this generation preserve what you learned there?”

Wiesel brightened as he said, “Listen to the survivors. They are an endangered species now. This is the last chance you have to listen to them. I believe with all my heart that whoever listens to a witness becomes a witness. Once we have heard, we must not stand idly by. Indifference to evil makes evil stronger.”

Wiesel emphasized that he holds no malice toward Germans whose parents and grandparents were Nazis. “Only the guilty are guilty,” he said. “The children and grandchildren of these killers are not killers.”

It was Wiesel’s third visit to Chapman and his first as a Distinguished Presidential Fellow at the university. During his weeklong fellowship, he visited with undergraduates in Chapman’s Holocaust history courses and other disciplines including literature, French and religious studies.

On Tuesday, Wiesel, who is a professor at Boston University, spoke on the subject of “Knowledge and Ethics” to an audience of 900 in a Chapman auditorium.

“One thing I hope comes of these visits for our students is that history will have a face, and that as a result of meeting him they will become inspired and engaged in the human story,” said Marilyn Harran, a religion and history professor who is director of the campus’ Rogers Center for Holocaust Education.