Category Archive: Together

In first, Kastner honored at Knesset Holocaust Remembrance Day event

Parliament defends right for Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli, accompanied by mother, to dedicate candle-lighting to her controversial grandfather accused of Nazi-collaboration

Suzi Kastner (C) lights a memorial candle in the Knesset for her father, Israel Rudolf Kastner at the parliament’s official Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony. Her daughter, Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli, is pictured on the right (Knesset spokesperson’s office/Yonatan Sindel)

Six decades after the deeply controversial trials over his negotiations with high-ranking Nazis and his subsequent assassination, Yisrael Rudolf Kastner was honored during the Knesset’s official Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony on Thursday, in the presence of the prime minister, Knesset speaker, opposition leader, and head of the Supreme Court.

Kastner’s daughter, Suzi, and granddaughter, Zionist Union lawmaker Merav Michaeli, lit a candle at the official parliament ceremony for the former Budapest Zionist leader, who both rescued nearly 1,700 Jews during the war and later testified on behalf of prominent SS officers in the Nuremberg trials.

The Knesset, in a statement, defended Michaeli’s right to dedicate the candle to her grandfather. Six Knesset representatives and employees, accompanied by survivors, lit candles at the memorial event.

“The Knesset never has and never will hold personal ceremonies for people killed in the Holocaust or survivors,” it said. “The Knesset members who go up to light a memorial candle tend to dedicate the candle to a family member who was killed or survived the Holocaust and no one in the Knesset can dictate to the Knesset member who they may honor with their memorial candle.

“It is flawed and immoral to try and determine who is more or less worthy among the survivors and victims,” the Knesset said. “Certainly the Knesset won’t act this way, and one must hope that others will also respect the Holocaust and the sanctity of the ceremony.”

Likud minister Ofir Akunis stepped out the hall in protest when Michaeli and her mother stood up to light the candle.

A Likud youth activist group on Tuesday had sent a letter expressing “disgust and disappointment” over the honor, citing Kastner’s actions “to save Nazi murderers, including mass murderer Kurt Becher, from the noose” and his “controversial actions during the deportations of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews to the Auschwitz chimneys.”

But otherwise, little protest was registered over the inclusion of the former Hungarian Jewish journalist turned-Israeli official, who was defended by the State of Israel in the now-infamous 1954 libel case over accusations of Nazi collaboration.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Holocaust ceremony held at the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament in Jerusalem, April 12, 2018.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Sixty-four years ago, the State of Israel brought libel charges against pamphleteer and Hungarian-Israeli Jew Malchiel Gruenwald, over claims Kastner had collaborated with the Nazis during World War II. The case ultimately served as a searing indictment of Kastner’s activities during the Holocaust in his dealings with high-ranking Nazi officers, with Halevy accusing him of “selling his soul to the devil.”

The main characters in the high-stakes courtroom drama would also go on to have ties to the Knesset: The defense attorney cross-examining Kastner, Shmuel Tamir, became justice minister under Likud’s Menachem Begin, and the judge, Benjamin Halevy, also later became a Knesset lawmaker.

The Supreme Court in 1958 cleared Kastner of all the collaboration charges handed down by Halevy, and said he was solely motivated in his dealings with the Nazis by the rescue of Jews from their deaths.

The justices, however, unanimously established that Kastner had testified on behalf of Becher at Nuremberg in a perjurious affidavit, resulting in the senior SS officer’s exoneration. (In his statement to the tribunal, Kastner maintained Becher tried to save Jews and attested to his “good intentions.” The Israeli justice system, however, determined Kastner was well-aware of the Nazi plans for the genocide of the Jews. Kastner also lied to the Jerusalem court about his Nuremberg testimony. Becher died in 1995. He was never tried.)

The exoneration by the Supreme Court came too late for Kastner, however, who was assassinated by right-wing extremists in 1957.

Defenders of Kastner maintain that he, in an impossible moral position, used his ties with the Nazis to save Jews, and point to the outcome in the form of the so-called Kastner Train — nearly 1,700 Jews taken to safety in Switzerland.

His critics, meanwhile, say those Kastner saved were friends and relatives, as well as other prominent Jews. They charge that the remainder of Hungarian Jews were actively duped by Kastner, who was aware of the Final Solution and the Auschwitz gas chambers, but did not inform the local community, thus preventing attempts to organize resistance efforts or flee en masse across the border, and thereby facilitating the mass deportations to Auschwitz that resulted in the decimation of most of Hungarian Jewry.


Poles helped in Nazi extermination, Rivlin tells Polish counterpart

Israel’s president says Warsaw has witnessed a ‘wave of anti-Semitism’ sparked by law criminalizing mention of complicity in Holocaust

President Reuven Rivlin, center, and Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, left, participate in the March of the Living at the Auschwitz-Birkenau site in Poland, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, on April 12, 2018. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

On Polish soil, President Reuven Rivlin told his Polish counterpart, Andrjez Duda, on Thursday that while some Poles helped rescue Jews during the Holocaust, others took part in their extermination.

“There is no doubt that there were many Poles who fought the Nazi regime, but we cannot deny that Poland and Poles had a hand in the extermination,” Rivlin said during a joint press conference with Duda in Krakow.

“The country of Poland allowed the implementation of the horrific genocidal ideology of Hitler, and witnessed the wave of anti-Semitism sparked by the law you passed now,” the president added, challenging recently passed legislation that criminalized the mention of complicity by the Polish state in the Holocaust.

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The president noted that Israel honors those Poles who gave their own lives to save Jews, but pointed out the widespread anti-Semitism that existed in Holocaust-era Poland and the fact that many Poles also participated in the extermination.

“People murdered and then inherited [the property of the dead]. Here was the foundation” of anti-Semitic feeling “that allowed the Nazis to do as they wished, not only in Poland but throughout Europe,” Rivlin said.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda (R) and Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin (L) arrive to attend the March of the Living, a yearly Holocaust remembrance march between the former death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau, in Oswiecim on April 12, 2018 (Janek Skarzynski/AFP)

“This land was a forge of the Jewish nation’s soul, and to our deep sorrow, also its largest Jewish graveyard. You can’t erase such a rich history, full, painful history,” Rivlin told Duda.

“Policymakers have a duty to shape the future. Historians have a duty to describe the past and investigate history. One must not overstep into the field of the other.”

For his part, Duda welcomed his Israeli counterpart to Poland. “Our meeting today is a great honor, but also of course a testimony to the enormity of the disaster that happened here,” Duda said.

The Polish president acknowledged that “three million Jews were murdered in Poland in the Holocaust” and assured Rivlin that Poland “will never forget them.”

Addressing the recent controversy over the Holocaust legislation, Duda admitted “there is great disagreement” on the matter but reiterated that “at no point did we want to block testimony [on the Holocaust]; on the contrary we wanted to defend the historical truths, and as a leader, I want to do this at any price, even when it is difficult for us.”

Rivlin’s own words ahead of the annual March of the Living from Auschwitz barracks to the Birnenau death camp, which he led, echoed a speech he gave the previous evening in Israel at a state ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance eve.

He asserted that no country can “legislate the forgetting” of Jews murdered during the Holocaust, in what ostensibly was meant to be a jab at Warsaw.

“We do not expect European countries to pass on to the younger generation a sense of guilt. However, we do expect and demand that they pass on the torch of memory and responsibility,” he said.

Rivlin used similar rhetoric during the Thursday press conference, telling Duda that “cooperation between Israel, Poland, and the Jewish people on remembrance and memorial, in education and research is the way to pass the torch of remembrance and responsibility to the next generations.”

Passed in February, the Polish law calls for prison terms of up to three years for attributing the crimes of Nazi Germany to the Polish state or nation. The law also sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone who refers to Nazi German death camps as Polish.

A group of Panama youth visit the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz ahead of the yearly March of the Living, a Holocaust remembrance march, in Oswiecim, Poland on April 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

One key paragraph of the law states, “Whoever claims, publicly and contrary to the facts, that the Polish nation or the Republic of Poland is responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich… or for other felonies that constitute crimes against peace, crimes against humanity or war crimes, or whoever otherwise grossly diminishes the responsibility of the true perpetrators of said crimes – shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment for up to three years.”

The legislation, which was introduced by Poland’s conservative ruling party, has sparked a bitter dispute with Israel, which says it will inhibit free speech about the Holocaust. The United States also strongly opposes the legislation, warning it could hurt Poland’s strategic relations with Israel and the US.

Jewish groups, Holocaust survivors and Israeli officials fear its true aim is to repress research on Poles who killed Jews during World War II. The law and subsequent backlash have unleashed a wave of anti-Semitism in Poland.

Earlier this month, senior Israeli and Polish diplomats met in Jerusalem in a bid to resolve differences, with both sides vowing to preserve “the truth.”

But last month, Poland demanded that the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem remove a reference to “Polish police” guarding the Lodz ghetto.


On Holocaust Remembrance Day, We Should Also Recall Those Who Destroyed the Nazi Regime

Limiting observance to expressions of grief and mourning, failing to take account of the valor that defeated Hitler, is untrue to the full meaning of the day.

Today is Yom Hashoah, commonly known as Holocaust Remembrance Day. Increasingly, as this day approaches each year, my thoughts have turned to the biblical prophet Nahum.

Why Nahum? That’s a long story. As I wrote in an earlier essay in Mosaic, I believe his brief book, which predicts and celebrates the downfall of the Assyrian empire in the late-7th century BCE, has been wrongly neglected by Jewish tradition. Indeed, Nahum is obscure to the point of invisibility. No part of his book, itself a mere three chapters long, is ever read in the synagogue, or in Christian churches, and even theologians who recognize his high literary merit evince an acute discomfort with the content of his message.

And yet, there is much to be learned from Nahum. His eloquent, impassioned writing honors the divine attribute of vengeance. In expressing satisfaction and even joy at the downfall of those who destroyed the ancient northern kingdom of Israel and nearly succeeded in destroying the southern kingdom of Judah as well, the prophet rehearses the classical Jewish teaching that even a merciful and patient God will ultimately wreak powerful, unanswerable retribution upon the enemies of His chosen people. Nahum’s intense focus on an aspect of the divinity that seems dissonant to modern sensibilities reminds us that the Bible presents a God who is many-sided—and that “without this frightening side,” as one thoughtful reader of Nahum has written, “one could misread the portrait of the loving God as that of a passionless, doting, and undemanding dispenser of cheap grace.”

For these reasons, as I argued in my earlier article, I believe Nahum’s book should be rehabilitated and given a place in the order of Jewish worship. In my previous essay I proposed that that place should be in the liturgy for Yom Kippur afternoon, following the traditional reading of the book of Jonah. But now I’m convinced otherwise. Following a suggestion by my friend Johanna Kaplan, I think the time and place to read and learn from Nahum is in the observance of Yom Hashoah.

Let me explain.

There is no fixed liturgy for Yom Hashoah. Over the decades since the Israeli Knesset established the day in 1951, it has been marked predominantly in a variety of secular forms: reading out the names of the murdered, participating in the youth-oriented “March of the Living” to Auschwitz and other Holocaust sites, observing the two minutes of silence held at 11:00 a.m. all over the land of Israel, and so forth. Attempts to create a specifically religious liturgy—like, for example, the Conservative movement’s initiative to propagate a “Holocaust Scroll” (Megillat Hashoah)—have been notably unsuccessful. To the extent that religious observance informs any part of the day, it lies in reciting the mourners’ kaddish and other solemn prayers.

As for the day’s secular observances, I have noticed one commonality among them: while we mourn the victims of the Nazi genocide, we do not mark the justly ignominious end of the victimizers and perpetrators, let alone rejoice and take comfort in the fact that these monsters lie in the dustbin of history while the Jewish people continues to grow and thrive. In particular, so far as I can determine, no observance of the day includes a celebration of the victory of the Allies in World War II—a victory that brought the Holocaust to an end, destroyed the Nazi regime, punished its infamous leaders with death, and wrought physical and economic devastation on Germany.

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This omission strikes me as another grievous error, ignoring not only a crucial part of the history of the Holocaust itself but also a critical facet of the day’s specifically religious significance: the vindication in our own time of the traditional Jewish belief in the God who wreaks vengeance on the wicked, the same aspect of God glorified for all time in the book of Nahum.

Of course, that the Holocaust poses grave difficulties for religious faith, and for Jewish theology, is a major understatement. For many, the murder of millions makes a mockery of the claim that the Jews have a special place in God’s affections; for some, it has led to a loss of belief altogether. Even among the observant, the fact of the Holocaust inevitably complicates one’s relationship to the tradition and one’s understanding of God’s purposes. In that shadow, the absence of any consensus on a liturgy appropriate for the day comes to seem less surprising.

And yet, without claiming the prophet Nahum as an all-purpose remedy for this rightly unnerving condition, I persist in thinking that reading and studying his text, recalling the circumstances that led to its creation, and considering its lessons for our own time would greatly enrich the observance of Yom Hashoah.

How so? The book of Nahum reminds us that nearly three millennia before the Holocaust, the Jews came within a hairsbreadth of total destruction—and lived. The northern kingdom, representing ten of the twelve tribes, vanished from history; the southern kingdom avoided the same grisly fate only when the Assyrian army, on the brink of conquering Jerusalem, was forced by a deadly plague to abandon its nearly fatal siege of the city. And yet, less than a century after these devastating blows to his people, Nahum expressed unalloyed confidence that God would avenge the victims—as soon happened when Assyria fell first to the Babylonians and then to the Persians.

Thus, consideration of Nahum on Yom Hashoah would focus our attention not only on the dark significance of the day but on the fact that the Holocaust was ended short of achieving its full murderous goal and that its perpetrators were brought to ruin.

In this case, too, vengeance came about through a sequence of unpredictable and seemingly miraculous turning points marked by razor-thin margins of chance. These included Winston Churchill’s success in rallying the British War Cabinet during five days in May 1940 (recently depicted in the movie Darkest Hour); the massive feat of the Russian army and citizenry in resisting and repelling a three-million-man Nazi onslaught in June 1941—this, despite Joseph Stalin’s feckless dealings with Hitler, his murderous evisceration of the Red Army leadership, and his willingness to give up the fight in October 1941; the fact that a few bombs out of the hundreds dropped by U.S. planes at Midway in June 1942 managed to find their targets and decimate the Japanese carrier fleet; the eleventh-hour deployment of a handful of very long range bombers by the RAF in April and May 1943 that won the “battle of the Atlantic,” enabling American supply shipments to reach Britain and the Continent; the turns in the weather that capriciously favored the Allies at Normandy in June 1944 and ultimately disfavored the Nazis at Bastogne in December of that year; and on and on.

In sum, as Richard Overy writes in Why the Allies Won, “It is hardly surprising that Churchill thought at the end of the war that Providence had brought the Allies through.”

Yes, assuredly, victory came too late to save the lives of millions of Jews. But it no less assuredly saved millions of others. A Nazi victory would have spread Hitlerian genocide across the entire Soviet Union and who knows how far beyond. The fate of the Jews of North Africa, the Levant, and Mandatory Palestine would have lain in the power of Hitler’s acolyte Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem. The words of George Orwell’s arch-inquisitor in 1984 come to mind: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.” Instead, those Russian and Middle Eastern Jews survived, and many wound up living in the reborn nation of Israel.

The full name given by the Knesset to Yom Hashoah was “Yom Hashoah v’Hagvurah.” The additional word, denoting courage or heroism, refers specifically to those Jews who (like the fighters in the April 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising) participated in armed resistance against the Nazis. The full name is still in common use in Israel and is eminently worth recovering in the diaspora. In light of it, limiting observance of the day to expressions of grief and mourning, and failing to take account of the valor and might that achieved the downfall of the Nazis, is not really true to the purposes of the day’s creators. At the time, as it happens, there was serious opposition in Israel to the notion of setting aside a separate day in the Jewish calendar for memorializing the Shoah, precisely because doing so, by reinforcing what the historian Salo Baron referred to caustically as the “lachrymose theory of Jewish history,” could betray the moral messages of Zionism, of biblical teachings, and of Jewish history seen in the round.

Finally, there is this: in remembering the millions who perished, Nahum’s full-throated praise of the God who takes vengeance on the enemies of His people, written in the aftermath of an earlier historical disaster, offers its own priceless species of consolation. (Indeed, the name Nahum derives from the Hebrew root meaning to comfort or console.) Like the so-called precatory psalms that similarly celebrate the power of divine vengeance, the book of Nahum, expresses (in the approving words of a Catholic theologian) “a longing that evil, and evil people, may not have the last word in history.”

Surely, Yom Hashoah is an occasion when that longing should be given voice, and there is no more eloquent, assertive, and unforgettable voice, or one more directly addressed across the millennia to the monstrous architect of the Holocaust, than the voice of the prophet who wrote:

The Lord is a passionate avenging God, the Lord is vengeful and fierce in wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on His enemies, He rages against His foes. The Lord is slow to anger and of great forbearance, but the Lord will not acquit the wicked. . . .

* * * * * * *

Your shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: your nobles lie inert: your people are scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathers them in. There is no healing for your injury, your wound is grievous: all that hear the report of you clap their hands over you. For upon whom has not your wickedness continually passed?

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, We Should Also Recall Those Who Destroyed the Nazi Regime

He survived Auschwitz by faking a boxing career. Watch his amazing story.

Noah Klieger: Holocaust Survivor and Pioneer Journalist

He survived Auschwitz by faking a boxing career. Watch his amazing story.

Posted by JTA News on Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Yad Vashem stages ambitious show of rare photos taken by Nazis and their victims

Ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel’s national Shoah museum focuses on the impact of thousands of now iconic images from ghettos, camps, and liberation


View of section of ‘Flashes of Memory’ exhibition at Yad Vashem showing image of photographer Zvi Hirsch Kadushin (later George Kaddosh) in the Kovno ghetto, his camera, and some of the photos he smuggled out after going into hiding before the ghetto’s liquidation. (Courtesy of Yad Vashem)

Near the end of Jerusalem-based exhibition “Flashes of Memory: Photography During the Holocaust,” is a glass case containing a loose pile of postcard-size photographs of scenes from the Dachau concentration camp. Some show inmates shoving dead bodies into crematoria. Others show torture scenes, with prisoners’ bodies hanging from nooses.

These images in Yad Vashem: The World Holocaust Remembrance Center’s new show are horrific, but they are not here merely to shock. Rather, they — like the other more than 1,500 others — are meant to provoke questions about who took them, where, when, how, and why.
The Dachau photos are authentic, but not in the usual sense of the word. They were taken by US Signal Corps troops who liberated the camp in April 1945, and the scenes depicted in them are reenactments staged with the help of former inmates. The images were captured, printed and disseminated widely throughout Allied-occupied Germany for the purpose of reeducating the German population.
They also ended up in the hands of historical commissions set up by Jews in displaced persons camps throughout Europe, and in those of US soldiers who took them home with them. More than 70 years later, people are still discovering them in old shoeboxes and albums and regularly offering them to Holocaust museums. Most of the donors are ignorant of, or mistaken about, the true context of the photos’ creation.

Virtually none of the still and moving images made by the Nazis, Jews and liberating Allied forces displayed in “Flashes of Memory” are revealed here for the first time. They were previously published or shown elsewhere, with some, like “The Warsaw Ghetto Boy” photo having achieved iconic status. Most are from Yad Vashem’s collection of over half a million Holocaust-related photographs (originals and copies).

However, these images are exhibited here in a different light, and in a way that casts a more critical lens on Holocaust-era photography. The exhibition goes beyond the usual emotional response and takes a more cerebral and analytical approach.

“This exhibition is for the brain, not the heart,” said Dr. Daniel Uziel, director of Yad Vashem’s photo archives as he gave this reporter a tour.

The thoughtfulness of the exhibition is highlighted by its creative and intelligent design by Yossi Karni of Design Mill Studio, who said he aimed to make viewers feel as though they are entering a giant camera obscura.

The experience begins before even entering through the doors, with a huge round window resembling a camera lens cut into the wall outside the exhibition. The view from this “lens” leads straight through to a very large round projection at the far end of the exhibition hall, on which are shown clips from Holocaust-era films and quotations about photography.

Along the room’s central axis between these two points are several long light tables covered in hundreds of scattered copies of photographs beginning with Jewish life in Germany and ending with the liquidation of the ghettos.

The visual language of photography and cameras carries over to the exhibition’s black walls inspired by the look and texture of an old Leica camera, as well as by unwound film spools.

Curated by Vivian Uria, “Flashes of Memory,” is organized into three main sections following along a timeline starting from the Nazis’ rise to power in Germany in the 1930s to the trials of Nazi war criminals in the immediate post-war period.

The first section, “Political Photography and Filming in Nazi Germany,” deals with Nazification efforts through visual means. Photographs and film posters related to the making of director Helena “Leni” Riefenstahl‘s propagandistic “Triumph of the Will” and “Olympia” films figure prominently.

Photography is also presented as a mirror of growing anti-Semitism. Here we see private and amateur photography reflecting growing anti-Semitism among average Germans, as well as examples of how editors of Der Stürmer, the propagandistic newspaper published independently by Julius Streicher, redacted photographs and accompanying captions to transmit anti-Semitic messages.

The exhibition’s second area deals with photography in the ghettos from two view points — that of the Germans and that of the Jews. Of the tens of thousands of photos from the ghettos, most were taken by German soldiers, either for official Nazi propaganda purposes, or personal objectives.

In some cases, the personal turned propaganda, as can be seen with small snapshots taken by German soldiers on display. The soldiers wrote anti-Semitic commentary about the ghettos and their forced inhabitants on the backs and sent them to Der Stürmer for publication.

In what is arguably the most engrossing part of the exhibition, the work of Jewish photographers in the ghettos is presented. There were few such photographers, as Jews were prohibited from owning and using cameras. Those who did do photography did it in an official capacity, creating images that the Judenrats (Jewish councils set up by the Nazis) could use to prove efficient self-rule and productivity. Indeed, photographers were key players in Jewish survival efforts in the ghettos.

These photographers often took the risk of taking additional photographs for non-official purposes in order to create a more realistic documentation of life in the ghettos.

A stunning example is a shot of photographer Mendel Grossman surreptitiously photographing the deportation of Jews from the Łódź ghetto as a Jewish policeman looks the other way — whether purposely or inadvertently. The photo was taken by Grossman’s assistant Aryeh Ben-Menachem.

Uziel pointed out a page from an underground album prepared by Ben-Menachem in 1943 presenting harsher aspects of ghetto life than those appearing in the official Judenrat statistic reports. Ben-Menachem survived Auschwitz, although his original album did not. The existing copy was believed to have been made in 1944 by members of the Polish Underground after the album made it into their hands.

Zvi Hirsch Kadushin (later, George Kaddosh or Kadish) was the only photographer in the Kovno ghetto, working underground for the Judenrat. He developed techniques for taking pictures through a buttonhole in his coat, and went into hiding with his photos before the liquidation of the ghetto. His photos were exhibited in various locations after the war.

Although the Warsaw ghetto was the largest, the images from the Jewish perspective produced there amount to a fraction of the 14,000 that survived from Łódź.

According to Uziel, Jewish photographers were rarely permitted to work in the Warsaw ghetto. No trace remains of the names of the photographers whose pictures survived the war in the underground “Oneg Shabbat” archives directed by historian Emanuel Ringelblum.

“Early on, the Warsaw ghetto Judenrat called on Polish photographers to do the visual documentation required, like in the case of this 1940 album prepared jointly by the Judenrat and the Joint (JDC) to raise support for the ghetto’s residents,” said Uziel as he pointed to a photo of a truck delivering matzah for Passover, and another of Jews in line to receive aid packages.

The final section of “Flashes of Memory” contains images made by Allied forces as they liberated the Nazi death and labor camps. More than any others, these graphic images have had the greatest hand in shaping the collective memory of the Holocaust over the last seven decades. Among their immediate uses were showing the folks back home what they were fighting for, reeducating the German populace, and creating documentation for the prosecution of war criminals.

Although many of the photographs and films were made in real time as the troops entered the camps and discovered who and what was within, some — like the Dachau ones — were staged at a later date.

The Russians, for instance, arrived at Auschwitz on January 27, 1945 unprepared to create visual documentation, so they brought in official government photographers and international press a week later for a “liberation” photo op.

“They simply put the inmates in their uniforms back inside and closed the gate,” Uziel said.

“Flashes of Memory” is designed by all its creators to provoke questions, including ones about the morality of exhibiting and publishing Holocaust-era images, the majority of them produced by the Nazis.

“It’s the right thing to do, because in many cases it’s all we have to show what happened and the people who were killed,” Uziel said.

Then he walked over to some pages from a diary kept by Rachel Auerbach in the Warsaw ghetto. Auerbach expressed the same sentiment, writing (in Yiddish) in 1942 upon observing filming taking place:

“They should leave a sneak view of the Jewish passersby on the crowded streets in the movie. The faces, the eyes that in future years will shout out in silence. They should all be commemorated; the droves of beggars, the people of yesterday slowing dying from the hardships and starvation in the closed ghetto. And another thing, the main one — they should add the German participants in this drama. They were the lead actors in this play,” she wrote.


Hungarian lawmaker reportedly to honor Hitler ally on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Miklos Horthy, left, with Adolf Hitler in 1944. (Keystone/Getty Images)

(JTA) — A senior Hungarian lawmaker reportedly will attend a church’s ceremony honoring the Nazi collaborator Miklos Horthy that is being held on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Sandor Lezsak, the deputy speaker of the parliament and a member of the ruling Fidesz ruling party, will be on hand for the Jan. 27 event at the Main Parish Church of the Assumption in Budapest, according to the invitation sent out by the KESZ group, a Christian organization.

“In the Holy Mass, we remember with affection and respect for the late governor of Miklos Horthy (1868-1957), who was born 150 years ago,” read the invitation, according to a report Tuesday in Szombat, the Jewish Hungarian weekly noted in an editorial. The event was “provocative,” the paper said, though it is not yet clear whether it was planned to take place on Jan. 27 for the date’s symbolic significance.

Also scheduled to attend is Sandor Szakaly, the head the Veritas Historical Research Institute, who said in a 2014 interview that the 1941 deportation and subsequent murder of tens of thousands of Jews was an “action of the immigration authorities against illegal aliens.”

In June, Hungarian Jews protested Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s inclusion of Horthy, who oversaw the murder of more than 500,000 Holocaust victims together with Nazi Germany, in a speech among those he called “exceptional statesmen” in Hungary for leading the country following the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. Orban had appointed Szakaly to lead the historical institute.

Horthy signed anti-Jewish laws in 1938 and 1939, as well as in 1920.


Finland to probe troops’ alleged role in the Holocaust

By Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Finland will investigate evidence suggesting that soldiers from its army were involved in killing Jews during the Holocaust.

The announcement by the office of President Sauli Niinisto about the initiation of the probe, the first of its kind in Finland, came Wednesday in a letter to Efraim Zuroff, a hunter of Nazis for the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Earlier this month, Zuroff urged Niinisto to set up an inquiry following the discovery of written testimony by a Finnish Waffen SS officer who said he actively participated in the mass murder of Jews in Ukraine.

“The Finnish government will, in response to the recent concerns, fund a further independent survey of the operations of the Finnish Volunteers Battalion of the Waffen-SS and particularly examine its operations in Ukraine,” Hiski Haukkala, the secretary general chief of the Cabinet, wrote to Zuroff. “Should any criminal activities be uncovered they will be followed by due process,” he added.

Zuroff told JTA the probe will be “an important development” that is part of a broader process in Scandinavia, where in Denmark and Norway historians recently uncovered evidence on the roles of troops from their countries  in actively killing Jews.

The testimony suggesting active complicity in the Holocaust by at least six Finnish soldiers was discovered and flagged by Andre Swanström, the chairman of the Finnish Society of Church History.

Swanström quoted a letter by Finnish SS soldier Olavi Kustaa Aadolf Karpo to officer and military pastor Ensio Pihkala in which Karpo laments how he and his comrades were utilized for shooting Jews, when “for the execution of Jews less skilled personnel would have sufficed.”

In their letters, Karpo and fellow SS-men also protested being sent on a factory detail, while their brothers in arms got the chance to “shoot some pickle-headed Ivanovichs” – a reference to Russians. Following World War II, Karpo immigrated to Venezuela, where he died in 1988. At least five other Finns participated in the war crimes against Jews, Swanström wrote.

Finland, which for centuries has been engaged in land disputes with Russia featuring occupation, joined Germany in its attack on the Soviet Union in 1941. In the winter of 1944-45, the Finns began fighting against the Germans.

Finland had 2,300 Jews in its territory in 1939 whom it openly refused to surrender to its German ally despite repeated requests, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial  in Jerusalem. A police chief’s plan to deport in secret 300 non-Finnish Jews from the country was foiled and only eight were given over. Of those, only one survived the Holocaust.