Category Archive: Trivializing the Holocaust

Convicted of fraud, Rabbi Youlus goes to prison

On Dec. 17, Menachem Youlus, a Baltimore rabbi who ran the Jewish book store in Wheaton, began serving a 51-month prison sentence at a federal correctional institution in Otisville, N.Y. Convicted of two counts of mail and wire fraud in Manhattan federal court. Youlus co-founded Save a Torah, Inc. in 2004, a charity that solicited funds to rescue and acquire Torahs that had been lost in the Holocaust. These “Holocaust Torahs” in reality, came from used Torah dealers. He also inflated invoices to add thousands of dollars in false repair and transportation costs. Present at the sentencing was Menachem Rosensaft, vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants. Rosensaft, whose parents survived Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz, had been instrumental in the investigation of Youlus and Save a Torah, after hearing one of Youlus’ tall tales. “What really triggered my reaction to Youlus was when I learned of his claim that he found a Torah scroll in 2001 under the floor boards of a barrack in Bergen Belsen,” said Rosensaft. “I knew that in May 1945, one month after the liberation of the entire camp by the British, every single barrack was burnt to the ground. At that point it became clear to me that Menachem Youlus was a liar. He was not an exaggerator, but an out-and-out categorical liar.”

EU court rejects PETA appeal on Holocaust ad

Germany can bar the animal rights group PETA from comparing the fate of animals today with that of Holocaust victims, Europe’s highest court for human rights ruled. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on Thursday upheld a 2009 German Supreme Court ruling that banned People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals from using photos of concentration camp inmates and other images of the Nazi genocide alongside photos of abused animals in its campaign Holocaust on your Plate. PETA has three months to appeal the ruling, according to German news reports.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany, which had fought the PETA campaign since it was launched here in 2004, welcomed the ruling. “The judges were correct in determining that the ban did not infringe on freedom of expression, but rather trivialized the Holocaust in an irresponsible manner,” Dieter Graumann, head of the council, said.
The German PETA campaign included eight large panels showing black-and-white images of emaciated concentration camp inmates next to full color photos of chickens, turkeys and other animals fattened for the slaughter. One poster bore the slogan, in German, “Final Humiliation” and another read “For animals, all people are Nazis.”
A photo of children in a concentration camp stood next to one of piglets in a stall. Under them was the caption “Child Butcher.” According to reports, the PETA campaign in Germany was even more explicit than the US ad campaign that was launched in 2003.
The Central Council sued PETA in 2004. The late Paul Spiegel, then head of the council, called the ad campaign “the most disgusting abuse of the memory of the Holocaust in recent years.”

Exploiting The Holocaust For Personal Gain

by Menachem Z. Rosensaft, Vice President of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants

Menachem Youlus, the sofer, or Torah scribe, who peddled Torah scrolls that he falsely claimed had “survived” the Holocaust, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court on October 11 to 51 months in jail, followed by three years probation.  He got what he deserved.
For years Youlus defrauded well intentioned Jews who believed his outlandish tales that he had repeatedly risked his life to locate these Torah scrolls and bring them out of Poland, Ukraine, Germany, and other parts of Europe where millions of Jews had been annihilated during World War II.
Youlus preyed on the emotions of individuals who donated the so-called Holocaust Torah scrolls as a gesture of solemn remembrance.  He also solicited charitable donations from bar and bat mitzvah children that he diverted to his personal use.
Many of Youlus’s victims are unable to point an accusing finger at him.  These voiceless victims include all the Torah scrolls that were ripped to shreds, spat upon, and burned by Hitler’s henchmen as part of Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”
When I first heard that Youlus claimed to have found a Torah scroll in a barrack at Bergen-Belsen, I knew he was lying.  Both my parents were liberated there by British troops on April 15, 1945.  Six weeks later, in order to contain a raging typhus epidemic and after taking some 35,000 survivors to a nearby German army base that became the Displaced Persons camp where I was born, the British burned every single one of the camp’s barracks down to the ground.  No barrack has stood there for more than 67 years.  Only mass-graves remain.  I know because I have been there many times to recite Kaddish.
The millions murdered by the Third Reich deserve a rigorously factual and scrupulously honest remembrance. So do the hundreds of thousands of Torah scrolls, prayer books and other sacred Jewish writings and religious artifacts that were decimated in the Holocaust together with thousands upon thousands of Jewish communities, Jewish homes, synagogues and chasidic prayer rooms across Nazi-occupied Europe.

‘He trivialized Holocaust memory’

The Torahs are kosher. The stories of their scrolls are not.

This is the legacy of the “Holocaust Torahs” that Maryland Torah scribe and Jewish bookstore owner Rabbi Menachem Youlus sold to Jews and their synagogues. Moved by his tales of how the scrolls were lost in the Shoah and amazed by his exploits in discovering and recovering them, Jews enthusiastically opened their checkbooks to give a home to a piece of the past they thought was lost.
In the end, they turned out to be tall tales. On October 11th he was sentenced to 51 months in prison on two counts of mail and wire fraud by Manhattan Federal District Court Judge Colleen McMahon.
He will be sentenced to a federal prison, as yet unnamed.
Youlus pled guilty to defrauding his own not-for-profit Save a Torah Foundation and more than 50 clients of more than $862,000 between 2004 and 2010.
Menachem Rosensaft says he plans to attend the sentencing hearing. “I want to witness justice being done. This has been a long process, and I believe it is important to see it through its conclusion,” says Rosensaft, founding chair of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and a vehement critic of Youlus.
“My hope is that a severe sentence will serve notice to Youlus wannabes. It’s important to let people know that anyone like him is radioactive,” says Rosensaft, a New York attorney.

Maryland rabbi who peddled fake Holocaust Torahs sentenced to four years for fraud

Jewish donors opened their pocketbooks wide to Maryland Rabbi Menachem Youlus, the self-proclaimed “Jewish Indiana Jones.” He spun cloak-and-dagger tales of “rescuing” sacred Torah scrolls lost during the Holocaust, but those tales were lies.
Federal judge Colleen McMahon sentenced Youlus to 51 months in prison, plus three years probation, for defrauding contributors to his Save a Torah Foundation and peddling scrolls with bogus Holocaust provenance. He also was ordered to pay $990,366.05 in restitution to his victims.
Menachem Rosensaft, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, said after the sentencing: “I do think that, very literally, justice has been done. And clearly Judge McMahon understood the gravity of the offense.”

Goebbels’ Early Letters Show Controlling Behavior

The love letters, school papers and dramatic works of college-age Joseph Goebbels reveal a romantic young man beginning to show signs of anti-Semitism and egotistical and controlling behavior, according to a Connecticut auction house selling the pre-war writings of Adolf Hitler’s propaganda chief.
Alexander Historical Auctions plans to sell the collection on Sept. 27 in Stamford, saying it may prove invaluable in providing historical and psychological insights.
“It sums up the formative years of the number two man in the Third Reich, who was responsible for motivating the masses in Germany to back Hitler,” said Bill Panagopulos, the company’s president. “In my opinion, it shows how this rather simple, shy and love-struck college student really just became radicalized. …You really get a feel for what’s going on in his head,” Panagopulos said. “There’s a lot of information if somebody wants to dig into the mind of this man who grew into a lunatic.”

The sale sparked concerns by a leader of a Holocaust survivors group who criticized the auction house’s sale last year of the journals written by Nazi death camp doctor Josef Mengele.
“Alexander Auction House is making a business out of selling Nazi artifacts and memorabilia,” said Menachem Rosensaft, vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants. “They clearly have the legal right to profit here from such materials. I leave it to others to determine the morality of it all.” Rosensaft said such materials belong in an archive for historians to study. He expressed concerns that at an auction, the materials could wind up in the wrong hands and be used as a shrine to the Nazi leader.

The Rejection of Nazi Analogies Must Be Bipartisan

by Menachem Z. Rosensaft
This is really not all that complicated. Once and for all, politicians and pundits of all persuasions should get it into their heads that making analogies to the Holocaust or Nazi Germany in the context of 21st century U.S. politics is not just unseemly but borders on, if not crosses over into, the obscene.

California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton reminds us that Democrats are quite capable of making Nazi analogies that are every bit as odious. Reacting to Representative Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention, he said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend that Republicans “lie and they don’t care if people think they lie. As long as you lie, Joseph Goebbels, the big lie, you keep repeating it, you know.” And drove home his ill-conceived point in a radio interview.

Nazi Germany’s Propaganda Minister Goebbels was personally responsible for creating the atmosphere in which millions of Jews, including my grandparents, my brother, and all my parents’ siblings, were brutally murdered in places like Auschwitz, Treblinka and Bergen-Belsen. “The Jews have deserved the catastrophe that has now overtaken them,” Goebbels commented in his diary on February 14, 1942.

Hitler wine probe launched in Italy

Italian prosecutors have opened an investigation into sales of wine with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler on the label.

They were alerted to the wines after Philadelphia lawyer Matthew Hirsch came across the bottles in a small supermarket in the northern town of Garda while on holiday with his wife, according to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. One of the bottles features Hitler performing the Nazi salute, another the dictator alongside the words Mein Kampf, meaning “my struggle” in German, and a third depicting Hitler posing with a manipulated photo of the late Pope John Paul II.