Category Archive: Books

Rare Anne Frank poem fetches €140,000 at Dutch auction

Eight-line ode to friend penned in March 1942 bought by unnamed online bidder for more than four times reserve price

000_ic1u4-e1479907810149-635x357HAARLEM, Netherlands — A very rare handwritten poem by Jewish diarist Anne Frank was sold for €140,000 (NIS 575,000; $150,000) to an unnamed online bidder Wednesday, fetching more than four times its reserve price.

Auctioneers closed the sale after just two minutes of tense bidding at the Bubb Kuyper auction house in the western Dutch city of Haarlem.

Around 20 collectors took their seats in a sales room decorated with antique books, maps and illustrations while others bid by telephone and online.

The reserve price was set at €30,000 (NIS 123,000; $32,000).

“These things are so rare that I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bubb Kuyper co-director Thys Blankevoort said. “Over the last 40 years, only four or five documents signed by the teenager have gone under the hammer.”

“Any document that’s written by Anne Frank is rare,” he told AFP Monday, “there are some chance finds, some books from the libraries. But these are not manuscripts, they are owner entries,” he added, referring to books which have been found with Frank’s name written inside.

Dedicated to “Dear Cri-cri,” the poem, written in Dutch in black ink on a notebook-size piece of white paper which has slightly discolored with age, is signed “in memory, from Anne Frank.”

Frank wrote the eight-line poem, dated March 28, 1942, in a friendship book belonging to the older sister of her best friend only three months before she and her family went into hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam.

The poem was sold by Jacqueline van Maarsen, Frank’s primary school friend, who over the years has worked to keep her pal’s story alive. Frank also wrote a poem in Jacqueline’s book, but she is too attached to it to sell it, Blankevoort said.

While the first four lines of the text are well-known among such poems “written by girls, for girls,” the auction house has so far not traced the origins of the final four lines.

“The second half might possibly even be composed by” Anne Frank, Blankevoort acknowledged. It follows the vein of such poems which often contained a moral about love and friendship, calling on girls to work hard and be diligent.

A series of letters between Anne and her sister Margot with American penpals sold for $165,000 in 1988. And a 1925 edition of Grimm’s fairy tales, with both girls’ names written on the title page, went for $62,500 in May in a New York auction — fetching twice the estimated price.

The text, written in Dutch and translated by the Daily Mail, reads in full:

If you did not finish your work properly,
And lost precious time,
Then once again take up your task
And try harder than before.
If others have reproached you
For what you have done wrong,
Then be sure to amend your mistake.
That is the best memory one can make.

“The Diary of a Young Girl,” which Frank penned while in hiding from June 1942 to August 1944, has sold more than 30 million copies in 67 languages.

She and her sister Margot died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in early 1945 less than a year after the Nazis captured her and just before the end of World War II.

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Dutch survivor’s diary called an Anne Frank story with a ‘happy’ ending

Unique tale is one of few to focus on religious life in hiding, while the family lived in close quarters with their Catholic saviors

ulreich1AMSTERDAM (JTA) — A Holocaust survivor dubbed “Rotterdam’s Anne Frank” in her native Netherlands published her wartime diary, which she wrote while hiding in the bombed-out city.

“At Night I Dream of Peace,” the Dutch-language diary of 89-year-old Carry Ulreich, hit bookstores in the Netherlands last week. The book generated strong interest from the national media, which likened and contrasted Ulreich’s story with that of Frank, the murdered Jewish teenager from Amsterdam whose diaries in hiding were made into one of the world’s best-read books about the Holocaust.

Ulreich, who immigrated to Israel in the years after World War II, was two-and-a-half years older than Frank when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in 1940 and sent many of the country’s 140,000 Jews into hiding. Unlike Frank, whose writings have been described as offering a universalist worldview, Ulreich displays a distinctly Jewish one, describing her deep emotional connection to Jewish prayer and traditions.

Whereas Frank and many of her relatives were among the 104,000 Dutch Jews murdered in the genocide, Ulreich survived to have three children, 20 grandchildren and over 60 great-grandchildren. She took her wartime diary — spread over several yellowing notebooks — to Israel, but reread it only two years ago, deciding to publish. In an interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, she described her story as “like Anne Frank’s, but with a happy end.”

The book, in which Ulreich documented her family’s battle to survive as the world around them became increasingly dangerous, is among a handful of detailed testimonies of life in hiding in Rotterdam, which unlike most Dutch cities was largely destroyed in massive aerial bombardments both by the Germans and later the Allied forces.
Rotterdam after the German blitz (Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

It affords a rare account of the sometimes awkward encounter between the Ulreichs, a Zionistic and traditionalist family from Eastern Europe whose members were proud of their Jewish heritage, and their deeply religious Catholic saviors, the Zijlmans family.

Whereas the Franks, a family of secular and cosmopolitan Jews from Germany, lived apart from the people who hid them, the Ulreichs lived with the Zijlmans in conditions that required considerable sacrifice on the part of the hosts and led to some friction as the two households interacted.

‘They will come with their truck, and we’ll have to go to Westerbork and then to Poland and after that… death?’

The Zijlmans couple, who were recognized by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations in 1977 for risking their lives to save the Ulreichs, gave their bedroom to the Ulreichs and moved into a small room where potatoes were stored. They also severed their social contacts to avoid detection as their guests lived in fear.

“We are simply terrified that they will report us to the Waffen-SS for neighborhood disturbance,” Ulreich wrote of the neighbors. “Then they will come with their truck, and we’ll have to go to Westerbork and then to Poland and after that… death?”

Westerbork was a Nazi transit camp in Holland’s northeast.

Ulreich also recalls hearing a chazan, or cantor, offer a prayer for Holocaust victims on a British radio transmission, which she said made the Jews cry and feel “connected with him by heart.” But she complains over the airing of the prayer on Shabbat, when Jews are not supposed to turn on the radio.

“The Christians try to support us, but they simply don’t understand these things,” she wrote.

“Carry shows, next to the enormous gratitude for the hospitality, the discomfort of two different families who suddenly have to live together,” wrote Bart Wallet, the editor of the diary and expert on Dutch Jewry with the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. “The tension and complete dependence are almost tangible for the reader.”

The diary also describes theological discussions between the families.

“This book reveals a lot of information about a, until now, highly undiscussed topic: the religious life in hiding,” Wallet wrote. “It shows how the Jews struggled to eat kosher and how they still tried to celebrate their holy days.”

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Germany and the Concept of Collective Guilt

Do only psychopaths commit horrible mass crimes, or are we all more responsible than we are willing to admit? Two new histories of the Nazi war machine examine their leaders—and their soldiers.

By David Mikics

 
Even when it should have been clear that World War II was lost, Germans still lined up behind their leader. In 1945, the last year of the war, more than 60 percent of German POWs professed their faith in Hitler, the man who had led their nation to ruin. Such desperate clinging to charismatic authority has occurred in other times and places, and it raises a hard question: To what degree were the German people as a whole—not just their leaders—responsible for the evil of Nazism? The idea that the worst evildoers (in this case, the top Nazis) have abnormal psyches might just be a way of defending ourselves against the immoral darkness that inhabits us all.

Joel E. Dimsdale in his Anatomy of Malice: The Enigma of the Nazi War Criminals searches for the key to human evil in the psychiatric examinations undergone by the Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg Trials in 1945-46. Dimsdale, a well-known psychiatrist, begins with a grossly unscientific sample: He appears to have chosen the four among the 22 Nazi defendants whose mental lives seem most abnormal. And so he gives us a highly selective parade of fanatical Hitlerites: the clearly demented Rudolf Hess; the sex-addled Julius Streicher, publisher of the outrageously anti-Semitic newspaper Der Stürmer; and a victim of brain damage named Robert Ley, who as head of the German Labor Front helped to set up slave labor factories. Finally, Dimsdale throws in Hermann Göring, a longtime favorite of those who think that lack of morality and freakish behavior go together in history the way they do in horror movies.

Two of Dimsdale’s four case studies found themselves sidelined by the Nazis before WWII was in full swing. Hess flew to Scotland in 1941, gripped by the fantasy that he could make peace with England, but instead wound up in a British military hospital. A Nazi judge put Streicher under house arrest in 1940 after he insulted Göring in print. Ley was the most cracked of the bunch: “If it is at all possible, I would like to have a Jewish person as my defense counsel,” he declared at Nuremberg. A severe alcoholic with frontal lobe damage, probably from a WWI injury, he killed himself in the Nuremberg jail before he could come to trial. Göring, the head of the Luftwaffe, was a more central figure. Dimsdale sees Göring as “a classical, charming narcissistic psychopath,” but the label of psychopath seems misplaced here. Göring was a cross-dressing drug fiend who loved the high life, but in spite of his well-known eccentricities, he didn’t have a lunatic bone in his body. The smug, hyperarticulate Göring, who delighted in running rings around the prosecutors, was just a far more intelligent version of your average murderer.

Ley, Streicher, Göring, and Hess form a picturesque rogues’ gallery, but they are unrepresentative of high-level Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, most of whom lied and dodged their way through the trial in perfectly ordinary fashion. Typical was Hans Frank, the head of General Government Poland, as vulgar an anti-Semite as any of the others and a more determined mass murderer than most. Frank announced at Nuremberg that he had converted to Roman Catholicism and now felt like a different person: “Sometimes I wonder how that man Frank could have done those things” during the war, he mused. Because what he had done was so atrocious, Frank’s conversion was a laughable instance of chutzpah. But it was also an ordinary psychic strategy, employed by many a lesser fiend, and by the rest of us too—who hasn’t used dissociation to do the work of repentance?

Dimsdale promises us a detective story, but he finally comes up empty-handed. He admits that psychiatry can offer diagnoses but not answers when faced with human evil. This means that its diagnoses are not very good ones, at least when we are dealing with people who know what they are doing. Psychiatrists can argue persuasively in court that a defendant is too mentally deficient to grasp the idea of good and evil, and therefore not responsible for his crimes. (Such an argument was made for the Japanese war criminal Shumei Okawa, as recounted in Eric Jaffe’s A Curious Madness, and Okawa was spared the death penalty.) But with someone like the mentally agile Göring, psychiatry is of little help.

Dimsdale cherry-picks his examples to cater to our idea that human evil must have something to do with psychopathology. But the verdict goes in the other direction: The overwhelming majority of the Nuremberg defendants did not possess the traits of the mentally diseased. Their Rorschach tests were normal. Yet one of their examiners, the psychologist Gustave Gilbert, still labeled them insane. Gilbert, the Jewish son of emigrés from Austria, described the Nazi defendants as “narcissistic psychopaths whose lives were deformed by a diseased German culture.” This made them more rather than less culpable in Gilbert’s view: “to him [they were] the devil incarnate,” Dimsdale writes.

The other examiner, Douglas Kelley, disagreed with Gilbert. He thought that the Nazis displayed “profound moral failing” rather than mental illness. In spite of his disapproval, Kelley seems to have bonded with Göring and a few of the others. Bizarrely, the emotionally troubled Kelley, who was a professional magician as well as a psychiatrist, committed suicide 12 years after Nuremberg. In his living room, in front of his wife, parents, and children, he swallowed a cyanide pill, the same method that Göring had used.

Dimsdale writes in an elegant, appealing way, and his book is a page-turner, but in the end he has nothing to report. His account of Nuremberg shows that psychiatry reveals little about the problem of human evil. Dimsdale then turns to that old standby, Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem. Arendt argued that evildoers like Eichmann were simply not thinking. For her, as for Plato and Kant, evil was ignorance and proper morality a kind of knowledge that sufficiently thoughtful people could attain. Even if this were true (it’s not), Arendt’s banality-of-evil thesis doesn’t explain why some people don’t think, and why they do dreadful things as a result. After his discussion of Arendt, Dimsdale runs through the usual psychological studies of ordinary people doing evil: Milgram, Zimbardo. Finally, he abandons psychiatry and psychology for the now-fashionable science of the brain. Dimsdale resorts to studies of frontal-lobe impairment and oxytocin, hoping that biology will succeed where Arendt’s philosophy and the psychologists’ experiments didn’t. Oxytocin is the chemical in the brain that causes empathy, Dimsdale explains, and malice is the lack of empathy. What he doesn’t mention is that oxytocin also increases animosity toward outsiders along with good feeling toward one’s own group. Empathy seems to apply mostly to our own team: the Red Sox but for sure not the Yankees. Though Dimsdale fails to admit it, it seems clear that neuroscience is the wrong place to look if we want to understand evil.

***

The question of Nazi evil extends down through the ranks to the common soldier. How bad was Hitler’s army, the Wehrmacht? For 50 years after the end of WWII, it was assumed that the ordinary German soldier had kept his hands relatively clean in contrast to the men of the SS and the Einsatzgruppen, who had carried out the Final Solution and other crimes against humanity. Then a museum exhibit called Verbrechen der Wehrmacht (Crimes of the Wehrmacht) opened in Hamburg in 1995. (Revised in 2001, the exhibit now resides permanently at the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin.) Crimes of the Wehrmacht traveled to more than 30 German cities in the late 1990s, and it made shock waves wherever it went. The exhibit’s organizers, German historians Hannes Heer and Gerd Hankel, argued that “the German Wehrmacht’s war against the Soviet Union differed from all other European wars of the modern era, including the campaigns waged by the Wehrmacht against other countries during World War II.” This was a campaign intended to starve, terrorize, and, in the case of the Jews, eliminate the civilian population of the USSR. The Wehrmacht, the exhibit argued, pursued a war of annihilation against noncombatants, and its war crimes were worse than those of other armies—even the Red Army, which raped and pillaged its way across Germany in 1945.

In his multifaceted new history Hitler’s Soldiers, Ben Shepherd explores not just the question of the Wehrmacht’s involvement in war crimes but its military tactics, its leadership struggles, and its weaponry. The book stretches from the late Weimar era to the fall of Berlin and provides abundant detail on every significant campaign that Hitler’s army engaged in. Shepherd gives an in-depth account of the Blitzkrieg techniques and flexible maneuvering that made the German forces so successful early in the war. The reason for the Wehrmacht’s downfall, Shepherd argues, was not just greater allied resources but the Germans’ assumption that their superiority in tactics and military discipline could overcome any disadvantage. Shepherd’s book doesn’t replace Omer Bartov’s classic Hitler’s Army, which still offers the most convincing account of the Wehrmacht’s attitudes toward civilians and enemy soldiers on the Eastern front. But Shepherd’s scope is far larger than Bartov’s. He has produced an authoritative military history of the most feared and respected fighting force of WWII.

Hitler and the Wehrmacht High Command certainly intended for the assault on Soviet Russia to be different from previous military campaigns, particularly the invasion of France in 1940, which mostly spared the civilian population. In May and June 1941, the Wehrmacht’s leaders issued the Barbarossa Decree and the Commissar Order, which gave soldiers a free hand in killing enemy civilians in the name of “the total eradication of any active or passive resistance.” Red Army commissars were to be executed en masse, a clear breach of international law. Given the overstrained supply lines, the Wehrmacht could survive only by plundering food from peasants, and they had no supplies left over for those “useless mouths”—Soviet POWs, nearly 3 million of whom starved to death in hastily improvised camps on the Eastern front. In December 1942, with the German forces in desperate shape, Hitler again commanded that the army use “the most brutal means … against women and children also,” and prevented officers from punishing soldiers who had committed “excesses” against civilians. Hitler proclaimed such excesses were, in fact, commendable.

Shepherd points out that a few of Hitler’s generals were skeptical about their chief’s decision to invade Soviet Russia in June 1941. But none tried to get Hitler to change his mind, because “they themselves lacked better ideas for winning either the campaign or the war.” They mostly shared Hitler’s assumption that sooner or later the Soviet Union would attack Germany: The Wehrmacht’s leaders had thrust themselves into a world of unending warfare, and had no idea how to bring it to an end. As Sebastian Haffner wrote in The Meaning of Hitler, the Führer upended a centuries-long assumption of statecraft: that wars were fought to establish a state’s security and its regional dominance. Instead, with the invasion of Russia, war became a perpetual test of Germany’s strength, a test it was bound to lose.

Hitler’s paranoid worldview in which Jews lurked behind every world crisis infected his generals: General Reinhardt declared before Barbarossa that “Stalin is friendly to us because he isn’t ready yet. As soon as he is armed, his Jewish masters will order him to begin a war against us, either with England or on England’s behalf.” Better, then, to start a preemptive war, since Jewish Bolshevism and Jewish Capitalism would soon combine forces. Yet the Jewish enemy was also, paradoxically, thought to be so feeble that the Soviets could be toppled in a short campaign.

The same assumption that “the Jews” stood behind all anti-Nazi activity was used to rationalize the genocide on the Eastern front. So Field Marshal von Reichenau issued an order to his Sixth Army in the Ukraine in November 1941: “The soldier must have complete understanding for the necessity of the harsh but just atonement of Jewish subhumanity. This has the further goal of nipping in the bud rebellions in the rear of the Eastern Army which, as experience shows, are always plotted by the Jews.” “Experience” showed nothing of the kind: Most partisans had nothing to do with Jews, and vice versa. The German apocalyptic worldview collapsed all enemies into one.

During the invasion of Poland more than a few ordinary German soldiers objected to the massacring of enemy civilians, especially women and children. By the time of Barbarossa such objections had become rare. In his long book Shepherd finds only one instance of a German officer who refused on moral principle to assist the Final Solution. In the spring of 1944 Colonel Emil Jäger argued against the deportation of Corfu’s Jews to the camps on the grounds that the Germans would forfeit their “ethical prestige” in the eyes of the Greeks. What Shepherd calls Jäger’s “clear if delicately worded” moral stance leaps out at the reader. In a dark time he was one of the few Germans who spoke for the moral norms that the Wehrmacht had so decisively discarded. War’s usual moral boundaries had been radically reshaped, and only a handful of soldiers among millions raised their voices in opposition.

The evil of Hitler’s Germany was not individual but collective. It cannot be found where Dimsdale looks for it, in the twisted psyches of the most flagrant Nazi criminals. Instead, Nazi evil relied on the erosion of the established wartime standards that separated combatants from noncombatants and POWs from armed enemy fighters. Only if we learn this lesson can we start to make the motto “never again” a future reality.

***
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Anne Frank story to be told in street theater across Amsterdam

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA) — A Dutch Jewish broadcaster is co-organizing the launch of an annual Holocaust commemoration event featuring theater shows about Anne Frank and other victims at their former homes.
A blueprint of the event by the Joodse Omroep Jewish broadcaster, or JO, and its Christian partner, the Evangelische Omroep, or EO, was leaked last week to the Dutch blog GeenStijl.nl.
The initiative, titled “National Remembrance Walk,” is set to debut next year, the 75th anniversary of the murder of the Dutch Jewish diarist Anne Frank at a German concentration camp, with an event called “Anne Frank: One face out of millions.”
According to the blueprint, the event will launch on May 4, the Netherlands’ official day for Remembrance of the Dead, at several locales connected to Anne’s life. The concept has participants walking in a silent procession from one location to another in Amsterdam, the Dutch capital.
But the plan is in an early phase and “may change before the actual date,” said Alfred Edelstein, JO’s director. “We still need to look at the various elements.”
The project aims to produce “an integrated account of a victim and their personal story in a way which places the lessons of the past at the center of the present,” according to the leaked document, which also describes the initiative as a way to combat persistent anti-Semitic attitudes and indifference and ignorance of the Holocaust among young Dutch people.
According to the document, National Remembrance Walks from 2016 onward will focus on other Holocaust victims from elsewhere in the Netherlands, which lost 75 percent of its Jewish population of 140,000 in the Holocaust, the highest death rate in Nazi-occupied Western Europe.
The concept, which was drawn up with assistance from the communications firm Eye2Eye Media, has Dutch actress Carice van Houten of the hit series “Game of Thrones” portraying Miep Gies, a resistance fighter who tried to save Anne Frank and her family during their two years in hiding from the Nazis before their capture in 1944. The cast will include additional Dutch actors and celebrities, and the walks will feature public singing of songs from World War II, the concept said.
But in a statement on Twitter, van Houten wrote that she had been unaware of the plan before it was leaked.

Yiddish Tomes Go Digital With DIY Scanner

National Yiddish Book Center Device Preserves Works of Literature

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It’s a scenario that the Yiddish writers of yore could never have predicted, and yet by which they likely would have been tickled: Today, their work is being digitized with the help of a home-made scanner built by a former Baptist from Indiana who lives in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.
As of mid June, the scanner is the newest acquisition of the National Yiddish Book Center, in Amherst, Massachusetts. It will be used to digitize the center’s books — some of them a century old — that are stored in a climate-controlled vault.
This is the first scanner owned by the center. Previously it digitized books using a scanner loaned from the Internet Archive, a not-for-profit digital library. Other tomes were scanned at the National Library of Israel and at a factory in Pennsylvania, where “everything was automated and nobody read Yiddish,” said Catherine Madsen, the center’s bibliographer. “They sliced the spine off the books and fed the pages through a machine. It was upsetting that the books had to be destroyed in order to be saved.”
The new scanner, which uses two Canon DSLR cameras to capture the Yiddish text (without cutting books), was donated to the center through circuitous means. A New York software executive (who asked to remain nameless in the Jewish tradition of anonymous giving) originally purchased a kit for the scanner from Daniel Reetz, creator of the do-it-yourself book scanner project. The executive was unsure of what he would do with the scanner. His wife had been in touch with an Australian living on a kibbutz in Israel, who had been involved in digitizing yizkor books — that is, books written by Holocaust survivors to commemorate the communities that were destroyed. The Australian put the executive in touch with Joel Alpert, a retired electrical engineer in Boston who was involved in efforts to publish hard copies of the yizkor books. Alpert was aware of the National Yiddish Book Center’s need for a scanner.

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The Lost Poems of Ka-Tzetnik 135633

Auction house offering Auschwitz survivor’s elusive pre-war book for $7,000; copies also available at several libraries

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The most significant moment at the Eichmann Trial occurred when the Polish-born writer Yehiel Feiner collapsed while testifying on the stand in Jerusalem, after he was asked a simple procedural question at the beginning of his testimony—the reason why he concealed his identify behind the pseudonym Ka-Tzetnik 135633 (Ka-Tzetnik is the Yiddish term for a concentration camp inmate).

He responded:

“It was not a pen name. I do not regard myself as a writer and a composer of literary material. This is a chronicle of the planet of Auschwitz. I was there for about two years. Time there was not like it is here on earth. Every fraction of a minute there passed on a different scale of time. And the inhabitants of this planet had no names, they had no parents nor did they have children. There they did not dress in the way we dress here; they were not born there and they did not give birth; they breathed according to different laws of nature; they did not live—nor did they die—according to the laws of this world. Their name was the number Ka-Tzetnik.”

Later in his testimony, Ka-Tzetnik stood and turned around, and he then collapsed on the ground.

Several years ago in Tablet, David Mikics explored the literary legacy of Yehiel Feiner, with a particular focus on his post-Holocaust works of Salamandra (1946) and House of Dolls (1953), written under his name of Ka-Tzetnik 135633, and noted, almost in passing, a small book of Yiddish poetry that he published in 1931. Before the Holocaust, Feiner was a musician, writer, and poet, who contributed articles to local Yiddish newspapers and, in 1931, published a volume of twenty-two Yiddish poems. However, as historian Tom Segev writes in The Seventh Million, “[a]fter Auschwitz, [he] made every effort to consign his early work to oblivion, going so far as to personally remove it from libraries. He also discarded his original name. Auschwitz, having robbed him of his family, also robbed him of his identity, leaving only the prisoner.”

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Nazi PropaNazi Propagandist’s Book Used in Austria Test for Recent Graduates

Two Educators Quit Over Manfred Hausmann’s ‘The Snail’

VIENNA — (Reuters) — Two senior Austrian educators will step down over a scandal in which a test administered to graduating high school students featured an essay by a Nazi apologist, the latest in a series of missteps in awarding high school diplomas.

Following a high-profile data leak and a failure to communicate new grading scales, the final straw came when this year’s German test included a 1947 text by German author Manfred Hausmann, who had worked for Nazi propaganda magazine Das Reich.

Students were asked to reflect on how “The Snail” – in which a gardener decides the pest has to die to protect his plants – dealt with questions about nature and life. The test omitted to mention the broader context of the author’s Nazi past.

The case has caused embarrassment and anger in Austria, which was annexed by Nazi Germany into the Third Reich in 1938 and has been struggling for decades to escape a reputation for brushing its history under the carpet.

Salzburg educator Wolfgang Muehlbacher, part of a group of critical authors who exposed the incident, said a 15-member advisory panel of literature experts who picked the text had clearly missed its significance.

“I assume the people simply were not exact enough, took too little time for this so that they did not see what was going on,” he said. “Former Nazis who were involved in this whole machinery of crime have to read the text as absolving them.”

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Hitler’s Jewish neighbor looks back in horror in new book

Edgar Feuchtwanger, who escaped and became a history professor in the UK, recalls childhood in Munich flat next to Nazi leader

German-British historian Edgar Feuchtwanger, 88, who as a child lived with his family in Munich near the private residence of Adolf Hitler on Grillparzer Strasse, in Paris on January 17, 2013. (photo credit: AFP Photo/Miguel Medina)

BERLIN (AFP) — Edgar Feuchtwanger, the son of a prominent German Jewish family with roots in Bavaria going back centuries, vividly remembers nearly bumping into his neighbor Adolf Hitler as a boy.

It was 1933 and Hitler, who had just become German chancellor, kept a sprawling flat on Munich’s elegant Prinzregentenplatz next door to Feuchtwanger’s family home.

Eight years old at the time, he had been taken by his nanny for a walk when they nearly collided with the country’s most powerful man.

“It so happened that just at the moment when we were in front of his door, he came out. He was in a nearly white mackintosh,” Feuchtwanger told AFP.

“We were in his way. He looked at me and there were a few casual bystanders in the street — it was about half past eight in the morning and they of course shouted ‘Heil Hitler!’. He just lifted his hat a little bit, as any democratic politician would do — he didn’t give the (straight-armed Nazi) salute — and then he got into his car.”

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