What Is the Right Way to Honor Ike?

By MENACHEM Z. ROSENSAFT, vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants.

To the Editor:
Witold Rybczynski misses the essence of the objections to the proposed design for a memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington: it highlights Eisenhower’s youth in Kansas far more than his military or political achievements.
Years before he was elected president, Eisenhower entered history as Supreme Allied Commander for the European theater in World War II. For Holocaust survivors and their families in particular, he holds an iconic place in our hearts for his leadership of the multinational troops who liberated the Nazi death and concentration camps in 1945.
Mr. Rybczynski is wrong when he writes that “compromise and consensus … are a poor recipe for creating a memorial.” On the contrary, the planned memorial to Eisenhower must take into account the perspectives and concerns of those Americans whose lives he touched and influenced most directly.
As the son of survivors of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, I agree with Susan and Anne Eisenhower that their grandfather should be depicted above all as the general who rescued Europe and the world from the scourge of Nazism.

Susan Eisenhower’s Testimony to Congress on “The Proposed Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial”

In her testimony, Ms. Eisenhower quotes American Gathering vice president Menachem Rosensaft that “I grew up revering first General then President Eisenhower as the commander of the liberating armies that enabled my parents to live.”

by Susan Eisenhower
The following testimony was given by Susan Eisenhower before a congressional Subcommittee.

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Members:
I would like to thank you, on behalf of the Eisenhower family, for convening this hearing on the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial. Such hearings play a vital role in the memorialization process, and we thank you for your leadership in addressing the public interest.
Let me say that my family is most grateful to the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, the General Services Administration and the National Park Service—as well as Mr. Frank Gehry, for the efforts they have made in bringing the memorial to this stage.
Mr. Chairman, on June 12, 1945, Dwight Eisenhower stood on the balcony of London’s Guildhall, where he was to receive the Freedom of the City of London. Europe lay in ruins. More than 15 million people in the Western part of continent had perished, not counting the 25 million Soviets who died on the Eastern Front. Eisenhower, who had victoriously commanded the largest military operation in the history of warfare, stood before millions of cheering Londoners. He spoke of the war and the collective effort to defeat Nazism.  Without notes, Eisenhower began his speech. “Humility,” he said, “must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends.”
These simple words, crafted without the help of a speech writer, offer a guide for capturing the essence of World War II’s Supreme Commander of Allied Expeditionary Forces, Europe and later our nation’s two-term president.

How President Eisenhower should be remembered

By Menachem Z. Rosensaft, vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants.

In a genuine spirit of bipartisanship, Republicans and Democrats should all be able to agree that General Dwight David Eisenhower was one of the great military leaders of the 20th Century.

In 1952, Eisenhower was elected President of the United States on the Republican ticket, but he had become an international hero more than seven years earlier, before he declared his political affiliation, when he led the multi-national Allied forces to victory over Nazi Germany.
Eisenhower, who died in 1969, remains so widely respected and popular that 30 years after his death, the U.S. Congress decided to have an official memorial in his honor built in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission has approved a design by architect Frank Ghery that would highlight Eisenhower’s youth in Kansas far more than his military or political achievements.

Members of the Eisenhower family, in particular his granddaughters Susan and Anne, are asking the National Capital Planning Commission to halt the process and direct the Eisenhower Memorial Commission to come up with a different concept. They are right.
“I just don’t think Dwight Eisenhower is remembered because he was a barefoot boy from Kansas,” Susan Eisenhower told the Washington Post last December. “When I look at this memorial, I don’t see any bit of him in it.”

Eisenhower entered history not as a youngster in Kansas or as a graduate of West Point, or, even, as President of the United States. His unique contribution to our country’s and the world’s history was as Supreme Allied Commander for the European Theater during World War II and then, following Germany’s surrender, as Military Governor of the U.S occupation zone of Germany.

For Holocaust survivors and their families in particular, General Eisenhower holds a hallowed, place in our hearts and emotions. It was under his leadership that the Nazi concentration camps in Germany and Austria were liberated in the spring of 1945, and in our minds, he, more than anyone else, became the iconic representation of all the Allied liberators.

Rabbi Judah Nadich who served as the U.S. Army’s senior Jewish chaplain in Europe and as Eisenhower’s Jewish adviser wrote that “Eisenhower’s treatment of the Jewish displaced persons . . . was marked with understanding and sympathy. His friendship for the Jews left no room for doubt.”

In September of 1945, Eisenhower joined several thousand Jewish survivors at Yom Kippur services in the Feldafing Displaced Persons Camp not far from Munich. His “sudden unannounced appearance,” recalled Rabbi Nadich, “electrified the large congregation. The men and women could not believe their eyes . . . . The stormy ovation they gave him indicated the esteem, the appreciation and the love they bore him. Their enthusiasm showed that they felt that he was not only the symbol of all of the democratic forces that had set them free, but that he personally understood their plight.”

Eisenhower was also one of the first who understood the urgent need to preserve the memory of the atrocities that had been perpetrated against European Jews and all the other victims of the Third Reich. He personally visited a concentration camp within days of its liberation in order to be able to bear personal witness, and he directed the officers under his command to do the same.

A photograph of General Eisenhower taken at Ohrdruf, a sub-camp of Buchenwald near the German city of Gotha, shows him surrounded by American GI’s and liberated inmates still in their concentration camp uniforms beside a gallows where prisoners had been tortured and hung with piano wire. That is the image of him that should be engraved into our national consciousness.

“The things I saw beggar description,” General Eisenhower wrote to General George C. Marshall shortly after visiting Ohrdruf. “The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. . . . I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda’.”

As the son of two survivors of both the Auschwitz death camp and the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen, I agree with the Eisenhower family that the proposed design of the planned Eisenhower Memorial must be changed. Dwight D. Eisenhower should be depicted and remembered in our nation’s capital above all as the U.S. General of the Army who rescued Europe and, indeed, the world from the scourge of Nazism.

New Yorker who saved Jews during Holocaust dies

A woman who helped hide more than 100 Jews during the Holocaust has died at a New York retirement community.  Tina Strobos died Monday in Rye. She was 91. Strobos was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago.  The Dutch native took Jews into her Amsterdam home and then led them to other hiding places. She also doctored passports for them and stashed guns stolen from the Germans.  Not one of the Jews she helped was ever captured.

“It gives me hope” – The remarkable story of Irena Sendler

During the Holocaust, this Catholic social worker saved 2,500 Jewish children from certain death by convincing their parents, who were trapped in the Warsaw ghetto, to let her smuggle their kids to gentile families on the outside.  CShe risked her life every day for months, sneaking the kids out of the ghetto by, for instance, hiding them in ambulances and trucks. She was finally caught and tortured by the Nazis, escaping the firing squad only because her colleagues on the outside paid an extraordinary bribe to let her flee at the last minute.  
Now, here’s the kicker:  If you’ve heard of Sendler, it’s likely because of an extraordinary high school history teacher – Norm Conard – in a small town in southeastern Kansas and three of his students who worked on a project about her for National History Day in 2000.  

Archivist challenges Kremlin in Wallenberg saga

MOSCOW – A former senior Russian archive official says he saw a file that could shed light on Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg’s fate – challenging the insistence of Russia’s KGB successor agency that it has no documents regarding the man who saved tens of thousands of Jews in Hungary before disappearing into the hands of Soviet secret police. Anatoly Prokopenko, 78, told The Associated Press that in 1991 he saw a thick dossier containing numerous references to Wallenberg that suggested he was being spied upon by a Russian aristocrat working for Soviet intelligence. Russian officials later said the file didn’t exist, in line with blanket denials of having information on Wallenberg. “That file is extremely interesting, because it could allow us to determine the reasons behind his arrest.”

Sweden launches probe into fate of Holocaust hero

STOCKHOLM – Sweden has commissioned a new inquiry into the fate of Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg, who saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis during World War Two but disappeared after being arrested by advancing Soviet troops in 1945. The decision on the new probe into the disappearance of the Swedish diplomat came as Sweden this year commemorates the 100th anniversary of his birth. Anna Charlotta Johansson, spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, said the inquiry would be conducted by Hans Magnusson, a diplomat who led a joint Swedish-Russian group in the 1990s that tried to find out what happened to Wallenberg. The investigation “would look into whether there is any new information available, or that can be found, on what happened to Raoul Wallenberg”.

Iranian ambassador attends Wallenberg tribute

BUDAPEST – Iran’s ambassador to Hungary took part in a ceremony here Tuesday launching events marking the 100th birthday of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved more than 20,000 Hungarian Jews in the waning days of World War II.