Category Archive: THE PRESS

Court faults German TV for calling Nazi camps ‘Polish’

Polish citizen Karol Tendera, 95, brought the case against Germany’s ZDF channel over wording in a promotional trailer

aushwitz-copy-635x357WARSAW, Poland — An appeals court in Poland on Thursday ruled that a German broadcaster must publicly apologize to an Auschwitz survivor for having described Nazi-German death camps as “Polish”.

“Every Pole won’t necessarily be offended but the plaintiff was. He went from being a victim to the culprit” because of the erroneous wording, the judge wrote in his ruling.

Polish citizen Karol Tendera, 95, brought the case against Germany’s ZDF channel over the wording in a 2013 promotional trailer for a documentary about the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek.

The Nazi death camps were set up and entirely controlled by Germany in occupied Poland.

A lower court had earlier dismissed the case by saying ZDF had “effectively” explained its behavior in two letters it sent to Tendera and a statement posted on its website.

But the appeals court in the southern city of Krakow overturned the earlier decision and called for more, asking ZDF to publish its apology for a month on its website.

It said the wording had violated Tendera’s rights, including his dignity and national identity.

Warsaw monitors global media closely for descriptions of such camps as Polish, having also censured British and US media in the past.

Even if the term is used as a geographical indicator, Warsaw says it can give the impression that Poland bore responsibility for the Holocaust, whereas it was one of the greatest victims of the slaughter.

Poland was attacked and occupied by Nazi Germany in World War II, losing six million of its citizens, including three million Jews in the Holocaust.

The government said this year it would seek fines or jail terms of up to three years against anyone who referred to the camps as Polish.

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Germany threatens to fine Facebook over hate speech

Justice Ministry checking whether it would be possible to make social networking sites legally liable for illegal posts

000_j6456-e1481833104676-635x357BERLIN, Germany (AP) — German officials are stepping up their criticism of Facebook, saying the social network is doing too little to stop hate speech and could face stiff fines unless it deletes illegal content faster.

In an interview published Friday, Justice Minister Heiko Maas said his ministry was checking whether it would be possible to make social networking sites legally liable for illegal posts.

“Of course in the end, we also have to think about fines, if other measures fail to work,” Maas told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. “That would be a strong incentive to act quickly.”

Germany has seen a sharp increase in vitriolic posts on social media in recent years amid a heated public debate over the influx of more than a million migrants since the start of 2015.

The country has laws against speech deemed to be racist, defamatory or inciting violence — a response to Germany’s Nazi legacy. But authorities have struggled with the deluge of often anonymous postings on foreign-owned websites.

Facebook, based in California, says it takes the issue seriously and has hundreds of contractors reviewing posts at a Berlin office. But Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Friday that staff members there complain of inconsistent rules and overwork.

Thomas Oppermann, a senior lawmaker in Maas’ Social Democratic Party, told German weekly Der Spiegel that dominant social media sites like Facebook could be required to delete illegal posts within 24 hours or face fines up to 500,000 euros ($522,000).

Facebook also could be compelled to distribute corrections that reach the same number of people as the original post, Oppermann suggested, something traditional media companies in Germany are already required to do.

The proposals come as German officials warn that the country’s upcoming general election is likely to be heavily affected by hate speech and fake news spread on social media.

The nationalist Alternative for Germany party, which has a strong presence on Facebook, criticized the government’s proposals as an attempt to limit free speech.

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Holograms Keep Holocaust History Alive

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There are thought to be over 500,000 Holocaust survivors worldwide. The average age of a survivor is 79 and nearly a quarter of them are 85 or older.

BLOG: Human Immortality for Humans by 2045

While many elderly Holocaust survivors leave behind rich narratives of their lives through manuscripts, oral histories or art work, many do not. Some fear that as this aging generation fades away, so too will the personal accounts of the horrors they experienced. In an age of Holocaust deniers like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the preservation of survivors’ oral histories is even more critical.

Taking this preservation into the 21st Century is a group led by the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation who, for the last 18 months, have been creating three-dimensional holograms of nearly a dozen Holocaust survivors. The project is called New Dimensions in Testimony.

John Roger’s recent article in the Associated Press told the story of 80-year-old Pinchus Gutter and how he was filmed for hours in 3-D, in front of a green screen, over the course of five days as he answered some 500 questions about his life and experiences. USC researchers are still editing the footage and working with voice recognition software so that Gutter’s hologram will not only tell his story, it will be able to recognize and respond to questions.

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EBay Rejects Hermann Goering’s Mercedes-Benz as Auction Item

Auction House Guidelines ‘Prohibit Sale of Offensive Materials’

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Auction website eBay has refused to list a World War II-era Mercedes Benz once owned Hermann Goering, a Nazi leader who commanded the German air force, citing a policy prohibiting the sale of offensive items.
The 1941 Mercedes Benz 540 K Cabriolet B, custom built by Daimler-Benz for Adolf Hitler’s close confidant, is currently in pieces in a high-end south Florida automobile shop, where owners said they plan to spend about $750,000 to restore it to working condition.
“We’ve located all the replacement parts and we can make parts,” said High Velocity Classics co-owner David Rathbun.
eBay, however, asked the owners to take down the auction after learning it would go live in early July.
“eBay has policies in place that prohibit the sale of offensive materials and content, which includes listings that promote or glorify hatred, violence or racial, sexual or religious intolerance,” spokesman Ryan Moore wrote in an email.
According to Rathbun, the car was seized by the U.S. Army’s 7th Infantry Division in Berchtesgaden, a town in the Bavarian Alps where Hitler built a sprawling residence.
After the war it became army surplus and was eventually sold by the head of a psychology institution in Heilbronn to Master Sergeant Sam Hosier, who drove it in occupied Germany. Hosier brought it to the United States and in 1955 sold it to a North Carolina man, who owned it until this year.
The owners would not say how much they paid for the car, only that they hope it will sell for $5 million to $7 million.
Another of Goering’s cars, a convertible Mercedes 540 K nicknamed the Blue Goose, was auctioned in 2011 in Italy by Ontario, Canada-based RM Auctions for about $2 million.
The owners lamented having to turn to traditional high-end auto sales auctions to sell the stretch coupe once work is finished.
“eBay is all over the world, it has hundreds of millions of users, and it was the biggest venue anyone could find,” Rathbun said.

In Polish city, a wedding celebrates Jewish rediscovery and revival

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WROCLAW, Poland (JTA) — When Katka Reszke and Slawomir Grunberg tied the knot at the historic White Stork synagogue in this southwestern Polish city, they were determined that the occasion would be more than just a wedding.
They wanted it to be a symbol of how thousands of Polish Jews — like themselves — have found their way back to Judaism and Jewish identity.
The couple, who are based in New York but spend part of each year in their native Poland, also wanted the ceremony — the first religious Jewish wedding in Wroclaw in 14 years — to be a learning experience for both local Jews and non-Jews.
To this end, they opened Sunday’s ceremony to everyone in the city and turned their nuptials into an hours-long, open-air public event with klezmer bands, kosher food, two officiating Orthodox rabbis and loudspeaker explanations of each step in the traditional wedding ritual.
“Jewish community members told us that they had never been to a Jewish wedding, so we made it into a sort of festival,” said Reszke, 35, an outgoing woman with spiky reddish hair who was born and grew up in Wroclaw. “By explaining the wedding to everyone, we’re trying to break down the mystery that separates people.”
The couple’s personal histories drove their desire to make a statement and vividly reflect the complex dilemmas of post-Holocaust and post-communist Jewish experience in Poland.

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‘Britain’s Schindler’ to Receive Czech Honor

Sir Nicholas Winton saved more than 650 Jewish children from the Nazis

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Between March and September 1939, British stockbroker Nicholas Winton saved more than 650 children, most of them Jewish, by arranging kindertransports from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovkia to the United Kingdom. Winton, the London-born son of German Jews, was moved to action after visiting Prague in December 1938 and seeing firsthand the worsening conditions for the country’s Jews. The undertaking often required falsifying documents or bribing officials, but Winton managed to orchestrate eight transports of children to the U.K. by the time World War II broke out in September 1939.

The children spared the fates that befell their families and friends during the Holocaust didn’t know who their benefactor was, as Winton never publicized his actions. It wasn’t until a BBC television special in 1989 invited an unsuspecting Winton to the studio that the now-grown children saved on Winton’s transports were able to thank him in person. (A documentary about Winton, Nicky’s Family, was released in 2011.)

Now the 105-year-old, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002, is being properly thanked by the Czech Republic. He will receive the Order of the White Lion, the country’s highest honor, at a ceremony in October, the Daily Mail reports.

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Pope Francis: Breaking New Ground in Jewish-Catholic Relations

The Holy Father’s friendships and strong tradition of dialogue with Jewish leaders are already having an impact, building on the foundation provided by previous popes.

Pope Francis President of Israel

President Shimon Peres of Israel meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican on April 30.

NEW YORK — The bonds between Jews and Catholics have never been stronger in the Church’s 2,000-year history, but some Jewish leaders say that, with Pope Francis, the best is about to get even better.

Blessed Pope John XXIII reset Catholic-Jewish relations in the 1960s, seeking to reconcile the grievances of the past, in which Catholics had treated Jews less like beloved brothers and more like strangers — or worse, as enemies. The Church approved that outreach in 1965 at the Second Vatican Council with the document Nostra Aetate, and Popes Paul VI, Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI all continued efforts to deepen those relations.

But Pope Francis’ pontificate represents a new chapter of deeper understanding and friendship between Jews and Catholics.
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Canada Allocates $800K To Preserve Holocaust Survivor Testimonies

Funds Will Go To Four Different Jewish Organizations

Canada has allocated $800,000 to preserve the testimonies of Holocaust survivors. The funding from the federal Citizenship and Immigration department will go to four Jewish organizations in Canada to gather video testimony from survivors.
“Canada has been profoundly shaped by approximately 40,000 Holocaust survivors who resettled across our country after World War II,” Jason Kenney, the minister for multiculturalism, said in a recent statement. “As Canadians, it is our responsibility to learn from these brave individuals and ensure that the horrible events of the Holocaust are not forgotten, and ensure that such atrocities never happen again.”

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