Category Archive: Times of Israel

Neighbors of San Francisco Holocaust memorial receive anti-Semitic hate mail

Pamphlet provides a reading list of books denying the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis

The Holocaust Memorial at California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco's Lincoln Park.(Aaron Zhu/ Wikimedia Commons via JTA)

The Holocaust Memorial at California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco’s Lincoln Park.(Aaron Zhu/ Wikimedia Commons via JTA)

Residents of San Francisco that live on the same street as a Holocaust memorial received anti-Semitic hate mail including a reading list of Holocaust denial titles.

The letters arrived at every home on San Francisco’s 34th Avenue in late May, J. The Jewish News of Northern California reported.

The full-page, single-spaced letter was signed by the Barnes Review. The Barnes Review is a bi-monthly magazine founded in 1994 by Willis Carto’s Liberty Lobby and headquartered in Washington, D.C. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Barnes Review is “one of the most virulent anti-Semitic organizations around,” and its journal and website are “dedicated to historical revisionism and Holocaust denial.”

The Holocaust Memorial at California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco’s Lincoln Park is located in a grove of trees outside the Legion of Honor museum. Mounted in 1984, it depicts a man standing behind a barbed wire fence, flanked by corpses. It is maintained by the San Francisco Arts Commission.

The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, which hosts the sculpture, responded in a statement.

“These hateful mailings prove the necessity of hosting pieces like the Holocaust Memorial in our public spaces,” Tamara Barak Aparton, spokesperson for the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, said in a statement. “The Holocaust Memorial inspires empathy in thousands of our visitors each year and reminds us to be vigilant against the rising tide of anti-Semitism.”

The letter also reportedly was sent to every home on Grove Drive, in Los Angeles, where the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust is located.

Last survivor of Sobibor death camp uprising dies, aged 97

Semyon Rosenfeld took part in famous revolt, in which Jewish prisoners turned on their Nazi guards; later moved to Israel

Near 'the ramp' at the former Nazi death camp Sobibor, in Poland, September 2017 (Matt Lebovic/The Times of Israel)

Near ‘the ramp’ at the former Nazi death camp Sobibor, in Poland, September 2017 (Matt Lebovic/The Times of Israel)

Semyon Rosenfeld, who was the last living Holocaust survivor who participated in the revolt and escape from the Sobibor death camp, died Monday at the age of 97 in a hospital in Rehovot, near Tel Aviv.

Rosenfeld, who moved to Israel from the Ukraine in 1990, was survived by his two sons and five grandchildren. He had been living in a retirement community in Yad Binyamin in central Israel.

“Seymon Rosenfeld, Holocaust survivor and the last from Sobibor, has passed away,” Netanyahu wrote. “Semyon was born in 1922 in a small village in Ukraine. He joined the Red Army, was taken captive by the Nazis, but managed to escape the death camp and continue to fight the Nazis. May his memory be blessed.”

Blue and White party No. 2 MK Yair Lapid tweeted, “I salute the memory of Semyon Rosenfeld, a Holocaust survivor who participated in the revolt in the Sobibor death camp where a quarter of a million Jews were murdered. May his memory be blessed, may we be worthy of his death with our lives.”

Jewish agency chairman Isaac Herzog tweeted of his “great sadness” at Rosenfeld’s death. “A true hero, it is our duty to transmit from generation to generation the story of his life and all those of his generation. Condolences to his family and to all those who knew him.”

Rosenfeld was born in the small town of Ternivka in 1922, and in 1940 joined the Red Army. While he was away fighting the Germans, his entire family was killed by the Nazis and buried in a mass grave near the town.

According to Channel 12, Rosenfeld once said that before the war there was no anti-Semitism where he lived.

He was captured by the Germans in 1941 after being seriously injured in the leg and sent to a labor camp in Minsk, Belarus, with over 200 other Jewish prisoners from the Red Army.

From Minsk he was sent in 1943 to Sobibor in Poland, a notorious extermination camp where over 250,000 Jews were murdered between April 1942 and October 1943.

Rosenfeld once recalled that when he arrived he lied to the Nazis about having a profession, a tactic that saved his life. While he was sent to work in the carpentry shop, others were quickly murdered, Channel 12 reported.

A few weeks after his arrival at Sobibor, he asked a German officer about the whereabouts of all the other prisoners who had arrived with him. The officer pointed to the smoke coming from the crematorium and said, “Your friends are there.”

At the former Nazi death camp Sobibor in Poland, the commandant’s Holocaust-era house has been preserved, September 2017 (Matt Lebovic/Times of Israel)

In October 1943, a group of prisoners, led by Red Army officer Aleksandr “Sasha” Pechersky, revolted in a bold attempt to liberate all of the camp’s inmates. They succeeded in killing 11 Nazi camp officers before the plan was discovered and guards opened fire. Some 300 prisoners tried to flee the camp, but most were either killed immediately or in the following days as the Nazis rounded them up.

Shortly after the revolt and escape, the Nazis dismantled the camp and tried to hide its existence by planting trees over it.

Rosenfeld survived by hiding in the woods with a handful of other prisoners until 1944, when he rejoined the Red Army and participated in the capture of Berlin. He was demobilized in 1945 and returned to his homeland, later moving to Israel.
Some of his family now lives in the US.

The prison camp revolt was the subject of the 1987 film “Escape from Sobibor” staring Rutger Hauer as Pechersky, who also survived the escape.

Dutch museums will return 2 Nazi-looted paintings to Holocaust survivor’s family

Move follows recommendation by government body on restitution set up in 2002

Illustrative: A combination of photos released by prosecutors in Augsburg, Germany on November 12, 2013 show five of the more than 1,500 paintings believed looted by the Nazis, seized from a Munich flat of Cornelius Gurlitt. (Lostart.de/Augsburg prosecutors/AFP/File)

Illustrative: A combination of photos released by prosecutors in Augsburg, Germany on November 12, 2013 show five of the more than 1,500 paintings believed looted by the Nazis, seized from a Munich flat of Cornelius Gurlitt. (Lostart.de/Augsburg prosecutors/AFP/File)

Two museums in the Netherlands have agreed to return two Nazi-looted paintings to the descendants of a Holocaust survivor.

The Central Museum in Utrecht will return to the family of Jacob Lierens the painting titled “Pronkstilleven” by Jan Davidsz, which the Jewish collector was forced to sell under duress, the news site jonet.nl reported last week. He survived the Holocaust and died in 1949.

The decision to return the paintings, which are worth thousands of dollars, followed a recommendation by the Advisory Committee on the Assessment of Restitution Applications for Items of Cultural Value and the Second World War, a government body set up in 2002.

The committee has identified and returned hundreds of stolen items.

But it has also faced criticism over its recommendations to keep some Nazi-looted art, citing “public interest” in keeping them on display — a reasoning that according to a 2018 expose by the NRC Handelsblad daily sets the commission apart from its counterparts elsewhere in the world.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/dutch-museums-will-return-2-nazi-looted-paintings-to-holocaust-survivors-family/

Vienna: Photos of Holocaust survivors defaced with swastikas

Head of local Jewish community calls vandalism an ‘attack on all of Austria,’ says police investigating; chancellor condemns ‘anti-Semitic defilement’

Illustrative: Larger-than-life portraits by Italian photographer Luigi Toscano line a fence bordering United Nations headquarters, January 23, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Illustrative: Larger-than-life portraits by Italian photographer Luigi Toscano line a fence bordering United Nations headquarters, January 23, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Photos of Holocaust survivors exhibited on a central Vienna street have been defaced with swastikas, drawing condemnation from political and Jewish leaders.

Broadcaster ORF reported Wednesday that ESRA, a group that brought the work by German-Italian photographer Luigi Toscano to the Austrian capital, said several photos were daubed with swastikas and other graffiti on Tuesday. The exhibition opened on part of the Ringstrasse, a busy road that runs around downtown Vienna, on May 7 and the group said some portraits were previously damaged with knives.

The leader of Austria’s Jewish community, Oskar Deutsch, said that “it is an anti-Semitic attack on all of Austria” and that police are investigating.

Austria has seen a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in recent years, as well as a surge in support for the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), which became the junior partner in Kurz’s government after elections in 2017.
The head of the FPOe, which was founded in the 1950s by former Nazis, resigned Saturday after a hidden camera sting showed him promising public contracts in return for campaign help from a fake Russian backer, a development welcomed by the head of Austria’s Jewish community.

Remains of 1,214 Holocaust victims laid to rest in Belarus

Bones and personal items re-interred after unearthed by construction workers in city of Brest; building work on site of former Jewish ghetto to restart despite protests

ZAKA volunteers perform the final rites before burying the remains of Holocaust victims at a cemetery just outside Brest, Belarus, on May 22, 2019. (Uladz Hrydzin, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via AP)

ZAKA volunteers perform the final rites before burying the remains of Holocaust victims at a cemetery just outside Brest, Belarus, on May 22, 2019. (Uladz Hrydzin, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via AP)

The remains of more than 1,000 Holocaust victims that were unearthed in a mass grave during construction work in a southern Belarusian city earlier this year were laid to rest Wednesday.

Belarus was home to a large, vibrant Jewish community before the Second World War, and the discovery of remains of at least 1,214 people in January shocked many still scarred by memories of the Holocaust.

Brest was one of the first Soviet Union towns to be attacked by Nazi Germany troops and fell into German hands in July 1941. Like elsewhere in eastern Europe, the Nazi administration set up a Jewish ghetto. An estimated 28,000 people were confined there until it was destroyed in October 1942 when 17,000 residents were taken out of town and executed. The fate of the others remains unknown.

A man looks at coffins before burying the remains of Holocaust victims at a cemetery just outside Brest, Belarus, on May 22, 2019. (Uladz Hrydzin, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via AP)

To the dismay of Jewish leaders, Brest city officials stopped short of canceling the building permit on the site where remains of other victims might still be found.

Regina Simonenko, head of the local Jewish community Brisk, lamented that authorities rushed to bury the remains and continue with the building project instead of running DNA tests to establish identities.

“We were told that DNA tests are expensive and take a long time,” Simonenko told The Associated Press.

The World Jewish Congress decried the construction project as “an affront to the memories of the Jewish residents of the city who were shot and murdered in cold blood at that very site.”

City authorities insist that the apartment block’s foundation does not overlap with the burial site. Authorities have promised to put up a monument in the area and not build anything on the mass grave.

The burial of remains of Holocaust victims discovered in a mass grave outside Brest, Belarus on May 22, 2019. (Vadzim Yakubionak/ BELTA via AP)

“There will be nothing but the lawn on the burial site,” Brest Mayor Alexander Rogachuk said. “We’re not even going to put up parking spaces or playgrounds there.”

To Simonenko, that promise is not enough.

“We’re talking about a large ghetto,” she said. “We’re not sure that there won’t be other burial sites discovered there.”

Belarusian authorities and contractors have been criticized in the past — including as recently as 2017 in Gomel — for building atop Jewish cemeteries.

Sweden to host international conference against anti-Semitism

Gathering of world leaders to be held in 2020, 75 years after Auschwitz liberated; Swedish PM: ‘Anti-Semitism isn’t only a Jewish problem, it is a poison for all of society’

Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, left, of the Social Democrats, Swedish Prime Minister and Social Democratic Party leader Stefan Loefven, center, and Roko Kursar of The Liberals give a joint press conference on May 24, 2019 in Malmo, Sweden, announcing the country will hold an international conference against anti-Semitism in 2020. (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency/AFP)

Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, left, of the Social Democrats, Swedish Prime Minister and Social Democratic Party leader Stefan Loefven, center, and Roko Kursar of The Liberals give a joint press conference on May 24, 2019 in Malmo, Sweden, announcing the country will hold an international conference against anti-Semitism in 2020. (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency/AFP)

STOCKHOLM — Sweden will host an international conference against anti-Semitism in memory of the Holocaust in October 2020, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced Friday.

The gathering heads of state and government will be held in Malmo, southern Sweden, on October 27 and 28 — 20 years after the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust and 75 years after the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

He had previously expressed his willingness to host a major conference on anti-Semitism.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven of the Social Democratic Party talks to media in Stockholm, on September 9, 2018. (AFP Photo/TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer)

But the official announcement, at the end of the campaign for the European elections, also served as a reminder that they are “all the more important as the election is a referendum on populist forces.”

“It’s a choice of values, for equal rights, it’s about standing up for your beliefs,” he added.

While relations with Israel have been strained since the Nordic state’s recognition of a Palestinian state by Lofven’s first government in 2014, the Social Democratic leader has taken a stance against anti-Semitism.

After the 2015 terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, the Simon Wiesenthal Center called for a European conference against anti-Semitism.

Malmo had offered to host the conference, recalling the city had welcomed Danish Jews fleeing from Nazi-occupied Denmark during the Second World War, as well as hundreds of concentration camp survivors.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 Jews live in Sweden, a country of about 10 million inhabitants.

It is also home to several hundred thousand Muslims, including a large community in Malmo.

Illustrative: In this March 3, 2010 photo, a man sits behind a glassed-in reception area of the high security Jewish community center located in central Malmo, Sweden. (AP Photo/Pamela Juhl)

Sweden has taken in 400,000 migrants since 2014, more than any other European country per capita, mostly from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

According to the latest figures from Sweden’s National Council for Crime Prevention in 2016, only three percent of crimes reported as of a religious, ethnic, political or sexual nature were anti-Semitic.

Supporters of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement chant slogans during a demonstration at the Kungsholmstorg square in Stockholm, Sweden on August 25, 2018. (AFP/ TT News Agency / Fredrik Persson)

But Jewish community groups say they have experienced an increase in hostile acts and words because of their faith. Several attacks in recent years have targeted Jewish-owned businesses or cultural and religious sites, particularly in Malmo.

The neo-Nazi movement, although marginal with 100 or so activists according to the anti-racist foundation Expo, has become more prominent, taking advantage of laws protecting freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate.

 

https://www.timesofisrael.com/sweden-to-host-international-conference-against-anti-semitism/

IDF soldiers join battle for Holocaust memory, dignity

For the first time tech soldiers take part in hackathon, joining entrepreneurs to help preserve memory and raise the quality of life of survivors; ‘It is our duty,’ says Major E

IDF soldiers from the C4I and Cyber Defense Directorate took part in the  Spark Hackathon, held in May 23-24, 2019, to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and increase the quality of life of the survivors (IDF spokesperson's unit)

IDF soldiers from the C4I and Cyber Defense Directorate took part in the Spark Hackathon, held in May 23-24, 2019, to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and increase the quality of life of the survivors (IDF spokesperson’s unit)

For 36 hours last week Israeli high-tech entrepreneurs turned their focus to the plight of Holocaust survivors, striving to find tech solutions to their needs and ways to preserve the memory of events and educate future generations. This year, they were joined, for the first time, by IDF soldiers.

It all started when a group of IDF officers went on a study trip to the concentration camps in Poland, as part of an army program to increase awareness of the Holocaust among its soldiers. There, said Major E, who was part of the delegation, they met with a Holocaust survivor who recounted the horrors of the camps in a first-person narrative.

“I said to myself, in a few years there won’t be Holocaust survivors alive to bear firsthand witness,” she said. So she turned to her commanding officer and he challenged her to come up with a solution that would enable IDF soldiers to do their part in helping commemorate the tragedy and assist the survivors.

The best solution, she thought, would be to join the existing Spark Hackathon.

IDF soldiers from the C4I and Cyber Defense Directorate working on their project during the Spark Hackathon, held in May 23-24, 2019 (IDF spokesperson’s unit)

The Spark Hackathon, held for the second year running, saw some 200 participants, entrepreneurs, developers, and mentors from the tech world team up with Holocaust survivors and representatives of nonprofit organizations for two days last week to set up projects and find feasible solutions that will help commemoration and education.

The hackathon is the first of its kind the IDF has participated in, Major E said.

The 30 IDF soldiers, dressed in their uniforms, who took part in the initiative were from the C4I and Cyber Defense Directorate of the army. “It is our duty,” said Major E. “Our country should not be taken for granted and it should not be taken for granted that there is an army that protects this nation.”

The Holocaust victims and the survivors “didn’t have a country” to protect them, she said. “We are a technological unit. We want to do what we do best, for the good of those who have gone through so much. ”

IDF soldiers from the C4I and Cyber Defense Directorate working on their project during the Spark Hackathon, held in May 23-24, 2019 (IDF spokesperson’s unit)

An IDF team that set up an diary app — for users to write about their feelings and emotions and pictures while visiting the camps — won third place in the hackathon, she said, while the team she led, which reached the finalist stage, came up with a GPS-based emergency button that older people can take with them when they leave the house. Users can wear the button on a chain around their necks or wrists or even on a keychain, she explained. Once pressed, the button would call up either an emergency contact person or emergency services, providing them with the accurate location of the person in distress.

Now, said Major E, the IDF has given the go-ahead to proceed with the development of both ideas. The diary app, once created, will be made available to soldiers who go to Poland, she explained, while the emergency button will be developed within the army and hopefully launched as a pilot program together with Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality.

The Spark 2019 hackathon was held on May 23-24 with the goal of creating “workable solutions for challenges in education, remembrance and quality of life of Holocaust survivors,” the website says. A second goal is to create a “powerful and meaningful event” to inspire participants.

The winner of the competition was AloTok, which has developed a phone-based app that uses advanced technology to create optimal connections between users, based on their availability and shared fields of interests. The app aims to become the first social network of its kind to provide a warm, secure and accessible community atmosphere where senior citizens and Holocaust survivors can “form meaningful high-quality relationships.”

Einstein letter mocking Austria’s anti-Semitic policies up for auction

Handwritten document from 1936 sarcastically expresses support for Austrian discrimination against Jews, also takes a poke at US university quotas for Jewish students

A handwritten letter by Albert Einstein from 1936 discussing Austria's anti-Semitic policies at the time. (Courtesy Kedem Auction House)

A handwritten letter by Albert Einstein from 1936 discussing Austria’s anti-Semitic policies at the time. (Courtesy Kedem Auction House)

A handwritten letter by Albert Einstein expressing fictitious support for anti-Semitic policies enacted by Austria will go on the auction block.

The letter, dated September 30, 1936, was written shortly before Austria’s annexation by Nazi Germany and addressed to Jacob Billikopf, an American-Jewish social activist and philanthropist who was working on getting Jews in Europe to escape Nazi Germany and to immigrate to the United States.

“Especially interesting is the part dealing with the attitude of the Austrian government toward the Jews, and it is even reasonable – a speck of ‘discrimination’ so as to protect us from the wrath of the masses,” the famed Jewish-German physicist wrote. “That is certainly a good point (and look at the American universities).”

Einstein’s mention of US universities is believed to refer to established quotas of Jewish students in at least several prominent educational institutions at the time.

Undated file photo shows famed physicist Albert Einstein (AP Photo, File)

The letter will go up for auction at Kedem Auction House in Jerusalem on Wednesday. The opening bid is set at $10,000 and it is expected to sell for as much as $30,000.

A co-owner of the Kedem Auction House, Meron Eren, said in a statement that the letter “introduces us to Einstein’s sarcastic humor, a side of him that has not so often been seen or familiarized by the public.”