W.E.B. Du Bois’s Speech to Jewish Communists about the Warsaw Ghetto

By Jenna Weissman Joselit

In the 1940s and 1950s, the Communist monthly Jewish Life (later Jewish Currents) frequently published articles about the Holocaust—and especially about the April 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising—as well as on the plight of American blacks. After numerous attempts to recruit W.E.B. Du Bois to contribute to its pages, writes Jenna Weissman Joselit, the magazine’s editors convinced him to speak at a “Tribute to the Warsaw Ghetto Fighters” in 1952, and published his remarks in the following issue. Du Bois’s address drew on his 1949 visit to Warsaw, which had affected him deeply:

I have seen something of human upheaval in this world: the scream and shots of a race riot in Atlanta, the marching of the Ku Klux Klan, the threat of courts and police, the neglect and destruction of human habitation, but nothing in my wildest dreams was equal to what I saw in Warsaw in 1949. I would have said before seeing it that it was impossible for a civilized nation with deep religious convictions and outstanding religious institutions, with literature and art, to treat fellow human beings as Warsaw had been treated. . . .

Gradually, from looking and reading [about the ghetto uprising], I rebuilt the story of this extraordinary resistance to oppression and wrong . . . a resistance which involved death and destruction for hundreds and hundreds of human beings.

In 1954, Du Bois for the first time reached out to the magazine’s then-editor Louis Harap, requesting the text of a Hebrew blessing that he could put into the mouth of a character in a novel he was writing—a German rabbi and Holocaust survivor. Harap, a committed secularist, had to turn elsewhere for help; the result was a letter sent to Du Bois with a translation and transliteration of the priestly blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26. Joselit writes:

Du Bois would go on to make use of the blessing in the concluding pages of [his novel] Worlds of Color, the last volume of his Black Flame trilogy. At once a sweeping work of historical fiction and a rueful self-portrait, it follows the life and times of Manual Mansart, the president of a historically black college in Georgia.

In the 1961 novels’ last dramatic set piece, an aging Mansart is unceremoniously expelled from a conference. [Present is] Rabbi Blumenschweig, who turns out to be the character Du Bois had first mentioned to Harap. . . . The two men exit [the conference] together. Just as the ailing Mansart is about to get into a cab, the clergyman . . . places his hands on his old friend’s shoulders and blesses him. . . . Mansart dies several pages later, his legacy—and that of his creator—hallowed by an age-old Jewish prayer.

Source: https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/2018/07/w-e-b-du-boiss-speech-to-jewish-communists-about-the-warsaw-ghetto/

Poles launch global drive to promote Holocaust law deal, roiling Israeli critics

Knesset members charge Jerusalem handed Warsaw a PR victory as full-page ads with joint declaration appear in English, Hebrew, German, Spanish and French

A copy of the Polish-Israeli agreement appearing in Yedioth Ahronoth on July 5. 2018. (Joshua Davidovich/Times of Israel)

A Polish foundation with ties to the government in Warsaw has been placing full-page ads in newspapers around the world, including in Israel, publicizing the joint statement on the Holocaust issued by Poland and Israel last week, with translations made by the Polish foreign ministry.

On Thursday, a Hebrew version of the document appeared in the Haaretz and Yedioth Aharonoth dailies. The day before, the ads could be found in important newspapers in Germany and the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, in German and English respectively.

The appearance of the ads triggered criticism in Israel, with some people arguing that they were proof the Israeli government, by agreeing to issue the statement, had handed Poland a PR victory in its battle to portray Poles primarily as victims of Nazism rather than accomplices in committing atrocities. Critics say the joint Polish-Israeli agreement downplays the role of many Poles who willingly cooperated with the Nazis.

“This is exactly what I warned Netanyahu of,” opposition MK Yair Lapid tweeted. “One must not conduct negotiations with the Poles. Over the memory of those who perished one doesn’t conduct negotiations.”

Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuli said the campaign “to prove that Israel is clearing the Poles of all responsibility is grave and embarrassing.”

Said Shmuli: “This is the height of insult and disgrace, and Holocaust deniers must send a huge bouquet of flowers to the Israeli government and its leader, who put the memory of those who perished up for negotiations and sale.”

Critics charged that the statement was historically inaccurate in comparing anti-Semitism with “anti-Polonism” and that it gave a kosher stamp to the Poles’ skewed narrative of the Shoah.

Leading Israeli Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer went as far as calling it “a betrayal of the memory of the Holocaust and the interest of the Jewish people.”

The joint declaration, signed simultaneously on June 27 by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki, ended a diplomatic standoff over a Polish law that criminalized accusing Poles of complicity in the extermination of Jews during World War II.

The controversial text declared that the term “Polish death camps” is “blatantly erroneous” and that the wartime Polish government-in-exile “attempted to stop this Nazi activity by trying to raise awareness among the Western allies to the systematic murder of the Polish Jews.”

Most controversially, it condemned “every single case of cruelty against Jews perpetrated by Poles during…World War II” but noted “heroic acts of numerous Poles, especially the Righteous Among the Nations, who risked their lives to save Jewish people.”

Text on a monument to victims of the Holocaust in Ivansk, Poland, referring to Nazi ‘collaborators.’ (Courtesy

The full-time ads reproducing the statement in its entirety are being placed in “the world’s largest daily newspapers,” according to the PKO Foundation, which paid for the ads.

The PKO Foundation is an affiliate of Bank Polski, one of Poland’s leading financial institutions, which has close ties to the government.

It is unclear whether the PKO Foundation placed the ads of its own initiative or whether it did so at the behest of the government.

The PKO Foundation, founded in 2010, “implements numerous initiatives for the public good, including in the field of education, upbringing, social assistance, protection and promotion of health, arts and culture, and environmental protection,” according to its website.

The translations of the document used in the ads — into German, English, Spanish, French and Hebrew — were done by the Polish Foreign Ministry.

The Hebrew translation done in Warsaw differs slightly from the version the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem issued last week. The changes were minor and it was not immediately clear why they had been made.

The Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry did not respond to requests for comments.

An ad with the Israeli-Polish joint declaration on the Holocaust appeared in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, July 4, 2018 (courtesy)

Yaakov Nagel, one of the two Netanyahu confidants who secretly negotiated the agreement with the Polish government, earlier this week firmly rejected any criticism.

“Here is a country that prides itself with having passed a law that they say will restore national honor, and half a year later they cancel it with their tails between their legs,” he said, referring to Poland. “This is an great achievement for the State of Israel.”

Nagel went on, “The criticism drives me crazy. We got an amazing accomplishment. We had a law that everyone said was terrible, and we got rid of it without giving them anything in return. There is nothing wrong with the statement.”

The Poles, too, have expressed satisfaction with the statement.

The influential leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynskiarty, last week said the joint declaration declaration “fully confirms Poland’s position” on Germany bearing the sole responsibility for the Holocaust.

More than 6,800 Poles are recognized as Righteous Among the Nations who risked their lives by helping rescue Jews during the Holocaust, the highest number of any nation. However, Poland had by far the largest Jewish community in Europe before the war, only 10 percent of which survived.

At the same time, many Poles were rabidly anti-Semitic and actively collaborated with the Nazis or killed and robbed Jews themselves.

Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com/poles-launch-global-drive-to-promote-holocaust-law-deal-roiling-israeli-critics/

Bennett assails Israel-Poland declaration as ‘betrayal of Holocaust victims’

Education Minister Naftali Bennett assails a joint Israeli-Polish declaration signed by the two nations’ prime ministers that Poland believes exonerates Poles from responsibility for the Holocaust.

“The joint declaration of Israel and the government of Poland is a disgrace, saturated with lies, that betrays the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust. As minister of education, entrusted with passing on the memory of the Holocaust, I reject it completely. It has no factual basis and won’t be learned in the education system,” Bennett says in a Thursday morning statement on Twitter.

“I demand that the prime minister cancel the declaration or bring it to the government for approval.”

And he adds: “The declaration describes supposed systematic actions by the Polish government in exile and the Polish underground to help the Jewish people. This description does not fit the reality. These actions were few and not central [to the Polish resistance’s work], and certainly weren’t systematic.”

The joint declaration was signed last week, and has been translated and published in full-page ads in newspapers around the world by a foundation affiliated with the Polish government.

The appearance of the ads triggered criticism in Israel, with some people arguing that they were proof the Israeli government, by agreeing to issue the statement, had handed Poland a PR victory in its battle to portray Poles primarily as victims of Nazism rather than accomplices in committing atrocities. Critics say the joint Polish-Israeli agreement downplays the role of many Poles who willingly cooperated with the Nazis.

Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com/?p=1883689

Claude Lanzmann, acclaimed director of documentary ‘Shoah,’ dies at 92

‘Shoah,’ telling the story of the decimation of European Jewry during World War II, considered most important documentary on Holocaust ever made

Claude Lanzmann poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’ and the closing ceremony of the 71st international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 19, 2018. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

PARIS (AP) — French Director Claude Lanzmann, whose 9½-hour masterpiece “Shoah” bore unflinching witness to the Holocaust through the testimonies of Jewish victims, German executioners and Polish bystanders, has died at the age of 92.

Gallimard, the publishing house for Lanzmann’s autobiography, said he died Thursday morning at a hospital in Paris. It gave no further details.

The power of “Shoah,” filmed in the 1970s during Lanzmann’s trips to the barren Polish landscapes where the slaughter of Jews was planned and executed, was in viewing the Holocaust as an event in the present, rather than as history. It contained no archival footage, no musical score — just the landscape, trains and recounted memories.

Lanzmann was 59 when the movie, his second, came out in 1985. It defined the Holocaust for those who saw it, and defined him as a filmmaker.

“I knew that the subject of the film would be death itself. Death rather than survival,” Lanzmann wrote in his autobiography. “For 12 years I tried to stare relentlessly into the black sun of the Shoah.”

“Shoah” was nearly universally praised. Roger Ebert called it “one of the noblest films ever made” and Time Out and The Guardian were among those ranking it the greatest documentary of all time. The Polish government was a notable dissenter, which dismissed the film as “anti-Polish propaganda” (but later allowed “Shoah” to be aired in Poland).

In 2013, nearly three decades later, Lanzmann revisited the Holocaust with “The Last of the Unjust,” focusing on his interviews in 1975 with a Vienna rabbi who was the last “elder” of the Theresienstadt ghetto, which was used by the Nazis to fool visitors into believing that the Jews were being treated humanely.

In a statement, outgoing chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky, said that Lanzmann’s dedication to commemorating the Holocaust was “unparalleled.”

“Claude Lanzmann was single-handedly responsible for keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive in the hearts and minds of so many around the world. His magnum opus, Shoah, captured the horrors of that period through the personal testimonies of survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators alike and was the first time many were confronted with the reality of the Holocaust as told by those who were there,” said Sharansky.

“His personal dedication to commemorating the Shoah was unparalleled, and he traveled around the world, even in his later years, to ensure the memory of the victims was never forgotten. For that, we owe him a great debt of gratitude. May his memory be a blessing.”

Lanzmann was born Nov. 27, 1925, in Paris, the child of French Jews. After his mother left in 1934 and the war broke out, Claude and his two siblings moved to a farm where their father timed his children as they practiced escaping to a shelter he had dug.

Lanzmann ultimately joined the Resistance as a Communist and became intellectually enamored with Jean-Paul Sartre, whose “Anti-Semite and Jew” formed the philosophical underpinning of what would later be his life’s work.

Lanzmann joined Sartre’s circle and ended up having an affair with Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre’s companion who was 17 years older than the young acolyte. Lanzmann left for Israel and moved in with Beauvoir when he returned, from 1952 to 1959, according to “The Patagonia Hare,” his autobiography. Sartre, Lanzmann’s hero, became a constant in their life together.

File—Jean-Paul Sartre, left, and Simone de Beauvoir leave a police station June 26, 1970, released after they were picked up by police on a Paris street corner for the distribution of a left wing newspaper. (AP Photo/str/MICOL)

“So I was an opportunist — ‘on the make’ you say. But she was beautiful. My attraction to her was genuine,” he once told Beauvoir’s biographer. Long after their affair ended, Beauvoir provided much of the financial support for “Shoah.”

Lanzmann tinkered in politics and journalism, working periodically for the journal France Dimanche, taking on freelance assignments. He joined Sartre in signing the Manifesto for the 121, calling on French soldiers to refuse fighting in Algeria, and was prosecuted.

In 1968, he did television reporting on the Israeli Army in the Sinai Peninsula, which led to his first film: “Israel, Why.”

Beauvoir, writing about Lanzmann in her memoir “Force of Circumstance” described him as someone who “seemed to be carrying the weight of a whole ancestral experience on his shoulders.”

It was this weight that ultimately led a vagabond intellectual to examine the defining event of 20th century Judaism, obsessively tracking down those who were closest to the dead. “The film would have to take up the ultimate challenge; take the place of the non-existent images of death in the gas chambers,” he wrote.

The film opens with Simon Srebnik, who as a 13-year-old Jewish detainee sang for the SS and fed their rabbits at the Chelmno concentration camp. Crediting a sweet voice with his survival, Srebnik performs the same songs for Lanzmann as he is rowed along the placid river that leads to the camp. Later, it is revealed that among Srebnik’s tasks was to dump bags filled crushed bones of Jews into the same waters.

He filmed Abraham Bomba at work in a Tel Aviv barbershop, describing how he cut women’s hair inside the gas chambers at Treblinka. With periodic questions by Lanzmann, Bomba recounts how after each group of women was done, the barbers were asked to leave for a few minutes, the women were gassed and then the men returned to cut the hair of dozens more naked women accompanied by their children.

“This room is the last place where they went in alive and they will never go out alive again,” he said. “We just cut their hair to make them believe they’re getting a nice haircut.” The barber begged to stop when he recalled seeing the wife and sister of a friend come in, but Lanzmann prodded him to continue.

Lanzmann sometimes used secret cameras to record testimony, including that of Franz Suchomel, a former guard at Treblinka who pointed like a schoolteacher to a blueprint of the camp to show how bodies were disposed of, describing new gas chambers that could “finish off 3,000 people in two hours.” At one point during the interview, Lanzmann promised Suchomel that he would not be recorded.

One of the most harrowing interviews Lanzmann did was also among the briefest in “Shoah” — Yitzhak Zuckerman, a leader of the Jewish resistance in Warsaw, who survived Treblinka and saw untold numbers of friends and comrades die. He told Lanzmann bitterly, “if you could lick my heart, it would poison you.”

At the film’s premier, the French journalist Jean Daniel told Lanzmann: “This justifies a life.”

Lanzmann is survived by his third wife, Dominique, and his daughter Angelique. His son Felix died last year.

Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com/claude-lanzmann-acclaimed-director-of-documentary-shoah-dies-at-92/

 

The Jewish Gangsters Who Beat Up American Nazis

The 1930s saw a proliferation of anti-Semitic groups in the U.S., many of which openly sympathized with Nazism and held mass rallies where they displayed swastikas and related symbols. While the Jewish establishment sought legal means to combat them, some Jews favored a more direct approach. Based on his interviews with Meyer Lansky and others, Robert Rockaway explains what that approach entailed:

Nathan Perlman, a judge and former Republican congressman, was one Jewish leader who believed that the Jews should demonstrate more militancy. In 1935, he surreptitiously contacted Meyer Lansky, a leading organized-crime figure born on the fourth of July, and asked him to help. . . . Perlman assured Lansky that money and legal assistance would be put at his disposal. The only stipulation was that no Nazis be killed. . . . Lansky reluctantly agreed. . . . Always very sensitive about anti-Semitism, Lansky was acutely aware of what the Nazis were doing to Jews [in Europe]. . . .

Lansky rounded up some of his tough associates and went around New York disrupting Nazi meetings. Young Jews not connected to him or to the rackets also volunteered to help, and Lansky and others taught them how to use their fists and handle themselves in a fight. Lansky’s crews worked very professionally. Nazi arms, legs, and ribs were broken and skulls cracked, but no one died. The attacks continued for more than a year. And Lansky earned quite a reputation for doing this work. . . .

Similar efforts were organized in Minneapolis, Newark, and elsewhere. Rockaway concludes:

What did Jewish communal leaders think about this? Publicly they evinced shame and horror at the criminal activities and notoriety of the gangsters because they epitomized the “bad Jew,” the evildoer who would bring hatred on the whole community. Privately they appreciated the mobsters who boldly took action against the Nazis and anti-Semites. Although the gangsters may have distressed the Jewish establishment, they did earn the admiration of the Jewish man-on-the-street, especially among Jewish youngsters.

The talk-show host Larry King admitted that when he was growing up in Brooklyn, “Jewish gangsters were our heroes. Even the bad ones were heroes to us.” The 1930s were a time fraught with danger for Jews. For some Jewish mobsters, it proved to be a time when they could do something positive to protect their community from Nazis and anti-Semites.

Souce: https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/2018/07/the-jewish-gangsters-who-beat-up-american-nazis/

This man is cleaning all 388 Holocaust plaques in his city

In recent years, many towns in Central Europe, including Germany and Austria have introduced small brass plaques in the streets in memory of Jews and other victims of Nazi atrocities.

The plaques, an initiative by the German artist Gunter Demnig, have been placed outside the houses where they used to live.

There are 388 of them in the Austrian town of Salzburg.

Over the years, some have been damaged by wear and tear and winter weather – but now a 79-year-old man has started to renovate them.

Producer: Bethany Bell Camera/Editor: Fabian Chaundy

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‘I WANTED TO TELL WHAT IT WAS REALLY LIKE TO FLEE THE NAZIS’ After fleeing Nazi Germany, Judith Kerr became Britain’s favorite storyteller

The daughter of an acclaimed Jewish essayist exiled from Berlin is now one of the world’s most renowned children’s authors, with a play opening on London’s West End on June 28

LONDON — Among the 25,000 books consumed by the flames in Berlin’s Opernplatz on May 10, 1933 were those of Alfred Kerr.

An acclaimed Jewish essayist and critic who edited the theater pages of the liberal Berliner Tageblatt newspaper, Kerr’s writings had earned him the nickname the “Kulturpapst.”

They had also earned him the emnity of the Nazis; a hostility which the socialist writer heartily returned.

Given the fate to which Josef Goebbels consigned Kerr’s books, it is perhaps fitting that his daughter — who turned 95 on June 14 and is still going strong — is now one of Britain’s best-loved children’s authors and illustrators.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Judith Kerr’s first book, “The Tiger Who Came To Tea.” It was an instant classic, remains in print and is one of the best-selling children’s books of all time.

Its premise – an uninvited tiger turns up at a child’s home, and eats and drinks everything, including her father’s beer and, most famously, “all the water in the tap” – is both simple and surreal. With its accompanying sketches by Kerr, it has charmed and delighted both children and adults for half a century.

Ten years ago, “The Tiger Who Came To Tea” was turned into a stage play, which has been revived to mark the anniversary and is about to begin a run in London’s West End on June 28 before commencing a nationwide UK tour.

Together, Kerr’s 30-plus books have notched up 10 million sales and been translated into 20 languages. Alongside “The Tiger Who Came To Tea,” Kerr’s fictional cat, Mog, who features in 17 of her picture books, is equally beloved. That the series – whose feline lead character was inspired by her own cat – spanned three decades is further testament to the enduring appeal of Kerr’s writing and drawing.

For some, Kerr’s own childhood suggests a hidden meaning to the “Tiger Who Came To Tea.”

‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea,’ by Judith Kerr. (Courtesy)

Alfred fled Germany for Prague following a tip-off from a friendly policeman that his passport was about to be seized by the Nazis. He had long been in their sights. Kerr would subsequently find out that her father was driven to his weekly radio broadcast in a car accompanied by an armed guard.

Several weeks later, on the night before the general election of March 5, 1933 which consolidated Hitler’s grip on power, Judith, her mother, and brother, Michael, caught the train to Switzerland.

At the frontier, 9-year-old Judith, who later admitted to not being “scared enough,” nearly gave the family away during the passport inspection. The threat Hitler’s victory posed was real enough: Years later, her mother told her that, on the morning after their victory, the Nazis turned up at the Kerr’s home at 8:00 a.m. to take away their passports.

In Zurich, the family was reunited. However, the country was not particularly welcoming to Jewish refugees and Alfred struggled to find work at a newspaper. From Switzerland the Kerrs moved to Paris, finally arriving in London in 1936.

But even the hoped-for sanctuary of Britain initially proved illusory. The cheap hotel in which the cash-strapped family lived for a time was bombed during the Blitz. Her brother, who was by then studying at Cambridge University, was arrested as an “enemy alien” and interned on the Isle of Wight.

None of that, however, shook Kerr’s youthful faith in the country that would become her home.

“We got bombed out, it was a hard time, but it wasn’t easy for anybody. I was hugely struck by the generosity and kindness and tolerance of people during the war,” she told the BBC five years ago.

“My parents still spoke with a German accent. But there we were in the Blitz, people being killed every night, and nobody ever said anything nasty to them. I couldn’t wait after the war to become British and belong here,” she said.

Indeed, Kerr has even been generous in her recollections of her brother’s brief spell in an internment camp.

“This is a good country, you know,” she suggested to an interviewer decades later. “Germans were classed as enemy aliens, but people like us were officially called friendly enemy aliens. We had to report to the police if we went more than five miles away so we knew them well. My mother went straight to them when we heard Michael was interned and they tried to get a call through to him.”

Alfred Kerr’s books were burned by the Nazis on 10 May 1933. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum/ Wikimedia Commons)

Michael was released, joined the RAF and later became a prominent lawyer and a judge at the Court of Appeal.

Unsurprisingly, her parents – who carried suicide pills throughout the war so fearful were they of a German invasion – were more affected by their experiences.

Alfred Kerr traveled to Germany just once after the war. It was both a triumphant and tragic return. As he entered a Hamburg theater to see a production of Romeo and Juliet in 1948, he received a standing ovation from the audience. The next morning, he suffered a paralyzing stroke. His wife, Julia, herself an accomplished composer and musician, helped him to commit suicide shortly afterwards.

After a stint working for the Red Cross during the war, Judith received a scholarship to study at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and became an artist, decorating children’s nurseries.

Alfred Kerr. (Public Domain)

Two years after a chance meeting at the canteen of the BBC, she married the writer and scriptwriter Nigel Kneale (who was most famous for the science fiction series “The Quatermass Experiment”). The couple had two children: Tacy, an artist, and Matthew, an award-winning novelist.

Michael Rosen, the children’s novelist and poet, has argued that “The Tiger Who Came To Tea” has a “whole cloud of meanings” and that, subconsciously, it may reflect the traumas of Kerr’s early life.

“Judith knows about dangerous people who come to your house and take people away. She was told as a young child that her father could be grabbed at any moment by either the Gestapo or the SS — he was in great danger,” the former children’s laureate has suggested.

“So I don’t know whether Judith did it consciously or not — I wouldn’t want to go there — but the point is he’s a jokey tiger, but he is a tiger,” said Rosen.

It is a notion which continues to upset many readers of the book and which Kerr has herself dismissed.

“I love Michael Rosen, and he knows I think this is mad. For one thing, I was so lucky: I never saw the Gestapo. I never saw anything bad happening in Germany. Never. Because we left before Hitler took over,” Kerr saidearlier this year.

“I think if we’d stayed even a week longer, it would have been very different. So, no. I wasn’t haunted by anything,” she said.

The book’s inspiration, Kerr says, is much simpler: a bedtime story she told to her young daughter, which arose from their shared love of visiting the zoo. Later, when her children were at school, Kerr decided to commit the oft-repeated tale to pen and paper. She had been struck, too, by how “boring” her son had found the children’s books which were available at the time.

Kerr rejects any notion that her own childhood was anything but happy.

“I had a tiny bit of trauma which I didn’t even notice,” she told a children’s online forum.

“We had a far more interesting childhood than we would have had otherwise – and our parents were terribly good and made it feel like an adventure. They were terribly sensible,” Kerr said.

At the same time, believes Jessamy Calkin of the Daily Telegraph, “the terrible consequences of Nazi rule are something that has permeated [Kerr’s] life.”

‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ by Judith Kerr. (Courtesy)

She notes both Kerr’s dedication in one of her books — to “the one and a half million Jewish children who didn’t have my luck, and all the pictures they might have painted” — and her comments on the BBC’s “Desert Island Discs” in 2004.

“I think about them almost every day now, because I have had such a happy and fulfilled life and they’d have given anything to have just a few days of it, and I hope I’ve not wasted any of it,” said Kerr on the Discs.

Kerr has also suggested that she finds visiting Germany difficult, notingthat the station she and her brother used when they were going on swimming trips now contains a plaque reminding passengers that it was the point from which Berlin’s Jews were deported to Auschwitz.

Aside from the joy she has given, Kerr has also provided an invaluable introduction for many children to darker subjects. Her semi-autobiographical trilogy – “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit,” “Bombs on Aunty Dainty,” and “A Small Person Far Away” – spans the family’s flight from the Nazis, through their experiences in wartime London to the first years of her marriage.

Told through the eyes of the fictional character, Anna, and her brother, Max, “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit” won the German Youth Literature Prize.

First published in 1971, it is a set text in Germany primary schools, was dramatized by BBC radio last year, and a film adaptation is reportedly now in production. Its title refers to a toy rabbit — “it was quite old and wasn’t very pink anymore” — which she left behind when the family escaped to Switzerland.

She was moved to write the book by a remark made by her 8-year-old son after watching “The Sound of Music”: “Now we now what it was like when Mummy was a little girl.”

“I wanted to describe what it was like – what it was really like – to flee from the Nazis,” Kerr later wrote in an introduction to the trilogy.

“When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit” has light moments. As their train passes through southern England on its journey to London, the family is initially confused by the fact that each town and village appears to be called “Bovril” (they had mistaken large boards on the platforms advertising a then-popular, now iconic, British drink for place names).

It also captures well a child’s confusion at the adult world. Hearing that the Nazis have put a thousand mark price on her beloved Papa’s head, Anna envisages him being buried in a room under “a terrible shower of heavy coins.”

But, as the Independent on Sunday’s former literary editor, Katy Guest, has argued, some of Kerr’s writing is also deeply poignant.

“The scene in which big brother Max surmises that Hitler is probably playing with their Snakes and Ladders, and Anna replies, ‘And snuggling my Pink Rabbit!’ must be one of the most heartbreaking in modern literature,” Guest wrote.

Kerr has always firmly rebutted comparisons with Anne Frank — “I don’t think I’m in that class” — but acknowledges that “I have been many younger children’s introduction to the Holocaust.”

That assessment received the royal seal of approval in 2012 when Kerr was honored by the Queen for services to children’s literature and Holocaust education.

Eighty-five years after she escaped the clutches of the Nazis and half a century after she first told the tale of a friendly tiger’s unexpected visit, Judith Kerr remains Britain’s favorite storyteller.

Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com/after-fleeing-nazi-germany-judith-kerr-became-britains-favorite-storyteller/

LeMond, Holocaust survivors ride from Auschwitz to celebrate Jewish life

One survivor bikes the entire 55 mile journey (89 kilometers) from death camp to a Jewish cultural center in Krakow

Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, right, Marcel Zielinski, a Holocaust survivor, center, and Jonathan Ornstein, the director of the Jewish Community Center of Krakow, pose for the media in Oswiecim, Poland, on Friday June 29, 2018. Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, two Holocaust survivors and dozens of others took part in a symbolic ride from Auschwitz-Birkenau to a Jewish cultural center in Poland to support the renewal of Jewish life.(AP Photo/Katarzyna Bednarczyk)

WARSAW, Poland  — Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, two Holocaust survivors and some 200 others took part in a symbolic ride from Auschwitz-Birkenau to a Jewish cultural center in Poland to support the renewal of Jewish life.

The ride Friday began at the site of the former Nazi German death camp and ended at the Jewish Community Center of Krakow, 55 miles (89 kilometers) away, site of a growing Jewish community.

LeMond described the ride as a powerful experience, saying, “It was an amazing event riding with two survivors 73 years after the Holocaust … We should never forget!”

Jonathan Ornstein, the director of the center in Krakow, who himself took part in the ride, said one survivor, Marcel Zielinski, biked the entire distance, while the second did 14 miles and traveled the rest of the way by car.

Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond rides with Holocaust survivors and others in Oswiecim, Poland, on Friday June 29, 2018. Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, two Holocaust survivors and dozens of others took part in a symbolic ride from Auschwitz-Birkenau to a Jewish cultural center in Poland to support the renewal of Jewish life. (AP Photo/Katarzyna Bednarczyk)

He said LeMond and his wife a day earlier visited the site of Auschwitz, where barracks and the ruins of gas chambers are an enduring testament of the atrocities committed there. They were also spending the weekend with his community.

“It was incredibly exciting for us to have such a famous international cyclist not only participate in the ride but get to know Krakow’s story of Jewish rebirth,” Ornstein said.

On the eve of the Holocaust, Poland was home to 3.3 million Jews. Most were murdered by Nazi Germany in death camps like Auschwitz and in ghettos.

Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com/lemond-holocaust-survivors-ride-from-auschwitz-to-celebrate-jewish-life/?utm_source=The+Times+of+Israel+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=79ebbf68d4-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_06_30_12_27&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_adb46cec92-79ebbf68d4-55812549