Archive for the ‘Holocaust’ Category

In New Book, Grave Robbing and Other Stories of Poles’ Complicity

February 27, 2011
‘Golden Harvest’: Polish peasants with skeletal remains at Treblinka, where Gross said they dug for gold and jewels in the killing fields. Gross said the photograph was the starting point for his new book.

Gazeta Wyborcza
‘Golden Harvest’: Polish peasants with skeletal remains at Treblinka, where Gross said they dug for gold and jewels in the killing fields. Gross said the photograph was the starting point for his new book.

By Donald Snyder

Published February 23, 2011, issue of March 04, 2011.

Jan Gross is once again forcing Poland to take a new look at its past.

The Polish-American historian, whose previous books generated heated controversy and self-examination, has written a searing new indictment of Polish behavior toward Jews during World War II.

“Golden Harvest,” a new book by Gross and his former wife, Irena Grudzinska-Gross, charges that some Poles tried to profit from the Holocaust by digging for gold and jewels in the killing fields at Treblinka, the Nazi death camp where Germans murdered more than 800,000 Jews.

The book, which will be published in Poland on March 10, also accuses Poles of looting Jewish property.

“Poles accepted the fact that Jews were going to be destroyed,” Gross, a Princeton University historian, said in a telephone interview with the Forward. “The Poles participated in the murder of Jews, and this was done all over the country.”

In response, some of Poland’s right-wing media have branded Gross as anti-Polish.

“Jan Tomasz Gross has earned the deserved name of an untiring enemy of Poland and Poles. A swindler and a cheat,” Jerzy Robert Nowak wrote in the February 2 edition of Niedziela, a Roman Catholic publication distributed in churches.

“There is no place in Gross’s book for decent Poles, not an example,” complained a writer in the far-right tabloid Nasz Dziennik. “He only describes barbarians and villains. The purpose of the book is to make the American elite see Poles the way Jan Gross sees them.”

When asked about criticism of his work and about the allegations that he is anti-Polish, Gross responded gruffly: “This is all nonsense.”

Gross, who was born in Poland shortly after World War II, is no stranger to Polish readers. Born to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, he fled his native country in 1968 because of an anti-Semitic campaign conducted by the Communist Party.

Gross has published two other books whose negative images of Poles provoked anger in the country of his birth.

“Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland,” published in 2001, investigated the 1941 massacre of about 1,600 Jewish villagers by their Polish neighbors. Poles were outraged when a government commission confirmed Gross’s findings.

A later book, “Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz,” published in 2006, asserted that Poles persecuted and murdered Jewish survivors.

Despite the controversy over “Golden Harvest,” Gross is not the first scholar to bring to light the Polish conduct at Treblinka. “The book is a synthesis of information uncovered by young Polish scholars,” said Michal Bilewicz, director of the University of Warsaw’s Center for Research on Prejudice. Bilewicz, who read a review copy of the book, said during a phone interview with the Forward that this information is little known outside Poland.

Gross acknowledges getting much of his material from Polish scholars who have conducted “excellent work” about Polish-Jewish relations during the war. “Much of this material has not been published in English, and it adds to our knowledge of Polish complicity in the murder of Jews,” he said.

The book also includes a photograph of Polish peasants at the edge of the gravesite at Treblinka, which previously had been published only in Gazeta Wyborcza, a leading Polish daily newspaper.

According to Bilewicz, Gross said in the book that the Polish behavior at Treblinka was criminal and abhorrent, but not inspired by anti-Semitism. “Gross says in the book that all of us are capable of committing the same crimes — if faced with the starvation the peasants experienced,” Bilewicz said.

Martyna Rusiniak-Karwat, a Warsaw University historian and author of a book on Treblinka, gave “Golden Harvest” a mixed review. “He based his book on work done by others, and used sources only selectively, including mine,” she told the Forward in a phone interview, through an interpreter.

Rusiniak-Karwat, who comes from a village about 20 miles from Treblinka, told the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita that as a child, she heard stories about Poles looking for gold that belonged to Jews murdered at Treblinka.

“When I started my research,” she said, “I found records on digging the mass graves, and that was shocking to me. I know they were searching the graves, but I didn’t have the slightest idea they went that far.” Her book “Extermination Camp Treblinka 2 in Social Memory, 1943–1989” was published in 2008.

“The peasants didn’t think of the place as a Jewish graveyard.” Rusiniak-Karwat said. “They were driven by the desire to reap a profit. They were depraved and deprived of all normal standards.”

Amid the anger Gross’s book has provoked, his inclusion of the photograph purporting to show Polish peasants searching for valuables among the dead has been especially provocative. The photograph, of which the origins are uncertain, first appeared in the January 8, 2008, edition of Gazeta Wyborcza.

Konstanty Gebert, a columnist for the newspaper, told the Forward in an e-mail: “There is a controversy about that photo and Gross acknowledges it. The photo either represents diggers, or people who were collecting human remains for future disposal.”

Rusniak-Karwat raised similar doubts. “Jan Gross used the picture as his primary evidence,” she said. “And we know little about its origin.”

Gross said he first saw the picture in Gazeta Wyborcza and learned that it had been given to a museum at Treblinka in the 1960s by an employee of a local railroad station. The photograph was the starting point for his book.

“On the surface, it appears to be a very banal photograph,” he said. “But when you realize that the crops in front of [the peasants] are not beets or potatoes but skulls and bones, that is a very freaky experience,” he observed.

Znak, the book’s Roman Catholic publisher in Krakow, acknowledged receiving many e-mails denouncing publication of the book.

Henryk Wozniakowski, president of Znak, said at a news conference in Warsaw on February 8 that the book was being published to “revise our memory and confront it with historical truth.” He said charges that the book is anti-Polish are groundless, and that profits from its sale will be donated to charity. “We don’t consider this book a business project,” he noted. The first printing will be 50,000 copies.

But the controversy over the book has also sparked internal conflict at the publishing company. Znak Director Danuta Skora said at the same news conference that she was opposed to publishing the book. According to a report in Gazeta Wyborcza, she called the book “unjust” and apologized to Poles who were hurt by its allegations.

The book hits a raw nerve because Poles believe they acted honorably during the brutal German occupation. Six million Polish citizens — half of them Jews — were killed during the war, and the Polish Underground performed courageously, including during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. And Poland has had more citizens honored as Righteous Gentiles at Yad Vashem than any other European country. This is part of the Polish identity.

“Poles regard themselves as innocent victims of history and find it difficult to concede they may be something else,” Gebert said.

The chief rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, gave this assessment: “There is no way to justify what happened, but the people who were going into the graves were very hungry. We have to think of what the times were then. It was starvation. Did they do this because the victims were Jewish, or did they do it because they thought they could find something to feed their families?”

An English edition of the book is scheduled for publication in August.

Contact Donald Snyder at

Read more:


January 13, 2011

The man who caught Adolph Eichman and many nazi criminals tells all.

Part 1

You can see a 2 hours intervieu with Tuvia at the group “The Exodus from Europe” or at Boris Kangun

Bella Friedman Kangun’ s husband, Tuvia’s sister, whom Boris brought from Auschwitz to Vienna on a Russian truck sent from Vienna by order of the Russian comander who occupied Austria and helped Boris Kangun make it possible to bring 300000 holocaust survivours to Vienna via Italy to Israel.

Part 2

The real story told, no newspaper nor a writer who made a book about this person or another told this for a simple reason, they were working for fame and tell bla bla stories which had mostlly no real history value, none is covered by documents.

Part 3

See the documents, pictures and video, you will get the truth about how it was really done.

Part 4

Part 7

Part 8

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Alice Demo Dancing Under the Gallows

October 28, 2010

Surviver of the Holocaust, in November 2010 she will be 107.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT – A Holocaust Survivor’s View on Islam

June 26, 2010

A Holocaust Survivors View on Fanatic Islam >

This is one of the best explanation of the Muslim terrorist situation I have read. His references to past history are accurate and clear. Not long, easy to understand, and well worth the read. The author of this email is Dr. Emanuel Tanay, a well-known and well respected psychiatrist.

A Holocaust Survivor’s View on Islam

A man, whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II, owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude toward fanaticism. ‘Very few people were true Nazis,’ he said, ‘but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories. ‘We are told again and again by ‘experts’ and ‘talking heads’ that Islam is the religion of peace and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march… It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor-kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is > the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. It is the fanatics who teach their young to kill and to become suicide bombers. The hard, quantifiable fact is that the peaceful majority, the ‘silent majority,’ is cowed and extraneous. Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. China’s huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people. The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet. And who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were ‘peace loving’? History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason, we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points: Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun. Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late. As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts — the fanatics who threaten our way of life. Lastly, anyone who doubts that the issue is serious and just deletes this email without sending it on is contributing to the passiveness that allows the problems to expand. So, extend yourself a bit and send this on and on and on! Let us hope that thousands, world-wide, read this and think about it, and send it on – before it’s too late.

The Dreyfus affair: Pointing fingers | The Economist

June 16, 2010

The Dreyfus affair: Pointing fingers | The Economist.

For the Soul of France: Culture Wars in the Age of Dreyfus. By Frederick Brown. Knopf; 336 pages; $28.95. Buy from

The Man on Devil’s Island: Alfred Dreyfus and the Affair that Divided France. By Ruth Harris. Allen Lane; 524 pages; £30. Buy from

Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters. By Louis Begley. Yale University Press; 249 pages; $24 and £18. Buy from,

HE LED an unremarkable, bourgeois life in fin-de-siècle Paris, riding his horses in the Bois de Boulogne, and sending his family to the Normandy coast to take the sea air. He was a conscientious, if not particularly likeable, army officer, and a graduate of Polytechnique, the highly competitive French engineering school. His father was a successful industrialist from Alsace (which had fallen to the Germans after the Franco-Prussian war in 1870-71), supplying him with an unusually handsome income for a man of his rank. He also happened to be Jewish.

In 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus was secretly arrested, wrongfully convicted by a court martial of high treason, sentenced to life imprisonment, stripped of his military rank and shipped off in chains to solitary confinement in the sweltering heat of Devil’s Island, a French territory off the coast of South America. The only evidence presented at his trial was a torn-up note containing confidential military information, which had been found in a wastepaper basket at the German embassy by a cleaning lady working as a French spy. It was written in a hand that was said, implausibly, to resemble the captain’s.

How could the French army have conspired to bring down an innocent man in the name of national security? To this day, and despite the scores of books on the subject, the affair that rocked and divided France fascinates historians. Three new works re-examine what happened for contemporary readers.

In a dense study, Frederick Brown of the State University of New York, sees the affair as the product of culture wars. The French army was humiliated by the loss of Alsace-Lorraine, then shaken by the Paris Commune uprising. Nationalist feeling, spiced with paranoia about traitors and spies, took hold at a time when the top brass was forced to improve military performance through reform. Meritocratic recruitment drew in outsiders like Dreyfus. But this also made him the object of suspicion by the old Catholic families, who traditionally manned France’s officer class.

Mr Brown is particularly good on the battle of ideas, symbolised by the construction of two of the capital’s landmarks. In 1875 the first stone was laid for the Sacré Coeur basilica in Montmartre, designed as a statement of religious renewal, national atonement and devotion to Rome. Across the river, the following decade, Gustave Eiffel began work on his monumental iron tower as an emblem of industry and science. The clerical elite was scandalised: it towered over the churches, did not speak to God, and reflected “imbecility, bad taste and foolish arrogance”. As one anti-Semitic writer declared at the time, “Only a Jew could have submitted such a project.”

Political instability and insecurity fuelled social paranoia and anti-Jewish sentiment. Conspiracy theories about Jewish financiers were the talk of Paris salons. “La France Juive”, by Edouard Drumont, an anti-Semitic tract published in 1886, became a bestseller. The respectable Catholic press, notably La Croix, joined in. In one diocesan newsletter in the Cévennes, readers were told about “the Jew”, who, it declared, was: “Servile, slithering, artful, filthy and vile when he is the weaker one; he becomes arrogant when he has the upper hand, as he does now.”

Against this background, the clubby French military elite hunted for a traitor. A perfunctory internal investigation swiftly fingered Dreyfus, the only Jewish trainee officer on the General Staff. He stood out, in the words of Lieutenant-Colonel Jean Sandherr, head of intelligence, as reported to a young diplomat, for “his indiscreet curiosity, his constant snooping, his air of mystery, and finally his false and conceited character, in which one recognises all the pride and all the ignominy of his race.” The military hierarchy closed ranks: its singular aim to defend its honour, and incriminate Dreyfus, triumphed over the facts.

In the end, justice prevailed. Yet it took five years before the Dreyfusards secured a second military trial, at which the captain was again found guilty, this time after the top brass forged evidence against him. Dreyfus’s name was not officially cleared until 1906. He was readmitted to the French army, served in the first world war and died in 1935. In another scholarly study, Ruth Harris, an Oxford University historian, shows how the battle to establish his innocence was never, as myth would have it, a neat tale pitting the forces of truth and justice against paranoid military authority and national honour. This, she writes, was “good rhetoric but poor history”.

Anti-clerical republicans—most famously, Emile Zola and his front-page letter to President Félix Faure entitled “J’Accuse”—took on the Catholic elite, with its hold over the military hierarchy. But the Dreyfus affair often cut across political and religious lines. Léon Blum, Georges Clemenceau, Jean Jaurès and other Dreyfusards intellectuels, a term originally coined to insult them, were aghast at left-leaning friends who refused to join the campaign. Through a close reading of a mass of private documents, Ms Harris subtly draws the complex, and contradictory, human behaviour behind the public affair.

Louis Begley, an American novelist and retired lawyer, and a Jewish refugee from Nazi-occupied Poland, has produced the shortest of the three books. It is also the paciest read. As a primer on the affair, this is a first-rate narrative and a heartfelt plea to modern democracies to stick to their values and defend basic liberties, however threatened they feel.

The author draws an intriguing parallel between the Dreyfus affair and the Guantánamo detainees under President George Bush, held on suspicion of terrorist links, grossly mistreated and denied basic rights. Yet he stretches his point. Dreyfus was innocent, like some of those held at Guantánamo. Crucially, however, he was the “enemy” within: picked from the ranks of the officer class, by the military’s own elite, and in a country—unlike America—that was not at war.

More than a century on, the Dreyfus affair still holds important lessons about freedom, notably the fragility of basic liberties when national security is invoked. It is also a reminder of the deep roots of anti-Semitism, in France and beyond. Even after Dreyfus’s death, the family felt the consequences. As Mr Begley notes, Dreyfus’s wife, Lucie, changed her name and fled Vichy France for the free zone in the south. Her granddaughter, Madeleine, who fought in the French Resistance, was sent to Auschwitz

Gas Chamber – An American Idea

May 9, 2010

The Nazis’ Murder of Jews, Communists and Gypsies In Gas Chambers Was an AMERICAN Idea

Believe it or not, the Nazis’ murder of Jews, communists and gypsies using gas chambers was actually an American idea.

As the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in 2003:

the concept of a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed master Nordic race didn’t originate with Hitler. The idea was created in the United States, and cultivated in California, decades before Hitler came to power. California eugenicists played an important, although little-known, role in the American eugenics movement’s campaign for ethnic cleansing.

Eugenics was the pseudoscience aimed at “improving” the human race. In its extreme, racist form, this meant wiping away all human beings deemed “unfit,” preserving only those who conformed to a Nordic stereotype. Elements of the philosophy were enshrined as national policy by forced sterilization and segregation laws, as well as marriage restrictions, enacted in 27 states. In 1909, California became the third state to adopt such laws. Ultimately, eugenics practitioners coercively sterilized some 60,000 Americans, barred the marriage of thousands, forcibly segregated thousands in “colonies,” and persecuted untold numbers in ways we are just learning. Before World War II, nearly half of coercive sterilizations were done in California, and even after the war, the state accounted for a third of all such surgeries.

California was considered an epicenter of the American eugenics movement. During the 20th century’s first decades, California’s eugenicists included potent but little-known race scientists, such as Army venereal disease specialist Dr. Paul Popenoe, citrus magnate Paul Gosney, Sacramento banker Charles Goethe, as well as members of the California state Board of Charities and Corrections and the University of California Board of Regents.

Eugenics would have been so much bizarre parlor talk had it not been for extensive financing by corporate philanthropies, specifically the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman railroad fortune. They were all in league with some of America’s most respected scientists from such prestigious universities as Stanford, Yale, Harvard and Princeton. These academicians espoused race theory and race science, and then faked and twisted data to serve eugenics’ racist aims.

Stanford President David Starr Jordan originated the notion of “race and blood” in his 1902 racial epistle “Blood of a Nation”, in which the university scholar declared that human qualities and conditions such as talent and poverty were passed through the blood.

In 1904, the Carnegie Institution established a laboratory complex at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island that stockpiled millions of index cards on ordinary Americans, as researchers carefully plotted the removal of families, bloodlines and whole peoples. From Cold Spring Harbor, eugenics advocates agitated in the legislatures of America, as well as the nation’s social service agencies and associations.

The Harriman railroad fortune paid local charities, such as the New York Bureau of Industries and Immigration, to seek out Jewish, Italian and other immigrants in New York and other crowded cities and subject them to deportation, confinement or forced sterilization.

The Rockefeller Foundation helped found the German eugenics program and even funded the program that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.

Much of the spiritual guidance and political agitation for the American eugenics movement came from California’s quasi-autonomous eugenic societies, such as Pasadena’s Human Betterment Foundation and the California branch of the American Eugenics Society, which coordinated much of their activity with the Eugenics Research Society in Long Island. These organizations — which functioned as part of a closely-knit network — published racist eugenic newsletters and pseudoscientific journals, such as Eugenical News and Eugenics, and propagandized for the Nazis.


The most commonly suggested method of eugenicide in the United States was a “lethal chamber” or public, locally operated gas chambers. In 1918, Popenoe, the Army venereal disease specialist during World War I, co-wrote the widely used textbook, “Applied Eugenics”, which argued,

“From an historical point of view, the first method which presents itself is execution . . . Its value in keeping up the standard of the race should not be underestimated.”

“Applied Eugenics” also devoted a chapter to “Lethal Selection”, which operated “through the destruction of the individual by some adverse feature of the environment, such as excessive cold, or bacteria, or by bodily deficiency.”

Eugenic breeders believed American society was not ready to implement an organized lethal solution. But many mental institutions and doctors practiced improvised medical lethality and passive euthanasia on their own. One institution in Lincoln, Ill., fed its incoming patients milk from tubercular cows believing a eugenically strong individual would be immune. Thirty to 40 percent annual death rates resulted at Lincoln. Some doctors practiced passive eugenicide one newborn infant at a time. Others doctors at mental institutions engaged in lethal neglect.


Even the U.S. Supreme Court endorsed aspects of eugenics. In its infamous 1927 decision, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote,

“It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind . . . Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

This decision opened the floodgates for thousands to be coercively sterilized or otherwise persecuted as subhuman. Years later, the Nazis at the Nuremberg trials quoted Holmes’ words in their own defense.

Only after eugenics became entrenched in the United States was the campaign transplanted into Germany, in no small measure through the efforts of California eugenicists, who published booklets idealizing sterilization and circulated them to German officials and scientists.

Hitler studied American eugenics laws. He tried to legitimize his anti-Semitism by medicalizing it, and wrapping it in the more palatable pseudoscientific facade of eugenics. Hitler was able to recruit more followers among reasonable Germans by claiming that science was on his side. Hitler’s race hatred sprung from his own mind, but the intellectual outlines of the eugenics Hitler adopted in 1924 were made in America.

During the ’20s, Carnegie Institution eugenic scientists cultivated deep personal and professional relationships with Germany’s fascist eugenicists. In “Mein Kampf”, published in 1924, Hitler quoted American eugenic ideology and openly displayed a thorough knowledge of American eugenics.

“There is today one state”, wrote Hitler, “in which at least weak beginnings toward a better conception (of immigration) are noticeable. Of course, it is not our model German Republic, but the United States.”


During the Reich’s early years, eugenicists across America welcomed Hitler’s plans as the logical fulfillment of their own decades of research and effort. California eugenicists republished Nazi propaganda for American consumption. They also arranged for Nazi scientific exhibits, such as an August 1934 display at the L.A. County Museum, for the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

In 1934, as Germany’s sterilizations were accelerating beyond 5,000 per month, the California eugenics leader C. M. Goethe, upon returning from Germany, ebulliently bragged to a colleague,

“You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought . . . I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people.”


More than just providing the scientific roadmap, America funded Germany’s eugenic institutions.

By 1926, Rockefeller had donated some $410,000 — almost $4 million in today’s money — to hundreds of German researchers. In May 1926, Rockefeller awarded $250,000 toward creation of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry. Among the leading psychiatrists at the German Psychiatric Institute was Ernst Rüdin, who became director and eventually an architect of Hitler’s systematic medical repression.

Another in the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute’s complex of eugenics institutions was the Institute for Brain Research. Since 1915, it had operated out of a single room. Everything changed when Rockefeller money arrived in 1929. A grant of $317,000 allowed the institute to construct a major building and take center stage in German race biology. The institute received additional grants from the Rockefeller Foundation during the next several years. Leading the institute, once again, was Hitler’s medical henchman Ernst Rüdin. Rüdin’s organization became a prime director and recipient of the murderous experimentation and research conducted on Jews, Gypsies and others.

Beginning in 1940, thousands of Germans taken from old age homes, mental institutions and other custodial facilities were systematically gassed. Between 50,000 and 100,000 were eventually killed.

Leon Whitney, executive secretary of the American Eugenics Society, declared of Nazism, “While we were pussy-footing around … the Germans were calling a spade a spade.”

A special recipient of Rockefeller funding was the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics in Berlin. For decades,

American eugenicists had craved twins to advance their research into heredity.

The Institute was now prepared to undertake such research on an unprecedented level. On May 13, 1932, the Rockefeller Foundation in New York dispatched a radiogram to its Paris office: JUNE MEETING EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS OVER THREE YEAR PERIOD TO KWG INSTITUTE ANTHROPOLOGY FOR RESEARCH ON TWINS AND EFFECTS ON LATER GENERATIONS OF SUBSTANCES TOXIC FOR GERM PLASM.

At the time of Rockefeller’s endowment, Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, a hero in American eugenics circles, functioned as a head of the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. Rockefeller funding of that institute continued both directly and through other research conduits during Verschuer’s early tenure. In 1935, Verschuer left the institute to form a rival eugenics facility in Frankfurt that was much heralded in the American eugenics press. Research on twins in the Third Reich exploded, backed by government decrees. Verschuer wrote in Der Erbarzt, a eugenics doctor’s journal he edited, that Germany’s war would yield a “total solution to the Jewish problem.”

Verschuer had a longtime assistant. His name was Josef Mengele.


Rockefeller executives never knew of Mengele. With few exceptions, the foundation had ceased all eugenics studies in Nazi-occupied Europe before the war erupted in 1939. But by that time the die had been cast. The talented men Rockefeller and Carnegie financed, the great institutions they helped found, and the science they helped create took on a scientific momentum of their own.

As Michel Crichton wrote in 2004:

Its supporters included Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Winston Churchill. It was approved by Supreme Court justices Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis, who ruled in its favor. The famous names who supported it included Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone; activist Margaret Sanger; botanist Luther Burbank; Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University; the novelist H. G. Wells; the playwright George Bernard Shaw; and hundreds of others. Nobel Prize winners gave support. Research was backed by the Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations. The Cold Springs Harbor Institute was built to carry out this research, but important work was also done at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and Johns Hopkins. Legislation to address the crisis was passed in states from New York to California.

These efforts had the support of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, and the National Research Council. It was said that if Jesus were alive, he would have supported this effort.

All in all, the research, legislation and molding of public opinion surrounding the theory went on for almost half a century. Those who opposed the theory were shouted down and called reactionary, blind to reality, or just plain ignorant. But in hindsight, what is surprising is that so few people objected.


The plan was to identify individuals who were feeble-minded — Jews were agreed to be largely feeble-minded, but so were many foreigners, as well as blacks — and stop them from breeding by isolation in institutions or by sterilization.


Such views were widely shared. H.G. Wells spoke against “ill-trained swarms of inferior citizens”. Theodore Roosevelt said that “Society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind.” Luther Burbank” “Stop permitting criminals and weaklings to reproduce.” George Bernard Shaw said that only eugenics could save mankind.


Eugenics research was funded by the Carnegie Foundation, and later by the Rockefeller Foundation. The latter was so enthusiastic that even after the center of the eugenics effort moved to Germany, and involved the gassing of individuals from mental institutions, the Rockefeller Foundation continued to finance German researchers at a very high level. (The foundation was quiet about it, but they were still funding research in 1939, only months before the onset of World War II.)

Since the 1920s, American eugenicists had been jealous because the Germans had taken leadership of the movement away from them. The Germans were admirably progressive. They set up ordinary-looking houses where “mental defectives” were brought and interviewed one at a time, before being led into a back room, which was, in fact, a gas chamber. There, they were gassed with carbon monoxide, and their bodies disposed of in a crematorium located on the property.

Eventually, this program was expanded into a vast network of concentration camps located near railroad lines, enabling the efficient transport and of killing ten million undesirables.

After World War II, nobody was a eugenicist, and nobody had ever been a eugenicist. Biographers of the celebrated and the powerful did not dwell on the attractions of this philosophy to their subjects, and sometimes did not mention it at all. Eugenics ceased to be a subject for college classrooms, although some argue that its ideas continue to have currency in disguised form.


The scientific establishment in both the United States and Germany did not mount any sustained protest. Quite the contrary. In Germany scientists quickly fell into line with the program. Modern German researchers have gone back to review Nazi documents from the 1930s. They expected to find directives telling scientists what research should be done. But none were necessary. In the words of Ute Deichman, “Scientists, including those who were not members of the [Nazi] party, helped to get funding for their work through their modified behavior and direct cooperation with the state.” Deichman speaks of the “active role of scientists themselves in regard to Nazi race policy … where [research] was aimed at confirming the racial doctrine … no external pressure can be documented.” German scientists adjusted their research interests to the new policies. And those few who did not adjust disappeared.

Appendix 1, State of Fear (Avon 2004).

Note: Obviously, not all Americans bought into crazy eugenics theories.

A letter to the world from Jerusalem

April 11, 2010

by Eliezer ben Yisrael (Stanley Goldfoot) from The Times of Israel

On November 24, 2006, at the age of 92, a man named Stanley Goldfoot passed away. He is remembered by family and friends for his love for and devotion to Israel and the Jewish people.

Stanley Goldfoot was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Subsequent to his hearing a speech about the Zionist vision by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, he headed for Palestine where, at the age of 18, he joined the LECHI fighters against the British occupiers which Yair Stern founded. After the rebirth of the Jewish State of Israel his main goal, which he eventually realized, was to establish a Zionist English newspaper, “The Times of Israel.”

In the first issue of “The Times of Israel”, Stanley Goldfoot wrote his
famous and controversial “Letter to the World from Jerusalem”, which caused quite a stir. The article is still relevant.


A Letter to the World from Jerusalem, 1969
by Eliezer ben Yisrael (Stanley Goldfoot)

I am not a creature from another planet, as you seem to believe.

I am a Jerusalemite – like yourselves, a man of flesh and blood.

I am a citizen of my city, an integral part of my people.

I have a few things to get off my chest. Because I am not a diplomat, I do not have to mince words. I do not have to please you or even persuade you. I owe you nothing.

You did not build this city, you did not live in it, you did not defend it
when they came to destroy it.

And we will be damned if we will let you take it away.

There was a Jerusalem before there was a New York.

When Berlin, Moscow, London, and Paris were miasmal forest and swamp, there was a thriving Jewish community here. It gave something to the world which you nations have rejected ever since you established yourselves – a humane moral code.

Here the prophets walked, their words flashing like forked lightning.
Here a people who wanted nothing more than to be left alone, fought off waves of heathen would-be conquerors, bled and died on the battlements, hurled themselves into the flames of their burning Temple rather than surrender, and when finally overwhelmed by sheer numbers and led away into captivity, swore that before they forgot Jerusalem, they would see their tongues cleave to their palates, their right arms wither.

For two pain-filled millennia, while we were your unwelcome guests, we
prayed daily to return to this city. Three times a day we petitioned the

“Gather us from the four corners of the world, bring us upright to our land, return in mercy to Jerusalem, Thy city, and dwell in it as Thou promised.”

On every Yom Kippur and Passover, we fervently voiced the hope
that next year would find us in Jerusalem.

Your inquisitions, pogroms, expulsions, the ghettos into which you jammed us, your forced baptisms, your quota systems, your genteel anti-Semitism, and the final unspeakable horror, the holocaust (and worse, your terrifying disinterest in it)- all these have not broken us. They may have sapped what little moral strength you still possessed, but they forged us into steel. Do you think that you can break us now after all we have been through? Do you really believe that after Dachau and Auschwitz we are frightened by your threats of blockades and sanctions?

We have been to Hell and back- a Hell of your making. What more could you possibly have in your arsenal that could scare us?

I have watched this city bombarded twice by nations calling themselves civilized.

In 1948, while you looked on apathetically, I saw women and children blown to smithereens, after we agreed to your request to internationalize the city. It was a deadly combination that did the job – British officers, Arab gunners, and American-made cannon.

And then the savage sacking of the Old City-the willful slaughter, the
wanton destruction of every synagogue and religious school, the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, the sale by a ghoulish government of tombstones for building materials, for poultry runs, army camps, even latrines.

And you never said a word.

You never breathed the slightest protest when the Jordanians shut off the holiest of our places, the Western Wall, in violation of the pledges they had made after the war- a war they waged, incidentally, against the decision of the UN. Not a murmur came from you whenever the legionnaires in their spiked helmets casually opened fire upon our citizens from behind the walls.

Your hearts bled when Berlin came under siege. You rushed your airlift “to save the gallant Berliners”. But you did not send one ounce of food when Jews starved in besieged Jerusalem. You thundered against the wall which the East Germans ran through the middle of the German capital- but not one peep out of you about that other wall, the one that tore through the heart of Jerusalem.

And when that same thing happened 20 years later, and the Arabs unleashed a savage, unprovoked bombardment of the Holy City again, did any of you do anything?

The only time you came to life was when the city was at last reunited. Then you wrung your hands and spoke loftily of “justice” and need for the “Christian” quality of turning the other cheek. The truth – and you know it deep inside your gut – you would prefer the city to be destroyed rather than have it governed by Jews.

No matter how diplomatically you phrase it, the age old prejudices seep out of every word.

If our return to the city has tied your theology in knots, perhaps you had better reexamine your catechisms. After what we have been through, we are not passively going to accommodate ourselves to the twisted idea that we are to suffer eternal homelessness until we accept your savior.

For the first time since the year 70, there is now complete religious
freedom for all in Jerusalem. For the first time since the Romans put a
torch to the Temple, everyone has equal rights (You prefer to have some more equal than others.) We loathe the sword- but it was you who forced us to take it up. We crave peace, but we are not going back to the peace of 1948 as you would like us to.

We are home. It has a lovely sound for a nation you have willed to wander over the face of the globe. We are not leaving. We are redeeming the pledge made by our forefathers: Jerusalem is being rebuilt. “Next year” and the year after, and after, and after, until the end of time- “in Jerusalem”!

Best friends & again: Girls separated in Nazi Germany reunite after 76 years | j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California

April 5, 2010

Best friends & again: Girls separated in Nazi Germany reunite after 76 years | j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California.

Thursday, April 1, 2010 | return to: cover story


Best friends … again: Girls separated in Nazi Germany reunite after 76 years

by stacey palevsky

Follow j. on and

When Holocaust survivor Renée Duering told her life story to an oral historian in 2008, she made sure to include a message to her long-lost childhood friend:

“I have not seen or heard from Margot since 1934,” Renée said. “If you are alive, Margot, and somehow you read this, I would like to find you.”

The plea was tantamount to a message in a bottle. After 75 years, what were the odds that Margot would still be alive even if she had survived the Holocaust? That she would actually see Renée’s 23-page online history? That the two women would be healthy enough to reunite?

Yet last week, in an emotion-packed moment at San Francisco International Airport, the long-lost childhood friends reunited — after an odds-defying Internet hookup, after 7½ decades apart and after 88-year-old Margot traveled all the way from South America.

“That first moment, I was very happy when I saw her,” said Renée, 89. “It felt so good. She came and sat next to me in the car, and we embraced.”

Renée Duering (who lives in Daly City) and Margot Slodzina (a longtime resident of Caracas, Venezuela) originally met one another in 1933 in Cologne, Germany, as young members of the Jewish girl scouts.

They became fast friends. They learned about Zionism and Jewish history, and also how to tie knots and start campfires. They went on scout retreats together. They had sleepovers.

But their sweet friendship met its demise as Hitler grew more powerful in Germany. In 1934, Margot’s father was arrested for no reason other than that he was Jewish. He spent six weeks in jail. Germany no longer felt safe, and Margot’s family moved to Madrid, Spain.

That year would be the last time the best friends would see one another.

Until last week.

Jreunion  Escanear0002[1]-2

Margot Slodzina (left) and Renée Duering feed pigeons in front of the main post office in Madrid, Spain.

“We are beginning a new life in our old age,” said Renée, sitting at her daughter’s house in Pacifica, across the table from Margot.

“It’s wonderful. I feel like we’re 17,” chimed in Margot (now Labunsky).

Time has wrinkled their skin. Their hair is gray. They are not the bubbly young girls they once were. Compared to their childhood selves, they move like snails.

Despite their similarities now and in the 1930s, their lives took vastly different paths after they went their separate ways.

Margot and her family left Germany before the Holocaust, and she went on to earn multiple degrees and work as a teacher and a lawyer. She is sophisticated, gracious and has a positive attitude.

Renée, on the other hand, lived life with a broken spirit and health problems due to her time in Auschwitz. Renée’s daughter, Nomi Harper, couldn’t help but notice that her mother turned out more negative than her childhood friend.

“It was very evident this week to see the difference in the way a person can approach the world,” Harper said.


Margot Labunsky (left) and Renée Duering, reunited in Pacifica on March 25, are photographed for the first time since being separated in 1934. photos/stacey palevsky

But neither time nor experience could erase their bonds of friendship.

Margot and Renée still giggle and chitchat in German as though they were no older than when they separated.

“I didn’t know she was alive. I didn’t even dream of her being alive,” said Margot.

“We are picking up where we left off,” added Renée.

They reconnected after a distant relative of Margot’s who lives in London found Renée’s oral history in 2009. The young man alerted Margot’s grandson, Daniel Silberman, that her childhood friend was not only alive, but that she also had put out a call to find Margot.

Searching the Internet from his New York home, Silberman was able to find the home phone number for Renée’s daughter. In November, Harper came home from work to an extraordinary voice mail.

“Hi, I’m Daniel Silberman, and I’m the grandson of Margot Slodzina. Your mother was her best friend from childhood. … I’m hoping to get them in touch. Hopefully they will be able to get back in touch after not hearing from each other since 1934. I’m so excited. By the way, my grandmother lives in Venezuela.”

Harper was floored. She saved the voice mail. Replaying it makes her feel awed and overjoyed.

After several phone conversations, Margot booked the 4,000-mile trip to San Francisco with her daughter, Debora Silberman.

Silberman and Margot arrived at SFO at 6:45 p.m. March 23 after the trip from Caracas to Miami to San Francisco — one wearing a blue coat and the other a red coat in a plan devised to help Renée and her daughter identify them.

Renée sat in the back seat of her daughter’s car, eagerly awaiting their arrival.

Harper drove around the airport seven times looking for the red- and blue-coated duo. When she finally spotted them, she pulled up to the curb and Margot slid into the back seat next to Renée — the years that separated them washing away.

“For my mother and Margot to see each other again put them back in that space and time whereeach had a happy memory of childhood that they could once again grab onto,” Harper said. “It was awesome to see.”

After the initial reunion, the women had a lot of time to catch up during Margot’s stay, including a get-together over cheese and crackers, carrot cake and tea at Harper’s house in Pacifica. They looked at old black-and-white photographs, straining their memories to recall where, when and under what circumstance each photograph was taken.

“This was in front of the main post office in Madrid — this I can swear on,” Margot said, pointing to a photograph of the best friends feeding pigeons on a plaza. In the picture, both wore long sundresses and headbands in their dark hair (Renée’s was short; Margot’s was long and tied in two braids).

Upon agreeing on the time, date and place of that photo, Renée insists on labeling the back. In big block letters, she writes: main post office, Madrid, September 1934.

Their reunion is even more remarkable considering what each woman endured during World War II.

Both Renée and Margot grew up with parents who were Conservative Jews — happily integrated into German culture but still proudly Jewish.

Margot’s father owned a chain of shoe repair stores. Renée’s father was a wholesaler, buying goods, mostly for the kitchen, from factories and selling the items to stores.

In 1934, after Margot’s father was released from jail, he sold all of his shoe repair shops to store managers. He and his wife moved in the middle of the school year to Madrid, where they had an old friend.

But Margot stayed behind so she could finish the school year in Germany. In order to do that, she stayed with Renée’s family for six months, even though her own relatives lived in town.

“My parents left by their own car. I still remember that,” Margot said.

An only child, Margot couldn’t bear to be anywhere else other than with her best friend, who was like a sister to her.

“We were like twins, that’s it. We clicked. We clicked so much we were inseparable, right?” Renee asked Margot between sips of tea.

“Absolutely right,” she replied.

Eventually, Margot had to return to her parents in Madrid. But she suggested that Renée come with her and spend the summer with her family. So the girls — then 12 and 13 — shared a summer and fall in Madrid, enjoying the sunshine and each other’s company.

In October 1934, Marxist workers on Spain’s north coast rose up against the right-wing Spanish government and formed an independent socialist republic. The revolt lasted two weeks, and when Renée’s father heard about it, he became worried about his daughter’s safety — and made her come back to Germany.

The best friends had to say goodbye. They had no idea their separation would last a lifetime.

“We couldn’t write letters because Hitler was looking through all the mail if you were a Jew,” Renée said. “We had to live quietly.”

“Many friends and family lost connections because everyone was just trying to survive,” Margot said.

Margot finished high school at the German school in Madrid. In 1936, at the start of the Spanish Civil War, the family moved to Barcelona, where it was safer. To get hired as a teacher at a Swiss school in Barcelona, Margot, then 16, lied and told the principal she was 18. She taught German and Spanish at the school until 1942, when it became clear Hitler’s power would eventually extend into Spain.

“The people without influence in Spain were wonderful to us as immigrants,” Margot recalled. “The human relationships were good; the politics were bad.”

Margot and her family bought three visas on the street for $5 total, she recalled, and boarded a ship headed to South America. They ended up getting off in Caracas.

Meanwhile, Renée was sent to Holland in the spring of 1935 to live with her aunt. Her parents gave up their house in Cologne, for safety’s sake, and moved into an apartment nearby. Her father thought it would be only a matter of time before Hitler was assassinated.

In 1938, just days before Kristallnacht, Renée’s sister and parents moved to Holland. Renée’s father had been warned by a non-uniformed Nazi that something big was about to happen.

The family made life as normal as they could in Amsterdam. They rented a big apartment on a tree-lined street. Renée became a dressmaker and often worked in people’s homes.

In May 1940, everything changed after Hitler ordered an invasion of Holland. Jews had to wear a Star of David and give up their cars, bikes, radios and businesses.

“We couldn’t take the streetcar because we were wearing the star,” Renée said in her oral history.

In 1942 she married Fritz Krämer, whom she met four years earlier. In 1943 they were sent to Auschwitz, where Krämer died. Renée’s parents were sent to Bergen-Belsen, Thereisenstadt and then Auschwitz, where they died.

In Auschwitz, Renée was a lab rat. Dr. Carl Clauberg, a Nazi medical doctor who was fascinated with sterilization research, experimented on her ovaries; another Nazi doctor, Dr. Hans Münch, used her for bacteriological research.

“I consider myself lucky, despite my miseries,” Renée said last week.

Renée survived and marched with other survivors from Auschwitz into Germany; she weighed only 60 pounds when she arrived in Dresden. Eventually, Renée moved to pre-state Israel, where she received some miraculous news: Despite the experiments conducted on her, she would still be able to have children.

She gave birth to her daughter, Nomi, in 1954. Mother and daughter moved to Cologne, and then to San Francisco in 1958; Nomi was not quite 4.

Renée found a job at Joseph Magnin, a high-end department store in downtown San Francisco. She also became a certified masseuse.

Meanwhile, Margot studied law in Venezuela. She got married and had two children. Like her childhood friend, Margot also had a lifelong dream of moving to Israel, and in 1972, she finally did. For 18 years, she and her family called Haifa home.

For family reasons, in 1990 they returned to Venezuela, where Margot and her children still live today. She retired last year as the principal at the Jewish day school in Caracas.

“Now we can start to enjoy each other,” Renée said. “We have the freedom to travel to each other. We can start to reminisce.”

During the five-day trip, mothers and daughters — Margot, Renée, Debora and Nomi — visited Sausalito, Union Square, Golden Gate Park and Half Moon Bay. They also went to Sunnyvale for Renée’s grandson’s 9th birthday party.

“In the time they were with us, we became family,” Harper said. “I started calling Margot ‘Mama 2.’ ”

Margot and Renée were giddy to be in each other’s company. They whispered to each other in German. They laughed easily. They affectionately held hands and hugged one another. Time could keep them apart no longer.

At the end of a March 25 photo shoot — their first picture together since 1934 — the women stood, held hands and walked down a garden path.

Together again. At last.

Raoul Wallenberg: Soviets may have lied about his death | Mail Online

April 3, 2010

Raoul Wallenberg: Soviets may have lied about his death | Mail Online.

Was Russian prisoner No. 7 actually the ‘dead’ diplomat who saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust?

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 12:03 PM on 02nd April 2010


The son of a naval officer, Wallenberg trained as an architect but later joined a Stockholm import-export business and became the company’s representative in Budapest where he learned Hungarian.

Mystery: Raoul Wallenberg may have been alive longer than Soviet  officials claimed
In 1944, as the persecution of Jews in Hungary became known abroad, Wallenberg was picked as Sweden’s envoy to return to Budapest and organize a rescue programme.
Together with fellow Swedish diplomat Per Anger, he issued ‘protective passports’ which identified the bearers as Swedish subjects awaiting repatriation and thus preventing their deportation. It is estimated he saved 20,000 Jews destined for Nazi extermination camps.
He was arrested by the Russians in January 1945 and was reported to have died two months later, although the circumstances of his death have long been in dispute.
Wallenberg has been honoured numerous times. He is an honorary citizen of the United States, Israel, Canada, and Hungary, while monuments and streets have been named after him throughout the world.
A Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States was created in 1981 to perpetuate his ‘humanitarian ideals and the non-violent courage’, giving out the Raoul Wallenberg Award to that end.

The heroic story of Raoul Wallenberg is one of the most extraordinary to emerge from the horrors of the Holocaust.

And yet, the eventual fate of the Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of thousands of Jews has remained one of the conflict’s greatest mysteries.

Working as an envoy in Budapest, Hungary, from July 1944, he prevented the deportation of 20,000 Jews destined for Nazi concentration camps or death factories.

As a result of his actions he has been made an honorary citizen of several nations with parks, schools and philanthropic organisations named in his honour.

Precisely what happened to him as the war reached its conclusion is not known.

But now from the depths of Russian security service archives new evidence has emerged which suggests that rather that he was alive years after he was said to have died.

Wallenberg, born in 1912 into one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, was arrested in Budapest in January 1945 by the Soviet army.

The Soviets claimed he was executed two years later on July 17 but never produced a reliable death certificate or his remains.

Witnesses claim he was seen in Soviet prisons or labour camps many years later, although those accounts were never verified.

Now, the archives of the Russian security services say a man identified only as ‘Prisoner No.7’, who was interrogated six days after the diplomat’s reported death, was ‘with great likelihood’ Wallenberg.

The security services reported the find last November to Susanne Berger and Vadim Birstein, two members of a research team that conducted a ten-year investigation into Wallenberg’s disappearance in the 1990s.

The researchers informed Wallenberg’s relatives in a letter this week and the findings were also reported in the Swedish magazine Fokus.

The information still has to undergo in-depth verification, but Berger wrote in the letter, ‘if indeed confirmed, the news is the most interesting to come out of Russian archives in over 50 years’.

She said strong circumstantial evidence supported the archivists’ conclusion of the identity of Prisoner No. 7.

Berger quoted the Swedish ambassador in Moscow, Tomas Bertelman, as saying in a note to the head of the Russian archives last December that if true, the report would be ‘almost sensational’.

A group of Hungarian Jews pictured in 1944. It is believed Raoul  Wallenberg prevented the deporation of up to 20,000 jews destined for  concentration camps

A group of Hungarian Jews pictured in 1944. It is believed Raoul Wallenberg prevented the deporation of up to 20,000 Jews destined for concentration camps


Wallenberg’s stand against the Nazis have made him a folk hero and the subject of dozens of books and documentaries

As Sweden’s envoy in Budapest from July 1944, Wallenberg prevented the deportation of thousands of  Jews but also dissuaded German officers occupying the Hungarian capital from a plan to obliterate the city’s Jewish ghetto, averting a massacre of its 70,000 residents.

He was arrested the day after the Soviet Red Army seized the city, along with his Hungarian driver Vilmos Langfelder. The Russians never explained why they detained him.

Ove Bring, professor in international law at the National Defense College in Stockholm, said the report by the Russian security services warranted reopening Wallenberg’s case.

‘Everything we believed earlier (about Wallenberg’s death) is turned upside down by this,’ he said.

‘This has to be investigated again. If he was still alive six days later, then maybe he was alive for a longer period of time.

‘Did he live another week, or a year or ten years? Suddenly that’s an open question.’

Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman Teo Zetterman said the ministry has to ‘look at the information to see what it contains in order to make a decision on what we can do’.

Wallenberg’s stand against the Nazi occupation forces, his disappearance and the purported ‘sightings’ in the Soviet gulag have made him a folk hero and the subject of dozens of books and documentaries.

The mystery only deepened after the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency acknowledged in the 1990s that he had been recruited for his rescue mission by an agent of the Office of Strategic Services, the OSS, which later became the CIA.

It also has been an on-and-off irritant in relations between Moscow and Stockholm. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reportedly discussed the case during a visit to the Swedish capital last November.

How one man is helping his country to remember

April 1, 2010

A controversial project aims to write the Jewish people back into Polish history, says Louis Jacob

Sunday February 21 2010

IN Poland, it’s never really a good time to bring up the Jewish thing. It is present always, but only as an illusive undertone, one which seems at times to have been lost to the whispers of ghosts on the haunted tracks from Krakow to Auschwitz and from Warsaw to Treblinka.

So when large murals with the bold statement ‘I Miss You, Jew’ began to appear on the walls of once Jewish neighbourhoods in Poland, people were a bit confused. Some were downright insulted.

In a cafe not far from Prozna, the only surviving street of the Jewish ghetto where thousands of Jews lost their lives in the Warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943, I meet the creator of the murals, Rafal Betlejewski, a Warsaw-based artist.

His desire to create his own narrative, one which he hopes will ultimately lead him to a greater understanding of his own ‘Jewish complex’, inspired him to create the project. After six years of preparation, the ‘Tesknie za Toba Zydzie’ (I Miss You, Jew) project and website were launched on January 27, to coincide with International Holocaust Memorial day.

The aim is to create an accessible online archive. Rafal’s idea is simple.

“Local people in those towns and neighbourhoods once populated by Jewish people, will gather around an empty chair and declare ‘I miss you, Jew’. The photos of these actions, along with testimony and old photos from anyone who wishes to contribute, will be posted on the website. It has already been a notable success. It’s amazing how many Poles want to write warm letters to the long gone Jews.”

Rafal sees the slogan and the murals as an attempt to reclaim a language which he feels has been turned over to anti-semitism and to recast the memory of the Jews in the minds of the Polish people.

“When you understand that Poland had been the main Jewish country for six or seven centuries and that it had produced such an enormous load of cultural content, suddenly you realise that the holocaust was actually ‘our great loss’. Poland is poorer now. We are not the same nation. Our cities don’t have the same flavour or poetry and literature is less vibrant,” Rafal says.

Ten years ago, Jan Tomasz Gross, a professor of history at Princeton University and a Polish Jew, published a controversial book entitled The Neighbours. It told the story of the village of Jedwabne in north east Poland, where on July 10, 1941, the Jewish inhabitants were rounded up and locked into a barn which was then burned to the ground, killing up to a thousand people. Gross’s shocking contention was that contrary to popular belief, it was the Polish people of the village who perpetrated this crime, and not the Nazi occupiers.

According to Rafal, it demolished an accepted narrative that he and so many others had been made to believe in school.

“No one wanted to believe it, me included. Because of this book and the whole public outcry surrounding it, I suddenly realised how little, if anything, I knew about the Jews in Poland. Being just a regular student of the pre-1989 Polish education system and a reader of mainly Polish literature, a sheep to Polish Catholic culture if you like, I had no idea whatsoever as to the role the Jews had played in the history of Poland,” he explains.

Like many Poles of his generation, Rafal felt little empathy with the Jews, whose plight had simply not played a part the shaping of his own consciousness. He feels that he had no way of knowing that they used to live here in such numbers.

“I did not know their customs, language, philosophy, poetry, tradition etc. And I absolutely had no idea of the holocaust and its gravity,” he says.

He decided to travel to Jedwabne.

“I realised that it was a no-man’s-land, a place where no Polish person could truly define themselves, because everything they pertained to know was wrong. The repression of the Jewish memory, if you will, had not been accidental, it had been a concerted political effort and it is my opinion that the Jews had been tragically wiped out for a second time, in being removed from the national myth.”

He hopes that the project, which runs for a year, will represent a positive platform on which Poles can communicate repressed feelings, a place where a nation can begin to “break the spell of statistical truth, the numbers, and the dates. I hope that we can begin to connect to what used to be the real Polish-Jewish experience: the face-to-face, next-door kind of coexistence. In many ways I feel we really do ‘want’ to miss them.”