Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust’

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 feedback@forward.com

Read more: http://www.forward.com/articles/135643/#ixzz1EyTvVMA8

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TUVIA FRIEDMAN, NAZI HUNTER

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

 

https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=136958126331409&comments&ref=mf

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.

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
Almighty:

“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”!

http://www.eset.com/

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 http://www.tesknie.com 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.”

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/how-one-man-is-helping-his-country-to-remember-2072619.html

PBS presents ‘God on Trial’ in Auschwitz

March 20, 2010

By Tom Tugend

The prosecutor reads the charges against God: murder, collaboration with the enemy, breach of contract with His chosen people.

Setting: A barrack in Auschwitz, with some 20 Jewish prisoners, half of whom will be gassed in the morning.

Time: evening, sometime during the Holocaust.

So opens “God on Trial,” an intellectual and emotional masterpiece, airing on PBS stations on Sunday evening, Nov. 9, the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

A half-Jew, once a respected judge in Germany, presides over the trial. A young prisoner is the prosecutor, while his father speaks for the defense. A rabbi, who has committed the entire Torah to memory, cites chapter and verse. Other inmates break in occasionally, drawing on their own experiences to accuse or defend the Almighty.

In his opening statement, the prosecutor recites the history of Jewish persecution, from Babylon to the Romans to Czarist Russia, to show that God has habitually broken his covenant with the children of Israel.

No, counters the defense, it is the Jews who are the contract breakers, because they forgot the Torah.

Prosecutor: Why did God disperse the Jews?

Defense: To spread knowledge of His word throughout the world.

The defense argues that God, like a surgeon, must occasionally remove the gangrene to purify the body and usher in the golden age.

Are you saying that Mengele and Hitler are doing God’s work? the prosecution asks. Do you say that only the righteous will survive? Not true. Only the cunning and shameless will survive — and will these build the nation of Israel?

A former physicist from France asks for rational reasoning. It’s not about faith, it’s about who has the power, he argues.

A cynical inmate notes that the buckles on the belts of German soldiers carry the motto “Gott Mit Uns” — God Is With Us — and suggests that the Almighty has decided to transfer his covenant to someone else.

The nonreligious judge tells the “jury” that the Nazis want to strip them not just of their lives, but also their dignity, and warns that “Now they also want to take away your God, even a foolish god.”

These few examples only hint as the depth and conviction of the give-and-take, which make our customary debates about the existence and belief in God sound like high-school exercises.

It would be wrong to give away the final verdict, or the heart-stopping closing scene, but suffice that both atheists and believers will find some satisfaction and solace.

“God on Trial” was first aired by the BBC and features a superb cast of mostly British actors, including Antony Sher, Rupert Graves, Dominic Cooper, Stellan Skarsgard and Jack Shepherd.

Persistent reports over 60 years have it that something resembling such a trial actually took place in Auschwitz, with Elie Wiesel frequently cited as the authority for the report.

Wiesel himself, speaking from New York, set the record straight.

“When I was in Auschwitz, the former head of a yeshiva and I worked together for about two weeks, carrying bricks,” Wiesel recounted.

When they had a chance to talk together, the rabbi would speculate on the idea of bringing God before a rabbinical court on charges of abandoning his people.

The verdict might be guilty or, at least, that God owed the Jews an explanation for the Holocaust, said Wiesel, who lost track of the rabbi, but presumes he was killed by the Germans. Wiesel doesn’t know whether the rabbi was ever able to realize his idea.

Executive producer Mark Redhead (“Bloody Sunday”) and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce (“Welcome to Sarajevo”) are Christians and, speaking from London, admitted to some trepidation in tackling so sensitive and Jewish a subject.

Cottrell Boyce, a devout Catholic, said, “I first talked to a number of rabbis and was assured that Jews had a long tradition of arguing with God. That impressed me, because Christians would never put God on trial.

“One point I wanted to make is that the spirit of the Jews was not completely crushed by the Holocaust, that they were more than walking skeletons.”

But, essentially, the teleplay is not about the Holocaust, but about God, he said. “Since 9/11 and the tsunami, God seems to be back on the scene again.”

Asked whether the arguments about God’s guilt had shaken his own Catholic faith, he responded, “Sure, it’s shaken all the time, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Redhead went one step further, proposing that the drama is not about the existence of God, “but more about the nature of faith, how we conduct ourselves in the face of savagery, how we try to find solid ground in a bottomless swamp.”

He added, “We are asking about the meaning of life, because if the Holocaust had no meaning, then nothing has any meaning.”

KCET will air “God on Trial” on Masterpiece Contemporary at 9 p.m. on Nov. 9.

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PBS presents ‘God on Trial’ in Auschwitz

By Tom Tugend

http://www.jewishjournal.com/ television/article/pbs_presents_god_on_trial_in_auschwitz_20081106/

The prosecutor reads the charges against God: murder, collaboration with the enemy, breach of contract with His chosen people.

Setting: A barrack in Auschwitz, with some 20 Jewish prisoners, half of whom will be gassed in the morning.

Time: evening, sometime during the Holocaust.

So opens “God on Trial,” an intellectual and emotional masterpiece, airing on PBS stations on Sunday evening, Nov. 9, the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

A half-Jew, once a respected judge in Germany, presides over the trial. A young prisoner is the prosecutor, while his father speaks for the defense. A rabbi, who has committed the entire Torah to memory, cites chapter and verse. Other inmates break in occasionally, drawing on their own experiences to accuse or defend the Almighty.

In his opening statement, the prosecutor recites the history of Jewish persecution, from Babylon to the Romans to Czarist Russia, to show that God has habitually broken his covenant with the children of Israel.

No, counters the defense, it is the Jews who are the contract breakers, because they forgot the Torah.

Prosecutor: Why did God disperse the Jews?

Defense: To spread knowledge of His word throughout the world.

The defense argues that God, like a surgeon, must occasionally remove the gangrene to purify the body and usher in the golden age.

Are you saying that Mengele and Hitler are doing God’s work? the prosecution asks. Do you say that only the righteous will survive? Not true. Only the cunning and shameless will survive — and will these build the nation of Israel?

A former physicist from France asks for rational reasoning. It’s not about faith, it’s about who has the power, he argues.

A cynical inmate notes that the buckles on the belts of German soldiers carry the motto “Gott Mit Uns” — God Is With Us — and suggests that the Almighty has decided to transfer his covenant to someone else.

The nonreligious judge tells the “jury” that the Nazis want to strip them not just of their lives, but also their dignity, and warns that “Now they also want to take away your God, even a foolish god.”

These few examples only hint as the depth and conviction of the give-and-take, which make our customary debates about the existence and belief in God sound like high-school exercises.

It would be wrong to give away the final verdict, or the heart-stopping closing scene, but suffice that both atheists and believers will find some satisfaction and solace.

“God on Trial” was first aired by the BBC and features a superb cast of mostly British actors, including Antony Sher, Rupert Graves, Dominic Cooper, Stellan Skarsgard and Jack Shepherd.

Persistent reports over 60 years have it that something resembling such a trial actually took place in Auschwitz, with Elie Wiesel frequently cited as the authority for the report.

Wiesel himself, speaking from New York, set the record straight.

“When I was in Auschwitz, the former head of a yeshiva and I worked together for about two weeks, carrying bricks,” Wiesel recounted.

When they had a chance to talk together, the rabbi would speculate on the idea of bringing God before a rabbinical court on charges of abandoning his people.

The verdict might be guilty or, at least, that God owed the Jews an explanation for the Holocaust, said Wiesel, who lost track of the rabbi, but presumes he was killed by the Germans. Wiesel doesn’t know whether the rabbi was ever able to realize his idea.

Executive producer Mark Redhead (“Bloody Sunday”) and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce (“Welcome to Sarajevo”) are Christians and, speaking from London, admitted to some trepidation in tackling so sensitive and Jewish a subject.

Cottrell Boyce, a devout Catholic, said, “I first talked to a number of rabbis and was assured that Jews had a long tradition of arguing with God. That impressed me, because Christians would never put God on trial.

“One point I wanted to make is that the spirit of the Jews was not completely crushed by the Holocaust, that they were more than walking skeletons.”

But, essentially, the teleplay is not about the Holocaust, but about God, he said. “Since 9/11 and the tsunami, God seems to be back on the scene again.”

Asked whether the arguments about God’s guilt had shaken his own Catholic faith, he responded, “Sure, it’s shaken all the time, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Redhead went one step further, proposing that the drama is not about the existence of God, “but more about the nature of faith, how we conduct ourselves in the face of savagery, how we try to find solid ground in a bottomless swamp.”

He added, “We are asking about the meaning of life, because if the Holocaust had no meaning, then nothing has any meaning.”

KCET will air “God on Trial” on Masterpiece Contemporary at 9 p.m. on Nov. 9.

http://www.jewishjournal.com/ television/article/pbs_presents_god_on_trial_in_auschwitz_20081106/

SOMEWHERE – Barbra Streisand

March 15, 2010

SOMEWHERE. A Holocaust Memorial.
(Extended version of a previous video)

A BEAUTIFUL, EXTREMELY TOUCHING PRESENTATION BY BARBRA STREISAND. AT THE BEGINNING YOU WILL SEE IMAGES OF THE BOAT ‘THE SAINT LOUIS’ THAT SAILED FROM GERMANY WITH GERMAN JEWS WHO TRIED TO LEAVE. BUT THEY WERE TURNED BACK BY THE ANTI- SEMITIC STATE DEPARTMENT OF PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT. MANY AMERICAN JEWS LOVED HIM. I NEVER REALIZED WHAT A GROUP OF ANTI-SEMITES HE HAD WORKING WITH HIM UNTIL I READ ‘CHUTZPAH’ BY ALAN DERSHOWITZ. FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SNOPE THIS OR READ THE BOOK — ESPECIALLY WHERE HE DESCRIBES WHAT HAPPENED IN THE CAMPS AND WAS BROUGHT TO ONE OF OUR OWN JUSTICES, FELIX FRANFURTER. THIS JUST SICKENS ME. GOOD FOR AMERICA BUT THANK G-D FOR THE STATE OF ISRAEL.

Streisand on “Somewhere”:

“I think its message is universal. One can listen to the lyric of “Somewhere” and relate to it on any level. From whatever walk of life you are, from whatever perspective you have, somehow you can relate to “Somewhere.”

SOMEWHERE (abridged version)

SOMEWHERE: A HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL.
Kristallnacht 1938 and the S.S. St. Louis voyage to Havana, Cuba in 1939. More than 900 jews on a ship bound for Cuba with valid landing permits were denied entry and forced to return to Europe. Many of them perished in the nazi concentration camps.

After the war, a Holocaust Memorial was erected at the Jewish cemetery in Havana with the following description: Honrando la memoria
En este lugar estan enterradas varias pastillas de jabon hechas de grasas humanas hebreas parte de los seis millones victimas de la barbarie nazi ocurrido en el siglo veinte.
Paz a sus restos.

Translation:

“Here are buried several bars of soap made from human fat of jews part of the six million victims of nazi cruelty which took place in the twentieth century.
Rest in peace.”

Quotation:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way”
-Charles Dickens from A TALE OF TWO CITIES.