New York Attacks on Jews

Dear Friends,

Elie Wiesel reminds us, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

To see the video in the article, click HERE.

We encourage you to spread the word about what is happening in America’s largest city in the hope many will push back in whatever way they can.

Best wishes,

Harriet and Bill

New York mayor condemns ‘outrageous attacks’ on Jews as near-daily assaults continue

Mayor Eric Adams says antisemitism ‘won’t be tolerated’ after woman strikes Haredi man on sidewalk, as community members call for stiffer punishments against assailants

By LUKE TRESS   Times of Israel 19 September 2022

NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Sunday condemned attacks on Jews as near-daily assaults on community members continued, drawing calls for more US government action.

“These outrageous attacks on our Jewish community won’t be tolerated, not in our city,” Adams said in response to a video showing a woman striking a Jewish man.

The video posted by Boro Park Shomrim, a neighborhood watch group, showed the woman pursuing an ultra-Orthodox man down a city sidewalk, screaming at him. She then swatted off his kippah and shtreimel, a traditional hat worn by Haredi men on Shabbat and holidays.

NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Sunday condemned attacks on Jews as near-daily assaults on community members continued, drawing calls for more US government action.

“These outrageous attacks on our Jewish community won’t be tolerated, not in our city,” Adams said in response to a video showing a woman striking a Jewish man.

The video posted by Boro Park Shomrim, a neighborhood watch group, showed the woman pursuing an ultra-Orthodox man down a city sidewalk, screaming at him. She then swatted off his kippah and shtreimel, a traditional hat worn by Haredi men on Shabbat and holidays.

Boro Park Shomrim said the woman had been arrested.

“We will keep our streets safe,” Adams said, thanking police for “their quick response to these acts of anti-Semitic hatred.”

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul said, “Acts of antisemitism are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

“Hate crimes will not be tolerated in New York, and we’ve strengthened our laws to further hold perpetrators accountable,” Hochul said.

The American Jewish CommitteeAnti-Defamation League, US House Representative Jerry Nadler and local politicians also condemned the attack.

𝐁𝐨𝐫𝐨 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐤 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐦𝐫𝐢𝐦


Another day and another disturbing incident in #BoroPark. This despicable incident happened this afternoon but thanks to our volunteers, she was caught and subsequently arrested by @NYPD66Pct

nearly identical incident also occurred in Boro Park earlier this week when a man riding a bicycle knocked the hat off of a Jewish man on a street.

Jews are consistently the group most targeted in hate crimes in New York City on an annual basis, in per capita and absolute terms, with the Anti-Defamation League reporting a record-high number of incidents last year.

The NYPD has confirmed 149 anti-Jewish hate crimes between the start of the year and June 28, representing an incident every 29 hours on average. The attacks range from violent assaults to racial slurs and property damage, and many more likely go unreported.

In August, the NYPD reported 24 anti-Jewish hate crimes, far more than against any other group and a 118-percent jump over the same month last year.

Many of the attacks target visibly identifiable Jews and Jewish targets in Brooklyn. Haredi communities in the area are also feeling under attack due to an uproar over secular education in the yeshiva religious school system, with some community leaders warning the issue could stoke further antisemitism.

Most of the attacks do not result in serious punishment, drawing the ire of Jewish advocates who have demanded changes to bail laws that could lead to harsher repercussions for assailants.

Late last month, police announced two arrests for suspected hate crimes against Jews, as Brooklyn community leaders praised police, called for bail reform and said the community was “terrified.” Police also said they would step up patrols around synagogues.

On Thursday, US House Representative Ritchie Torres called on the FBI and the US attorney general to investigate New York’s response to antisemitism, highlighting the low number of serious punishments for anti-Jewish hate crimes.

“The federal government can no longer stand by passively as antisemitic violence goes unchecked and unpunished in America’s largest city,” said Torres, a Democrat who represents New York’s 15th Congressional district in the Bronx and is a firm supporter of Jewish communities and Israel.

In a rare case, a US federal court charged a pro-Palestinian activist with a hate crime after he beat a Jewish man on the sidelines of a protest in Manhattan in April. An investigation found the defendant had attacked two other Jews in unprovoked assaults last year.

In some of the other incidents in the past week, a Jewish man was punched in the face repeatedly in an unprovoked attack in Queens; Nazi graffiti was sprayed on a fountain in Manhattan; and a Jewish woman was shot with a BB gun in Brooklyn.


October 16, 2022 at 11:09 am Leave a comment

Haiti Update

Dear Friends,

Tragically, this is Haiti today, a country that opened a welcoming door to Bill and his family in 1939.

Harriet and Bill

U.S. backs sending international forces to Haiti, draft proposal says

By John Hudson and Widlore Mérancourt

Washington Post            October 15, 2022

A draft U.N. resolution, citing instability and violence in Haiti, suggests the Biden administration may be willing to participate in a multinational mission that has a military component

Police fire tear gas at protesters demanding the resignation of Haiti’s prime minister, Ariel Henry, in Port-au-Prince on Monday. (Ralph Tedy Erol/Reuters)

The United States has drafted a United Nations Security Council resolution encouraging “the immediate deployment of a multinational rapid action force” to Haiti in response to the rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian situation there, according to a copy of the resolution obtained by The Washington Post.

The drafting of the resolution follows a push by U.N. Secretary General António Guterres for the creation of an international force to bolster the Haitian National Police as powerful armed gangs destabilize the country, disrupting the supply of fuel and electricity to the impoverished Caribbean nation.

The resolution is the first sign the Biden administration may be willing to participate in a Haiti mission that has a military component. U.S. officials have been noncommittal when asked about requests to send U.S. forces to lessen the violence and misrule that has led to a shortage of clean drinking water and threatens to worsen a cholera outbreak.The resolution does not identify specific countries that would participate in the rapid reaction force, nor does it spell out what roles those nationswould play.

Neither the White House nor the State Department immediately responded to requests for comment about the draft resolution, which was first reported by the McClatchy news organization. A spokesperson for the Haitian government did not immediately respond to a request for comment either.

A Pentagon spokesman, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, declined to comment.

A person familiar with discussions underway within the U.S. government, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the matter is considered sensitive, said that any American military personnel involved in a Haiti mission would likely provide logistical support only. This person said they were unaware of any plans to put U.S. “boots on the ground.”

Steep fuel price hikes spark violent protests in Haiti

The United States has long been reluctant to deploy military forces in Haiti. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States would accelerate the provision of humanitarian aid to Haiti, and “increase and deploy” security assistance for the country’s national police “in coming days.” He did not specify what that could entail, saying only that the aim was to “strengthen their capacity to counter gangs and reestablish a stable security environment under the rule of law.”

In this week’s proposal, Guterres recommended that countries send a rapid-response force that would be followed by a mission led by the United Nations. In the draft resolution reviewed by The Post, which a diplomat said was up to date as of Friday, the United States is “encouraging the immediate deployment of a multinational rapid action force to support the [Haitian National Police], as recommended in the Secretary General’s letter.”

It is unclear the degree to which other members of the U.N. Security Council support such a move, if China or Russia would veto the proposal, or if the current draft may change substantially before being proposed by the United States as soon as Monday.

The resolution also imposes an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on criminal elements in Haiti. It singles out Haitian gang leader Jimmy Cherizier, who is known as Barbecue, as someone who has “engaged in acts that threaten the peace, security, and stability of Haiti and has planned, directed, or committed acts that constitute serious human rights abuses.”

In Haiti, a man named Barbecue test the rule of law

Last month, Cherizier, who leads the group G9 Family and Allies, blocked access to Varreux Terminal in Port-au-Prince, the capital. The port is responsible for about 70 percent of the fuel distributed in the country.

Cherizier is seeking a change in the leadership of the country, governed since last year by Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who assumed power after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Moïse’s killing remains unsolved.

The blockade has exacerbateda dire economic and social situation in Haiti. Hospitals are running out of fuel in the middle of a resurgence of cholera early this month. Banks are open three days a week, as opposed to six normally. At least one bank branch is scheduled to close next week due to fuel scarcity.

Cholera resurfaces in Haiti as gangs hinder access to water, hospitals

According to the World Food Program, 4.7 million people in Haiti face varying degrees of hunger, with an estimated 19,000 experiencing what the organization considers catastrophic levels.

Port-au-Prince is increasingly becoming an isolated island with gangs, often tied to the political and economic class, blocking the main roads, all but eliminating connection to the north and the south of the country. Their grip renders it extremely difficult for humanitarian assistance to reach those in needs.

Outgunned by the gangs, the Haitian National Police has lost control of the situation. Local media reported that in recent days a gang seized an armored vehicle and stole the equipment inside.

On Saturday, the State Department issued a statement saying U.S. and Canadian military aircraft arrived in Port-au-Prince that day to deliver “vital Haitian government-purchased security equipment, including tactical and armored vehicles,” to Haiti’s authorities.

“The equipment will assist the [police] in their fight against criminal actors who are fomenting violence and disrupting the flow of critically-needed humanitarian assistance,” the statement said.




October 16, 2022 at 10:46 am Leave a comment

Searching for Answers About Mengele

Dear Friends,

An excellent new book exploring the activities of Mengele.

Harriet and Bill

A French bestseller considers Josef Mengele’s years on the run

Washington Post                August 18, 2022       Review by Diane Cole

All who entered the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz between the spring of 1943 and January 1945 observed, and all too often suffered, the evil that lurked inside SS Captain Dr. Josef Mengele (1911-1979). Today he is remembered as “the archetypal cold, sadistic Nazi: a monster,” writes Olivier Guez in “The Disappearance of Josef Mengele,”his deeply researched novel about the post-World War II decades of one of the most hunted, and hated, fugitives of the 20th century. It is as gruesome as it is indelible. Perhaps that is why, in addition to winning the prestigious Prix Renaudot literary award in 2017, the French novel has been translated into 25 languages and become a worldwide bestseller.

Guez opens his documentary-style chronicle, translated by Georgia de Chamberet, with the 1949 arrival in Buenos Aries of Helmut Gregor, a secretive 38-year-old German who hides his face behind an overgrown mustache and a hat whose brim shadows his eyes. He has been on the run for four years, living under different guises in Bavaria and Italy, and hopes now, at last, to find sanctuary in a city that has become a well-known safe haven for Nazis who have — at least, so far — evaded arrest for their war crimes, among them Gregor’s fellow émigré Ricardo Klement, a.k.a. Adolf Eichmann.

The story of twins who endured Josef Mengele, the Nazi ‘Angel of Death’

Despite his new freedom, though, Gregor — a.k.a. Josef Mengele — feels shackled by the need to hide a Nazi past he remains gloriously proud of. He is aggrieved by the absence of his wife, Irene, and their son, Rolf, who refused to accompany him into exile, and embittered by what he views as Hitler’s inexplicable defeat in the war. Most painful of all has been the forced abandonment of his life’s work as a self-styled “soldier of biology” in the field of “racial hygiene,” a Nazi euphemism for ridding the German gene pool of any “impure” traces. It was his moral duty, he believed, “to uncover the secrets of twinship, to produce supermen and increase German fertility.” At the risk of giving away his true identity, he has even brought with him from Germany a suitcase filled with blood specimens, cell samples and research records in hopes of salvaging, perhaps even continuing, his interrupted studies.

In private, Mengele revels in this grisly past. He had earned his infamous nickname, the Angel of Death, for his brutally efficient “selections” among incoming prisoners at Auschwitz, routinely sending the vast majority to immediate death in the gas chambers and singling out a small minority to live for at least a bit longer as slave laborers who could be discarded at whim. His chief whim was his passion for human torture — conducted, or rationalized, as genetic and medical experimentation designed to further the Nazi cause of racial purity.

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He did so with what some would call the zeal of a mad scientist or others would describe more clinically as pathological amorality, by systematically seeking out twins, pregnant women, blue-eyed individuals and those with any sort of physical abnormality to be used as human laboratory specimens, and subjecting them to all manner of “injecting, measuring, bleeding; cutting, killing, performing autopsies,” Guez writes. Indeed, so fixated on the Nazi ideal of racial purity symbolized by blue eyes was Mengele that he decorated an office wall with “eyes pinned to it like butterflies.”Obsessed with his lost life and lost status, Mengele simmers in rage and stews in self-pity. Yet as the 1950s wear on, he begins to warm to his new life. He basks in the company of fellow Nazi expatriates as they celebrate Hitler’s birthday and toast their vision of a reconquered Fatherland under new Nazi leadership. He lives in comfort, thanks to regular payments from his well-to-do family back home in Germany; in return, he serves as the South American sales representative for the Mengele family’s expanding international farm machinery business. In this Nazi cocoon, he comes to believe that he is safe at last, that Argentine President Juan Perón and his Nazi-friendly regime will never allow his arrest. With his self-confidence — and his hubris — returned, he boldly abandons his assumed identity, takes out a passport under his real name, revisits his family in Europe and, upon his return to South America, remarries.


August 18, 2022 at 11:40 am Leave a comment

Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel (Boston U. Hon.’74) Honored with Bust in Washington National Cathedral

Image of late BU professor and Holocaust chronicler
to be dedicated October 12 in Human Rights Porch

The late Holocaust chronicler Elie Wiesel (Hon.’74) is the first Jewish person to receive an honorary bust at Washington National Cathedral’s Human Rights Porch. Photo courtesy of Washington National Cathedral

BU Today September 25, 2021 By Rich Barlow

The Nazis couldn’t kill Elie Wiesel at Auschwitz or Buchenwald. Having survived childhood imprisonment in the death camps, he made sure their horrors would be remembered in many of his 57 books (notably the memoir Nightand his almost 40 years of teaching at BU.

Some five years after his death at 87, Wiesel (Hon.’74), who chronicled the worst of humanity, has joined some of the best. His soulful-eyed face, in stone, now gazes from a corner 10 feet up in an alcove of human rights heroes at Washington National Cathedral.

The bust of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner makes Wiesel the first modern Jewish person memorialized in the Episcopal basilica’s Human Rights Porch. He’s in august company. The Porch’s other corners are anchored by busts of Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, and civil rights martyr Jonathan Myrick Daniels, an unarmed Episcopal seminarian shot dead in Alabama in 1965 while defending a Black teenager. Elsewhere in the alcove, statues remember the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Salvadoran Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero, and Bishop John Walker, the first Black bishop of D.C.’s Episcopalians.

Wiesel taught at BU for almost four decades before retiring. He died in 2016. Photo by Vernon Doucette

Wiesel was a College of Arts & Sciences professor of philosophy and religion, and one of only two professors to hold the University’s Andew W. Mellon Professorship in the Humanities (Ibram Kendi is the other). Night’s 100-plus pages searingly detail his Holocaust nightmare, from the guilt he experienced over resenting his father’s growing incapacitation to the latter’s fatal beating as his young son cowered in a bunk above.

“His is a powerful voice against the danger of indifference,” says the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of the Cathedral, in explaining the decision to install Wiesel’s likeness. “Whenever we overlook the suffering of others because it’s too hard or inconvenient, he reminds us that we not only deny their humanity, but our own. His life is a testament to the power and importance of vigilance to protect any and all threats to human dignity.”

“We are immensely proud,” says Michael Zank, director of BU’s Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies and a CAS professor of religion. “We are also moved by the fact that this is happening now, when acts of antisemitism are on the rise both in the United States and abroad. That Wiesel is placed in the company of Rosa Parks, Oscar Romero, and Mother Teresa means that he is recognized as a voice of conscience.

“This is especially important at a time when the struggle for human rights inspires young people more than ever before.”

“Anti-Semitism is one of the world’s oldest and most insidious evils, and Professor Wiesel’s life and work call on each of us to vigilantly work against it,” Hollerith says. “We may never rid the world of anti-Semitism, but we in the church have a special calling to ensure it never again results in the horrors that Professor Wiesel endured.”

Artist Chas Fagan (right) works with stone carver Sean Callahan on his sculpture of Wiesel, to be dedicated October 12. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

The bust of Wiesel is the product of two years’ work. Cathedral stone carver Sean Callahan says Wiesel’s image was sculpted by North Carolinian Charles Fagan, who had also sculpted the other corner busts in the Human Rights Porch. Callahan did the actual stone carving of Wiesel with help from Joe Alonso, the Cathedral’s head stonemason.

Wiesel’s stone visage was created using medieval techniques. “The easy, modern way to depict Elie Wiesel might be a precast concrete sculpture,” Callahan says. “Some elements of the process would be the same, but the result would be fairly generic. We use a whole series of hand-carving techniques—chisels, mallets, and any number of tools—to carve the figures directly into the stone of the Cathedral.

“The result is something permanent and one-of-a-kind. Cathedrals were built to last for generations, and the methods are passed down from one generation to the next. This sort of art can’t be mass-produced,” Callahan says, “and shouldn’t be.”

Getting Wiesel’s expression right—“serious, but not too serious, hopeful, but realistic”—was a challenge, he confesses: “Older faces like his have a lot of crags and lines from years of struggle; each of those features takes time to get just right. A younger person with fewer wrinkles and creases can come together more quickly.

“The eyes are the most important part of the sculpture, and it takes a lot of time and skill to make sure the expression captures what you’re looking for,” Callahan says. That’s particularly the case when this set of eyes witnessed horrors that, mercifully, few people ever have to behold. “They say that eyes are the windows to the soul, and that’s especially true when you’re carving a face into stone.” 

A dedication of the bust is planned for October 12 in cooperation with the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum

“Professor Wiesel survived the worst that humanity could offer,” Hollerith says, “but he also continually points us to the best of humanity.”


August 10, 2022 at 6:13 pm Leave a comment

Hitler’s Generals, Washingtn Post

Dear Friends,

During August, we always remember our Aunt Elsbeth whose birth date is August 25, 1916, therefore the Washington Post article below is of particular relevance. She was a prisoner in Auschwitz Block 10 where, in her late 20’s, she was experimented on and sterilized, leaving her unable to ever have children.

As an ever-present central figure in our lives, she taught so many lessons about how to face the darkness of Nazi evil, the horrors of Hitler’s world and the infliction of suffering and murder on millions of innocent men, women and children. We are forever grateful for all she gave us during her life and now.

Best wishes,. 

Harriet and Bill

Trump wanted ‘loyal’ generals like Hitler’s — who often tried to kill him

By Gillian Brockell Washington Post August 9, 2022

Nazi leader Adolf Hitler with Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in 1942. (German Federal Archive)

Former president Donald Trump has proved time and again that he is no student of history, despite citing the past with the regularity of a thunderstorm on a summer afternoon.

The latest example comes from the New Yorker, which has published an excerpt from Peter Baker and Susan Glasser’s upcoming book, “The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021,” focused on Trump’s troubles with the military men in his administration whom he once referred to as “mygenerals.”

At one point, according to the book, he complained to his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, a former Marine general, asking why he and others couldn’t be “totally loyal” to him, like the “German generals in World War II.”

Presidential Records Act scandals, from Nixon’s tapes to Trump’s ‘burn bags’

“You do know that they tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off?” Kelly allegedly responded.

So were Adolf Hitler’s generals yes men? Or did they really plot to assassinate him three times and get close once?

In total, there were at least 42 plots to assassinate Hitler, according to historian Roger Moorhouse in his book “Killing Hitler: The Plots, the Assassins, and the Dictator Who Cheated Death.” Of those, at least 10 attempts involved German generals.

One of the earliest came in 1938, before World War II even began. A handful of generals led by Hans Oster conspired with government ministers and diplomats to overthrow Hitler, and kill him if necessary, believing he was about to thrust Germany into a massive war it could not win. The plot fell apart when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain negotiated a peace treaty, heading off the immediate threat of war. Most of the generals involved quietly joined the German resistance; Oster was executed by the Nazis in 1945.

Hitler shot himself 75 years ago, ending an era of war, genocide and destruction

Gen. Hubert Lanz developed another plot in 1943. When Hitler arrived for a scheduled visit to the eastern front in Ukraine, Lanz and other officers planned to surround Hitler and his security with tanks and, if they resisted arrest, blow them to bits. Hitler ruined the plan by visiting a different spot than they had expected. Lanz was later convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg.

Maj. Gen. Henning von Tresckow organized a number of assassination attempts, including a bomb in a suitcase on Hitler’s plane, which failed to detonate when it froze in the cargo hold, and a bomb timed to go off during Hitler’s appearance at an armory, foiled when he raced through the building before the timer expired.

President Donald Trump and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly attend a meeting at the Oval Office in February 2018. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

The best-known plot — probably the “almost pulled it off” to which Kelly was referring — was the 20 July Plot, sometimes erroneously called Operation Valkyrie, which was the name of the continuity-of-government plan that Tresckow and his conspirators wanted to use to take over after they killed Hitler. Col. Claus von Stauffenberg — played by Tom Cruise in the 2008 film “Valkyrie” — placed a bomb in a suitcase close to Hitler in a conference room at his Wolf’s Lair retreat. Stauffenberg was driving away when he heard the bomb go off and presumed Hitler dead.

He wasn’t. An aide had moved the briefcase before it blew up, and Hitler was protected from the blast by a table leg. Four others died, and many more were injured. If the plotters had hoped to decapitate the Nazis, the attempt had the opposite effect: Hitler’s doctor recalled him saying over and over, “I am invulnerable. I am immortal,” according to Moorhouse.

Nazi military officials in 1944 inspect damage from the bomb used in the unsuccessful 20 July Plot to assassinate Hitler. (German Federal Archive)

In the following days, Tresckow killed himself, Stauffenberg died by firing squad, and thousands of alleged conspirators were rounded up, tortured and executed — including a raft of generals. Even Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, a national hero and talented commander, was caught up in the dragnet and forced to kill himself.

The next year, as the Allied forces closed in, Hitler — who had survived dozens of attempts on his life — died by suicide.

Letters found in an attic reveal eerie similarities between Adolf Hitler and his father

Historians are split on to what degree, if any, the generals plotting against him were motivated by a desire to stop Nazi atrocities such as the Holocaust. Many were aware of atrocities for years before they began to plot against Hitler and did nothing. Some may have been motivated more by the Nazis pushing aristocrats out of government than by high-minded ideals like democracy or human rights. Even the generals who wanted to kill Hitler to end the war planned to claim in their surrender terms much of the territory Germany had taken during the Nazi regime.

Like Trump, Kelly has previously been criticized for his questionable takes on history. In 2017, he told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that the Civil War was caused by “the lack of an ability to compromise” and that Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was “an honorable man,” views popular among the now-discredited “Lost Cause” hagiography to which many students in the 20th century were subjected.

Hitler’s generals are, by and large, not held up as principled heroes or honorable men, not even the ones who plotted to kill him. They are remembered as the men who stood by while Hitler murdered millions.


August 10, 2022 at 11:53 am Leave a comment

A Jewish girl disguises herself as a Christian to evade the Holocaust in ‘My Name Is Sara’

“My Name is Sara” follows the young Sara as she and her brother, Moishe, flee the Nazis in 1942.

The Jerusalem Post By ANDREW LAPIN/JTA Published: JULY 15, 2022 Updated: JULY 19, 2022

Polish actress Zuzanna Surowy in “My Name Is Sara.”
(photo credit: Strand Releasing via JTA)

(JTA) – Sara Góralnik Shapiro survived the Holocaust by disguising herself as a Christian and working for a family of Ukrainian farmers. She then went on to live a long and prosperous life as a member of Detroit’s Jewish community.

Her story is incredible on its own merits, and it’s hardly surprising that someone might one day want to make a film about it. “My Name Is Sara,” the latest dramatic production by the USC Shoah Foundation, is now seeing a nationwide rollout three years after it was made.

The foundation has recently broadened its mandate from backing documentary works about the Holocaust to dramatizations, including the recent HBO film “The Survivor.” “My Name is Sara” follows the young Sara (first-time Polish actor Zuzanna Surowy) as she and her brother, Moishe, flee the Nazis in 1942, the rest of their family having already been slaughtered. At Moishe’s suggestion, the two split up and Sara, under a fake name, throws herself at the mercy of a farming couple. She wards off their immediate suspicions that she is a Jew by successfully performing the sign of the cross; later, for her first meal under their roof, she enthusiastically eats a plate of pork.

Her ruse an early success, Sara and her story quickly fade into the background as the domestic drama of the farmers (played by Michalina Olszanska and Eryk Lubos) takes center stage. In addition to marital problems, they’re also struggling to make ends meet as they are harassed and intimidated by both Soviet “liberators” and violent Jewish partisans, with Nazis also glimpsed from time to time. It’s a thread of potential interest to budding historians curious about how Eastern Europe’s non-Jewish working class fared under World War II’s occupying forces, but less relevant when it comes to understanding Jewish survival.

Director Steven Oritt, a documentarian making his dramatic-feature debut, and screenwriter David Himmelstein, whose previous credits include Sidney Lumet’s “Power,” sprinkle in moments in which Sara’s true identity threatens to be exposed. At one point, she’s overheard reciting the Shema prayer to herself in a nightmare; at another, the family pushes her to dress up as a “Jew” for their holiday party, and she dons an antisemitic hook-nosed mask and payot (sidelocks worn by many Orthodox men) as the others dance and sing around her. Surowy reacts to these moments with a sort of wide-eyed blankness, a baseline level of existential terror that never truly fades.

Polish born Mordechai Fox, an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor, wears a yellow Star of David on his jacket during a ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day (credit: REUTERS)

Hundreds of Holocaust movies have already been made, and many of them have gone deeper in exploring the inner lives of their characters than “My Name is Sara” does. The new film shows the character struggling with the external pressures of hiding her identity, but does little to unpack what it must have been like for her to obscure her Judaism for an extended period of time as a way of surviving the genocide of the Jewish people.

One scene hints at what such an exploration could have looked like, as Sara encounters another lost Jewish girl and teaches her how to recite the Hail Mary, a central Catholic prayer, as a way of evading detection. By the end of the film, Sara has reclaimed both her name and Judaism — hers being one of the very few Holocaust stories with a happy ending.

“My Name Is Sara” is now playing at New York’s Quad Cinema and opens later this summer in LA, San Francisco, Miami, Detroit and Cincinnati.

Source: ‘My name is Sara’: How a Jewish girl hid as a Christian in the Holocaust – The Jerusalem Post (

July 19, 2022 at 9:27 am Leave a comment

Holocaust survivors mark 80 years since mass Paris roundup


A memorial is pictured near a train car symbolizing the Drancy camp, at the Shoah memorial Tuesday, July 12, 2022 in Drancy, outside Paris. The Paris mayor and head of the French Holocaust Memorial will mark the 80th anniversary of the round-up of the Vel d’Hiv, the biggest Nazi roundup of Jews in France, visiting the site used as an internment camp during World War II for tens of thousands of people who were then sent on to Auschwitz and other death camps. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron decried his Nazi-collaborator predecessors and rising antisemitism, vigorously vowing to stamp out Holocaust denial as he paid homage Sunday to thousands of French children sent to death camps 80 years ago for one reason alone: because they were Jewish.

Family by family, house by house, French police rounded up 13,000 people on two terrifying days in July 1942, wresting children from their mothers’ arms and dispatching everyone to Nazi death camps. France honored those victims this weekend, as it tries to keep their memory alive.

For the dwindling number of survivors of France’s wartime crimes, a series of commemoration ceremonies Sunday were especially important. At a time of rising antisemitism and far-right discourse sugarcoating France’s role in the Holocaust, they worry that history’s lessons are being forgotten.

A week of ceremonies marking 80 years since the Vel d’Hiv police roundup on July 16-17, 1942 culminated Sunday with an event led by Macron, who pledged that wouldn’t happen ever again.

“We will continue to teach against ignorance. We will continue to cry out against indifference,” Macron said. “And we will fight, I promise you, at every dawn, because France’s story is written by a combat of resistance and justice that will never be extinguished.”

He denounced former French leaders for their roles in the Holocaust and the Vel d’Hiv raids, among the most shameful acts undertaken by France during World War II.

Over those two days, police herded 13,152 people — including 4,115 children — into the Winter Velodrome of Paris, known as the Vel d’Hiv, before they were sent on to Nazi camps. It was the biggest such roundup in Western Europe. The children were separated from their families; very few survived.

In public testimonies over the past week, survivor Rachel Jedinak described a middle-of-the-night knock on the door, and being marched through the streets of Paris and herded into the velodrome in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

She recalled her desperate mother shouting at police. Some French neighbors informed on Jews, others wept as they watched them being corralled like livestock.

Chantal Blaszka’s aunts and uncle were among the children rounded up: 6-year-old Simon, 9-year-old Berthe, 15-year-old Suzanne. Their names are now engraved on a monument at a garden where the velodrome once stood, along with some 4,000 other children targeted in the raids. Photos of the children hang from tree trunks, the result of years of painstaking research to identify and honor the long-anonymous victims.

Of the children deported from the Vel d’Hiv 80 years ago, only six survived.

“Can you imagine?” Blaszka asked, pointing at the names and shaking her head. “Can you imagine?”

Serge Klarsfeld, a renowned Nazi hunter whose father was deported to Auschwitz, spoke Saturday in the garden, calling it an “earth-shaking testimony to the horrors lived by Jewish families.” Klarsfeld, 86, stressed the urgency of passing on memories as more of the war’s witnesses pass on.

On Sunday, Macron visited a site in Pithiviers south of Paris where police sent families after the Vel d’Hiv roundup, before sending them onto the Nazi camps. A new memorial site honoring the deportees was inaugurated, including a plaque that reads: “Let us never forget.”

The president urged vigilance: “We are not finished with antisemitism, and we must lucidly face that fact.”

“It is showing itself on the walls of our cities” when they are vandalized with swastikas, he continued. “It is infiltrating social networks … it inserts itself into debates on some TV shows. It shows itself in the complacency of certain political forces. It is prospering also through a new form of historic revisionism, even negationism.”

Another ceremony was held at the Shoah Memorial in the Paris suburb of Drancy, home to a transit center that was central to French Jews’ deadly journey to Nazi camps. Most of the 76,000 Jews deported from France under the collaborationist Vichy government passed through the Drancy camp.

The Drancy Shoah memorial actively documents the Holocaust, especially for younger generations. This work is especially important at a time when Jewish communities are increasingly worried about rising antisemitism in Europe. France’s Interior Ministry has reported a rise in antisemitic acts in France over recent years, and said that while racist and anti-religious acts overall are increasing, Jews are disproportionately targeted.

Anxiety has worsened for some since the far-right National Rally party made a surprising electoral breakthrough last month, winning a record 89 seats in France’s National Assembly. Party co-founder Jean-Marie Le Pen has been convicted of racism and downplaying the Holocaust. His daughter Marine, who now leads the party, has distanced herself from her father’s positions, but the party’s past still raises concerns for many Jews.

During the campaign for this year’s French presidential election, far-right candidate and pundit Eric Zemmour propagated the false claim that Adolf Hitler’s Vichy collaborators safeguarded France’s Jews.

It took France’s leadership 50 years after World War II to officially acknowledge the state’s involvement in the Holocaust, when then-President Jacques Chirac apologized for the French authorities’ role in the Vel d’Hiv raids.

“The policy, from 1942 onward, was to organize the murder of the Jews of Europe and therefore to organize the deportation of the Jews of France,” said Jacques Fredj, director of the Paris Shoah Memorial. “Most of the time, the decisions were made by the Nazis … but the management was French.”

Macro spelled it out clearly Sunday: “Let us repeat here with force, whether self-styled revisionist commentators like it or not.”

None of France’s Vichy wartime leaders, he said, “wanted to save Jews.”


Le Deley reported from Drancy, France. Boubkar Benzebat in Pithiviers, France and Masha Macpherson in Paris contributed.


July 19, 2022 at 9:13 am Leave a comment

What Hate Can Do: inside a devastating new exhibition on the Holocaust

At the Museum of Jewish Heritage, an expansive new exhibition traces back the story of Jewish life before, during and after a horrifying period

The Guardian By Jordan Hoffman July 16, 2022

Dokad Nas Pedza? (Where Are They Sending Us) by Feliks Puterman Photograph: Gift of David and Janet Rogowsky. Museum of Jewish Heritag

One enters The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do, the updated core exhibit at New York City’s Museum of Jewish Heritage, through a dark corridor. Yiddish and Hebrew songs are piped in as well-lit photographs and bright video screens show moments of domestic life from across the Jewish diaspora from decades ago. Families from Germany, Poland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Greece, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere are engaged in activities lively and mundane. Then, on the wall, in print too big to ignore, the punchline: “Many of these Jews were murdered by April 1943.”

“That was my idea,” Professor Judy Tydor Baumel-Schwartz, one of the primary historian-curators of the exhibit, tells me via a Zoom interview. “They wanted a map or something, and I said ‘no, we need something that hits you!’”

For Baumel-Schwartz, who has been teaching the Holocaust for 40 years, it’s also personal. “That regal-looking woman standing on a rug in front of a house? That’s my great-grandmother. And when my great-grandfather was deported from Romania to Transnistria they wouldn’t let him get his coat, so he grabbed that rug … which eventually went to my grandmother’s baby sister, and now it’s in room eight of this exhibit.”

How else to grapple with something as massive as the Holocaust than with specifics? Indeed, the show, which takes up 12,000 ft over two floors in a modern building near Manhattan’s Battery Park, runs with an unusual narrative. This first tunnel dumps you directly into the nadir of Spring 1943.

We’re reminded of the revolt and destruction of the Warsaw ghetto, the largest in Europe; we see a stone from the newly expanded crematoria of Auschwitz, the death factory responsible for killing 1 million Jews and 100,000 other victims; there are personal effects (a bland-looking towel like you’d get today at a motel) that once belonged to Jews sent from Vilnius to die by gunfire at the Ponary Massacre; and, finally, images from the Bermuda Conference, where US and UK delegates met to discuss what to do about the Jews facing genocide in Europe. (The answer, essentially, was to table for further discussion.)

Yellow Star from the baby carriage of Zonko Rechnitzer Photograph: Gift of Diane and Bill Stern, Scarsdale, New York. Museum of Jewish Heritage

“So once you know who these people are,” Baumel-Schwartz guides me, “the next obvious question is ‘why did everyone hate them?’ [The Holocaust] was not a train going off the tracks from 1933 to 1945. It was a train making noises for hundreds of years.”

This leads to a vast gallery packed with relics of Jew-hatred through the ages.

A timeline begins with the First Holy Crusades, details the 1194 Blood Libel in Norwich, explains British expulsion in 1290, and digs into the Alhambra Decree in 1492. Under glass is a note from King Ferdinand of Spain to a local governor offering instruction on what do with property seized from the Jews they hadf just kicked out of the country. (It wasn’t making charitable contributions, I can assure you.)

There are covers from the hoax text The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in multiple languages, and as modernity creeps in, there are artifacts concerning Henry Ford, Father Charles Coughlin (“kind of like an old podcaster,” a rather astute parent told a teen as I eavesdropped) and a staggering birthday gift given to Herman Göring from Reinhard Heydrich: a 1551 proclamation requiring Jews to wear “a yellow badge to distinguish themselves from gentle society”.

Ticket for an Anti-Hitler Demonstration in New York City. Photograph: Gift of the Tanenbaum family in memory of David and Rose Tanenbaum. Museum of Jewish Heritage

In the same display case are a pipe and beer stein of the era, with cartoonish renderings of shifty, dirty Jews. “This is antisemitism,” Professor Baumel-Schwartz says. “It’s not a meeting where you hear about how awful the Jews are. It’s a little object someone drinks their beer from at the end of the night from the time he’s 16. ‘This is what a Jew is,’ he thinks, ‘this disgusting thing!’”

Next comes the Nazi rise to power and the Nuremberg laws, and the response from occupied countries when their Jews found themselves facing restrictions and, eventually, deportation. (No nation, with the exception of Denmark, can hold their heads up too high here.)

The Holocaust is so enormous of a story that, again, the specifics linger. I was drawn to two small footnotes, because they touched on my experience. One was how a small-but-significant number of Jews emigrated to Shanghai, as no visa was needed there (my father has a letter from the camps where his grandfather floated this as an idea, before he was killed at Auschwitz), and another was learning about a German-language cinema in New York City, where I live, that showed Nazi propaganda as late as 1941. (It’s a Dunkin’ Donuts now.)

Professor Baumel-Schwartz points out a simple bowl that a family of Libyan Jews (part of a community originally from Gibraltar that was deported to Italy) used in a circumcision ceremony at the Bergen-Belsen camp. “The Holocaust was not just Yiddish-speaking European Jews. There were Ladino speakers, Arabic speakers, it depended on the luck of where you were living at the time.”

Enamel Bowl belonging to Burbea Family Photograph: Gift of Judith Tydor Baumel-Schwartz in Memory of the Burbea Family. Museum of Jewish Heritage

When one rides the escalator to the second floor, that’s where the mechanics of mass murder – from the genteel drawing rooms at the Wannsee Conference to the selection outside the gas chambers – are revealed.

I found myself newly frustrated at how the United States and United Kingdom were fully aware of what was going on (see the Karski Report, see the Riegner Telegram) and basically shrugged. American and British newspaper headlines get some prime, large font wall space; people knew what was happening.

After the war, the US allows more immigrants in, the United Nations is formed, and hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors find refuge in the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people, and create the State of Israel.

No matter where you stand on this last issue, I think everyone can agree that it hasn’t gone smoothly. Professor Baumel-Schwartz assures me that the particulars of pulling off a major museum show like this meant reducing initial designs in anticipation of a planned expansion. “A third floor,” she says, “will continue that conversation, and also discuss more contemporary antisemitism, which is, unfortunately, very relevant.”

Suggesting that someone should go to a Holocaust museum of their own free will is strange. One usually goes out of guilt, and this exhibit can’t really be considered fun. But it is thorough and clear and does the stated goal of explaining, as best as anything possibly could, just how this atrocity happened. Importantly, and without handholding, a thoughtful person begins considering current events, current prejudices, and questions if one is doing enough to stand for righteousness. In that regard, a visit is essential.

July 18, 2022 at 12:54 pm Leave a comment

Stories That Teach Us What Is Possible For Ordinary People

Dear Friends,

We remember those heroes that made an enormous difference in saving lives by sharing this very special inspiring article. They answered the call to action and their lives became unforgettable teaching stories.

All good wishes,

Harriet and Bill

How 9 Ordinary People Became Heroes During The Holocaust — And Risked Everything To Save Jewish Lives

By Kaleena Fraga | Checked By Jaclyn Anglis
ATI    September 1, 2021

From the “Japanese Schindler” to members of the Dutch resistance, these incredible stories of Holocaust heroes prove that not everyone was just following orders.

The horrors of the Holocaust are well known. But the genocide led by Nazi Germany — which killed six million Jews and millions of other people during World War II — also contained moments of quiet bravery.

In the darkest days of the war, ordinary people across Europe bravely stepped up to save Jewish people — often risking their own lives in the process. Some of these heroes used their position of power to help people. For example, Paul Grüninger used his role as a Swiss border commander to usher thousands of Jewish refugees to safety in Switzerland.

But other heroes — such as watchmaker Corrie ten Boom or office assistant Miep Gies — worked jobs that weren’t considered nearly as powerful. And yet, they still risked being executed by the Nazis to help Jews.

These are nine stories of heroism during the Holocaust.

1. Corrie Ten Boom: The Dutch Watchmaker Who Saved 800 Jews

Yad Vashem/The World Holocaust Remembrance Center
Corrie ten Boom showing the “hiding place” that her family used to conceal Jewish refugees.

Until the outbreak of World War II, Corrie ten Boom had led a quiet life. Born into a Christian family in the Dutch city of Haarlem, ten Boom grew up in a small apartment above her father’s watch shop. As an adult, she followed in his footsteps to become the first licensed female Dutch watchmaker.

But everything changed in May 1940 when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands. Ten Boom watched in horror and disbelief as her Jewish friends, neighbors, and customers started to disappear.

“At any minute there might be a rap on this door,” she wrote in her memoir, The Hiding Place, about a visit to see Jewish friends. “These children, this mother and father, might be ordered to the back of a truck.”

As the situation grew dire, ten Boom and her family decided to help Jewish people who were fleeing the Nazis. So they constructed a secret hiding place in ten Boom’s bedroom. There, until 1944, the ten Booms sheltered some 800 Jewish refugees until they could be transported away to safety.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The Nazis swiftly deported Dutch Jews from the Netherlands, leading high-ranking Nazi Adolf Eichmann to say: “In the beginning you could say that the trains from the Netherlands were really rolling; it was quite wonderful.”

But in February 1944, the ten Booms were found out. The Gestapo, tipped off by an informant, raided the home and arrested Corrie, her sister Betsie, and their elderly father Casper. Though the Gestapo searched the house, they did not find the last group of refugees who were hiding in the secret room.

Casper, Betsie, and Corrie ten Boom were thrown in prison. Casper, then 84 years old, died after just 10 days behind bars. And Corrie and Betsie were soon sent to concentration camps. Though Betsie fell ill at a camp and died, Corrie was released at the end of 1944 due to a clerical error. Corrie later found out that she had narrowly avoided death — as the other women in her age group were sent to the gas chambers shortly after she left.

She returned to the Netherlands, where she set up a rehabilitation center for concentration camp survivors. Ten Boom, inspired by her sister’s dying words about the power of God, spent the rest of her life preaching forgiveness.

Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel, later recognized Casper, Betsie, and Corrie ten Boom as “Righteous Among the Nations,” an honor given to non-Jewish heroes of the Holocaust.

To Read About:

2. Miep Gies: The Woman Who Hid Anne Frank And Saved Her Diary, CLICK HERE

3. Paul Grüninger: The Swiss Border Commander Who Falsified Documents To Save Jews, CLICK HERE

4. Nicholas Winton: The British Stockbroker Who Saved Hundreds Of Children From The Nazis, CLICK HERE

5. Irena Sendler: The Polish Humanitarian Who Helped Save 2,500 Children, CLICK HERE

6. Oskar Schindler: The Complicated Businessman Behind Schindler’s List, CLICK HERE

7. Gustav Schröder: The German Sea Captain Of The “Voyage Of The Damned,” CLICK HERE

8. Chiune Sugihara: The Japanese Diplomat Turned Holocaust Hero, CLICK HERE

9. The Doctors At Fatebenefratelli Hospital Who Invented “Syndrome K,” CLICK HERE

May 30, 2022 at 9:43 am Leave a comment

A Time for Activism for Gun Safety

Dear Friends,

We are left transformed by the shocking events in Uvalde, Texas; yet another mass shooting. Again, a punch in the gut with the associative anguish, grief and frustration.

Interestingly, recently we received a notice regarding a conference (SEE BELOW). It reminded us of our Aunt Elsbeth’s response, immediately after she was freed from Auschwitz, where she was sterilized, as part of the medical experiments done in Block 10. While waiting in Amsterdam, for a ship to take her to New York, she wrote an 18-page summary of the Hell she went through. The plan was to share it with her family, The New York Times and magazines, etc. Eventually, it was picked up, in part, in the book, “Buried by The Times.” published in 2005.

Similarly, each of us is called to protest what has resulted in murdered children and adults because of easy gun access. We hope you feel moved to do something, anything that will contribute to pushing back against “Business as usual,” in order to make all people much more safe, wherever they are.

Harriet and Bill

Invitation to the 4th international conference Medical Review Auschwitz: Medicine Behind the Barbed Wire

We would like to invite you to the 4th international conference Medical Review Auschwitz: Medicine Behind the Barbed Wire, which will take place on 19-21 September 2022 in Kraków, Poland.

After a one-year break (in 2020) and the 2021 conference taking place in the virtual space, the decisions forced upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year we will meet again at the on-the-site event in Kraków. This is the place where the original journal Przegląd Lekarski – Oświęcim (Medical Review – Auschwitz) was conceived and had its first issue published in 1961, marking the start of pioneering research and academic discussion on the medical, social, and bioethical consequences and lessons of the Holocaust, concentration camp history, Nazi German occupation, and the Second World War in general.

Additionally, year 2022 marks the fifth anniversary of launching the Medical Review Auschwitz project, which includes the conference as well as revisiting the articles from Przegląd Lekarski – Oświęcim through its translation into English, making its invaluable scientific content available to the global audience in an open-access format (see

The conference is organised by the Polish Institute for Evidence-Based Medicine, the Kraków Medical Society, and the medical publisher Medycyna Praktyczna, in collaboration with the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, Department of Bioethics and the Holocaust, the International Chair in Bioethics, the Maimonides Institute for Medicine, Ethics and the Holocaust, the Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics, the University of Colorado Center for Bioethics and Humanities, the Jagiellonian University, the St. Maximilian Center in Harmęże, and the Polish Association for Spiritual Care in Medicine, under auspices of the American College of Physicians.

The aim of the conference is to educate the world’s medical community about the violations of medical ethics during the Second World War, with special focus on the behaviour of physicians and other medical professionals in Nazi medical institutions and concentration camps or other places of imprisonment, and the ethical implications of Nazi medicine for contemporary medical practice and healthcare policy.

Conference participants will also have the opportunity to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum (including places not accessible to the general public). We hope that this conference will make a significant contribution to further the understanding of the dark history of Nazi medicine in Nazi German concentration camps and help the international community draw a lesson for future generations.

We look forward to seeing you in Kraków in September 2022.

Piotr Gajewski MD PhD FACP
Chair of the Organising Committee

May 28, 2022 at 12:50 pm Leave a comment

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