When talking about Elie Wiesel, who turns 85 on Sept. 30, it is far too easy to fall into a list of superlatives. As a child who survived Auschwitz and other concentration camps, Wiesel witnessed more death and more horrors than most human beings ever will. A onetime journalist who wrote for Hebrew- and Yiddish-language newspapers, starting in the 1950s, Wiesel has gone on to publish more books than most writers ever do, including “Night,” which has become the second-most widely read work of Holocaust literature in the world.
Russia will contribute up to $1 million to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation for the conservation and maintenance of the site of the former Nazi concentration camp.
For three days and three nights, Joseph Davis — then Joseph Davidovich — rode in the crammed cattle car with his parents and six of his eight siblings. “We didn’t know where we were going,” he said. Finally the train pulled up to the Auschwitz platform. As the Jews were pushed from the cars, Dr. Josef Mengele, who was carrying a stick, hurriedly separated them. Joseph was directed to one side, torn from his family. His mother came running after him, carrying cookies she had somehow acquired, but a German soldier brusquely pushed her away. “That was the last time I saw her,” Joseph said.
When people of reason and conscience look back on the subject of Shoah (otherwise known as the Holocaust) today, it is common to hear questions like: "How could a nation of philosophers, composers of classical music, technology, poets, in this seat of the Enlightenment itself, suddenly give vent to savagery not seen since the Dark Ages? How could such dreadful, inhumane impulses seize every apparatus of a nation and cause it to commit such atrocities?"
Many years ago, when I was a young, harried father, I would sit in synagogue on Shabbat mornings and try to keep my kids quiet. It was a task I consistently failed at. Their mother, the rabbi, was on the bimah, leading services. She had the easy job.
Sixty-eight years after being liberated from the horrors of the Holocaust, many aging survivors are living another nightmare — poverty without hope.
In the summer of 1993, my father and I visited the site of the extermination camp of Belzec in eastern Poland, where my grandparents were among half a million Jews murdered by the Nazis in 1942.
"Sorry, children. I’m not going to jeopardize my life for your father’s money.” The Christian forester smuggling three Jewish children across the border from Poland to Slovakia had stopped abruptly, wished them luck and told them to keep walking. But Gloria Ungar — then Gitta Nagel — gripped his arm, promising that her father would make him very rich if he continued. She, her younger brother Nathan and her cousin were wending their way through a pitch-black forest. “It was terrifying,” Gloria recalled; she knew they wouldn’t make it alone. Her cousin had broken her ankle, and Nathan was crying that he couldn’t walk anymore. Plus the Germans were scanning the forest with floodlights, siccing attack dogs and then shooting whenever they saw a shadow. The children threw themselves against trees whenever the floodlights came near.
The train arrived at Dachau one morning in late November 1944. As the doors opened, German soldiers wielding big sticks yelled, “Raus, raus” (“Out, out”). Alex Friedman and the other Jewish prisoners exited, were marched toward the camp and, outside in the snow and cold, ordered to strip.
The American online retailer Amazon.com has stopped selling a jigsaw puzzle featuring the Dachau Nazi concentration camp following complaints.
An Estonian weekly newspaper ran a mock ad for weight loss pills using a photo of prisoners at a Nazi concentration camp.
Like many memorialized Nazi concentration camps across Europe, Mauthausen, the largest such camp in Austria, is in the process of being renovated for a new generation of visitors. First opened to the public in 1970, the exhibition at the camp, which attracted 200,000 visitors each year, was in need of updating in light of new historical research and new ways of presenting that history.
After arriving by cattle car at Auschwitz, many Jews were handed postcards, with the uniform message thoughtfully prepared by the Nazis.
A decision by the Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial to levy a fee on commercial tour guides has received strong support from Jewish leaders and survivor representatives, contrary to initial reports.
Munich state prosecutors appealed a district court's decision to release convicted Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk from prison pending his appeal. Monday's appeal of Demjanjuk's release, following his conviction on war crimes on May 12, also appealed the five-year sentence handed down that day for being too lenient. The prosecutors' reasons will be presented in writing and only then released to the public, according to a spokesperson for the Munich District II court, which found Demjanjuk, 91, guilty as an accessory to nearly 28,000 murders in the Nazi death camp Sobibor in occupied Poland in 1943.
Austria will renovate the site of the Mauthausen concentration camp in a $2.4 million restoration project. The two-year project will include creating a hall of names in memory of the camp's victims, a new display about the Holocaust and upgrading the permanent exhibition, according to reports.
John Demjanjuk must be put on trial "as quickly as possible," a German Jewish leader said.
The film reconstructs the July 20, 1944, assassination attempt on the Fuhrer's life, which, had it succeeded, would have spared the lives of untold thousands of soldiers and death-camp inmates
In order to play the lead in "Adam Resurrected," Jeff Goldblum said he spent "months crying and crawling around on all fours."
Austria's "Counterfeiters," one of five foreign-language films vying for Oscar honors, probes the moral dilemmas facing a special group of Jewish concentration camp inmates in one of the more remarkable episodes of World War II.
"I'm a very special Holocaust survivor," Jack Polak says. "I was in the camps with my wife and my girlfriend, and, believe me, it wasn't easy." This may sound like a line from the new genre of Holocaust films with humor, but Polak (who is Jacob on his birth certificate, Jack in America, Jaap to his Dutch friends and Jab to his wife) is just stating the facts in the documentary feature, "Steal a Pencil for Me."
I am a Muslim intellectual woman who teaches Judaism and Islam, a Muslim who seeks dialogue with Jews, a Muslim who sympathizes with Jews and understands the need for the state of Israel.
On April 11, I embarked on a journey back in time to one of the darkest chapters in human existence with the Los Angeles delegation of the March of the Living Program, sponsored by the Bureau of Jewish Education, an agency of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. I felt myself detaching from the comfort and security of my family and many of my friends.
"Zayde, what are those faded numbers on your arm?" Without completely understanding, I quickly realized that I had revived painful memories of Auschwitz as tears slowly ran down my grandfather's cheek. Little did I know, back when I was 6 years old, that my grandfather's ability to tell his story would change my life.
After 60 years and 10 days, Samuel Goetz finally found the GI who liberated him on May 6, 1945.
Skip Aldrich signals a student to turn down the lights and flips on the projector. An image of a gaunt concentration camp inmate hunched over a workbench evokes a collective gasp from the 10th-grade world history class at John C. Fremont High School in South Los Angeles.
One day during his junior year abroad in Vienna in 1978, Jon Marans told a professor of his intention to visit the concentration camp Dachau. Her response stunned him. "She said, 'Why do you want to go there for? It's just a bunch of dead Jews,'" recalled the Pulitzer-nominated playwright, whose "Jumping for Joy" opens Sept. 7 at Laguna Playhouse.
Let's say it right up front: The four-hour television miniseries "Anne Frank" is the most powerful film on the Holocaust in recent memory, not excepting the fabled "Schindler's List."
When Natasha Richardson starred in Paul Schrader's 1988 biopic, "Patty Hearst," she drew inspiration from a Holocaust-themed tome plucked off a shelf in her father's Los Angeles home. The book was "If This Is a Man," Primo Levi's account of his time in Auschwitz, and in its pages the young Brit gleaned crucial insights into the psyche of her brutalized character.
On Nov. 15, the Los Angeles Zimriyah Chorale, along with other Los Angeles choral groups, left for a European trip that included performances in Prague and, most notably, Nuremberg, where the chorale participated, on Nov. 25 and 26, in performances of Leonard Bernstein's "Symphony No. 3, Kaddish," in a concert hall built on the site of the famous Nazi Nuremberg rallies of the 1930s.
My great-uncle, Jacques Graubart, came to town last weekend. Jacques, a fit and vigorous 79, has always been the superhero against whom I've measured my life. Jacques entered the Resistance when he was 19 and rowed hundreds of Jews to safety from occupied France into Switzerland. He was caught frequently by the French and escaped every time but the last time. Incarcerated by the Nazis in a series of concentration camps, Jacques survived a death march of prisoners that began with 1,400 and ended with himself and only three others alive.
As a child, Mimi Leder used to ask about the faded blue numbers on her mother's arm. "It's just a tattoo," her mother, Etyl, a classical pianist, would say. "I was 10 before she told me the truth, and to be honest, that was not old enough," the director recalls.
Contemporary Holocaust literature for young adults seems to favor a theme: transport unaware teenagers to German-occupied Europe and, together with the characters, the readers will emerge as more sensitive, aware young adults.
There was something haunting about taking the train. The aged boxcars on a parallel track seemed frozen in time. I quieted my thoughts. After all, the train was a necessary evil. This bitter irony was not lost on me as the train sped from Munich to Dachau on probably the very same tracks that led thousands of innocent people to their deaths more than a half-century ago.
Jews who worked as slave laborers during the Nazi era are one step closer to receiving some measure of compensation for their ordeal.
What a peculiar piece of work is "Bent." The film version ofMartin Sherman's play, first presented on the London stage in 1979,and later on Broadway, has taken almost 20 years to come to thescreen. It's not difficult to see why. Not only is it turgid stuff,with a paucity of unfilmable ideas, but in an industry that sometimesseems to specialize in specious history, it will be hard to matchthis one for irresponsibility.
Jewish andJapanese American community leaders are headed for what could becomea bruising confrontation in the coming weeks, a battle of honor overthe urgent question of how to discuss World War II politely.
The Nazis took my uncle Henry at the beginning ofthe war. He survived more than five years as a slave. Young andstrong, he was a carpenter, and they needed carpenters. At first,they moved him from camp to camp, including a stay at Pleshow, whereSchindler's people were kept. And, finally, Auschwitz. A slavelaborer, he built parts of the camp. When the Allies advanced, he wastaken on the infamous Death March from Poland into Germany. He wasliberated from Buchenwald by the U.S. Army in 1945.