It had been a tough week. The more news I read about the Boston bombing, the less I understood. Who were these young men, full of grievance, using a fresh start in America to maim and kill innocents?
Generally, expert advisers counsel against teaching about the Holocaust by having students do exercises that re-create the experience. Role-play activities can reinforce negative views, stereotype group behavior and are pedagogically unsound, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
This week, Jews around the world observed Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day ought to be universally observed, because the lessons of the Holocaust are universal. Here are some of them:
Rabbi Samuel N. Gordon and Maureen Schulman are the newest members of the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Council.
Israel came to a standstill as a siren sounded for two minutes in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
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?"
The Holocaust is really too big and too dark to fathom. It’s larger than life, larger than death, even larger than evil. The human mind can’t quite comprehend an evil that wants to destroy a whole race of humans — and succeeds in destroying about a third of it.
All my adult life, I have felt a burden to live more than one life. I am a child of survivors and a mourner of many who did not survive. In 1944, my grandparents and more than 700 others were murdered in a little-known massacre in Kremnicka, Slovakia.
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.
"They’re going to come with the dogs. They’re going to start beating me.” Pola Lipnowski spoke in Yiddish, an expression of sheer terror on her face. She turned to her daughter, Hendel Schwartz, for protection.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, we honor those lost in the Shoah and the few who were saved through circumstance, luck or the efforts of courageous individuals. People like Oskar Schindler, Raoul Wallenberg and the Bielski brothers immediately come to mind, having been the subjects of books and movies such as “Schindler’s List” and “Defiance.”
In a video, a Holocaust survivor remembers how he had to kill the family dog as he faced deportation to a wartime ghetto, where there would not be enough food for humans and none for animals.
Germany's main Jewish body is calling on the German government and parliament to step in on behalf of survivors of World War II ghettoes who have not yet received a German pension for their work.
"The Jews are going to be taken from the ghetto and killed.”
When 89-year-old Max Stodel arrived for a Feb. 17 program at the Skirball Cultural Center marking the run-up to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s (USHMM) 20th anniversary in April, he didn’t come alone.
Naples is getting a Jewish library, one of three in all of Italy.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) will be transplanted, at least in part, from Washington, D.C.’s National Mall to Los Angeles on Feb. 17.
Dozens of anti-Semitic messages were left on the Facebook page of the popular French rapper Booba for vowing in a new song to avenge the victims of the Holocaust. Booba, the son of a Muslim father from Senegal, raps in a song titled “Master Yoda” that was posted Feb. 2 on his Facebook page, “We’ll avenge like victims of slavery and the Shoah.”
During the course of one month in 1941, most of the thousands of Jewish residents of Utena, Lithuania, were rounded up by the Nazis, taken into the forest and murdered. Only a few dozen managed to escape. That episode nearly buried the entire history of the centuries-old town, but through the efforts of the nonprofit MACEVA and volunteers like students at Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School in Northridge, this history is finally being unearthed. On Jan. 23, the entire eighth-grade class at Heschel filled the gym to translate the Hebrew inscribed on recently uncovered gravestones from Utena.
To help us grasp the enormity of the Holocaust, we have the testimonies of survivors, of liberators, even of bystanders, but what about the perpetrators and, even more, their children, who grew up worshipping Adolf Hitler? “Lore,” the movie, grapples with that complex question from the perspective of the title character, a 14-year-old girl (impressively played by Saskia Rosendahl), daughter of a high-ranking SS officer and his equally fanatical wife.
Sometimes the human mind seems inadequate to understand and explain the enormity of the Shoah, which may explain why Freud is so often invoked by writers of Holocaust literature, ranging from D. M. Thomas in “The White Hotel” to Primo Levi in “The Drowned and the Saved.”
Leon Leyson, the youngest Jew to be saved by Oskar Schindler and his famous list during the Holocaust, died Jan. 12 in Whittier, following a four-year struggle with lymphoma. He was 83.
The Nazis gassed and murdered 1 million prisoners at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp complex, but they could not kill the human urge to create and leave behind a sign of their existence for future generations. Some 20 examples of the prisoners’ artistic legacy are on display in the exhibition “Forbidden Art,” continuing through Jan. 31 at UCLA Hillel and the neighboring St. Alban’s Episcopal Church.
The single most hotly debated (and often heartbreaking) issue of Jewish identity is whether and to what extent we carry our Jewishness in our blood.
Shlomo Venezia, a Holocaust survivor who wrote about his experiences in an Auschwitz Sonderkommando unit and spent years bearing personal testimony to the Shoah, has died.
“Leave your possessions. We will bring them to you,” a Jewish commando greeted the trainload of Jews arriving at Auschwitz. He pointed to Regina Landowicz’s mother: “Too old.” And to her sister Lillie: “Too young.” Sally, another sister, took scissors from her rucksack and quickly trimmed their mother’s hair and lopped off Lillie’s braids as German soldiers shouted, “Raus, raus!” (Out, out!) On the platform, a German soldier tried to grab Lillie from their mother’s arms, but their mother clutched her tightly, even as he beat her.
The mayor of Antwerp announced plans to build a monument to commemorate every Antwerp Jew murdered in the Holocaust.
Israel in twin ceremonies honored non-Jewish Poles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust and those who have preserved Jewish memory since World War II.
Germany has agreed to provide restitution payments to an additional 80,000 Jews in what Claims Conference officials are describing as a historic breakthrough.
For Arnold Spielberg's birthday in the late 1950s, his wife, Leah, gave him a Brownie movie camera. He had little chance to enjoy the present because it was immediately appropriated by his 13-year-old son, Steven.
Gitta Seidner -- known at the time by the Christian name Jannine Spinette -- was abruptly awakened around 4:30 a.m. by a large commotion outside her farmhouse bedroom in Waterloo, Belgium. "No, no, no. What do you want with my goddaughter?" she heard her godmother, Alice Spinette, say. SS soldiers then kicked open the door and pulled the crying girl from her bed. "She's not Jewish," Alice insisted. The soldiers didn't listen. They ordered Alice to get Gitta dressed and drove them to SS headquarters in Brussels.
Hardly a day goes by where Renee Firestone isn't asked by some school, museum, reporter or filmmaker to talk about the Holocaust. "Somebody has to tell the story," she said. "I am fortunate enough, at my age, to still be able to walk and talk. So I have to do it." Firestone is 88, with pale blue eyes and a warm, Cheshire cat smile. She manages a 24-unit apartment building in Beverly Hills, where she lives with her daughter, Klaire.
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.
Jack Seror didn’t know what to do. He was 25 and knew he had to leave Salonika; it wasn’t safe for Jews. And now a contact from the Greek resistance had come to fetch him. Jack stood with his parents in their living room, crying. They hugged, kissed and hugged some more. “We have to leave,” the contact said. Half of Jack wanted to stay with his parents; the other half wanted to escape. Finally, his father, with tears in his eyes, said, “Go. And remember, if you survive, to say Kaddish for us.”
When I read last week’s cover story (“An Indelible Film, ‘Shoah’ Also Reflects an Extraordinary Artist,” April 13), I was reminded of an incident in high school more than 20 years ago.
Surely the most unpromising premise for a film ever conceived is this: Nine and one half hours of people speaking in languages you do not understand about mass murder. Yet “Shoah” offers an experience unlike any other film, and its creator has written a memoir introducing us to the extraordinary man responsible for its existence.
In early October 1943, a day or two after Rosh Hashanah, Julia Moshe — née Conti — was walking to her bookkeeping job at the Atlas Watch Co. in Volos, Greece, when she heard footsteps behind her. “Mademoiselle, don’t turn around your head,” a male voice warned. “Yesterday SS soldiers came to city hall asking for a list of the Jewish people.” Julia started trembling. She recalled her mother’s words, “If the Germans come here, it’s OK if they take us.” Julia gave notice at work and hurried home. “Please don’t say no,” she begged her mother. “We have to go from here.”
Tina Strobos, a medical student in Amsterdam during World War II who helped save more than 100 Jews from the Nazis, has died.
Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, will challenge President Hugo Chavez in upcoming elections.
A British nun who saved dozens of Jews in Rome during the Holocaust has been advanced on the road to sainthood.
For the first time, some survivors of Nazi-era ghettos are eligible for a one-time payment from the so-called Ghetto Fund in addition to the pensions they receive from the German government.
It was the British establishment at its finest. Six years ago, several hundred Holocaust survivors filed into the Palace of Westminster for the annual Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations. The day also marked the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau. Her Majesty the Queen, then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, and members of Parliament and the House of Lords were in attendance. The London Philharmonic Orchestra provided the music, and BBC reported the proceedings. Earlier that day, the Holocaust survivors had sipped tea with the queen at St James’s Palace. And the person who organized this day of remembrance was a Muslim.
Bank Leumi has agreed to pay nearly $37 million to the heirs of Holocaust victims and to projects that help Israeli survivors. The Israeli bank reached a settlement Sunday with Hashava-The Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets, a company started by the Israeli government in 2006.
The Holocaust documentary "Shoah" is being broadcast in Iran. The 1985 documentary by French director Claude Lanzmann was scheduled to be presented this week on a satellite channel and is dubbed in Farsi. Satellites are banned in Iran, but many Iranians have them and therefore could watch the film, which includes survivor testimony.
Yad Vashem says it has identified two-thirds of the Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Israel's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in the last decade has added about 1.4 million names to its central database of Shoah victims’ names, bringing the total number of names registered to about 4 million, according to a statement released Tuesday. “One of Yad Vashem's central missions since its foundation, the recovery of each and every victim's name and personal story, has resulted in relentless efforts to restore the names and identities of as many of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices as possible," said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. "We will continue our efforts to recover the unknown names, and by harnessing technology in the service of memory, we are able to share their names with the world.”
The USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education hosted its first International Digital Access, Outreach and Research Conference, highlighting the foundation’s visual history archive, which contains 52,000 video interviews with Holocaust survivors and witnesses from 56 countries.