Tag: Holocaust

Should We Continue to Hunt Nazis from the Holocaust?


Whenever I am confronted with the horrors of the Holocaust, I experience great sorrow and loss. Even though I had no family members die in that event, I feel connected to the 6 million Jews who died, and the other 6 million who also died at the hands of the Nazis. But we are approaching the time when few Nazis are still alive. And I’m beginning to question the purpose of hunting them out, putting them on trial, and punishing them for their horrendous acts.

My ambivalence arose with the recent trial of a woman, Irmgard Furchner, who was a secretary at the Stutthof concentration camp from June 1943 to April 1945:

The case against Furchner relies on German legal precedent established in cases over the past decade that anyone who helped Nazi death camps and concentration camps function can be prosecuted as an accessory to the murders committed there, even without evidence of participation in a specific crime.

The Holocaust: Who or What Was to ‘Blame’?


Whenever the topic of the Holocaust is brought up, you can feel the tension rise in the room. The small Jewish group I facilitate was no exception. In pursuing the topic recently, I learned a great deal, not only about others’ thinking, but about the issues I had been struggling with for years.

To be clear, I’m not talking about the Germans and the war and atrocities they committed; I’m referring specifically to whether G-d was to “blame” for letting the Holocaust take place, or whether the Jews were responsible, at least in part, for their own deaths. As you can imagine, it can be a pretty dicey topic to tackle, but I believe that it was worthwhile.

Almost everyone in our group believed that G-d should have interceded before 6 million Jews and a total of 12 million people died. I was prepared to present a more complex point of view, and I proceeded to lay out my own thinking.

Silent No More


If you were beaten and bullied as a child, if you lived for nine years in constant fear of being tortured or killed, if you and your family fled your home, losing everything, and were forced to live in a tent, would you call yourself ‘lucky’?

I used to be somewhat ambivalent about the “celebration” of Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27; in one sense, I felt it was important to remind the world that six million Jews and six million other folks were killed by the Nazis and their enablers. The phrase, “Never Forget” is embedded in my psyche. On the other hand, I wonder if this particular memorial day serves as a devastating reminder to many people—survivors and their families–who want to forget that horrific time. And ironically, I also wonder if it is an irritant to those people who experience resentment or even hatred toward the Jews, exacerbating their negative perspective.

Still, Abraham Pizam is the man described at the beginning of this post by a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel. Today he is the founding dean of UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. He survived the Holocaust and gave a presentation at the January 27 event about his own experience. It was the first time he had spoken publicly about the Holocaust. Here’s a report on part of what he shared:

Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud: Pelosi on J6


One of the emerging traits of growing older (I’m 65) is blunt honesty. Our guard goes down with age as we become less concerned about what others around us may think. We blurt unvarnished truths and observations, often impulsively and increasingly inure to their consequences.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has graced the lower House chamber since 1987 and as its leading Democratic official since 2003, will turn 82 on March 26th. And during a solemn January 6th commemorative event in the Capitol, she said the quiet part about the festivities out loud.

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“I am an essential worker,” the old man said as the soldiers took by the arms and removed him from the work detail.“Oh, you’re essential, eh,” the soldiers laughed.“I work for Oskar Schindler,” the man said growing concerned.“Oh, an essential worker for Oskar Schindler,” the soldiers mocked. “A one-armed Jew. Twice as useless,” the soldier […]

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Humanity’s Inhumanities


Long time no see Ricochet. Long story. Not interesting. I’ve taken to reading the material of many of the journalists who have gotten the boot from the mainstream media (or mainstream media adjacent). Bari Weiss is one of them.

She recently had an article discussing the Gina Carano firing, and then hiring, and her defense of Gina and the possible rethinking of that defense. It’s a good article. You should read it.

What Does the Holocaust Teach Us as Americans?


Periodically on this site, people have voiced their annoyance about the reminders that are posted regarding Holocaust Memorial Day, which is observed today. In Israel, everyone stops for two minutes at the sound of sirens to honor those lost. Those of us old enough to have been taught about the Holocaust in school or by our parents already know the story, yet there are some who would prefer not to be reminded of this tragedy. Given how blessed Jews are to live in this country, how often does the story need to be repeated?

If I Had Been a Jew in Eishyshok. . .


It’s not often I claim I’ve read a book that has changed my life. But this one did. And I thank @ontheleftcoast for telling me about it. Although I have studied the Holocaust over the years, I had never read a story about life in the shtetl, a small town with primarily Jewish residents in Eastern Europe.

This book, There Once was a World, was written by Yaffa Eliach, whose parents were Moshe and Zipporah Sonenson. This family, prosperous in Eishyshok terms, was also a pillar of the community, generous, compassionate, learned, and devoted to Judaism. The book also provided stories of individuals and families, and descriptions of Jewish life, from Torah study to the requirements of the faith.

The reason I was moved so deeply by the book was that, unlike many stories I have read about the Holocaust, with all its tragedies, human depravity, and horror, I had never read so many stories of individuals in one community: people with names, personalities, duties, and devotion to the Torah. Their lives, unlike the Jews in other urban cities in Europe, were difficult and demanding.

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I am a supporter of the American Society for Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial organization. Every other month I receive their newsletter, Martyrdom and Resistance, which contains numerous stories of Holocaust survivors, and the helpers of Jews in Europe and other places around the world. Today’s story, from the September/October 2018 issue is about […]

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I am a supporter of the American Society for Yad Vashem, the US branch of the Holocaust Memorial in Israel.  Bi-monthly, I receive their newsletter, Martyrdom and Resistance, and in each issue are heartwarming and horrifying stories of Jews in WWII; murdered by the Nazis in concentration camps, hidden by sympathetic Gentiles in Poland, and […]

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From the ages of 11 to 16 Jacob Bresler survived five years of ghettos and concentration camps during World War II. He credits his inventiveness, his stubbornness, his resilience, and his will to survive as the reasons he made it through the war and created a new life for himself in America. He is a humanist. He does not hate. He has no enemies. He remains optimistic about the future, and believes that communication is the only way to combat ignorance and pierce the ideological bubbles we’ve segregated ourselves into. He and Bridget cover a variety of topics including the many different paths he’s traveled in his life, how he feels about the phrase “Trump is Hitler,” when we should teach children about the Holocaust, how best to counter hate, and the idea that the potential for brutality lies within all of us. Don’t miss Jacob’s autobiography: You Shall Not Be Called Jacob Anymore.

Full transcript available here: WiW68-JacobBresler-Transcript

Exile: Portraits of the Jewish Diaspora


The nation of Israel is constantly in the news, a small nation whose very existence attracts a disproportionate interest from the rest of the world. Israel is also a modern creation, whose groundwork was laid in the late 19th century, and whose birth came as a promised land of safety and return after the horrors of WWII. Return from what? From the Diaspora of Jews after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD. From Roman Palestine, over the next 1900 years, the Jews spread throughout much of the world. And with the creation of Israel, many did return. But many communities of the Jewish Diaspora either remain where they planted themselves centuries (or even millennia) ago, or have continued to spread into different, and sometimes unlikely places around the world.

Exile, the first published book by an author already known here on Ricochet, Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, is Annika’s investigation into a number of these Diaspora communities. How did they arrive where they are? When did they arrive? And why do they stay, with the promise of a return to Israel beckoning? Over the past several years, Annika has been visiting some of the most unlikely or far-flung Jewish communities around the world, and she presents their stories here in a single volume.

Annika has chosen communities that seem very unlikely — Jewish communities within Muslim-majority nations both liberal and repressive, communities deep within Asia, the last remnants of a Jewish community in Cuba, and several other surprising ones along the way. For instance, the author chose to avoid looking at places like Germany or Poland or France, in no small part because for those places the Holocaust looms ever large. One of the common threads in her selection is instead the study of communities who either were largely sheltered from the Holocaust, or who are peopled by those who managed to stay ahead of it, though she confesses that this was not entirely by design:

Service-Gathering the Fragments


The Holocaust took place during World War II, and millions of Jews were put to death over the years of the War, in Nazi concentration camps like Auschwitz, and in forests of Eastern Europe, and in their own towns and ghettos. Today, 75 years later, there are still Survivors alive to tell their inspiring stories. But soon, there will be no Survivors left. For many years, Yad Vashem in Israel, the great Holocaust Memorial, has been seeking and collecting memories; videos, audio records, photos, and other ephemera of Survivors. In the latest issue of Martyrdom and Resistance, the newsletter for American supporters of Yad Vashem, there was an article about the program they call Gathering the Fragments, describing their efforts to collect as many memories as they can from living Survivors and families of victims, to better document the lives of all who were affected by the Holocaust.

AOC: The Holocaust Is Not a Prop for Your Trump Hate


The argument holds that personal attacks against New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are a terrible idea. On policy and commentary, however, she’s fair game. Her continued love of the Green New Deal, her irrational view of the minimum wage and belief in the mythology of the living wage, her horrific associations with world-renowned anti-semites like UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn – and then bragging about it! – and her defense of antisemitic up-and-comer Rep. Ilhan Omar: all fair game. All worthy of comment and, yes, derision.

Just six months ago, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was Teflon to criticism. Six months later, the slick coating has worn thin. Everything sticks now. And it’s all her fault.

Her recent declaration that the United States is holding immigrants at the border in “concentration camps” should stick, on her and in the memory of American voters and donors. In a video to her fans, she lied about the border, abdicated her responsibility as a member of Congress and showed America that her political cravenness outweighs her decency.

Red-Green Alliance and Concentration Camps


Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (socialist) called the facilities where our immigration service detains illegal immigrants “concentration camps,” and made it clear that she meant to compare the detention centers and the American civil servants to the Nazi concentration camps and guards. She did so by invoking the post-Holocaust battle cry “Never Again,” claiming that we were violating that moral imperative. Never mind that the new masses of illegal immigants, including the children, crossed our southern border because her party has conspired to use them as hostages and golden keys to subvert our laws for permanent ruling advantage.

AOC is comfortable expressing her loathing of America and trivializing the actual Holocaust, to say nothing of the gulags. She will pay no more price than her comrades, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. She is operating safely within the interests of the red-green alliance. The radical left and political Islamism are both served by simultaneously demonizing American defense of the constitutional republic and diminishing the public perception of real eliminationist totalitarianism.

While “Never Again,” has been used both to refer to the particular horror of the attempted elimination of all Jews and to refer universally to genocide, the power, the punch, comes from the images, the video, the many accounts, of the Nazi eliminationist program. There were no camps used in the Rwandan Genocide. Rather there was mass murder by machete, directed by old-fashioned AM radio transmission, while President Bill Clinton and the Canadians ensured there would be no effective resistance by a small but competent military force. Apparently, the fine sounding phrase just did not apply.

Why We Fight: #DDay75


Grandpa was an RAF fighter shot down over Nazi-occupied France and was held for four years as a Prisoner of War in a German internment labor camp, the best of the three options if you had to choose. Think North Korea. Other’s were not so relatively lucky. While he was surrounded by hunger and death, the constant rumors that the Vichy Government would hand over Jewish POW’s to the Gestapo were true. Many were transported to a nearby internment camp (Drancy) before being sent to the Third Reich’s concentration camps or extermination camps, mostly in Germany or Poland.

Training before entering WW2

Why Jews Have Abandoned Judaism


Abandon is a pretty strong word; I could have worded my title differently, but I believe that most of modern Jewry have, for all intents and purposes, left the fold. Only a small number of Jews are observant Jews, and I am not one of them. I decided to explore this question, and hopefully clarify for myself not just what it means to be a Jew, but what it means for me to be Jew. As you look at the lives of Jews whom you know, you might want to explore some of these issues with them. I am including some of my personal experiences as a Jew, and I will leave you to determine the legitimacy of my claims.

First, I was raised in a nearly secular family. We rarely if ever discussed G-d. I don’t even know if my father believed in G-d. Although my mother occasionally mentioned G-d, her level of belief (if at all) was unclear. Both my parents were raised in broken homes, with some version of Judaism that might have included keeping kosher, but I honestly don’t know if they observed any of the holidays. I know that my father read Hebrew, but I just now realize that I don’t know if he was a bar mitzvah. And both my parents have died. When I asked my father why he grudgingly went to synagogue on the High Holidays, he said he didn’t need to go there to experience G-d. Whether he experienced G-d elsewhere I’ll never know.

But for some strange reason, my mother decided that she wanted us to have some kind of Jewish upbringing. So we went to Hebrew School three times a week after public school for a couple of years. My brother was a bar mitzvah, but when my parents asked if I was interested in being a bat mitzvah, I said no. Mainly, I didn’t see a good reason to do it. Besides, my folks had limited funds and I didn’t want them to have the expense.

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This month of Thanksgiving was marked by the quiet passing from this world into the next, of someone who risked her life to save members of the Jewish Resistance during a time when pure evil threatened everyone in its path. With determination and courage to fight back, this small group of nuns stepped out to […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America shake their heads as the Republican National Committee furiously tries to line up a few Democrats to push Mike Pompeo over the finish line as the next Secretary of State.  They also hang their heads as large percentages of Americans demonstrate very poor knowledge about the Holocaust, including 41 percent of Americans and 66 percent of millennials who have no idea what Auschwitz was.  And they throw up their hands, as the Republican National Committee tries to discredit the upcoming media blitz from former FBI Director James Comey by favorable quoting Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Maxine Waters.