America is supposed to be a country where people of every faith, creed and color live in harmony with one another. The key word in this sentence is supposed.
Arthur Jones is running for Senate in Illinois. While he refers to himself as a “white racialist”, anyone else would refer to him as a Nazi.
He is an open anti-Semite, denies the existence of the Holocaust, and has stated in the past that he is of the opinion that African-Americans do not have the same intellectual capacity as Caucasian-Americans.
I’m appalled and offended by the words that are coming out of the mouth of this man. As an American and a human being, I am offended. While only time will tell, I can only hope and pray that the voters in Illinois do what is right and do not vote for Mr. Jones to become their Senator.
Of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, 3 million of them were Polish.
Recently, Poland’s President, Andrzej Duda announced that he would sign the new law that makes it illegal to blame the country from the loss of life and destruction caused by Nazi Germany during World War II. It goes without saying that the law acquits the Polish nation of any guilt that they are part of the reasons that 3 million Polish Jews and 1.9 Poles who were not Jewish were murdered.
I am a Jewish woman of Eastern European descent. Poland is in my blood and my bones. My mother’s maternal grandparent’s emigrated from Poland during the early part of the 20th century. They left family behind who were murdered simply because they were Jewish.
It’s an irrefutable fact that Poland suffered under the Nazi invasion. It is also an irrefutable fact that many non-Jewish Poles tried to help their Jewish neighbors, knowing full well that they were putting their lives and the lives of their families on the line. However, there were also many Poles who either silently supported the Nazis by saying nothing or stepped up and did the Nazis dirty work for them.
As an American, I cannot dictate how another country’s leadership chooses to govern. However, this particular law does not feel right and feels like it spits on the graves of millions of innocents who were killed merely for being who they are.
Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Today, we remember the millions of victims were killed simply for who they were.
I count myself among the lucky ones. My family has been in this country for more than a century. My great grandparents left Europe in the early 20th century, looking for a better life for themselves and their families in America. My grandparents were born in this country, I am a third generation Jewish American. But that does not exempt me from The Holocaust. Most of the family that my great grandparents left behind were slaughtered.
In the late 1970’s, one of my mother’s uncles added his grandfather, my great-great grandfather to the list of Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem.
While I will go about my business today, my heart will be breaking a little.
May the memory of those killed be a blessing and a reminder of what happens when we forget that the person next to us is first and foremost just another human being.
There are two types of people we meet in our lives. One type is a blip on the radar, we don’t think twice when they are gone. The other type is the person who influence in our life is so so ingrained in our psyches that we never forget them.
On Tuesday, PBS aired their new show: We’ll Meet Again. Hosted by veteran journalist and anchor, Ann Curry, the focus of the show is to reunite the subjects with someone whom they have not seen in a very long time. The subjects of the pilot were two adults whose childhoods were overshadowed by World War II. In California, a young girl of Japanese-American descent is forced into the internment camps with her family simply because her parents immigrated from Japan a generation before. She wants to reunite with the school friend who only saw her friend and did not see color.
A young Jewish boy is living in Shanghai, with his parents. They are refugees from Nazi Germany. He becomes close with his father’s business partner and his business partner’s wife. They have a daughter and emigrate to Australia after the war. He wants to reunite with their daughter, who was a baby at the end of the war.
If nothing else, this show speaks to the our shared humanity. It is also a reminder that friendships and emotional connections can last a lifetime, even when our lives shift and we begin to move away from the people we were once close to.
I recommend it.
We’ll Meet Again airs Tuesday Nights at 8PM on PBS.
Books are more than words on a page bound together. They reflect our shared humanity.
Dita Kraus is one of the lucky Holocaust survivors to not only have survived in general, but also having survived the death camp Auschwitz. During the war, she was secretly known as the camp librarian, trying to keep learning alive when death was all the inmates knew.
Her story is chronicled in the book, The Librarian of Auschwitz,originally written in 2012 by Antonio Iturbe and translated last year into English by Lilit Thwaites. In 1944, Dita was a fourteen year old girl. She is among the lucky ones. Not only is she still alive, but she and her parents are together. One of the Jewish leaders of the camp asks Dita to take responsibility for a number of books that have been smuggled in. Despite the fact that if the books are discovered, she could be killed, Dita agrees to the task.
What I loved about this book is that the books represent a sliver of hope and humanity when there was none. Not only is the book well written, but it speaks to the idea that even in the darkest of times, hope never completely dies. We just need to hang onto it as best we can, in whatever shape we can.
I absolutely recommend it.
Life is complicated, that is a fact.
In the 1997 television movie, A Call To Remember, Paula and David Tobias (Blythe Danner and Joe Mantegna) are middle-aged Holocaust survivors just living their lives and going about their business. But while they are still trying to keep back with the demons of their past, they are also dealing with the reality that their eldest son Jake (David Lascher) may go off to fight in Vietnam.
After the war, many Holocaust survivors returned to normal lives. Marriage, kids, jobs, etc. But the trauma, both physical and emotional that they experienced never left them. What I really appreciate about this movie is not only the normal relationships between the main characters, but also how resilient they are in spite of everything that they experienced.
I recommend it.
In the darkness of The Holocaust, there are few lights that still stand out against that darkness. One of the brightest is the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
The 2001 television movie, Uprising, is the story of the fight by the ghetto’s inhabitants against their oppressors. Starring David Schwimmer, Hank Azaria and Leelee Sobieski, the narrative tells the story of how Jews, crammed into the old slum of Warsaw, fought back against the Nazis for a month in 1943.
I think that this movie is important to watch. It’s important because not only does it dispel the myth that Europe’s Jews were mere lambs to the Nazi slaughter, it also is the story of how a small band of people can fight against tyranny, prejudice and murder.
I absolutely recommend it.
Yesterday, November 9th and today, November 10th is the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Translated into “Night Of The Broken Glass” Jewish owned businesses, buildings,homes and synagogues were destroyed. Innocent Jewish civilians were murdered or arrested and imprisoned in concentration camps.
Kristallnacht was the beginning of the Holocaust. By the time World War II ended 7 years later, six million Jews were murdered, along with five million others who were deemed as “subhuman” by the Nazis and their supporters.
Unfortunately, this sentiment is not a new one, especially in America today. We have a President who is silently condoning the views and actions of the far right and the hate groups who in the past, have been forced into the shadows of our culture. If he had his way, immigrants, especially immigrants of color would be deported. Transgender troops who put the lives on the line for this country would be forced out of the military. The Press, as we know it to be, would be destroyed except for a few television channels and publications who mindlessly agree with him. It is a figurative Reichstag fire that has the potential to destroy our democracy and everything that we as Americans hold dear.
If we don’t learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it. While Donald Trump is not a mirror of Hitler, there are signs and red flags that cannot be ignored. If we ignore them, we do so at our own peril.
One of my favorite phrases from the Talmud is as follows:
Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if they destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if they saved an entire world.
During World War II, while most non Jews either turned their backs on their Jewish friends and neighbors or openly collaborated with the Nazis, a few brave souls dared to protect their Jewish friends and neighbors. They knew that if they were caught, the punishment for not just the individual, but his or her entire family was execution. But they still put their lives and the lives of their families on the line.
Writer Yvette Manessis Corporon was raised on her Greek grandmother’s stories of saving the lives of a Jewish tailor and his children during the war. But she didn’t know much beyond the story, until she started doing some research. Her research and her experience while doing this research led to the memoir, Something Beautiful Happened: A Story of Survival and Courage in the Face of Evil. While in the midst of fleshing out her grandmother’s story and trying to locate the living relations of the family whose lives were saved by her grandmother, Ms. Corporon was hit by a personal tragedy. In Overland Park, Kansas in April of 2014, three people were killed by a Neo-Nazi outside of a JCC. While none of the victims were Jewish, two of the victims, a young boy and his grandfather were cousins on her husband’s side of the family.
The thing that strikes me about this book is that it reminds me of the choices that we have in life. We can either waste our time and energy and hate someone because they are different or we can accept someone for who they are and move on with our lives. The author’s grandmother could have easily said no to saving her neighbors, after all, she still had to take care of her own family. But she said yes and in doing so, became a faint light in the darkness of World War II and The Holocaust.
I absolutely recommend it.
Dr. Edith Eva Eger has a unique take on grief and dealing with the emotional trauma. A survivor of Auschwitz and The Holocaust, her experience during World War II gives her an insight as how to deal and move on from grief and trauma.
She has chronicles her experiences in a book entitled, The Choice: Embrace the Possible. At the outset of World War II, Dr. Eger was a young woman from a Jewish family living in Hungary. By the time the war was over, Dr. Eger was a survivor of Auschwitz and other concentration camps. While she and her sisters were lucky enough to survive, the rest of their family perished. After the war, she married, had three children, became a refugee from Soviet controlled Hungary and emigrated to America, where she eventually received her doctorate in psychology.
Among memoirs by Holocaust survivors, this book stands out. While it is about Dr. Eger’s story, it is about much more than that. It is about how we can face our demons and traumas, whatever form they take and find the inner peace that we are yearning for.
I absolutely recommend it.