Tag Archives: The Holocaust

Operation Mincemeat Movie Review

When it seems that every story about World War II has been told, the door opens to reveal additional narratives that have remained hidden.

The new Netflix film, Operation Mincemeat premiered last week. Based on a book by Ben Macintyre, it tells the story of a secret mission to end the war via a corpse and false papers.

Among those who are in on the secret are Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth), Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew MacFadyen), future James Bond creator Ian Fleming (Johnny Flynn), Jean Leslie (Kelly Macdonald), and Hester Leggett (Penelope Wilton). They know that if they succeed, it could mean victory for the Allies. But getting to that point requires strategy, timing, skill, and a little bit of luck.

For obvious reasons, the movie was a must-see. A cast chock full of Austen actors (including the two most popular Fitzwilliam Darcys), a spy thriller set in World War II-era England, and the fight for freedom against tyranny.

I have mixed feelings about it. What was good was that the main female characters were initially more than secretaries, love interests/spouses/female family members, and background characters. They were as important to the mission as their male colleagues. I also very much appreciated the subtle reference to the Holocaust and the destruction of European Jewry. It reveals that the Allies once again knew what was going on, but did nothing to stop it (which is another topic for another time).

What was bad is that about halfway through the film, I started to lose interest. It was as if the screenwriter(s) just gave up. The other thing that bugged me was the love triangle between Charles, Jean, and Ewen. It felt unnecessary. It also trivializes Jean, making her little more than the wannabe romantic significant other instead of an integral part of the group.

Do I recommend it? Disappointingly, no.

Operation Mincemeat is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Thoughts on Yom HaShoah in 2022

Today is Yom HaShoah. Instead of rehashing points that have already been said, I’m going to let history speak for itself.

May the memories of the six million (my own relations included) be a blessing and a warning for future generations.

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Republican Fuckery Part III: Will Hurd on Abortion, Frank Niceley on Hitler and the Homeless, Tucker Carlson’s Balls, and Paul Schroder

In an ideal world, we would all agree on everything. But we don’t live in an ideal world. However, that does not mean that in the halls of power, one party has to do all the work and the other can just complain all day.

Last Monday, former Texas Congressman Will Hurd was on The Brian Lehrer Show. When asked about abortion, he said the following:

I am pro-life and I think the time at which how many weeks into a birth you should limit. I think there is where Texas falls I am supportive of. I also think both sides of the argument should be looking and making sure, how do we prevent a young woman or any woman from having to get in this situation? I think working on the front end of this issue is where both sides of individuals can be working together.

While the Congressman has a right to his opinion and sounds more reasonable than many on the right, he is still seeing this issue in black and white instead of in color. An episode from the podcast The Experiment which originally premiered last December explains why we need to look at abortion from an honest perspective.

Meanwhile, also within the Lone State’s borders, there is a voice of reason: Paul Schroder. He spoke truth to power on Governor Greg Abbott‘s attempt to limit the number of trucks coming into the state. Instead of helping the country, they are once more hurting us. Thanks, Republicans.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, State Senator Frank Niceley made the following statement:

“Hitler decided to live on the streets for a while. So for two years, Hitler lived on the streets and practiced oratory and his body language and how to connect with the masses, and then went on to lead a life that got him into history books,” he said.

“So a lot of these people, it’s not a dead end. They can come out of this, these homeless camps and have a productive life, or in Hitler’s case, a very unproductive life,” he continued. “I support this bill.”

I think we can all agree that homelessness is a major problem that has been bandied around for decades without a reasonable resolution. But the choice of using a homicidal dictator who started a war and was responsible for the deaths of millions of people as an example was not a wise decision.

And finally, Fox News personality Tucker Carlson has made his personal crusade the restoration of American masculinity. How you ask? Testicle tanning. I shit you not.

(Starts at 4:15.)

Just another day of Republican fuckery in the United States.

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Death and Love in the Holocaust: The Story of Sonja and Kurt Messerschmidt Book Review

Love can get us through the toughest of times. It gives us hope like few things can.

Death and Love in the Holocaust: The Story of Sonja and Kurt Messerschmidt, by Steve Hochstadt was published last month. The book tells the story of Sonja and Kurt Messerschmidt, a married couple who survived the Holocaust.

They were born in Berlin and were among the last Jews deported out of the country. Married in Theresienstadt, Sonja and Kurt were in Auschwitz and among the lucky ones to walk out alive. Finding each other after the war, they emigrated to the United States and rebuilt their lives.

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What I liked about this book was the dual narrative. The historical facts are interspersed with interviews with the book’s subjects. What I find amazing is not just one of them survived, but they both were among the few to return to the land of the living. What I got from the story was that love can get us through the darkest of times, even when hope seems lost.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Death and Love in the Holocaust: The Story of Sonja and Kurt Messerschmidt is available wherever books are sold.


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The World Didn’t Care Then & They Don’t Care Now: The Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the Destruction of the Al Aqsa Mosque

Silence speaks volumes and actions speak louder than words. People can say whatever they want, but words mean nothing.

Tuesday was the 79th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. When the world turned its back on Europe’s Jews, it gave the Nazis carte blanche permission to persecute, starve, torture, and murder my Jewish brethren. The only way we could survive is if we saved ourselves. It was a f*ck you to those who decided that we were not worth fighting for.

In the years since then, Jews (and Israel by extension) have had to keep the figurative middle finger raised. Because once again, we have been told by actions that we should remain sheep to the slaughter.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I believe in the sacredness of the sites and the holidays within my faith. Earlier today, militant Palestinians decided that one of the holiest sites in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, was to be used not as a site of prayer, but of a battle. This is during Ramadan, which I think deserves a little more respect. Not only did they attempt to physically destroy the building, but they used it as a base to attack innocent people.

In my mind, that is akin to Jewish worshippers destroying the Western Wall during Yom Kippur to spite our neighbors. It is something I cannot comprehend.

Given that the basic concept of Jewish history is that we are still here despite many attempts at assimilation and extermination, I personally think that it’s time to not give a shit. If living means fighting for ourselves when no one else will, so be it.

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Flashback Friday: The Grey Zone (2001)

When we think of Holocaust movies, they are rarely light and sunny, for a good reason,

The Grey Zone hit theaters in 2001. It told the story of the Sonderkommandos (along with other prisoners) who led a revolt against their captors in Auschwitz. In an effort to stay alive a little longer, they have led their fellow Jews to their deaths. The moral quandary comes when the men discover that a young girl has survived the gas chambers. They do everything in their power to keep her alive and out of view of the Nazis. Starring Mira Sorvino, David Arquette, Steve Buscemi, and Natasha Lyonne, it is a story of fighting for your life and your people in a world in which death is just a hairsbreadth behind you.

This movie is powerful, heartbreaking, and a ride that is a reminder of how inhumane we can be to our fellow human beings. The filmmakers do not shy away from how violent and brutal “life” in the concentration camp was. In doing so, they speak for both the victims and survivors, whose numbers are dwindling fast.

The only thing that throws me off is that many of the actors speak in their own accents instead of the voices that would have been natural for the characters they are playing.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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A Girl During the War: A Novel Book Review

It’s hard to lose a parent. It is ten times harder to lose that parent during war, when death and destruction are the new normal.

Anita Abriel‘s new novel, A Girl During the War: A Novel, takes place in Italy during World War II. Marina Tozzi is a young lady living in Rome with her widowed father in 1943. After he is killed for sheltering a Jewish artist, she escapes to a villa in Florence owned by a family friend. The city has become known for a homegrown rebellion against its German occupiers. Trained in art history, Marina uses her skills to help the partisans save her country and protect/hide artistic works from being taken to Germany. She also falls for Carlos, who lives next door to her.

When he disappears, she believes that their future life together was just a dream. Believing him to be dead, Marina moves halfway around the world once peace has been declared. Then she runs into Carlos and everything she knew turns upside down once more.

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I loved this book. Abriel, as she did with her previous novels, takes both the readers and the characters on a heart-pounding journey. I was immediately drawn into this world and taken by the hand into a story of a young woman who comes of age in a time that would test the toughest of souls. In a sense, her survival and her fight are ours as well. It is a reminder that we can fight against fascism and hate. We just need to heart, the brains, and the balls to do so.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

A Girl During the War: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.

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11 Israelis Were Murdered This Week. No Gives a Shit

After the Holocaust, the phrase “Never Again” was heard around the world. As usual, the words ring hollow.

This week, 11 Israelis were murdered in three separate attacks. The murderers claim to be a part of Hamas and ISIS. Adding salt to the wound was a protest in Brooklyn in which the participants cried out “Globalize the Intifada“.

I am so tired of this shit. When will the rest of the world wake up? Will it take another six million to make people care?

Or are we just Jews, who are only good when we are dead?

May the memories of those killed be a blessing. Z”L.

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This Week in American Women: Ketanji Brown Jackson, Karen Berg, and Madeleine Albright

Despite what history (and some men) may say, women are resourceful, intelligent, and more than capable. We just need the opportunity to prove ourselves.

Last week, America lost one of her giants in both history and politics. Madeleine Albright passed away at the age of 84. Appointed to the role of Secretary of State by former President Bill Clinton in 1997, she was the first woman to hold that position. Born to Holocaust survivors who fled Soviet-era Czechoslovakia in 1949, she did not learn that her family was Jewish until she was in her golden years. She will be remembered not just for the crack she left in the glass ceiling, but for her fight for peace and understanding between the nations.

May her memory be a blessing. Z”L

For the last week or so, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has been grilled by members of Congress in regards to her potentially taking over the seat of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer when he retires at the end of this term. Judge Jackson is more than qualified for the position. To say that some members of the Republican Party have been outrageous in their conduct towards her is an understatement. Instead of asking genuine questions about her work experience, they are once more appealing to their base by picking at literal straws.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, the subject of abortion has come up again in the cruelest of manners. Standing up for women and other possibly pregnant persons is State Senator Karen Berg. As the only female and the only doctor on the committee, she pointed out how ridiculous and dangerous (starts at 40:51) the limits on abortion are.

It’s time that we listen not just to these women, but to all women. We have voices, we have opinions, and it’s about dam time we are given our due.

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Signs of Survival: A Memoir of the Holocaust Book Review

If we are lucky, the bond that we have with our siblings is one that is strong. In certain circumstances, it can mean the difference between life and death.

Signs of Survival: A Memoir of the Holocaust, was published at the beginning of the year. Written by Joshua M. Greene and Renee Hartman, the memoir is the story of how Renee and her sister, Herta survived the Holocaust. Renee was both the ears and the voice for her family as both her parents and Herta were deaf.

Before the war, life was relatively normal. Everything changed when the girls were separated from their mother and father. With a target on their back due to their Jewish faith, their only choice was to find a safe place to hide. But they were soon caught and sent to Bergen-Belsen. With death all around them, the sisters turned to each other, hoping that would be enough to stay alive.

Told in an oral history format, this book speaks to the strength of two young girls who could have easily given up. But in turning to one another, they found the spark that allowed them to pull through and live. Though the main audience is young readers, the impact of this experience is not on an adult who might pick up this book. Though we know that both Renee and Herta survived, that journey to liberation is fraught with danger and suspense.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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