Thursday, 28 December 2017

Poland donates large sum to preserve Warsaw Jewish cemetery

The Associated Press, 'Poland donates large sum to preserve Warsaw Jewish cemetery'. Friday, December 22, 2017
The Polish government has donated 100 million zlotys ($28 million) to restore and protect a major Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, one of the country's largest public contributions toward preserving the Jewish culture nearly wiped out in the Holocaust. The Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery, established in 1806, is the resting spot of 250,000 Polish Jews — Yiddish writers, rabbis, philanthropists, scholars, bankers and regular citizens who once belonged to a vibrant community that made up one-third of Warsaw's population before World War II. Among the notable people buried at the Okopowa Street cemetery are Ludwik Zamenhof, the creator of the Esperanto language (1859-1917), and Samuel Orgelbrand, publisher of Poland's first modern encyclopedia (1810-1868). Today, decades after Germany uprooted and destroyed that community, many sections of the cemetery are a desolate sight. Some tombstones are broken or disappearing below decades of decomposing vegetation, and others bear inscriptions rendered unreadable by erosion. "It's a disaster. It's a large territory in the middle of the city which looks like a jungle," said Michal Laszczkowski, the head of the Cultural Heritage Foundation, a private organization that preserves Polish heritage sites. "That's why we decided to do something." The foundation will oversee the preservation work at the Jewish cemetery. Catholic churches, monuments and cemeteries have been among the organization's focus. In Warsaw on Friday, Polish Culture Minister Piotr Glinski signed a contract with Laszczkowski that formalized the government donation. The money established an endowment, returns from which are supposed to go to cleaning the cemetery, preserving its tombstones and monuments and reinforcing an outer wall.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

More false attribution to Poland of responsibility for the Holocaust

Letter to the Jerusalem Post from the director of the The Israel Council on Foreign Relations correcting false attribution to Poland of responsibility for the Holocaust and highlighting positive state of Polish-Israeli relations:

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Film about 1946 Jewish pogrom in Kielce goes on release

Film about 1946 Jewish pogrom in Kielce goes on release Polish Radio  09.12.2017
Bogdan's Journey” (Polish title "Przy Planty 7/9") is the title of a new documentary film on a Jewish pogrom that took place in the south-central Polish town of Kielce on 4 July 1946.  Forty Jews were killed and some 80 injured in a frenzy of violence which was provoked by a false rumour that a Jewish family had abducted a Christian boy and held him overnight. The film, which went on release across Poland on Friday, focuses on the efforts of Bogdan Białek, a Kielce journalist and psychologist, who persuades members of the local community to confront their town’s painful history. Over the years, at great personal price, he manages to change the image of Kielce as a symbol of anti-Semitism in post-war Poland and establish close links with the international Jewish community. The film is the work of Polish and American directors, Michał Jaskulski and Lawrence Loewinger. It took eight years to make, with location shooting in Poland, Israel and the United States 
"Bogdan’s Journey” has received several awards, including the Interfaith Award for Best Documentary at the International Documentary Film Festival in Saint Louis in the United States.

American teen sentenced over Auschwitz vandalism

In recent years there have been several incidents of vandalism and even desecration at Auschwitzby foeign visitors
 A Polish court has given a suspended one-year sentence to a 17-year-old American for scratching his name into the barracks at the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau [...] The teenager was detained in July for inscribing his name on one of the interior walls at the memorial site after being caught by a guide, according to the report. Identified only as Raphael A., he was also ordered Monday to pay 1,000 zlotys ($280) to the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum. Judge Konrad Gwozdziewicz said the sentence was light because the defendant was young, had no previous convictions and showed remorse. The suspect reportedly attends a religious school for future rabbis.  
American teen sentenced over Auschwitz vandalism Arutz Sheva,

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Museum about Poles who helped Jews in WWII to open New York branch

A Polish museum that honours Poles who helped rescue Jews during World War II will open a branch in New York, an official has said.   The initiative follows efforts by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and meets a public need in the United States, where the Holocaust is "still an important and vivid topic," Mateusz Szpytma, deputy head of Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), said, as quoted by the online news service. Szpytma was among those who helped establish the Polish museum, which is based in the village of Markowa, in the southeast of the country, and is named after the Polish Ulma family, who were shot by the country’s Nazi German occupiers for sheltering Jews. The museum, of which Szpytma was first head, will now have a branch in New York to spread the story of Poles who helped Jews during the Holocaust and promote the kind of universal values that the Ulma family represented in helping other people, Szpytma told in an interview.
Museum about Poles who helped Jews in WWII to open New York branch 01.12.2017  

Over 6,600 ethnic Poles are commemorated in Israel's Garden of the Righteous in Jerusalem for aiding Jews during World War II.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The rescued Jewish tombstones of Thessaloniki

After the ancient Jewish graveyard in Thessaloniki was
destroyed, the gravestones were broken up and used as
building materials in the city. Credit Renee Gross
The cemetery was destroyed during the German occupation:
Fragments of these headstones can be found all over the city of Thessaloniki, embedded in churches, buildings, even sidewalks. They all come from the old Jewish cemetery that used to be in the center of town. Rena Molho, a historian who studies the Jewish history in Thessaloniki, says the old cemetery was huge. “It had 350,000 square meters, and it had close to 350,000 graves,” she says. But during World War II, the Jews of Thessaloniki were forced to give up the cemetery as part of a payment to the Nazi occupiers, and almost all of the Jewish population was later deported to death camps. The local Greek government took the opportunity to knock down the stones and loot them for building material. Germans, local churches and members of the community also took tombstones to use for construction projects. Later, Aristotle University was built on top of the old graveyard. In 2014, the university erected a memorial for the Jewish cemetery, though few students today seem to know anything about it. Jacky Benmayor was at the opening of the memorial. He’s a 69-year-old retired businessman who knows Hebrew, Ladino and Greek. When he spots one of the old headstones in the city, he calls the government archaeological service to dig it out with shovels and a pickax. (Taking the stones without permission is technically illegal because they’re considered historical property.) Benmayor helps the architectural service read the inscriptions and then brings the stones to the newer Jewish cemetery, about a 20-minute drive from downtown.
Renee Gross, 'The rescued Jewish tombstones of Thessaloniki', PRI's The World June 19, 2017

listen to the story here

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

German media refer to “Polish” death camp - again

This is really getting rather monotonous and seems deliberate provocation (perhaps in relation to Poland's embarrassing stance against allowing Middle Eastern refugees in)
Polish diplomats have said they will protest after a German newspaper described the Sobibor German Nazi WWII death camp as a “Polish” camp.  Describing an exhibition by Otto Freundlich, a painter and sculptor of Jewish origin, the German Badische Zeitung daily said that he was killed in a “Polish” camp in 1943. [...] The use of the term “Polish concentration camp” by international media outlets has sparked numerous complaints from Poland in recent years, prompting some news agencies to change their style guidelines. 
German media refers to “Polish” death camp - again 14.06.2017

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Polish President welcomes American Jewish Committee to Warsaw

President Andrzej Duda welcomed members of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) at a gala opening the organisation's Warsaw office on Monday ('Polish President welcomes American Jewish Committee to Warsaw' 28.03.2017):
In a letter which was read out during Monday’s opening of the organisation’s regional office in Warsaw, Duda referred to the event as a way of strengthening transatlantic ties, of which Poland has always been a staunch advocate. In his letter, Duda also wrote about the common history of Poles and Jews. “This unique political community … was annihilated by the aggression of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, but despite the inhumane terror, crime and mass extermination, the solidarity between our nations has survived,” Duda wrote. He added that he hoped Poles and Jews will successfully cooperate in defending the good name of Poland and historical truth. The American Jewish Committee was founded in 1906 to protect the Jewish community outside the United States. In addition to Poland, its Warsaw bureau is also in charge of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Friday, 27 January 2017

St. Louis Manifest

On Holocaust Remembrance Day we remember the victims of Naziism turned away at the doorstep of America in 1939.  Haunting Twitter Account Shares the Fates of the Refugees of the St. Louis In 1939, Cuba and the United States turned back a ship full of German Jews, 254 of whom were later killed during the Holocaust . In 1939, Cuba and the United States turned back a ship full of German Jews, 254 of whom were later killed during the Holocaust

St. Louis Manifest

St. Louis Manifest ‏@Stl_Manifest 12 godz.12 godzin temu
My name is Herbert Ascher. The US turned me away at the border in 1939. I was murdered at Auschwitz
St. Louis Manifest ‏@Stl_Manifest 2 godz.2 godziny temu My name is Lutz Grünthal. The US turned me away at the border in 1939. I was murdered in Auschwitz
Where is Rabbi Friedman protesting tonight?

Dziś jesteśmy myślami z rodzinami ofiar Holokaustu. NIGDY WIĘCEJ