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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Survivors Return To Auschwitz As Leaders Warn Of Anti-Semitism

Survivors Return To Auschwitz As Leaders Warn Of Anti-Semitism

Oswiecim (Poland) (AFP) – Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, ageing survivors gathered at the site synonymous with the Holocaust on Tuesday as world leaders sounded the alarm over a fresh wave of anti-Semitism.

French President Francois Hollande and his Czech counterpart echoed warnings by a leading Jewish organisation, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Hollywood mogul Steven Spielberg over violence against Jews in modern-day Europe.

Telling French Jews that “France is your homeland,” Hollande described as “unbearable” the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in France, underscored by the Islamist killings at a kosher supermarket in Paris earlier this month.

Anti-Semitic acts in France, home to Europe’s largest Jewish population, doubled in 2014 to 851 from the previous year, France’s main Jewish group CRIF said Tuesday.

The European Jewish Congress chief Moshe Kantor had warned that Europe is “close to” a new exodus of Jews, saying that “jihadism is very close to Nazism”.

Merkel said it was a “disgrace” that Jews in Germany faced insults, threats and violence, as she joined survivors Monday in Berlin to observe 70 years since the Soviet Red Army liberated Auschwitz.

As he prepared to visit the camp, Spielberg, who won an Oscar for the Holocaust drama Schindler’s List, condemned “the growing effort to banish Jews from Europe”.

The director, who has also videotaped the testimony of 58,000 survivors, met with hundreds of them, mostly in their nineties, as they returned to Auschwitz for the liberation ceremonies on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Royals from Belgium and The Netherlands are expected to attend the event at Birkenau’s somber snow-cloaked crematorium memorial.

Hollande, German President Joachim Gauck and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko are to participate in the commemoration along with a dozen other leaders, but Russia, the United States and Israel have chosen to send lower-ranking representatives.

Also attending is Celina Biniaz, who was among the 1,200 Jews who escaped Auschwitz by being placed on Oskar Schindler’s famous list.

Still elegant at 83, as a child she left the death camp to work in a nearby factory run by the German industrialist.

“I so wish they would settle that problem in the Middle East because I so believe that it has a definite impact on what’s happening with anti-Semitism all over Europe,” Biniaz, who came from California for the ceremonies, told AFP.

“The Muslims have been disenfranchised and their young have no hope for the future, so they are desperate and it sounds glamorous for them to join things like ISIS,” she said, referring to the Islamic State group.

However, Czech President Milos Zeman struck a different note by calling for further military action against the jihadists to prevent a “super Holocaust” with hundreds of millions of victims.

For another survivor David Wisnia, his return to Auschwitz is bringing on nightmares and flashbacks for the first time.

“It’s a lifetime ago really,” the 88-year-old said.

“Last night sleeping… I had a horrible dream and woke up and looked out the window and sort of thought that I was back in Birkenau in cell block 14 where I started in 1942.”

The grandson of the infamous Auschwitz commander Rudolf Hoess has also come.

“I can’t forgive my father or my grandfather. I’m completely different,” Rainer Hoess, who is devoted to fighting anti-Semitism, told reporters as he visited Auschwitz.

Roza Krzywolwocka-Laurow, 79, was sent to Auschwitz in 1944 as an eight-year-old Polish partisan.

“If I survived it was to warn against this ever happening again,” she told AFP at the bullet-riddled “Wall of Death”, where the Nazis shot thousands.

Part of Adolf Hitler’s genocide plan against European Jews, dubbed the “Final Solution”, Auschwitz-Birkenau operated in the occupied southern Polish town of Oswiecim between June 1940 and January 1945.

Of the more than 1.3 million people imprisoned there, some 1.1 million — mainly European Jews — perished, either in the gas chambers or by starvation or disease.

The Nazis killed six million of pre-war Europe’s 11 million Jews.

Historical records show that by 1942, the Polish resistance provided Allied powers with eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust. Inexplicably, Washington and London failed to act.

“The debate as to why the Allies did not bomb the supply lines to Auschwitz remains unresolved,” survivor Marcel Tuchman told AFP.

“Whether there was a sinister reason behind it or whether it was just tactical, in that they didn’t want to divert their air force remains unclear,” the 93-year-old New York-based professor of medicine said.

“A little bomb in the proper place would have really helped.”

Photo: Survivors walk under the sign saying “Work makes you free” after paying tribute to fallen comrades at the former Auschwitz concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland, on January 27, 2015 (AFP/Odd Andersen)

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  • idamag

    Maybe we should start having Holocaust survivor accounts as part of school curriculum. It is so sad that we are only always a breadth away from hatred of other people.

    • neeceoooo

      I think you may have a point, how many young children today know the stories behind the Holocaust

      • CPAinNewYork

        What “stories behind”? The Holocaust happened because the Germans hated the Jews and the rest of the world either liked what was happening to the Jews or didn’t care.

        • idamag

          You have the cause. If there hadn’t been rampant anti-Antisemitism, there would have been no Holocaust. Now that this ugliness is rearing its head again, should we not try to stem the flow of hate?

          • CPAinNewYork

            To have any chance of stemming the” flow of hate”, one must know its cause. Why is the “ugliness again rearing its head”?

            Any ideas?

          • idamag

            Maybe this is only a guess, I live where there is one predominant religion. They are nice people and pleasant to be around. However, they believe they are the only true religion. They also have umpteen activities that are all church related. This does cause some resentment from people who weren’t raised with them. I think, perhaps, being “the chosen people’ foments resentment towards Jewish People. This might be especially true if they set themselves apart by their appearance. Just a guess. What do you think?

          • CPAinNewYork

            I don’t know from where antisemitism stems. It’s here, but I don’t know why.

          • idamag

            I don’t know, either, but I still think that making people aware of the problem might help.If they aren’t learning empathy at home, then maybe it has to be taught in school.

          • CPAinNewYork

            I think that school curricula should be devoted to teaching the tools that will enable students to be more competitive in the job market.

            If you have any influence in your community,

          • plc97477

            Antisemitism is there because the rabid religious people still blame the jews for the cross. And the african american in the white house has brought out the racism of a lot of people.

          • Whatmeworry

            So the 4 million Catholics, Romas, lunatics that were eliminated at these camps don’t count??

          • idamag

            They count very much. The article states that it is Antisemitism that is rearing its ugly head. During hitler’s regime, 11 million people were murdered.. 6 million were Jews. hitler hated a lot of different people. Spreading hate and fear was his selling point. He hated Russians, Communists, Anarchists, Black People, Gypsies, trade unionists, Jehovahs Witnesses, Catholic Priests, Slavic Peoples, and resistance fighters. He gassed 1100 Russians in one day. That doesn’t include the Russian villages he completely destroyed and killed the inhabitants. When Russia moved into Germany, they were less than cordial to the inhabitants. One time joe schmo told us his parents were Germans. Another time he said his parents escaped from Communism and therefore could see that our country was going Communist. Figuring the age and the nationality – yes, they were probably nazis who escaped from East Germany.However, most of that doesn’t address the growing antisemitism. Do you have any ideas?

          • Whatmeworry

            Certainly the bigotry and hatefulness toward mooslims is far worse than the antisemitism out there

          • idamag

            I forgot to list hitler hated people with mental and physical handicaps and was murdering them, alos.

          • Whatmeworry

            I would be classified in that group

          • Daniel Max Ketter


      • Whatmeworry

        So the 4 million Catholics, Romers, lunatics that were vacationing at these camps shouldn’t count

    • CPAinNewYork

      I don’t think that’s a good idea. There’s no shortage of information on the Holocaust. Just go to the History channels and you’ll see all that you want.

      If you want to invade the school curriculum, try making it an elective. That way, you’ll see just how much interest there really is.

      • idamag

        This is what I appreciate. You, without name-calling, giving your opinion and you may be right. However, I feel that without knowledge, we tend to forget and let those atrocities be repeated. If the schools do not bring those horrors to the students, who is going to study those things? I was a child when the war ended. The newsreels showed what the allies found when they entered the camps. Those images stuck with me. I know there are people who think children should be protected from reality, but is that wise? Those images caused me to study everything I could get on nazi Germany. I have read several eye-witness accounts of the Holocaust. There are even people who claim the Holocaust never happened. Their lies should be exposed.