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Holocaust History

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טאצואו אוסאקו בצעירותו

Tatsuo Osako (left) in his youth
(Photo: Courtesy of the family)

Despite the Japanese Empire being allied with Nazi Germany, Osako welcomed the refugees upon their arrival in Japan and doled out aid money he received from Jewish rescue organizations while using his connections to ensure the refugees' safe passage into Japan.

Osako, who passed away in 2003, is one of a handful of Japanese citizens whose contribution to saving Jewish lives in the days of the Holocaust received belated recognition from the Israeli government.

(full article online)

 
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Born Nora Tausz in 1924, in what was then the Italian town of Fiume — and what is today Rjeka, Croatia — her grandfather was a traditional and observant Jew. But her father, who married a Jewish woman, ended up getting baptized and converted to Catholicism as part of a family feud — involving some small amphibians. That was before Tausz Ronai was born, leaving her “technically Catholic.”

“My father’s dislike for religion started during his childhood. When he was preparing for his bar mitzvah, the rabbi complained that he did not study enough. My grandma was furious and threw the salamanders he carefully collected out of the window and the cats ate them,” Tausz Ronai explained.

After Nora’s birth, Edoardo Tausz became the president of a Hungarian insurance agency. But in 1935, the Hungarian government issued a law by which non-citizens could no longer work in high-ranking positions. The company offered him a chance at Hungarian citizenship, but he rejected the move as opportunistic, quit his job and joined an Italian insurance company.

In 1938, the promulgation of racial laws in Italy stripped Jews of their citizenship. Tausz lost his job overnight with no compensation, his pension savings account was seized, and his kids Nora and Giorgio were thrown out of school.

“There was nothing to do. The government said that we were of ‘Jewish race.’ We were not connected with the official Jewish community. When my grandfather died, no one could afford his Jewish burial. Even my cousin, who was very Catholic and attended the Benedictine school, was kicked out overnight by the priest. He ended up in Auschwitz,” Tausz Ronai said in an interview with the Primo Levi Center in 2020.

Lacking nationality and resources, Edoardo Tausz prepared his family to leave, reaching out to several countries, including Australia, Argentina and the United States. He even found a New York telephone book and called various Tausz families for help, but never received an answer.

After Italy entered the war, in the summer of 1940, the mayor ordered the round-up of all the Jewish men in Fiume.

“They came before dawn, perhaps 4 a.m., about six men in uniform with bayonets and revolvers in their hands. They took my father and went for my brother. My mother begged for Giorgio as he was ‘just a child,’ although he was actually 18. [The soldiers] gave up and left [Giorgio] behind,” Tausz Ronai recalled.

Giorgio was eventually caught at a train station while trying to escape. Though “technically Catholic,” his papers carried the word “Jew,” so he was taken to the Torretta detention camp, where his father was also imprisoned.




(full article online)

 
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A new episode of ESPN’s documentary series “E60” will profile a former Israeli athlete who survived the Holocaust when he was a child and also the terrorist attack that took place at the 1972 Olympic Summer Games in Munich, Germany, in which 11 members of Israel’s Olympic delegation were murdered.

In “The Survivor,” former Israeli race walker Shaul Ladany, 86, shares his life story from World War II to Munich and Israel, where he now lives, with reporter Jeremy Schaap, who traveled to Israel and Germany to learn more about the two-time Olympic athlete who has won five gold medals at the Maccabiah Games.

Ladany was also the recipient of the Pierre de Coubertin medal, the International Olympic Committee’s most prestigious honor, and in July he completed the Maccabiah Games half marathon in four hours and 27 minutes. He is now a professor at Ben Gurion University in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management.

As the Nazi regime attacked Ladany’s home country of Yugoslavia in 1941, a bomb fell directly on his house. Miraculously, he survived and three years later, during the Holocaust, he was deported by the Nazis to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and again survived. Twenty-eight years later on Sept. 5, 1972, at the Munich Olympics, Ladany faced death once more when the Palestinian terror group Black September broke into the athletes’ village at the Munich Olympics and kidnapped, and ultimately murdered, 11 Israeli athletes and coaches.



SEPTEMBER 16, 2022 12:02 PM
0

Iran Accused of Pulling Wrestler From International Championship to Avoid Competing Against Israeli Athlete

Iran has been accused of purposefully ensuring that one of its wrestlers would not qualify for a match on Thursday...
“The Survivor” features archival video and news reports, as well as new interviews and reporting, to share details about what happened at the Munich Olympics through Ladany’s perspective.

(full article online)

 
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“It’s not one of the things that will go down in the long annals of good things America did. It goes in a different book,” says Prof. Deborah Lipstadt, forever the voice of reason, coming to terms with something nobody wants to hear — and that she undoubtedly wishes she did not have to say.

She’s speaking about the American response to — and, in some ways, even its shared culpability in — the Holocaust.

“That’s absurd,” you might think. “How is this America’s fault? They were across the ocean, minding their own business, and when the time came they landed at Normandy and helped liberate Europe!”

Yes, this is true. But we’re discussing a Ken Burns documentary, which means we are at the adult table now, not on Twitter where everything is blanched of nuance and reduced to a sharp quip meant to make other people look dumb. For a story as staggering as the Holocaust, we must look at it honestly, and from every angle. “Never again” is meaningless if we can’t analyze everything.

When I first heard that Ken Burns made a documentary about the Holocaust, my first thought, I’ll admit, was, “If he hasn’t done it already, why bother now?” Burns, who became a titan in his field with his 1990 release “The Civil War” (which I once called the greatest American documentary), and his company Florentine Films, have been pumping out very distinctive information-rich television events since the early 1980s and have covered a number of heavy topics from an American perspective.



(full article online)


 
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The Ken Burns documentary that started being broadcast last night, The US and the Holocaust, has prompted me to dig up little known stories about how the US severely limited Jewish immigration.

One reason that the US gave for limiting immigration was the fear that some of the immigrants were in fact Nazi spies.

The New York Daily News reported on November 26, 1940 - a year before the US entered the war - about a secret Gestapo school in Prague to train spies to act as Jews for espionage purposes.





The article makes it clear that this fear would end up dooming thousands of Jews.

I cannot find any independent report during or after the Holocaust about this supposed "Jewish institute."

There are cases of Nazis who masqueraded as Jewish refugees in Europe. One such ring was reported in Holland and the Dutch authorities easily discovered them, as JTA reported:


The disclosure that Nazi agents masquerading as refugees had helped the Nazi parachutists landing in the Netherlands recalled today that the Dutch authorities had several months ago discovered a group of such agents through the medium of botched circumcisions.

Last February the Paris newspaper L’Ouevre reported that 16 Nazi spies who entered the Netherlands in the guise of Jewish refugees — even taking the precaution of being circumcised — were unmasked when it was determined through a rabbi that they were not circumcised according to the Jewish ritual.

According to the report, the Gestapo had selected 16 men who looked as Jewish as possible, had them attend synagogue services for several weeks to acquaint ports stamped with “J” (Jew) and sent them into Holland.

The Netherlands anti-espionage service, suspecting that they were spies, arrested the men. After examining them, the authorities called a rabbi and, without informing him about the details of the case, asked him to ascertain whether they had been circumcised in the Jewish manner. He reported that they were not.

But (so far) I cannot find any such case in the US. The closest was the case of Herbert Karl Friedrich Bahr, a German-born American citizen who arrived in the US on the Swedish-American liner SS Drottningholm in 1942. The media originally said that he pretended to be a Jewish refugee but that wasn't true, as JTA reported at the time:


The Nazi spy, Herbert Karl Friedrich Bahr, who was arrested aboard the diplomatic exchange ship Drottningholm, will face a speedy trial, it was announced today. Full information of the arrest released here indicated that the 29-year-old spy was posing as a “friend of Jews in Germany,” and not as a Jewish refugee as was generally reported yesterday when the news of his arrest was made public by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Inquiry at the FBI office here elicited the information that Bahr was provided by the Nazi military espionage office with full information concerning a Jewish family in Germany in order to be able to explain to U.S. authorities how he happened to be in possession of $7,000 in American currency. He was instructed by the Nazi espionage headquarters to say that a Jewish friend of his in Germany, a member of the old Social-Democratic party, had been beheaded by the Nazis, that the man’s wife had sold a valuable stamp collection for $7,000 and given him the proceeds to take out of the country for her.

In 2015, the Smithsonian Magazine wrote an investigative report on Bahr and noted that in fact the rumors of Nazis posing as Jews to spy on the US were essentially baseless:


Government officials from the State Department to the FBI to President Franklin Roosevelt himself argued that refugees posed a serious threat to national security. Yet today, historians believe that Bahr's case was practically unique—and the concern about refugee spies was blown far out of proportion.

In the court of public opinion, the story of a spy disguised as a refugee was too scandalous to resist.

Immigration restrictions actually tightened as the refugee crisis worsened. Wartime measures demanded special scrutiny of anyone with relatives in Nazi territories—even relatives in concentration camps. At a press conference, President Roosevelt repeated the unproven claims from his advisers that some Jewish refugees had been coerced to spy for the Nazis. “Not all of them are voluntary spies,” Roosevelt said. “It is rather a horrible story, but in some of the other countries that refugees out of Germany have gone to, especially Jewish refugees, they found a number of definitely proven spies.”

Here and there, skeptics objected. As the historian Deborah Lipstadt points out in her book Beyond Belief, The New Republic portrayed the government’s attitude as “persecuting the refugee.” The Nation didn’t believe that the State Department could “cite a single instance of forced espionage.” But these voices were drowned out in the name of national security.

Government agencies like the State Department used spy trials as fuel for the argument against accepting refugees. But late in the war, government whistleblowers began to question this approach. In 1944, the Treasury Department released a damning report initialed by lawyer Randolph Paul. It read:

“I am convinced on the basis of the information which is available to me that certain officials in our State Department, which is charged with carrying out this policy, have been guilty not only of gross procrastination and wilful failure to act, but even of wilful attempts to prevent action from being taken to rescue Jews from Hitler.”


The FBI, State Department and media couldn't resist pushing the narrative of Jewish spies, the result being that tens of thousands of Jews who could have been saved in the US were murdered instead.

One other point: It would have been easy for the FBI to hire religious Jews to vet the immigrants to ensure that at least the religious ones were who they said they were. But it seems that the antisemitism of the day precluded considering American religious Jews as truly American and trustworthy for such a task.


 
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An initiative for the “urgent” conservation of thousands of pairs of shoes of children killed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp has been launched to try and save the footwear from falling apart with the passage of time.

The two-year project “From Soul to Sole” is for the preservation of more than 8,000 shoes stored at the Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland, which belonged mostly to Jewish children, but were “found to be rapidly disintegrating” over time.

“Without immediate conservation, these shoes are in danger of disappearing as historic documentation of life and death,” the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation warned.

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Director Piotr Cywiński, noted that in a recent exhibition “one of the objects that speaks most to the emotions of visitors is a child’s shoe with a sock in it.”

“At the Memorial itself, for many people one of the places that moves them most is the room where several thousand shoes belonging to the youngest victims are displayed,” said Cywiński. “There is nothing surprising in this, as through the tragic fate of the children in the camp we are able to look into the limitless depths of human evil at Auschwitz.”

About 1.1 million people from across Europe were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau out of which an estimated 232,000 were children, mostly Jewish. When Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz on January 27, 1945, there were about 500 children under 15 years of age left in the Nazi camp.

“The contrast between the cruelty and callousness of the adult world is perhaps most vividly illustrated in Auschwitz precisely in the juxtaposition with the trusting, curious, innocent and defenseless children who were thrown into a world they could not understand,” said Cywiński. “And this world is preserved in every single shoe. Only these shoes remained after so many children.”

“That is why we must do everything to preserve them for as long as possible,” he urged.

For the project, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation has partnered with the International March of the Living, the Auschwitz Memorial and the Neishlos Foundation.

(full article online)


 
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As the chief Nazi hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, my job was to find as many as possible of such cases, in order to help convince Canada, Australia, Great Britain, and New Zealand to decide to take legal measures against these Holocaust perpetrators, who up to that point, had escaped justice. As far as the United Kingdom was concerned, our saga began on October 22, 1986, when Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper submitted a list I compiled of suspected Nazi criminals who were living in the UK to the British consul in Los Angeles, Donald Ballantine. The list – 11 Latvians and 6 Lithuanians – was accompanied by a request to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that the government investigate the allegations, and if necessary create a legal mechanism to deal with the problem.

From the start, the British government was very reluctant to do anything. Its initial response was that despite the Prime Minister’s “deep revulsion at the atrocities committed during the Nazi era,” it was most likely that “legal constraints would prevent the prosecution of Nazi war criminals in Great Britain.” The reason was that prosecution was limited to crimes committed in Great Britain, and extradition to the Soviet Union or Israel was impossible, because of the lack of an extradition treaty with the former, and the provisions of the existing extradition treaty with the latter. In addition, the conservative media was absolutely opposed to prosecution and made no secret of their staunch opposition. Thus, for example, the Times editorial on March 3,1987, reminded its readers that “Britain is a Christian country…[whose] laws enshrine principles of justice tempered with mercy not vengeance,” and concluded that “it is wise and humane to let matters rest.”

And that sentiment was not the only problem we faced. Our major problem was that all the suspects had committed their crimes in areas that were now part of the Soviet Union. As a Jewish defense organization that was fighting for the rights of Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel, we were hardly the type of group whom the Soviet authorities would help, which is why we appealed to the British government to request the information from the Soviets on a bilateral basis. Thus with little political will to proceed in London, our chances of obtaining positive results appeared to be very slim. Luckily for the cause, MPs Greville Janner and Merlyn Rees formed an All-Party War Crimes Group in the Parliament which helped to galvanize political pressure on the government to take action.

Their efforts resulted in the government establishing an independent inquiry to assess the evidence against the suspects, which in turn endorsed a change in British law to enable criminal prosecution of Nazi criminals living in Great Britain. Such a step would have to be passed by the Parliament, as well as the House of Lords. The proposed bill passed in the House of Commons by a huge margin of 348 to 123, but was roundly defeated in the House of Lords. To the government’s credit, it was returned to the House of Commons, but again it was rejected by the House of Lords. The government refused to give up and submitted it once again to the House of Commons, where it was passed by a huge margin of 254 to 88, and at that point, Queen Elizabeth, for the first time in 70 years, used her power to sign a bill into law over the opposition of the House of Lords. That step created a legal framework to prosecute Nazi criminals who entered Great Britain illegally and sent a very important moral and judicial message that the United Kingdom, in principle, will not be a haven for those who committed the crimes of the Third Reich.

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On March 15, 1938, three days after German troops crossed into Austria, approximately 250,000 people greeted Adolf Hitler when he appeared on the balcony of the Hofburg, Vienna’s imperial palace, to announce the political union of Austria with Nazi Germany through annexation.

The Anschluss launched mass arrests in Vienna and triggered a wave of anti-Semitic violence too. Jews were beaten and killed, their stores looted, and dozens committed suicide. As the German takeover of Austria began, Sigmund Freud was ensconced in his longtime residence and office at Berggasse 19 in Vienna’s 9th district. “Finis Austriae [the end of Austria],” the neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis observed in his diary at the time.

“As a Jew, [Freud] was automatically in danger as the undisputed public face of what most Nazi officials denounced as [his] Jewish pseudoscience,” Andrew Nagorski writes in his new book “Saving Freud,” published on August 23.

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