Screenshot from Twitter.

Museum Removes Hitler Statue Due to Complaints

An Indonesian museum has decided to remove a statue of Adolf Hitler after they received numerous complaints from people online.

The De MATA Trick Eye 3D museum in Yogyakarta featured the Hitler statue with a picture of Auschwitz in the background. The statue was a hub for selfies, including these children giving the Nazi salute in front of the statue:

“Everything about it is wrong,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Associated Press. “It’s hard to find words for how contemptible it is. The background is disgusting. It mocks the victims who went in and never came out.”

Others on social media expressed their outrage at the statue:

De MATA Marketing Officer Warli initially defended the statue, telling the Associated Press that the statue had been featured in the museum since 2014 and that the museum visitors were simply having fun because De MATA “is just an entertainment museum.” However, the museum did eventually take down the statue.

“We don’t want to attract outrage,” Jamie Misbah, De MATA’s operations manager, told the New York Daily News.

Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch (HRW) told Deutsche Welle that HRW “welcomes the decision.”

“Regardless of the intention, depicting Hitler as if he were a respected figure is in bad taste,” said Harsono.

Some on social media didn’t agree with museum’s decision:

The De MATA museum currently has a four-star rating on Trip Advisor, touting itself as a 3D art museum where people can take goofy photos of themselves.

Episode 58 – The man who slept in Hitler’s room and infiltrated guarded refugee camps

When people talk to journalists, they tend to be extra careful as to what comes out of their mouths. It takes a whole new level of journalism to penetrate into the depths of the soul of a person – you have to smoothen your way in, create intimacy, have a drink or two together, and then, and only then – maybe you’ll get a glimpse into the what someone really thinks.

Tuvia Tenenbom has made this practice an art. Tuvia was born as Charedi in Israel to a German speaking family, but eventually moved to the States where he founded the Jewish Theater of New York, which is currently the only English speaking Jewish theater at the Big Apple. He wrote 16 plays for that theater.

As a columnist, Tuvia’s essays were published in the most highly esteemed papers out there, including a column in De Zeit, Germany’s leading newspaper.

In recent years Tenenbom has devoted his time to write books. His very unique genre is a non-fiction, journalistic, humoristic, books which describe the journeys that Tuvia embarks on – “I sleep in Hitler’s Room”, his debut book, depicts his journey throughout Germany, talking to Germans, sometimes pretending to be a German himself, hiding his Jewish identity.

In the book “Catch the Jew” Tuvia pretends yet again he’s a German journalist, thus infiltrating the highest ranks of Palestinian regime in the Territories, to find out what the Palestinians really think about Israel and the Jews.

His third book, “The Lies They Tell”, described a painful journey throughout the United Stated, when Tuvia goes to places in America, so deprived of government or God, that no one knew still exist.

Tuvia’s upcoming book will unfold his adventures at the refugee camps in Europe.
2NJB is thrilled to have Tuvia Tenenbom with us.

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Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ is a German best-seller for 2016

The annotated edition of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” sold 85,000 copies in the one year since it was released in print for the first time since World War II.

“Hitler, Mein Kampf: A Critical Edition” is in its eighth printing, according to the Spiegel newspaper, which noted that the book topped its best-seller list in April.

The 70-year copyright in the German state of Bavaria of the anti-Semitic tract, whose title means “My Struggle,” expired on Jan. 1, 2016, allowing it to be published in the country. The publication was controversial: Some Jewish groups endorsed the annotated edition and others opposed it.

The Munich Institute for Contemporary History said it published the book to preempt uncritical and unannotated versions, and that it hoped the new edition would help destroy the book’s cult status. Its first run of 4,000 sold almost immediately, the German dpa news agency reported.

“It turned out that the fear the publication would promote Hitler’s ideology or even make it socially acceptable and give neo-Nazis a new propaganda platform was totally unfounded,” institute director Andreas Wirsching said in a statement to dpa.

“To the contrary, the debate about Hitler’s worldview and his approach to propaganda offered a chance to look at the causes and consequences of totalitarian ideologies, at a time in which authoritarian political views and right-wing slogans are gaining ground.”

Other editions of “Mein Kampf” remain available for purchase via the internet.

Play about Chaplin’s ‘Great Dictator’ echoes politics of today

In the late summer of 1939, Europe’s statesmen and generals were worrying about whether and when Adolf Hitler would launch his military to start World War II.

In Hollywood, the gossip mills were grinding about Charlie Chaplin. The beloved tramp of the silent movie era, it was rumored, was embarking on his first speaking role. And not just in any movie, but in a biting anti-Nazi satire called “The Great Dictator.”

Both events, one world-shaking, the other less so, come together in the Theatre 40 production of “The Consul, the Tramp and America’s Sweetheart,” which bears some resemblance to current events in America. It will run through Dec. 18 at the Reuben Cordova Theatre in Beverly Hills.

The title characters are, respectively, Georg Gyssling (played by Shawn Savage), the German consul in Los Angeles, tasked with pressuring Hollywood moguls from making any movies that might reflect badly on the Third Reich (or include Jewish actors); Chaplin (Brian Stanton); and Mary Pickford (Melanie Chartoff), America’s sweetheart of the silent screen and now the most powerful woman in Hollywood as co-founder (with Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith) of the United Artists studio.

There is a fourth character in the play, Miss Hollombe (Laura Lee Walsh), Pickford’s sassy new secretary, who provides for the audience background on ’30s  Hollywood

In the opening scene, gossip columnist Hedda Hopper has just revealed that Chaplin plans to direct and star in “The Great Dictator,” with United Artists as producer and distributor.

Gyssling arrives at Pickford’s office to stop the project. He points out that Germany, including the recently absorbed Austria, is Hollywood’s third-largest market, after the United States and England. Of course, any insult to the Führer would result in a German boycott of all Hollywood films.

Pickford immediately calls in Chaplin, and while the actor and consul exchange a few insults, she phones some other Hollywood moguls, all of whom urge her to kill the project, rather than offend Hitler and lose the German market.

That part of the play touches on the still-controversial issue of whether Hollywood’s studio chiefs and power brokers, predominantly Jewish, were complicit in vetoing anti-Nazi movies during the ’30s to maintain a low profile and continue the screening of their films in German theaters.

To execute the film’s death warrant, the principals scheduled a meeting for Sept. 1, 1939, which turned out to be the day Germany invaded Poland. Though the United States officially was neutral, President Franklin D. Roosevelt let it be known that he expected Hollywood to turn out strong anti-Nazi films to buck up the Allies’ fighting spirit — and nobody was willing to go against the commander in chief.

 “The Great Dictator,” released on Oct. 15, 1940, became a huge critical and commercial success, as well as a high point in Chaplin’s career. His opponent, Gyssling, returned to Germany and was put in charge of anti-American propaganda after the U.S. entered the war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. 

Jules Aaron, the play’s award-winning director, noted in an interview with the Journal that the play would open nine days after the U.S. presidential election, and he pointed to some analogies between the main characters in the 1939 and 2016 settings.

 “The Mary Pickford persona is that of a very smart, very powerful woman, often resented for holding a powerful position usually reserved for men, certainly a problem that Hillary Clinton has had to deal with,” Aaron said.

On the other hand, Nazi consul Gyssling seems unable to censor himself or keep from making nasty cracks (“I’ll wring your little Jewish neck,” he tells Chaplin at one point). In a director’s touch, Gyssling keeps circling Pickford during their encounter, similar to President-elect Donald Trump walking around and in front of Clinton during their second debate.

In that sense, Aaron observed prior to the U.S. election, the play is “unfortunately” still relevant.

John Morogiello, the author of “The Consul” and 28 other produced plays, got the idea for his current drama after reading an article about Gyssling, a regular at Hollywood parties, long after the latter’s death. An ardent fan of old movies, Morogiello said that by the late ’30s, Chaplin felt he wanted to make an impact beyond his film persona as a silent clown and risked his career on his first talkie.

The actual circumstances surrounding the near death of “The Great Dictator” differ from those of the play but in a sense are as dramatic as the playwright’s imagination. All the characters in the play, aside from the secretary, actually existed, but their interactions were rather different.

For one, there never was a meeting between Chaplin, Pickford and Gyssling, Morogiello said. The consul’s job was, indeed, to keep Hollywood from making anti-Nazi films, but in real life, he would have turned to the man powerful enough to censor or abort movie projects — Joseph Breen, enforcer of the movie industry’s Hays moral code and a notorious anti-Semite. One clause in the code forbade any Hollywood film to insult the head of a foreign state, and in real life Breen himself would have confronted Pickford and told her to scuttle any idea of producing “The Great Dictator,” Morogiello said. (In actuality, Breen did not get involved in this particular case.) 

There is one more Jewish aspect in the play, but Morogiello asked it not be revealed so as to not spoil the surprise for audiences.

“The Consul, the Tramp and America’s Sweetheart” runs through Dec. 18 at  the Reuben Cordova Theatre in Beverly Hills. For tickets and more information, visit Theatre 40.

With gratitude toward Donald Trump

No one compares to Adolf Hitler. He was incomparably evil.  Nothing in American politics compares to Nazism. Nothing, not now – and hopefully never!

And yet, I am grateful to Donald Trump because he has made my job of explaining the rise of Nazism and political support for Hitler so much easier.

Permit me to explain:

When I would tell my students that many of Hitler’s supporters did not regard themselves as antisemites or racists, they would look at me quizzically. “How could they not?” After all, Hitler made secret of his antisemitism. He spoke of it openly, directly and repeatedly. He did not use dog whistles but said what he meant and meant what he said.

When I would mention that many did not believe that he would carry out what he had been saying, they were skeptical. After all, he had repeated his threats against the Jews time and again, how could they believe that once in office he would not follow through?

When we would learn that some of his voters were put off by his antisemitism but liked other parts of his platform such as his strong nationalism, his return to national pride, his attacks on the ineffective Weimar Republic and their leaders, his anger at German humiliation with the defeat of World War I and the foreign imposition of the Versailles Treaty. They craved his projection of strength and decisiveness after what many had viewed as ineffective leadership from the German political class, My students would protest. “But he was antisemitic and racist. And you are telling me that his supporters did not regard that as disqualifying? “They would roll their eyes when I tell them that had he not been an antisemite he might have gotten even more support.

When I would mention that Hitler came to power with a minority of seats in a coalition Cabinet and his political partners assured one another and the President that once in office he would be forced to moderate and move toward the center. They would whisper: “he knows nothing and we are men of experience, seasoned, reasoned, disciplined and informed, we can control the man and force him to bend to our will.” They would look skeptically at me. Given what they know happened shortly after Hitler took office, they wondered: how could they be so sure, how could they be misguided?

When I would then describe the reasoning of Germany’s Conservative political leadership: better to bring this angry man and his angry hordes inside the tent looking outward that outside the tent continually raging, they would throw up their hands in frustration: “how could they be so naïve as to imagine that the rage would not continue and once in power become institutionalized, bureaucratized, legalized? Couldn’t they understand that power would only embolden them and that such power would only entice them to use it effectively and cruelly?”

And finally, when I would say that no one in his inner circle could stand up to Hitler, could tell him to stop and cut it out, change direction or that Germany did not have, at least not after the Emergency Decrees of March 1933 have the checks and balances and the separation of powers that restrained the exercise of power. I would show them two pictures, one of Hitler receiving a briefing from his Generals in 1939 — when the wars were proceeding well for Germany he listened attentively to what they were telling him — and another in 1942 when Hitler was making decision after decision that would bring them to defeat, the Generals listened obediently to what he was instructing them. My students would ask timidly, “did the man have no friends, could no one tell him the truth?”

Again Hitler was Hitler and Trump is Trump. No equivalence is possible. Trump does not have a coherent vision positive or negative to implement. He only has himself and his sense of self-aggrandizement.

And yet now my students now will have much easier time understanding that while everyone hears Trumps tirades against Muslims and Hispanics, Mexicans in particular, his promises of exclusion and deportation, for many that simply is not disqualifying.

They do not regard themselves as racists and could not imagine themselves to be and are uncomfortable if not distraught by his racism but other aspects of his program appeals to them: America First, the “lousy” trade deals, the reversal of globalization, the restoration of American greatness, the hatred of the political class – Washington that evil, awful place – and the promise of American jobs. Some Jews will offer an excuse: Trump will be better on Israel. 

My students will now be able to see first-hand how the wise men of Germany could be so mistaken. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan condemned the Republican nominee’s statements about an Indiana born Federal Judge as racist and speaks with rightful respect about Gold Star mothers and fathers who children died in the service of our nation. He is not in favor of excluding Muslims or deporting Mexicans and yet supports his party’s nominee because Trump will advance Conservative causes and appoint a Conservative Supreme Court. I do not know what he is feeling in his heart of hearts but if I judge by his actions, I presume that he believes he and not Trump can set the agenda, the Republican controlled House of Representatives and the Senate can moderate Trump and negate the racist and un-American aspects of his agenda.

I have no such confidence. I suspect that the Presidential nominee of the Republican Party believes that he will bend the Ryans and McConnells to his will just as he broke 15 other candidates for President and made the toughest of them Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey appear like a lap dog, taking scraps off the master’s table.

While I have no confidence in Republican leadership who are deluding themselves and the nation with the notion that they will triumph in a contest of ideas; and while I am appalled by the so-called  “religious leaders” who want to make the nation more Christian – Jesus preached a gospel of compassion and human dignity, gratitude and grace, he reached out to the widow and the orphan, the stranger and the dispossessed — while they support a man who is the embodiment of values antithetical to religiosity. ,

I do have confidence in the American people who, no matter how angry, will reject the politics of exclusion and bigotry and vote for inclusion and decency. I pray that I am not deceiving myself,

Let me conclude with a story: many years ago Steven Spielberg and I met with a man who spent the meeting telling Spielberg how important he was. When the meeting concluded and we stepped outside Spielberg turned to me and said:

“What was that about?” “

“He wanted to tell you how important he was,” I answered.

He said: “I know he was important, otherwise I could not have met with him.”

I said: “he has a big ego.”

Steven corrected me immediately. “No, he has a small ego in need of enlargement. I have a big ego and need not enlarge it at another’s expense.”

I keep remembering that story whenever I hear Trump speak of size of hands, of private parts, of height and or fortune. Only a man with a small ego in need of enlargement would become obsessed by size.

Beware of such man and most especially so such man preaching such a philosophy.

British neo-Nazi group names Miss Hitler 2016 winners

A Scottish woman who said she turned to neo-Nazism after “the Jewish propaganda became too obvious to ignore” was named Miss Hitler 2016.

National Action, a British white supremacist group, announced the winners of its contest on Twitter and on its blog earlier this week because Facebook removed the group’s page in May, shortly after the contest was announced.

Female supporters were invited to “submit a short interview for the site under a pseudonym, accompanied by photos in the T-shirts we sent them.”

According to the group, the contest was designed to raise awareness of its female supporters, who “rarely get much spotlight or recognition.”

The winner, a brunette who was not identified and appears in photos with the lower half of her face covered, said in a Q&A on the site that she “didn’t want to believe that the Jews are the enemy, as I was brought up to believe that they are very similar to Christians.”

However, she continued, “Eventually the Jewish propaganda became too obvious to ignore and so I became involved with NA.”

Asked which one person she would kill if she could “get away with it,” Miss Hitler named German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying she would put her “in one of her camps and let her pet refugees do the rest.”

In touting the contest, National Action said, “We hope this will grant a unique insight into our movement that will challenge the widely held preconceptions society has about the far-right.”

According to Britain’s The Daily Record, the Board of Deputies of British Jews denounced the contest as a “clear case of inciting racial hatred,” adding, “It is possibly the ugliest beauty contest ever held.”

According to the Daily Mirror, National Action drew fire last month when photos emerged of its members performing Hitler salutes in the “execution room” of the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany.

The group has also held numerous protests throughout the United Kingdom, including one in which members defaced a London statue of Nelson Mandela, the late South African president and anti-apartheid activist.

9 times Donald Trump has been compared to Hitler

Donald Trump is not happy with the Hitler comparison.

Prominent people have lately likened the Republican presidential front-runner to Adolf Hitler for his comments targeting Mexicans and Muslims and for his populist politicking style.

Most recently, Trump has had his supporters raise their right hands and pledge to vote for him. Some, including former Anti-Defamation League head Abe Foxman, think the practice reminiscent of Nazi rallies where crowds would “heil Hitler.”

“I don’t know about the Hitler comparison. I hadn’t heard that, but it’s a terrible comparison. I’m not happy about that certainly,” Trump said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday.

It doesn’t help that last week Trump wavered in disavowing former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who isone of many racists and anti-Semites to voice support for the real estate billionaire’s campaign.

Here are nine people who have recently made the Trump-Hitler equation.

1. Louie C.K.

The acclaimed comedian didn’t mince words in an email he sent Saturday to his fans.

“It was funny for a little while,” he wrote, “But the guy is Hitler. And by that I mean we are being Germany in the ‘30s. Do you think they saw the shit coming? Hitler was just some hilarious and refreshing dude with a weird comb over who would say anything at all.”

2. Bill Maher

On his HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Friday, the political comedian pointed out that a 1990 Vanity Fair article found Trump kept a volume of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside. Then he showed a video of a Hitler speech and gave it a satirical English translation. Some of the best lines include “Germany doesn’t win anymore” and “The Treaty of Versailles? A terrible deal.”

3. Glenn Beck

The former Fox News host called Trump a “dangerous man” on ABC’s “This Week.”

“You know, we all look at Adolf Hitler in 1940. We should look at Adolf Hitler in 1929,” Beck told George Stephanopolous on Sunday. “He was a funny kind of character who said the things that people were thinking. Where Donald trump takes it I have absolutely no idea.”

4. The ladies of “The View”

On Monday’s “The View,” Jewish host Michelle Collins — who said more than half her family was wiped out in the Holocaust — brought up The New York Times’ first mention of Hitler from the ’30s. She said it described the Nazi ruler as someone who at first used anti-Semitism only to garner followers.

“I look at this and it frightens me,” Collins said, referring to Trump’s rise. “I know that he isn’t targeting me right now, but we don’t know.”

Fellow host Joy Behar brought up comedian John Oliver’s recent segment on Donald Trump on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight.” In a clip that went viral, Oliver found that Trump’s family name was once the German Drumpf.

“His real name is Drumpf, like mein Drumpf,” Behar said.

5. Anne Frank’s stepsister

Eva Schloss, whose mother married Anne Frank’s father after World War II, survived Auschwitz. She slammed Trump while marking Holocaust Remembrance Day last month.

“If Donald Trump become[s] the next president of the U.S. it would be a complete disaster,” Schloss, 86, told Newsweek. “I think he is acting like another Hitler by inciting racism.”

6. Former ADL chief Abe Foxman

“As a Jew who survived the Holocaust, to see an audience of thousands of people raising their hands in what looks like the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute is about as offensive, obnoxious and disgusting as anything I thought I would ever witness in the United States of America,” the former head of the Anti-Defamation League said Sunday. “We’ve seen this sort of thing at rallies of neo-Nazis.”

Donald Trump supporters raising their hands and reciting a pledge at their candidate's urging at a rally in Orlando, Florida. (Twitter)Donald Trump supporters raising their hands and reciting a pledge at their candidate’s urging at a rally in Orlando, Florida. Photo from Twitter

7. Mexico’s former president Vicente Fox

Trump last June called Mexican immigrants “rapists” who bring “crime” with them across the border into the U.S. He has also advocated building a wall along the southern U.S. border to block illegal immigration.

These statements don’t sit well with Vicente Fox, a former Mexican president who sounded off on Trump last month.

“Today, he’s going to take [the U.S.] back to the old days of conflict, war and everything. I mean, he reminds me of Hitler. That’s the way he started speaking,” Fox told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

8. Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman

The Republican leader was reminded of Hitler when in Decemeber Trump called for temporarily barring Muslims from entering the U.S. He first made the controversial call in the wake of the deadly terrorist shooting in San Bernandino, California, which was carried out by two American Muslims.

“If you go and look at your history and you read your history in the lead-up to the Second World War this is the kind of rhetoric that allowed Hitler to move forward,” Whitman told CNN after Trump’s announcement. “Because you have people who were scared the economy was bad, they want someone to blame.”

9. The “Saturday Night Live” cast

Trump might have hosted “SNL” last fall, but isn’t keeping the show from mercilessly mocking him.

In a fake ad — the second of two segments from Saturday’s show to skewer him — Trump supporters are portrayed as Ku Klux Klan members, white supremacists and yes, neo-Nazis. At one point, cast member Taran Killam raises his arm to expose a red swastika-emblazoned arm bad.

Trump can’t even escape the Hitler comparisons in his hometown.

Don’t host Holocaust denier David Irving, Dutch group appeals to event halls

A Dutch watchdog group on anti-Semitism called on owners of event halls not to host Holocaust denier David Irving, who reportedly is planning a lecture in The Hague.

Irving, who has been barred from several countries and was jailed in 2006 in Austria for denying or minimizing the Jewish genocide, is scheduled to speak somewhere in The Hague on Feb. 25, the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, wrote in a Feb. 20 statement.

It called on “all owners of event halls in The Hague to offer no platform to the convict” from Britain.

The topic of the lecture that Irving plans to deliver is “Hitler, Himmler, and the Homosexuals,” according to CIDI.

The intended date, Feb. 25, is the 75th anniversary of the February Strike — the day in 1941 when the Dutch resistance organized a series of protests over the anti-Semitic measures implemented by the German occupation and its collaborators.

Hague Mayor Jozias van Aartsen said he would intervene to ban a lecture by Irving, according to CIDI.

In 2011, CIDI brought about the cancellation of a planned lecture by Irving at Amsterdam University College. The city’s mayor forbade the gathering, leading to its cancellation.

Who was Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini?

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem prior to the establishment of Israel, for inspiring Hitler to exterminate the Jews of Europe, he meant to show the long history of Palestinian anti-Semitism.

Regardless of his intent, Netanyahu was hit with a tsunami of backlash from historians and politicians who accused him of distorting history. Yad Vashem, the Anti-Defamation League and the German government have all criticized the historical accuracy of the prime minister’s claim, with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman even reiterating German responsibility for the genocide.

Netanyahu walked back the statement on Wednesday, saying he had “no intention to absolve Hitler of responsibility for his diabolical destruction of European Jewry.”

Here’s who the mufti was, how he felt about a Jewish state, and what really happened between him and Hitler.

A hard-line Palestinian nationalist

Born in Jerusalem near the turn of the 20th century, Husseini came from a prominent Palestinian family. In 1921, Palestine’s British rulers installed him as the grand mufti of Jerusalem, a religious leadership position.

Husseini was an advocate for Arab nationalism, and in 1936 he joined with other Palestinian leaders in revolt against the British. The revolt lasted until 1939, claimed thousands of lives, including hundreds of Jews, and led the British to seek an exit from the territory. In 1937, the British removed Husseini from his position, prompting him to flee to Lebanon.

During World War II, Husseini supported an anti-British rebellion in Iraq and became the rebels’ envoy to Germany and Italy. When the rebellion was suppressed, he fled to Italy and continued his contacts with the Axis powers from there, famously meeting with Adolf Hitler in November 1941. He continued to support the Nazis in various ways throughout the war.

After the war, Husseini escaped to Beirut, his influence diminished. He died there in 1974.

Husseini opposed Zionism

Husseini opposed any accommodation of a Jewish national home in what would become Israel. He opposed the 1939 British White Paper, despite its ban on Jewish immigration to Palestine, because it set too long a timeline for an Arab state. And he opposed the 1947 United Nations partition plan that sought to create neighboring Jewish and Palestinian states.

Husseini also backed violence against Jews. In 1920, he organized an anti-British demonstration in Jerusalem that grew violent and was subsequently convicted of incitement.

Support for Hitler’s Final Solution

The source of Netanyahu’s claim that Husseini bears responsibility for the Holocaust stems from his famous meeting with Hitler on Nov. 28, 1941. Husseini at the time was seeking German support for Arab independence from colonial rule, and records of the meeting attributed to a British archive show that Husseini focused his requests on a formal Nazi declaration of support for “the independence and unity of Palestine, Syria, and Iraq” under Arab rule.

According to the British record, Husseini told Hitler, “The Arabs were Germany’s natural friends because they had the same enemies as had Germany, namely the English, the Jews, and the Communists.” He also thanked Hitler for supporting “the elimination of the Jewish national home.”

Contrary to Netanyahu’s assertion, nowhere in the record is there a suggestion that Husseini told Hitler to exterminate Europe’s Jews. The record does report that Hitler announced his intentions, noting that he planned to “ask one European nation after the other to solve its Jewish problem.”

“To say Hitler was influenced by the mufti is far from the truth,” said Hebrew University professor Moshe Maoz. “He didn’t need the mufti to perform the extermination.”

Husseini is a father of Palestinian nationalism

According to Maoz, Palestinians today see Husseini as one of their national fathers. But their admiration is mitigated, he said, because Husseini was so strongly pro-Nazi and was ineffective in advancing the Palestinian cause.

His stature among Palestinians, Maoz said, pales to that of Yasser Arafat, whose memory enjoys near universal reverence. But Palestinians tend not to criticize Husseini in public, Maoz said, because they want to display unity.

“Not a few Palestinians think he wasn’t so positive,” Maoz said. “He was very stubborn. But those who oppose him don’t emphasize it out of solidarity.”

Netanyahu blames mufti of Jerusalem for Final Solution, prompting outcry

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being criticized for saying the mufti of Jerusalem gave Hitler the idea to exterminate the Jews in a meeting between the two in 1941.

Netanyahu’s remarks about the mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, came in a speech to the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on Tuesday night.

“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time; he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here,'” Netanyahu said. When Hitler asked Husseini what to do with the Jews, Netanyahu said the mufti told the Nazi leader: “Burn them.”

The Israeli prime minister said the mufti was sought for war crimes in the Nuremberg trials “because he had a central role in fomenting the Final Solution.”

Israeli lawmakers were among the many critics who slammed Netanyahu for the remarks, saying he was distorting history and somehow blaming the Arabs, rather than Hitler, for the Final Solution.

“A historian’s son must be accurate about history,” Isaac Herzog, the Israeli opposition leader, wrote in a statement posted on his Facebook page. “This is a dangerous distortion of history, and I demand that Netanyahu correct this immediately since he is trivializing the Holocaust.”

Hitler’s plans for the Final Solution were in place before his 1941 meeting with the mufti, Holocaust historians say.

Arab Joint List leader Ayman Odeh said Netanyahu “is rewriting history in order to incite against the Palestinian people,” Haaretz reported.

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said in a statement, “Netanyahu hates Palestinians so much that he is willing to absolve Hitler of the murder of 6 million Jews.”

On Wednesday, Netanyahu sought to clarify his remarks.

“My intention was not to absolve Hitler of his responsibility, but rather to show that the forefathers of the Palestinian nation, without a country and without the so-called ‘occupation’, without land and without settlements, even then aspired to systematic incitement to exterminate the Jews,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

“Hitler was responsible for the Final Solution to exterminate six million Jews. He made ​​the decision. It is equally absurd to ignore the role played by the Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, a war criminal, for encouraging and urging Hitler, Ribbentropp, Himmler and others, to exterminate European Jewry,” he said.

The German government on Wednesday also responded to Netanyahu’s remarks, saying that “responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own.”

Netanyahu traveled to Germany on Wednesday and is slated to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Could guns for German Jews have prevented the Holocaust?

In the mid-1930s, an English scholar wrote a book — with many learned citations — proving that Nazism was the wave of the future and made for a happier and healthier nation.

In reviewing the book, one critic noted that if the distinguished author had spent only one day actually living in Nazi Germany, he probably would change his mind.

That anecdote comes to mind while reading that Dr. Ben Carson, the noted neurosurgeon turned Republican presidential candidate, told CNN that Hitler could have been foiled if ordinary German citizens had been allowed to carry guns.

A corollary to that frequently repeated claim is that if only German Jews had carried pistols in their pockets, they could have foiled the Nazis and prevented the Holocaust.

Perhaps if the proponents of this theory could retroactively spend a few days in Germany, where I was born and lived until 1939, they would be disabused of this illusion.

First, German Jews, predominantly middle class, were among the most law-abiding members of a generally law-respecting civilian population and no way could they have been persuaded to arm themselves illegally.

Also remember that it took a single shooting by a Polish Jew of a minor German functionary at the German embassy in Paris to serve as the trigger for unleashing the 1938 Kristallnacht and the destruction of synagogues and Jewish stores throughout Germany.

Can you imagine how Hitler would have loved to have a few Jews kill a couple of storm troopers in Berlin as a rationale to wipe out the entire German-Jewish population, even before World War II and the Holocaust? That would have meant the death of an additional 100,000-plus German Jews, including my family, who managed to emigrate in 1938 and 1939.

The naiveté of the guns-for-everyone advocates, retroactively in Germany and now in the United States, is matched only by some middle-aged Jewish Angelenos, who have taken up pistol and rifle practice on weekends to foil any future fascist takeover of California and the United States.

I was particularly taken by an online invitation by one such group to join in a jolly “Bagels & Bullets” brunch.

For the record, may I note that I was an American combat infantryman in France and Germany during World War II and subsequently a squad leader in an anti-tank unit during Israel’s War of Independence.

So I believe I know something about rifles, machine guns and mortars, and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I hear Dr. Carson’s analysis or follow the Walter Mitty fantasies of some members of our community.

Carson calls ADL response to gun/Holocaust remarks ‘total foolishness’

This post originally appeared at Jewish Insider.

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Friday pushed back against Jewish criticism of comments he made on Thursday that Jews could’ve been saved from persecution by the Nazis in Europe were they allowed to carry armed-guns by law.

“I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed,” Carson said in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN. “There’s a reason these dictatorial people take the guns first.”

Carson was immediately called out by The Anti-Defamation League (ADL). “Ben Carson has a right to his views on gun control, but the notion that Hitler’s gun-control policy contributed to the Holocaust is historically inaccurate,” Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s National Director, said in a statement. “The small number of personal firearms available to Germany’s Jews in 1938 could in no way have stopped the totalitarian power of the Nazi German state.”

In an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Friday morning, Carson called Greenblatt’s response “total foolishness.”

“I’d be happy to discuss that in depth with anybody. But it is well known that in many places where tyranny has taken over, they first disarmed the people. There’s a reason that they disarm people. They don’t just do it arbitrarily,” he told host George Stephanopoulos.

Ben Carson blames gun control for the Holocaust

Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson blamed gun control for the extent of the Holocaust.

In an interview Thursday on CNN, Carson said fewer people would have been killed by the Nazis had more citizens been armed.

“I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed,” he said. “I’m telling you there is a reason these dictatorial people take the guns first.”

CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer was challenging Carson over claims in his latest book that gun control has historically been a predicate for tyranny.

“German Citizens were disarmed by their government in the late 1930s and by the mid 1940s Hitler’s regime had mercilessly slaughtered six million Jews and numerous others whom they considered inferior,’ Carson wrote in “A More Perfect Union,” published this week.

The book’s release Oct. 6 was coincident with Carson’s reaction to the news of the latest mass killing, in Roseburg, Ore. Carson said earlier this week that in a hypothetical mass shooting situation, he would lead a charge on the shooter.

Hitler and Nazi Germany used overwhelming force to occupy wide swathes of Europe and to murder six million Jews.

Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s encountered some violent resistance, but was otherwise relatively unimpeded because the vast majority of Germans chose not to resist Nazism and to a large degree embraced it.

In the same interview, Carson also said that arming kindergarten teachers would help prevent school shootings.

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, is not the first gun-rights activist to suggest gun control was a factor enabling the Nazis to perpetrate genocide. In January 2013, after several such remarks, the Anti-Defamation League called on conservatives to keep Nazi analogies out of the debate over gun control.

Later that year, a National Rifle Association board member invoked the Holocaust in criticizing a Jewish New Jersey mayor for supporting gun control.

Painting by Hitler to be auctioned, gallery asking $30K

 A Los Angeles gallery is auctioning a painting by Adolf Hitler, with an initial asking price of $30,000.

Hitler’s floral still life, painted in 1912 before he entered politics, will be auctioned on Thursday by the Nate D. Sanders gallery.

As a teenager and young man, Hitler unsuccessfully pursued an art career and was twice rejected from the Vienna Academy of Art.

Some of Hitler’s only artistic successes came at the hands of a Jewish art dealer, Samuel Morgenstern, who purchased several of the future Nazi dictator’s paintings, according to the New York Daily News.

During the Holocaust, Morgenstern’s gallery was seized by the Nazis, and he was deported to the Lodz ghetto, where he died in 1943.

The watercolor painting bears Hitler’s signature at the bottom right and has Morgenstern’s stamp on the back. According to the catalog description, the painting “is indicative of Hitler’s floral work, which isn’t as prolific as the architecture and Vienna street life scenes he did at the time.”

Another Hitler painting sold in 2014 for $161,000.

According to The Express newspaper of London, the Nate D. Sanders gallery has also auctioned off signed copies of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” selling one for $64,850 in 2014.

Thai minister meets Israeli ambassador after Hitler gaffe in official film

A senior Thai cabinet minister met Israel's ambassador to Thailand on Thursday after the diplomat said he was “saddened” by a government propaganda film that includes an image of a Thai school child painting a portrait of Adolf Hitler.

The film was commissioned by the Office of Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as part of a campaign to promote traditional Thai values. Prayuth, who led a military coup in May, espouses 12 values in his vision of Thai national identity that his government requires taught in the classroom.

The opening of the film, which was screened nationwide in cinemas on Dec. 6, includes a sequence in which a smiling boy is applauded by one of his classmates as he paints Hitler's portrait against a red background and a swastika.

“I've told the ambassador that the director did not intend to offend anyone,” Pannada Diskul, minister of the prime minister's office, told Reuters.

“The director had decided to make changes to the film even before it made news to ease everybody's concerns. The ambassador understands this well.”

Pannada said the offending scene had since been cut.

The office of Israeli Ambassador Simon Roded declined to comment after the meeting, pointing instead to a statement issued by Roded on Wednesday.

“I was deeply saddened to see this trivialization and misuse of Nazi symbols in an official Thai movie,” Roded said in the statement.

“Unfortunately, it is not the first time we are encountering such ignorance of the history of the Holocaust in Thailand.”

Holocaust education should be included in the Thai curriculum, he added.

The director of the film, Kulp Kaljareuk, said he did not mean to cause offense

“We never had any ill intentions,” Kulp said on Thursday.

In 2013, Thailand's Chulalongkorn University issued an apology after Hitler was painted among superheroes in a mural for a graduation ceremony.

The use of Nazi motifs and regalia in Thailand is seen as a reflection of ignorance of the atrocities committed under Hitler's regime, rather than of political beliefs.

The phenomena is not unique to Thailand, said Efraim Zuroff, Israel director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre that fights anti-Semitism globally.

“This is one of the problems in the Far East where these things don't have the same resonance as they do in the Western world,” he said.

“Hitler is in restaurants, Hitler is in advertisements. Things that are unthinkable in the Western world.”

‘Hi, Hitler,’ It’s Me, Lucie

When Lucie Pohl was a young girl, her mother asked her what she’d like to dress up as for a carnival.

“Hitler,” Pohl said, confidently.  

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Lucie,” her mother said. “Is there anything else you’d like to be?” 

Pohl ended up dressing as a spoon, but her childhood fascination with Hitler never went away. That, combined with her wacky life growing up in both Germany and the United States, is the focus of her new one-woman autobiographical show, “

Words as weapons in new film ‘Diplomacy’

As American and Free French divisions closed in on Nazi-occupied Paris in late August 1944, Hitler issued a clear order to the commander of Wehrmacht troops in the French capital.

Before evacuating the City of Light, the Führer told Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz to blow up such landmarks as the Notre Dame Cathedral, Louvre museum, Eiffel Tower, Place de la Concorde and Arc de Triomphe.

As a finishing touch, German sappers would blow up all 23 bridges across the Seine.

Von Choltitz was the right man to carry out such barbarous orders. The scion of generations of Prussian soldiers and the most highly decorated German soldier of World War II, he had proven in the destruction of Rotterdam and Sevastopol and the extermination of Crimean Jews that he would obey any order — whatever his personal reservations.

As the movie “Diplomacy” opens, it is the night of Aug. 24, 1944, stretching in to the wee hours of the following morning, and the exploding shells of the approaching Allied armies can be heard in the distance, as von Choltitz, in his headquarters at the Hotel Meurice, checks the final preparations for blowing up Paris.

Suddenly, by way of a secret passage unknown to the Germans, Swedish Consul General Raoul Nordling enters. The German and the Swede had met before, and Nordling has taken upon himself the almost hopeless mission of persuading von Choltitz to ignore Hitler’s orders and evacuate the city, leaving it intact.

What follows is a nightlong battle of wits and character between von Choltitz and Nordling, on whose outcome depends the fate of the city.

Given the streams of tourists that still enjoy the glorious panorama of Paris each year, it is obvious that, in the end, the Swede convinced the general to spare the city, but in re-creating this battle of wits between the two men, the outcome feels by no means certain.

Von Choltitz is not a stupid man — he realizes that Germany has lost the war and that Hitler is teetering on the edge of insanity — but he cannot shake his reflexive obedience to a superior’s orders.

At one point, the general recalls that the most difficult order he had ever received was to liquidate all Jews on the Crimean Peninsula, but that he “executed the order in its entirety, nevertheless.”

Amid the mental and moral struggle and the uprising of French partisans in the streets outside, phone calls come from Berlin in which the Führer demands to know, “Is Paris burning?”

Still, there’s an occasional flash of sheer absurdity. Two wounded German soldiers who had managed to evade the encircling Allied troops arrive with a demand from SS Chief Heinrich Himmler.

Before the Louvre is blown up, they report, Himmler wants to extract some specific tapestries and paintings for his private collection.

In the battle of arguments between von Choltitz and Nordling, during which the Swedish envoy notes that his wife is Jewish, the German holds one trump card.

Hitler has just promulgated an edict that if any German officer should disobey his orders or desert his post, the officer’s immediate family will be executed or sent to a concentration camp.  

Von Choltitz, the father of two daughters and a newly born son, turns to Nordling and asks, “If you were in my place, what would you do?”

It is a variation on the question facing every thinking man or woman after the Holocaust. If a Jewish child had knocked on your door in the middle of the night asking for shelter, and you knew that if you took the Jew in and were caught, you and your family would likely be killed, what would you have done?

After considerable hesitation, Nordling answers truthfully, “I do not know what I would do.”

The drama inherent in the survival of perhaps the world’s most beautiful city has yielded a considerable literary output.

In the chaos surrounding the downfall of the Third Reich, von Choltitz managed to escape Hitler’s wrath. He was taken prisoner by the Allies, but was released after two years and went on to write his version of history in the book “Brennt Paris?”

This title, translated into English, was appropriated in the mid-1960s by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre in their best-seller, “Is Paris Burning?” The title and plotline became a movie in 1966, with a stellar cast including Orson Welles as the Swedish diplomat and Kirk Douglas (as U.S. Gen. George Patton), Charles Boyer, Leslie Caron, Simone Signoret, Glenn Ford and Yves Montand.

More recently, French author Cyril Gely adopted some of the material into his play “Diplomatie,” which in turn was adapted by German director Volker Schlondorff for his movie “Diplomacy.”

He also took over the two principal, and superb, actors in the play, Niels Arestrup, son of a Danish father and a French mother, as von Choltitz, and Andre Dussollier as Nordling.

Except for an occasional barked German command, the entire movie is in French with English subtitles.

Schlondorff, born in Germany but educated in France, has frequently returned to World War II themes in such movies as “The Tin Drum,” “The Ogre” and “The Ninth Day.” He is a man given to straightforward answers, as I discovered 13 years ago when I interviewed him for the Los Angeles Times.

“ ‘Diplomacy,’ like the play on which it is based, is not a documentary but a drama,” Schlondorff said. “Von Choltitz and Nordling knew each other, but there was no crucial all-night session, and no secret staircase leading to the general’s office.”

Furthermore, one school of thought holds that it was not Nordling, but Pierre Taittinger, head of the Paris municipal council and a collaborator during the German occupation, who persuaded von Choltitz to spare the city from destruction.

Another theory has it that von Choltitz decided that he could disobey Hitler’s orders, not through appeals to his conscience, but because the general had gradually recognized that the Führer had gone mad.

Nevertheless, by its actions, the post-war French government has given credence to the play’s central thesis. In Paris, a park and a street have been renamed in Nordling’s honor. More surprisingly, when von Choltitz died in Germany in 1964, high-ranking French officers attended his funeral.

Schlondorff said that what attracted him to the material was a chance to highlight the importance to Europe of the French-German relationship.

He criticized his country for using its economic muscle against European Union countries “we once occupied” but sees a deeper meaning in the movie.

Ultimately, he said, “What we must examine is the power of words against weapons.”

 “Diplomacy” opens Nov. 7 at the Laemmle Royal, Playhouse 7, Town Center 5 and Claremont 5. 

Understanding the Holocaust: ‘Why the Germans? Why the Jews?’

The Jew-haters among us, as recent headlines out of France and Belgium have reminded us, reach without interruption all the way back to antiquity. Still, the worst-case scenario of genocide in general and the mass murder of Jews in particular is what happened during the Shoah. And still the reason Nazi Germany tried to exterminate the Jews of Europe (and nearly succeeded in doing so) remains one of the afflicting questions of Jewish history.

A whole literature has accumulated since the end of World War II in the effort to answer the question bluntly posed in the title “Why the Germans? Why the Jews? Envy, Race Hatred, and the Prehistory of the Holocaust,” a 2011 book by German journalist and historian Götz Aly (” target=”_blank”>Basic Books) and historian Alon Confino in “A World Without Jews: The Nazi Imagination From Persecution to Genocide” (

Anti-Semitic voicemail targets far-left Israel group

L.A. Jews for Peace – a far-left organization that criticizes Israel’s policies toward Palestinians – has received a voicemail in which members of the organization are referred to as, “Jew traitors, filthy Jew traitors, bastard Jew traitors.”

L.A. Jews for Peace representative Jordan Elgrably, who received the voicemail on Saturday morning, denounced the anti-Semitic words of the caller, who appears to be a man and did not leave his name.

Listen to the audio here [WARNING: Graphic language used]:

“The whole thing is so distasteful, because I don’t appreciate the references to the Holocaust and Hitler. My aunt was killed in the Holocaust, to me it’s not a joke,” Elgrably said in a phone interview on Monday about the voicemail, in which the anonymous caller also says, “May Hitler come back and stuff their ashes in gas ovens and kill them all, these miserable, cowardly, pieces of sh-t, parasite, Jew traitors, filthy Jew traitors, bastard Jew traitors.”

Elgrably provided the Journal with the voicemail last Saturday, one day after L.A. Jews for Peace organized a rally outside the headquarters of the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles that called on the Israeli military to cease its current operation in Gaza and to end its blockade of the region.

The voicemail was left at the telephone number of the Levantine Cultural Center, a nonprofits arts center in West Los Angeles that holds events about the Middle East. Elgrably is the founder of the Levantine Cultural Center; L.A. Jews for Peace does not have its own phone number, Elgrably said.

Elgrably, who has not contacted law enforcement about the message—on Monday, he said he was still deciding if he wanted to or not—said the incident should not be blown out of proportion while emphasizing the hateful nature of the voicemail.

“We have Muslims, right-wing Jews, left-wing Jews, all kinds of people who come here [to the Levantine Cultural Center]…this is like the worst thing that has ever happened to us, and it’s just a phone call,” he said.

The full message:

I thought this number was for [LA] Jews for Peace. If it is, tell them the following message. ‘May they all become victims [of] Palestinian and Islamic terrorism. May the flesh be torn from their cowardly, Jew, four-eyed, ugly pieces of sh-t bodies, may Hitler come back and stuff their ashes in gas ovens and kill them all, these miserable, cowardly, pieces of sh-t, parasite, Jew traitors, filthy Jew traitors, bastard Jew traitors.’

ADL regional director Amanda Susskind said the voicemail, which she was made aware of by the Journal, is inexcusable.

“We can agree we are all entitled to different opinions, but we draw the line when people cross into hate speech and extremism,” Susskind said during a phone interview. “There really is no place for that kind of behavior in a civil society.”

Turkey’s Erdogan accuses Israel of ‘tyranny,’ likens Israeli MP to Hitler

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Israel of “terrorizing the region” with its bombardment of Gaza and likened an Israeli politician to Hitler in a broadside likely to further strain fragile relations between the two countries.

Israel on Tuesday resumed its assault on Gaza, six hours after an Egyptian-proposed ceasefire failed to halt the firing of rockets by Palestinian militants into Israeli territory.

At least 184 Palestinians, many of them civilians, have been killed since operations by the Israeli military began a week ago.

“With utter disregard for international law, Israel continues to terrorize the region, and no country but us tells it to stop,” Erdogan told members of his ruling AK Party at a speech in parliament on Tuesday.

“No tyranny is everlasting, sooner or later every tyrant has to pay the price…This tyranny will not remain unaccounted for,” he added.

His words drew chants of “Turkey is proud of you” from his supporters.

Ankara was formerly Israel's closest strategic ally in the region, but Erdogan has been increasingly vociferous in his criticism of Israel's treatment of Palestinians in recent years.

The rhetoric plays well with his largely conservative Sunni Muslim voter base, particularly as he campaigns to become Turkey's first directly elected president in an Aug. 10 vote.

Erdogan also criticized an Israeli member of parliament, apparently Ayelet Shaked of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party.

“An Israeli woman said Palestinian mothers should be killed, too. And she's a member of the Israeli parliament. What is the difference between this mentality and Hitler's,” he said.

Pro-Palestinian media last week accused Shaked of inciting violence after she posted an extract on Facebook from the writings of another Israeli journalist, saying that “mothers of the martyrs” should also be killed, referring to the mothers of Palestinian suicide bombers.

“They should follow in the footsteps of their sons. There is nothing more just than that. They need to go…Otherwise, they will raise more little snakes there,” the post stated.

On Tuesday, Shaked's spokeswoman confirmed the post but denied she was inciting violence.

“It is preposterous to argue that Member of Knesset Shaked called for harming innocents. Member of Knesset Shaked condemns violence of any kind,” the spokeswoman said.

Erdogan's remarks are likely to further complicate relations between the two countries, which reached a nadir in 2010, when Israeli commandos stormed the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which was part of an aid flotilla challenging the Jewish State's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Ten people were killed.

Efforts to repair relations have intensified in recent months after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized for the raid and pledged to pay compensation, as part of a U.S.-brokered rapprochement. Earlier this year Erdogan hinted that the two sides were on the brink of a deal.

Additional reporting by Ece Toksabay in Istanbul and Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Editing by Nick Tattersall and Angus MacSwan

Survivor: Frank Schiller

In October 1941, Frank Schiller, his parents, brother and grandmother were ordered to report to Prague’s Exhibition Hall. There, Frank’s parents spent their days filling out documents while Frank and his brother wandered around. At night, they slept on straw mattresses. To Frank, who was 15, it was mostly an adventure. Still, he recalled, “I never saw my mother cry, but I saw her crying then. She knew our days of comfort were over.” 

A few days later, on Oct. 26, Frank, his parents and brother, along with approximately 1,000 Jews, were transported to the Lodz ghetto. He never saw his grandmother again.

Frank — originally named Harry — was born in Prague on March 13, 1926, to Viktor and Lily Schiller. His brother, Gustav, was three years older. 

The family identified as Jewish but secular. Frank attended Czech public school and then, at age 10, a private British school where he learned English.

Viktor was an attorney, and the family was well-to-do, owning an apartment building near Wenceslas Square. Viktor’s law office occupied the same floor as their apartment.

The Schillers also owned a three-story villa in Zelizy, 30 miles outside Prague, where they spent summers. And every winter they went skiing. “Life was very pleasant,” Frank said.

But things changed in October 1938 when Hitler annexed the Sudetenland, part of Czechoslovakia that bordered Germany. At that time, Frank explained, “Father made the fatal mistake of calling us back from Zurich,” where he had sent the family for protection. Viktor believed peace would prevail.

Then on March 15, 1939, German troops occupied the Czech regions of Moravia and Bohemia, with Hitler declaring them a German Protectorate. 

Viktor immediately arranged for Frank and Gustav to live with their uncle, Viktor’s older brother, in Antibes, France. Two steamer trunks were shipped ahead while they awaited documentation. 

The visas arrived in late August, and the exit permits followed on Sept. 1, 1939, the same day Germany attacked Poland, effectively closing the borders. The boys remained in Prague.

Soon Jews were no longer allowed to attend school, and Frank’s parents, along with other Jewish parents, arranged for their children to be taught privately.

More and more restrictions ensued until the Prague Jews were deported, to Lodz and then to Theresienstadt.

In October 1941, when Frank’s family arrived in the Lodz ghetto, they were housed in a converted school. Months later, according to Frank, they were given “a horrible room,” where cold and wind blew through large gaps in the planked walls. They shared the room with three families, and by June 1942, the fathers of all the families had died of illnesses.

Frank was assigned to a tailor shop that produced sleeveless fur jackets for German soldiers. His job was feeding coal into the iron. 

Frank’s mother was hospitalized with typhus and later recovered. She then contracted tuberculosis and died in her sons’ arms in June 1943.

After his mother’s death, Frank moved into a warmer room. He also obtained a job at the ghetto’s vegetable distribution center, where he could eat raw potatoes. 

Then, in early 1944, Frank was put in a compound, waiting to be shipped out to a labor camp. He was joined by one of his best friends from Prague: Hanus Adler Orlicky. (His other close friends, Yehuda Bauer and Hanus Spitzer, escaped as soon as the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia.)

In March, the group of 1,000 men was transported to Skarzysko-Kamienna in Poland. There, Frank polished bullet molds in a large ammunition factory run by Hasag, a German company. 

In August 1944, as the camp was liquidated, the prisoners were ordered to manually load all the machinery onto railroad flatcars. They were then transferred to Czestochowa, another Hasag company, where Frank worked the night shift, again polishing molds. 

In mid-January 1945, the camp was evacuated and the prisoners shipped to Buchenwald. A few days later, Frank and Hanus Adler, among others, were transferred to Dora-Mittelbau and then to Rottelberode, where they were housed in an old mill and worked in an underground factory constructing V-2 rocket bombs. 

Frank spoke fluent German, and the German factory manager gave him a menial administrative job. He worked in a warm office and had access to extra bread.

In April 1945, the Germans evacuated the camp, loading the prisoners into open cattle cars in broad daylight. American planes fired at the prisoners, thinking they were German troops. One bullet flew directly under Frank’s chin and through his coat, killing the Russian prisoner next to him. The Americans then blew up the engine, halting the train. As the prisoners jumped out, Frank injured his ankle but kept running. The Americans ceased shooting.

Nevertheless, most of the escaping prisoners were rounded up and marched along a highway through a deep forest. When they exited the forest, they were confined in a cattle enclosure.

Then, the guards disappeared, and the prisoners began escaping into a smaller forest nearby. Frank was nursing his injured ankle and wanted to stay, but his friend Hanus was eager to leave. Frank acquiesced, but insisted on heading back into the deep forest. There, after an hour’s walk, they found two discarded German uniforms, which they donned, and a tube of toothpaste, which they ate. 

The next day, Frank and Hanus walked into a village — Frank doesn’t recall the name — wearing their German uniforms. Frank, speaking German, asked where he could find the German troops. “Go to the center of town and turn right,” a townsman said, adding that American troops were to the left. 

Frank and Hanus took the left turn and half an hour later encountered two American tanks. Frank, who spoke English, became an interpreter for the American Army.

Frank learned that the other prisoners who had escaped the bombed train were captured in the small forest and barricaded inside a barn near the city of Gardelegen. The Germans had set fire to the barn, machine-gunning those who tried to escape. Two days later, on April 15, 1945, American soldiers discovered the massacre of approximately 1,000 prisoners. 

“Hanus saved my life, and I saved his,” Frank said. “Those bastards came back in civilian clothes with weaponry and finished their job.”

On May 23, Frank and Hanus left for Prague, where Frank learned that his brother, Gustav, had died on an Auschwitz death march in January 1945. Frank studied chemistry in Prague, and in June 1948 he left for London. He continued studying chemistry at the University of London and then worked as a food chemist.

In March 1951, having established contact with his Aunt Helen, his mother’s sister, he immigrated to New York, finding a job as a food chemist with Nedicks. He moved to Los Angeles in November 1953 to set up a soft-drink factory for the company. 

In 1958, Frank was working at White Rock Beverages when the firm was acquired by Coca-Cola Los Angeles. Frank’s boss, Arthur McDonald, became president and named Frank vice president of manufacturing, making him, as far as Frank knows, the first Jew in a Coca-Cola managerial position. In 1984, Frank moved to the Arrowhead Drinking Water Co., retiring in 1989.

Frank met Liesa Beck in 1956, and they married on July 21, 1957. Son Gary was born in March 1959; daughter Vicki in January 1961. 

Now 88, Frank volunteers one day a week as a SCORE mentor for the Small Business Administration, as he’s done for 25 years. He also plays golf and bridge, serves on the board of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust and enjoys spending time with his family, including his two grandsons.

He also continues to fight for ownership of his family’s apartment building in Prague. The property was returned to him after the war but was nationalized by the communists in 1948. It is now owned by the city of Prague.

Frank said the events of the Holocaust never stray far from his thoughts. 

“Unfortunately, one thinks about it every day, particularly when you’re retired,” he said.

Internet tycoon under fire for rare Hitler-signed ‘Mein Kampf’

A German-born Internet tycoon who is fighting extradition from New Zealand to the United States for racketeering is under fire after acknowledging he owns a rare signed copy of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”

Kim Dotcom, the founder of MegaUpload, a file-transfer website that U.S. authorities shut down in 2012, denies being a Nazi sympathizer, saying the book was an investment because it will increase in value.

Dotcom, whose actual name is Kim Schmitz, just launched the Internet Party to contest New Zealand’s election in September.

“I’m being told by some people in a disgusting smear campaign that I am somehow embracing a Nazi ideology,” he told local media earlier this week. “That is completely false; it’s a smear campaign to try and derail what we are trying to achieve today with the launch of the Internet Party.”

But Stephen Goodman, president of the New Zealand Jewish Council, told JTA, “People will be offended by this action, and stating it with such pride from such a high-profile position shows great disrespect to those who suffered under the Nazi regime as well as the New Zealand soldiers who fought and died to rid the world of this tyranny. While this ownership is legal in New Zealand, it is morally unacceptable.”

Dotcom is fighting extradition to the United States, where he faces several racketeering charges for facilitating illegal downloading of songs and movies via his MegaUpload website.

Conservative leader John Key, the son of a Jewish refugee from Europe, is seeking his third term in the September elections.

In defense of Hitler, by Tila Tequila

If your memory of C-list phenomenon Tila Tequila is hazy at best, the former star of the MTV reality show “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila” and, natch, a sex tape, is out to change that. Or — more likely — she’s simply gone off the deep end of a pool nestled deep within the borders of Crazytown.

As reported by Tablet, Tequila yesterday posted to Facebook a shot of herself decked out in a sexy Nazi costume, standing against the picturesque backdrop of a photo of Auschwitz. A shocking and bizarre creative choice in general, but even more so from someone who right around this time last year was talking about becoming a Jew.  Not an Orthodox Jew, of course, because that would be, in the words of someone who refers to herself as Hitila (get it, Hitler plus Tila? You just smush those two names together and you get Hitila) “too hardcore.”

While the photo has since been taken down, a blog post intended to bust all of those terrible Hitler myths remains out there for the world to consume. In “Why I Sympathize with Hitler Part 1: True History Unveiled,” Tequila attempts to set things straight: “Here is a man who was not a coward, stood up for his country in a DESPERATE TIME OF NEED (unlike all of our cowardly leaders), and yet not only did he try his best to help his country and people get out of what was a time of depression, economic collapse, high unemployment, amongst many other things… he lost the war AND was painted out to be a monster after his death.”

Not that she has anything against the people belonging to the tribe she may or may not have converted to.

“I am not going to sit here and say that I hate Jewish people because that is not the case nor is this about Jews,” Tequila clarifies. “It is about Hitler and his side of the story that was never told since he was not the victor. However, those of you with a closed mind can think I am being anti-Semite all you want because I already told you that I am not, nor will I repeat myself again.”

Funny, because just last week, alongside a link to a report about the death of reality TV director James Marcus Howe, she shared this gentle and not at all anti-Semitic sentiment: “GOD SEE’S YOU DIRTY F[******] KIKES WORKING FOR THE SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN AND I HAVE RETURNED AS HIS MESSENGER! TAKE HEED NOW BITCHES!”

As the story unfolds we hope to find answers to many important questions, such as whether Tequila is dressed in last year’s Purim costume, if she high-fived herself in the mirror when she came up with her genius name hybrid, and if the Singaporean-born sorta star has ever wondered how the Fuhrer would have felt about her non Aryan-ness.

Berlusconi stresses support for Israel, Jews in wake of Hitler comparison

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi stressed his support for Israel and Jewish causes after sparking outrage by comparing his family to Jews under Hitler.

In an excerpt of a book to be released Friday, the eve of the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, Berlusconi was quoted Wednesday as saying that because of the long series of court cases against him, “my children say they feel like Jewish families must have felt during the Hitler regime. Truly everyone is against us.”

Berlusconi, 77, was convicted of tax fraud earlier this year after a long series of other charges and legal woes.

Italian Jewish leaders reacted with shock and anger to the comparison. A photo montage made the rounds of Facebook showing a picture of his family alongside a picture of concentration camp inmates.

“The life of the Jews of Europe under Nazism was marked by a black vortex of violence, persecution and death,” Renzo Gattegna, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, said in a statement. ”Any comparison with the situation of the Berlusconi family is thus not only inappropriate and unacceptable but is also an offense against the memory of those who were deprived of any rights and, after atrocious and unspeakable suffering, their very lives.”

Nichi Vendola, a leader of the left-center opposition, wrote on his Facebook page, “To trivialize a terrible tragedy like the Holocaust for everyday political polemics, as Berlusconi has, is chilling.”

Emanuele Fiano, a Jewish member of Parliament and a political opponent of Berlusconi, called the statement “an insult to history, to the six million Jews who were killed, and to those who try to impede history from being forgotten or manipulated.”

Berlusconi responded in a statement on the website of his Forza Italia party, calling the furor over his remarks “a controversy blatantly instrumental, based on a phrase extrapolated from a broader context.” He added,  “My history, my friendship toward Israel, my consistent government action at the international level in favor of the State of Israel, do not allow any doubt about my awareness of the tragedy of  the Holocaust and my respect for the Jewish people. ”

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a Holocaust survivor, told Berlusconi in a personal letter on Wednesday that he failed to teach his children the “lessons of their history.”

“As badly as they feel you are being treated by the courts and by Italian society,  your problems cannot at all be compared to the tragedy that befell the Jews at the hands of the genocidal Nazis,” Foxman wrote.

“It is painful for me to discover that your children have never really learned the lesson of the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people, and I urge you, in friendship and out of deep respect, to begin to teach them,” the letter concluded.

Hollywood and Hitler: A book review

It’s rare that a book garners as much pre-publication publicity as has Ben Urwand’s “The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact With Hitler” (Belknap Press, $26.95). Even more unusual, however, is the backlash that greeted the book now that it is actually available to read.

“Perhaps I’m naïve about academic publishing,” wrote film critic David Denby in a post at the New Yorker Web site, “but I’m surprised that Harvard University Press [which owns the Belknap imprint] could have published anything as poorly argued as Urwand’s book.”

Thomas Doherty, a Brandeis University professor whose “Hollywood and Hitler: 1933-1939” was published last April, was just as harsh in the Hollywood Reporter: “I consider Urwand’s charges slanderous and ahistorical — slanderous because they smear an industry that struggled to alert America to the menace brewing in Germany and ahistorical because they read the past through the eyes of the present.”

I think Urwand’s real offense is that he approaches a nuanced and volatile story with a certain lack of restraint. The title itself is problematic — he makes a good argument that the Jewish moguls in Hollywood, not unlike other captains of industry and commerce in America in the 1930s, were all too deferential to Hitler, all in the interest of making sure that profits could still be made in Nazi Germany. The same, of course, can be said of non-Jewish executives at Ford and IBM. But “collaboration” is a loaded word when it comes to World War II, and it may have been the wrong word to use here.

Urwand clearly savors — and exploits — the ironies that arise from the fact that Hitler himself was an especially enthusiastic user and consumer of movies. “Every night before going to bed Adolf Hitler watched a movie,” he reveals. “His adjutants complained that there were 365 days in a year and not enough good German films to satisfy him.” As a result, Hitler enthused about Laurel and Hardy’s “Way Out West” — “Good!” was the Fuehrer’s personal rating — and “he was a big fan of Mickey Mouse cartoons.” Indeed, when Goebbels presented him with a collection of movies in 1937, he included 12 Mickey Mouse films.

But the Nazis were always vigilant when it came to American movies. Even before Hitler achieved absolute power in Germany, according to Urwand, the Nazis succeeded in cowing Carl Laemmle, founder of Universal Pictures, into censoring “All Quiet on the Western Front” to address their objections. “Not only Universal Pictures but all the Hollywood studios started making deep concessions to the German government,” Urwand writes, “and when Hitler came to power in January 1933, the studios dealt with his representatives directly.”

Thus, for example, one RKO executive promised to consult with the local German consul whenever he produced a movie about Germany, and so did his counterparts at Warner Bros., Fox and United Artists. A Nazi official named Georg Gyssling was dispatched to Los Angeles to act as Hitler’s official censor of Hollywood movies. In the case of an anti-Nazi movie project titled “The Mad Dog of Europe,” Gyssling succeeded in making sure that it was never made. “The German officials have intimated that the property of the large Hollywood producers in Germany would be confiscated and further American pictures would not be imported into Germany,” complained Al Rosen, one of the principals behind the picture, “unless they use their influence and pressure upon me to make me withdraw this film.”

Urwand, a junior fellow of Harvard University’s Society of Fellows, insists that ignorance of the Nazi agenda was no excuse even in the early 1930s. “One of the most persistent myths about the rise and fall of the Third Reich is that the outside world had no knowledge of the extent of the Nazis’ brutality,” he argues. “The Hollywood executives knew exactly what was going on in Germany, not only because they had been forced to fire their own Jewish salesmen but also because the persecution of the Jews was common knowledge at the time.” To preserve the market for their movies in the Third Reich, they all too willingly complied with the demands of the Nazis, a practice that lasted until the world went to war.

“The decision not to make ‘The Mad Dog of Europe’ was the most important moment in all of Hollywood’s dealings with Nazi Germany,” Urwand concludes. “It occurred in the first year of Hitler’s rise to power, and it defined the limits of American movies for the rest of the decade.” Above all, he insists, the incident demonstrated a willingness to “[set] a limit not only about what they could say about Nazis but also to what they could say about Jews.”

The real issue here is what scholars, including Doherty calls “presentism,” that is, the temptation to look at events of the past in light of what we know and what we think today. The same problem has arisen in discussions of another recent title, “FDR and the Jews,” which considers the question of whether President Franklin D. Roosevelt could have and should have done more to slow down or stop the mass murder of Jews during World War II. Perhaps Urwand should have approached his subject with a bit more care and caution; after all, Hollywood was hardly the only place in America where appeasement of Nazi Germany was actively practiced in the 1930s.

But it’s also true that Urwand refuses to engage in apologetics when it comes to the Jewish executives who compromised with Nazi Germany in the interest of profit-making. His bluntness owes something to the undeniable fact that America and the other Western democracies were far too complacent at a time when clearer vision and a stronger spine might have made a difference. When it comes to the lessons to be learned from the history of Nazi Germany, it is not merely “presentism” to hold ourselves to a higher standard of vigilance.

Jonathan Kirsch, author and publishing attorney, is the book editor of the Jewish Journal. His latest book is “The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in Paris” (W.W. Norton/Liveright), published in 2013 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Kirsch will be discussing and signing copies of his new book at Shaarey Zedek synagogue in Valley Village on Oct. 27, at American Jewish University on Oct. 30, at University Synagogue in Irvine on Nov. 1, at Stephen S. Wise Temple on Nov. 14 and at Sinai Temple on Nov. 21.

For the record: Hitler did use chemical weapons, Chris Matthews

On Tuesday’s “Morning Joe” program on MSNBC, Chris Matthews made a declaration about the use of chemical weapons that is raising some hackles. Speaking about Syria, he said:

If you basically put down a red line and say don’t use chemical weapons, and it’s been enforced in the Western community, around the world — international community for decades. Don’t use chemical weapons. We didn’t use them in World War II, Hitler didn’t use them, we don’t use chemical weapons, that’s no deal. Although we do know that Assad’s father did. Then he goes ahead and does it. It makes you wonder what the mullahs will do if they have a couple of nuclear weapons, just a couple.

For the record, the U.S. used nuclear weapons in World War II, which arguably are worse than chemical weapons. And, of course, Hitler used chemical weapons — gassing defenseless Jews in the concentration camps.

Watch the clip:

‘Serenade’: Love and liberation

One of the bitter ironies of history is that Hitler and the Nazis loved music but it did nothing to soothe the savage breast of Nazi Germany. A second irony is that the high culture of Western Europe, including its heritage of classical music, featured the compositions and performances of a great many Jewish musicians. 

The irony suffuses the romantic tale that Carol Jean Delmar tells in “Serenade: A Memoir of Music and Love From Vienna and Prague to Los Angeles” (Willow Lane Press, $27.99). Her parents, Franz and Franziska, met and fell in love in 1927 when they danced to the strains of Strauss’ “The Radetzky March” in a Viennese cafe. They were dancing on the edge of a volcano, of course, and one of the poignant aspects of Delmar’s book is that she allows us to enter the elegant but doomed world of Viennese Jewry that so soon would suffer a catastrophe. 

Young Franz pursued a career as an opera singer — his first audition piece is “O du mein holder Abendstern” from a Wagner opera. By then, the Nazis were already on the ascent in Germany and Austria. “Franz tried not to think about politics,” Delmar explains. “[H]e immersed himself in his music instead.” In 1936, while the Nazis consolidated their power in Germany, the handsome performer appeared on the professional opera stage in Vienna to encouraging notices: “A first-rate Figaro in the Mozartian tradition,” one critic enthused. 

Another comfort was his courtship of beautiful Franziska, a story that is told in charming and sometimes passionate detail. “Last night I dreamt that my heart was creeping away from me, and when I asked where it was going, it said that it was leaving me because it could not bear to be away from you,” Franz had written to Franziska on her 16th birthday. “So you see, my little Franziska, my heart is forsaking me.” As they grew closer, the romance offered its own little world into which they could retreat: “[W]hen Franz and Franziska were together,” Delmar writes, “they felt safe.

Neither love nor music, however, were sufficient to shelter these young lovers. Theater managers began to cancel the appearances of the young Jewish virtuoso, and the curtain calls at one performance in Prague were cut off when a few Nazi sympathizers in the audience stood up and started giving the Nazi salute in a gesture of rebuke to the Jewish singer on the stage: “Heil Hitler!” 

Prague was a place of temporary refuge for the young couple when the Nazis took power in Austria in 1938. “What was Hitler going to do next?” Franziska fretted. “What was he capable of?” Franz tried to reassure her: “But Hitler must realize that he can’t just walk into Czechoslovakia like he did in Austria without any opposition.” Music, again was the safe subject: “Try to concentrate on your singing,” Franziska said. “And let me do most of the worrying.”

In 1938, when Nazi Germany began the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, Franz and Franziska found themselves with German passports, “each stamped with a big red ‘J’ on the front page,” as Delmar explains, “to label their Jewishness.” They managed to reach Zurich, Milan and then Marseille, Panama and Cuba, where they puzzled over where they might be granted asylum: Shanghai? Cuba? Eventually, with the astute advice of a HIAS agent and a convenient supply of American dollars, they bribed their way out of a Cuba refugee camp and then successfully navigated their way through the treacherous passport formalities of both the United States and Nazi Germany. “We’re always one step ahead of disaster,” Franziska quipped.

On Oct. 9, 1939, their ship docked at last in Miami, and Franz and Franziska were en route to their ultimate stopping place in Los Angeles. They were a highly cosmopolitan and well-traveled young couple, but the diner on Biscayne Boulevard posed an entirely unanticipated challenge — Franziska didn’t quite know what to do when they were served a carton of cornflakes and a pitcher of cream and provided with a bowl and a spoon. “You’re supposed to throw them into the bowl, put cream and sugar on top of them, and then eat with a spoon,” Franz instructed. “Oh,” Franziska replied. “So this is American food.”

“Serenade” reminds us that the great events of history happen to flesh-and-blood human beings, a fact that Delmar understands and honors in her beautifully written and illustrated book. (Indeed, the snapshots, postcards, clippings and documents that adorn “Serenade” are among its greatest pleasures and most illuminating features.) She understands the exalting role that music played in the lives of her parents, which amount to a saga of love and survival, but she also appreciates that a bowl of cornflakes can be a symbol of liberation. 

Jonathan Kirsch, author and publishing attorney, is the book editor of The Jewish Journal. His latest book is “The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in Paris” (W.W. Norton/Liveright), published in 2013 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Kirsch can be reached at

Dad who named kids for Nazis wears Nazi regalia to court

A New Jersey white supremacist who gave his children Nazi-linked names wore full Nazi regalia to a court appearance to request visitation rights.

Heath Campbell, 40, appeared Monday in Hunterdon County Family Court in Flemington to request visitation rights for the youngest of his four children, Heinrich Hons, 2. Campbell was dressed in a Nazi uniform with a mustache trimmed like Hitler’s.

Heinrich was taken into state custody just hours after he was born in 2011.

The court proceedings are closed.

Campbell’s other children have been in state custody for the past four years, since a local supermarket refused to print the full name of his oldest child, Adolf Hitler Campbell, on a cake for his third birthday.

Along with Heinrich Hons and Adolf Hitler, now 7, Campbell’s other two children with his wife, Deborah, are JoyceLynn Aryan Nation, 6, and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie, 5. The couple have been separated for a year.

Campbell, who has a large swastika tattoo on his neck, has said he would give up his Nazism to regain his children. Last year he created an organization called Hitler’s Order.

Survivor: Irene Rosenberg

“Mommy, I’ll be right back.” Irene Rosenberg — then Irene Grunfeld — said as she was leaving the apartment of her cousin Mancy Weiss, where she and her mother were staying temporarily. It was a Friday afternoon in May 1944, and Irene, who was almost 22, was stepping out to shop for food and looking forward to a last Shabbat before all three fanned out to different hiding places in Budapest, as Irene’s father and sisters had already done. But when Irene returned, no one was there. Her mother had left a note that read, “I will be back in half an hour.” Irene waited. 

“My mother never came back,” she said.

Born on June 25, 1922, in Budapest, to Herman and Fanny Grunfeld, Irene had a twin sister, Chava, and an older sister, Rose, born in 1921. The family was Orthodox and lived in an apartment in relative comfort.

In 1927, however, Irene’s father lost his import business and the family moved to Vác, a town about 20 miles north of Budapest, where Irene’s mother’s family resided.

Irene attended a Jewish school. After graduation, her parents advised her to learn a trade, and she became a seamstress. In 1939, she and her sisters rented a room in Budapest, where Irene worked for a dressmaking company.

While Irene experienced anti-Semitism from a young age, it wasn’t until Germany invaded Hungary on March 19, 1944, that her “whole life changed.” Suddenly Jews could not travel safely, and they were forbidden to be outdoors except from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. “Every day there came out a new law,” Irene said. 

Irene would sit riveted to the radio, which was forbidden, and hear stories from refugees who had escaped to Budapest from Poland, Germany and Austria. “We knew everything,” she said. “We knew about Auschwitz.”

Still, she and her family didn’t believe Hitler had the power to harm them as the Russians were moving in. “We thought there was no time to deport or kill us,” Irene said.

When Irene and her sisters returned to Vác in April, their father decided they should go into hiding in Budapest, separately and under false names. 

In May, after Irene’s mother and Mancy disappeared, Irene began using the false surname Landau, and, along with her cousin Paula Zicherman, she moved into an apartment in a building designated for Jews. They had little money or food. “I don’t know how we managed,” she said. 

One summer afternoon, Irene went to the post office and searched the Swedish telephone book for people named Grunfeld. She found an Alex Grunfeld and sent him a telegram, telling him they were related and asking him to send a schutz-pass, a special protective pass, for her and her family. He replied, instructing her to pick up the papers at the Swedish Embassy. 

Irene stood in a long line at the embassy. But when she noticed police picking people out of the line, she became frightened and left.

In August or September, all women ages 18 to 40 were ordered to report for work. Irene was sent to a labor camp outside Budapest. 

After a month she was transferred to a hospital on Wesselényi Street in Budapest, where she lived and worked as a nurse. 

One day, however, after learning that the young hospital workers were to be transferred to a labor camp, Irene escaped. Using papers with the non-Jewish name Irene Beke, she moved in with a Christian woman, caring for the woman’s 10-year-old son. 

During this time, Irene learned that her father had been sent on a forced march to the Austrian border. There, Raoul Wallenberg, Sweden’s special envoy in Budapest, approached the group, who were waiting to be transported to a camp, and asked if anyone had Swedish papers. Irene’s father, although half-dead at that point, knew about the schutz-pass at the embassy sent by Alex Grunfeld and was taken to a Swedish safe house in Budapest. 

On Feb. 16, 1945, the Russians liberated the Buda section of Budapest, and Irene was reunited with her father and her sisters, who had survived in hiding.

The family returned to Vác, but Shabbat dinners were no longer the same for Irene. “I felt that I didn’t have a hand because my mother didn’t sit next to me. Such a feeling never leaves me,” she said. 

Irene’s father became business partners with a Christian baker whose Jewish wife and children had been taken away. 

Every day Irene carried a large basket filled with fresh brioches and other pastries to the Vác station where trains carrying survivors stopped on their way to Budapest. She distributed the baked goods and always asked if anyone had seen her mother or her cousin Mancy. One day someone answered, “We know Mancy is alive.” 

Indeed, Mancy returned, and she told Irene that she and Irene’s mother had been transported to Auschwitz. When they arrived in the pouring rain, Mancy had wrapped her raincoat around the two of them. But as they approached Josef Mengele, he separated them, sending Irene’s mother to the gas chamber. 

In the summer of 1945, Irene and her family moved to Budapest, and in 1946 they moved to displaced persons camps in Linz and Ebelsberg, Austria. 

In 1948, the family immigrated to Israel, living in Jerusalem. There, Irene met Moshe Israeli, a survivor from Beregszász, Czechoslovakia (now Berehove, Ukraine), and they married in December 1950. Their son, David, was born a year later. Irene and Moshe later immigrated to the United States, arriving in New York in 1956 and divorcing soon after.

In 1957, Irene moved with David to Montreal, where her sisters were living. She worked with her twin sister, who had a workshop in the basement of her two-story apartment building, where she made upholstery for the seats on Air Canada planes. 

In August 1959, Irene met Tibor Rosenberg, whom she had known in Budapest. His wife had died in 1957, and he was a widower with three children: Gabe, born in 1942, Robert, in 1946, and Eva, in 1953. Irene and Tibor married in November 1959. 

Two years later, Irene and Tibor moved to Los Angeles with David, the other children following later. Irene worked as a seamstress and also operated a business out of her home, Irene’s Discount Linens, which she closed only two years ago. 

Tibor died in 1975. 

In June 2011, Irene moved to the Jewish Home. Now 90, she enjoys walking daily, playing Bingo and spending time with her family, including her nine grandchildren and 40 great-grandchildren.

Irene credits her survival and that of her family to miracles. But she continues to mourn the loss of her mother. “My mother was the jewel of the family,” she said.

Hatred of Jews remains strong, Netanyahu and Peres tell Yom Hashoah rite

The hatred of Jews is still strong more than 70 years after the Holocaust began, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres said at the national Yom Hashoah ceremony at Yad Vashem.

“The map of Europe still contains local stains of anti-Semitism,” Peres said at Sunday night's ceremony in Jerusalem, his voice breaking with emotion. “Racism erupted on that land in the last century and dragged it down to its lowest point. Ultimately the murder which came from her, damaged her.”

“Not all the flames have been extinguished. Crises are once again exploited to form Nazi parties, ridiculous but dangerous. Sickening anti-Semitic cartoons are published allegedly in the name of press freedom.”

Netanyahu said in his address to Holocaust survivors and their families, “Hatred of Jews has not disappeared. It has been replaced with a hatred of the Jewish state.”

He followed his assertion with quotes of anti-Semitic statements made by Iranian religious and political leaders.

Six Holocaust survivors told their stories in a prerecorded video before they lit the six torches representing the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust.

The ceremony was broadcast on all Israeli television channels and on several radio stations. On Yom Hashoah in Israel, places of entertainment are closed and Holocaust themed-movies and documentaries are shown on television channels. Memorial ceremonies are held throughout the country.

On Monday morning, a siren will sound for two minutes to honor the victims of the Holocaust, followed by an official wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem.

Also Monday, the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem and the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael will hold a joint Holocaust commemoration ceremony dedicated annually to commemorating the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust. The ceremony is scheduled to be held in the Martyr’s Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza. 

The ceremony will recall the rescue activities of Otto Komoly, president of the Zionist Federation in Hungary and the chairman of the Hungarian Jewish community’s clandestine Rescue Committee, and later director of the International Red Cross' “Department A” responsible for rescuing Jewish children.

On Sunday, Israeli military chief  Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz left for Poland with an Israel Defense Forces delegation to the March of the Living in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Gantz will lead the March of the Living — the first time the march will be led by a current IDF chief of general staff. Some 10,000 people from all over the world are expected to participate in the march.

Gantz also will lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, where a military service will take place.

On the weekend prior to Yom Hashoah, dozens of young Poles who recently discovered their Jewish roots came together in Oscwiecim, the site of the Auschwitz camp,  for a weekend educational seminar under the auspices of Shavei Israel.