Israeli-Polish Holocaust law: Does It Defend Or Betray History?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Does the Israeli-Polish Holocaust law agreement defend truth or betray history?

Jerusalem feted Warsaw’s cancellation of law banning claims of Polish complicity in Holocaust, but eminent Israeli scholar says mundane realpolitik trumped historical verity

Raphael Ahren
People from all over the world participating in the March of the Living at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp site in Poland, as Israel marks annual Holocaust Memorial Day, on April 24, 2017. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

People from all over the world participating in the March of the Living at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp site in Poland, as Israel marks annual Holocaust Memorial Day, on April 24, 2017. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

In October 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the World War II-era Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini for inspiring the Nazis to exterminate the Jews.

The story made international headlines, with world leaders and Holocaust historians denouncing Netanyahu’s allegation as utterly inaccurate. Eventually, the prime minister walked back his incendiary accusation, clarifying that it was the Nazis and not the Palestinians who were responsible for the Shoah.

Last week, the prime minister — the son of a historian and a self-declared history buff himself — once again waded into Holocaust-related controversy, though with much less international attention.

On Wednesday, he signed an agreement with Warsaw that ended the spat between the two countries over a controversial Polish law that criminalized accusing the Polish nation of being “responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich.”

While Jerusalem feted the annulment of the law’s most problematic stipulations, a leading Israeli expert on the Shoah called a joint statement that accompanied the deal not only factually erroneous but also a “betrayal of the memory of the Holocaust,” motivated by mundane present-day political considerations.

The argument over the agreement highlights Netanyahu’s complicated role as the global standard-bearer of the Jewish people and the memory of the Shoah who at the same time needs to engage in realpolitik to promote Israel’s real-world interests.

Minutes after the Polish parliament passed legislation to remove the troubling passages, and President Anderzej Duda signed it into law, the Israeli and Polish governments issued a joint statement on the Holocaust and Poland’s role in it.

It declared that the term “Polish death camps” is “blatantly erroneous” and that the wartime Polish Government-in-Exile “attempted to stop this Nazi activity by trying to raise awareness among the Western allies to the systematic murder of the Polish Jews.”

The joint declaration, issued last Wednesday simultaneously by Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki, also rejected anti-Semitism and “anti-Polonism.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on June 27, 2018, to discuss Poland’s amended Holocaust Law. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Most controversially, it condemned “every single case of cruelty against Jews perpetrated by Poles during…World War II” but noted “heroic acts of numerous Poles, especially the Righteous Among the Nations, who risked their lives to save Jewish people.”

The highlighting of “numerous” instances of Poles rescuing Jews, while not quantifying the cases of Poles murdering Jews out of pure anti-Semitism, led critics of the deal to argue that Israel has in effect adopted Warsaw’s skewed narrative of the Holocaust.

“It’s a betrayal. It’s simply a betrayal,” Yehuda Bauer, a professor emeritus of history and Holocaust Studies at Hebrew University and an academic adviser to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, told The Times of Israel on Monday.

“It’s a betrayal of the memory of the Holocaust and the interest of the Jewish people. And the reason for it is entirely pragmatic: the diplomatic, political, and economic ties between the Israeli government and the government of Poland.”

While Israel managed to get Poland to annul the criminal sanctions, the controversial law still stipulates fines for individuals who accuse the “Polish Nation or the Republic of Poland” of having been complicit or co-complicit in the Holocaust, he noted.

Yehuda Bauer (Thonke/Ullstein bild via Getty Images/JTA)

“Therefore, the agreement between the two governments allows for the prosecution of people who say the truth,” Bauer said, also arguing that there is no doubt that the “vast majority of Poles were extremely anti-Semitic.”

Far more problematic, from Bauer’s point of view, is that the joint statement suggests that Polish authorities and the Polish people were not guilty of anything during World War II. “It’s as if the Germans alone perpetrated the Holocaust and did not have allies and assistants,” he said.

Poland was occupied by the Nazis, but the leaders of the Polish underground asked the London-based Polish government-in-exile not to express sympathy for the Jews as this would diminish its popularity, the Prague-born historian added.

“Certainly not all Poles, but a majority of Poles, either took Jewish property, or killed the Jews themselves, or handed them over to the Polish police — which cooperated with the Germans and which is not mentioned with one word in the joint statement — or delivered them straight to the Germans,” Bauer said.

“The joint statement doesn’t say the truth — that a great portion of the Polish people did this and a bold minority tried to rescue Jews — but the exact opposite,” he added.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks to six Poles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust in Warsaw, Poland, Monday, February 26, 2018. (AP/Czarek Sokolowski)

Bauer, 92, took particular umbrage with the statement acknowledging and condemning “every single case of cruelty against Jews perpetrated by Poles” during the war.

“We recognize ‘every single case’? That implies that there were single cases,” he fumed. “That’s a lie.”

Yad Vashem recognizes 6,863 Poles as Righteous Among the Nations, the highest number of any nation.

“Considering the harsh punishment that threatened rescuers, this is a most impressive number,” Yad Vashem writes on its website. “On the other hand, when evaluating the role of Poles in the rescue of Jews, one also has to take into consideration that Poland’s Jewish community was by far the largest in Europe and that only about 10% of its Jews survived.”

Between 30,000 and 35,000 Jews were saved with the help of Poles — around one percent of all of Polish Jewry, according to Yad Vashem.

The Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on Bauer’s criticism.

Yaakov Nagel, one of the two Netanyahu confidants who secretly negotiated the agreement with the Polish government, firmly rejected the veteran historian’s criticism.

“He apparently didn’t read the statement, or he was maybe insulted that we didn’t consult him,” Nagel told The Times of Israel in an interview. “If it wasn’t Yehuda Bauer, I would respond differently,” he added, suggesting that Bauer’s advanced age may cloud his judgment.

“Here is a country that prides itself with having passed a law that they say will restore national honor, and half a year later they cancel it with their tails between their legs,” he said.

Yaakov Nagel in March 2017 (Flash90)

“This is an great achievement for the State of Israel,” Nagel went on. “The criticism drives me crazy. We got an amazing accomplishment. We had a law that everyone said was terrible, and we got rid of it without giving them anything in return. There is nothing wrong with the statement.”

Not even one of Bauer’s arguments is correct, Nagel insisted. He argued that the Polish law, which is formally called The Institute of National Remembrance – Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation Act, has existed for decades, and that the recent additions — paragraphs 55a and 55b — were removed at Israel’s behest.

There were good Poles, and there were bad Poles. Period.

It is true that those who accuse Poland of complicity can still be fined, but even Israel has civil laws against defamation, Nagel argued.

“There were two problematic paragraphs in this law, and we managed to get rid of them entirely.”

A former national security adviser, Nagel said he was not an expert on the Holocaust, but that Yad Vashem’s chief historian Dina Porat confirmed that the joint statement was historically accurate.

According to a well-placed source, Porat was indeed involved in the secret negotiations with the Polish government but did not get to see the final draft of the statement. Yad Vashem, which issued a statement welcoming Warsaw’s annulment of the law’s controversial paragraphs, was disappointed about the wording of the joint statement, the source added.

Porat did not reply to several requests for comment. A spokesperson for Yad Vashem said the institution is currently reviewing the various documents and may publish a statement in the near future.

Holocaust survivors protesting Poland’s new bill on Holocaust rhetoric in front of the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv, February 8, 2018. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP/Getty Images/via JTA)

Holocaust historians may have liked to add a sentence or two about the extent of Polish anti-Semitism and Polish guilt during the Holocaust, Nagel allowed. But Yad Vashem confirmed that “everything we wrote in the joint statement is historically accurate,” he insisted.

And what of Bauer’s complaint that the statement refers to “every single case” of Polish cruelty, making it seem as if these were isolated incidents?

“There is no sentence stronger” than the one in the joint statement, Nagel argued, saying “every single case” could refer to millions of incidents.

“There were good Poles, and there were bad Poles. Period. That’s history,” he said. No one has counted how many Poles saved Jews and how many killed Jews, he added.

The joint statement did not go into numbers since it proved impossible to get Warsaw to agree to a wording that would have portrayed the Polish nation in a more negative light, he indicated.

“You can’t have everything,” Nagel said. “There were some sentences we would have liked to add, but diplomatic negotiations are a give and take, and you don’t get everything you want.”

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The ‘Moderate’ Abbas Once Again Shows Himself To Be A Hate Filled Idiot

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Yad Vashem blasts Abbas for anti-Semitic bid to blame Jews for their own murder

Palestinian Authority head ‘assaults Holocaust remembrance’ by turning it into ‘into a propaganda tool, blatantly falsifying history’

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (L) gestures during the Palestinian National Council meeting in Ramallah on April 30, 2018. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (L) gestures during the Palestinian National Council meeting in Ramallah on April 30, 2018. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem, on Wednesday lambasted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the “distorted” history lesson in which he said the Holocaust was caused not by anti-Semitism, but by the behavior of Jews who worked in banking and money lending.

“Sadly, Abbas has chosen to assault Holocaust remembrance by attempting to convert the Shoah into a propaganda tool, blatantly falsifying history to the point of accusing the Jewish victims as being responsible for their own murder, and transforming Hitler into a Zionist,” Yad Vashem said in a statement.

“His own argument is itself fundamentally anti-Semitic, insofar as it incorporates a centuries-old anti-Semitic narrative that equates Jews with monetary greed,” the statement said, adding that Abbas should study history instead of trying to give history lessons.

“Even basic acquaintance with Jewish history would teach Abbas not only that the Jews pursued, then and now, a wide variety of professions and occupations, but that the majority of them at that time were impoverished. Even basic acquaintance with European history would inform Abbas about the escalation of anti-Semitism throughout Europe during the second half of the 19th century and the start of the 20th, and that this was in effect the prime context for the murder of Jews during the Holocaust,” it said.

In a long and rambling speech in Ramallah on Monday in front of hundreds at a rare session of the Palestinian National Council, Abbas touched on a number of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories during what he called a “history lesson,” as he sought to prove the 3,000 year-old Jewish connection to the Land of Israel is false.

Abbas claimed that the Holocaust was not the result of anti-Semitism but rather of the Jews’ “social behavior, [charging] interest, and financial matters.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during the Palestinian National Council meeting in Ramallah on April 30, 2018. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

He also utilized the often criticized theory advanced by Hungarian-British author Arthur Koestler that Ashkenazi Jews were descended from Khazars not ancient Israelites, and therefore had “no historical ties” to the Land of Israel.

And he charged that “those who sought a Jewish state weren’t Jews,” repeating a claim he made in January when he said that the State of Israel was formed as “a colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism” to safeguard European interests.

Abbas made no mention of the Jews’ historic presence and periods of sovereignty in the Holy Land. Israel is the only place where the Jews have ever been sovereign or sought sovereignty.

Over 12 million copies of 'Mein Kampf' have been sold. (photo credit: dccarbone/CC-BY, vi Flickr)

A copy of Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ (dccarbone/CC-BY, via Flickr)

Yad Vashem also slammed Abbas for his inferral that the agreement between the Nazis and German Jews which enabled some 60,000 of the latter to leave Germany for Palestine between 1933 and 1939 and transfer some of their money through the Anglo-Palestine bank, made Hitler in effect a supporter of Zionism.

Hitler’s views about Zionism were made abundantly clear in his book Mein Kampf, published in 1925, Yad Vashem said, where he wrote: “All they want is a central organization for their international world swindle, endowed with its own sovereign rights and removed from the intervention of other states: a haven for convicted scoundrels and a university for budding crooks.”

The transfer agreement was not altruistic but formed part of an early anti-Jewish policy to get as many Jews out of Germany as possible, and Hitler himself was not involved with it anyway.

In the book, the Nazi leader actually wrote that the aim of Zionism was “the establishment of a central organization for their [the Jews’] worldwide swindle, endowed with its own sovereign rights and removed from the intervention of other states: a haven for convicted scoundrels and a university for budding crooks.”

Hitler hosts Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini in 1941 in Germany. (Heinrich Hoffmann Collection/Wikipedia)

Hitler had been quite clear about his plan for the Jews when he told the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, in 1941 that once German forces had broken through from the southern Caucasus region into the Middle East, “Germany’s goal will be the extermination of the Jews who reside in Arab territories under British rule” (as noted in the meeting’s minutes).”

The Palestinian leader has a long history of Holocaust denial. His 1982 doctoral dissertation was titled “The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism,” and he has in the past been accused of denying the scope of the Holocaust. The dissertation reportedly claimed that the six million figure of Holocaust victims was hugely exaggerated and that Zionist leaders cooperated with the Nazis.

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Teacher who saved hundreds of young Jews during Holocaust dies at 107

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Teacher who saved hundreds of young Jews during Holocaust dies at 107

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu honored Johan van Hulst (R) in 2012.

(CNN)Johan van Hulst, a former Dutch senator and teacher renowned for his efforts to save hundreds of Jewish children during the Holocaust, died March 22 at the age of 107, the Dutch Senate announced this week.

As principal of the Reformed Teachers Training College, van Hulst found himself at the center of a growing operation to smuggle Jewish children out of Amsterdam to protect them from Nazi persecution during the Second World War.
The college garden bordered that of a Jewish day-care center, from which hundreds of Jewish children were passed over the garden fence to be temporarily hidden by van Hulst before being collected by members of a children’s rescue organization and smuggled to safety.
“Try to imagine 80, 90, perhaps 70 or 100 children standing there, and you have to decide which children to take with you…. That was the most difficult day of my life,” he remembered of the period in 1943 when the Jewish day-care center was due to be cleared out, according to Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center.
“You realize that you cannot possibly take all the children with you. You know for a fact that the children you leave behind are going to die. I took twelve with me. Later on I asked myself: ‘Why not thirteen?'”
Following the end of the Second World War, he became an active member of the Christian Democratic Appeal Party and later became a senator.
Ankie Broekers-Knol, president of the Dutch senate, told CNN in a statement that van Hulst “led an extraordinary life. He will be remembered as an icon of democracy. He dedicated both his work as an educator as well as his work in the Senate to the democratic values of freedom and equality. He serves as an example to us all.”
Ruth Peetoom, chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Appeal party, described van Hulst as “an icon of justice.”
“Van Hulst was intelligent, courageous and modest,” she said in an email to CNN. “In his long life he has meant a lot to others in different ways.”
He was honored by Yad Vashem in 1972 as Righteous Among Nations, in recognition of his resistance to the Nazi persecution of Dutch Jews.
Yad Vashem spokesperson Simmy Allen said van Hulst will be remembered by “the entire Jewish people for his valiant efforts in the rescue of Jews during the Holocaust.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute to van Hulst during a trip to the Netherlands in 2012.
“We say those who save one life saves a universe. You saved hundreds of universes. I want to thank you in the name of the Jewish people, but also in the name of humanity,” Netanyahu told the senator, according to The Times of Israel.
The Dutch ambassador to Israel, Gilles Beschoor Plug, told CNN that van Hulst “will be remembered especially as a hero of the Dutch resistance during World War II. His passing is a great loss. His courageous acts saving many Jewish children remain an inspiration for generations to come.”

In Latvia, hundreds march in honor of German SS veterans

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

In Latvia, hundreds march in honor of SS veterans

Man arrested for displaying a poster of soldiers killing Jews during world’s sole event for former Nazi fighters

A view of the annual march on the Remembrance Day of the Latvian Legionnaires in Riga, Latvia, on March 16, 2018. (LTA Zinu dienests/Twitter via JTA)

A view of the annual march on the Remembrance Day of the Latvian Legionnaires in Riga, Latvia, on March 16, 2018. (LTA Zinu dienests/Twitter via JTA)

Several protesters from the Latvia Without Fascism group demonstrated against the event by carrying signs reading “They fought for Hitler” and “If they looked Nazis, and acted like Nazis – they were Nazi.” None of those protesters was arrested.

Police did not allow a counter protest by Latvia Without Fascism, Joseph Koren, a leader of that group, told JTA. Hundreds of police cordoned off the Freedom Monument, as veterans, some of them wearing uniform, sang patriotic songs and laid wreaths for their fallen comrades. Organizers of the event from several nationalist groups then drove the veterans to a cemetery where many of their comrades are buried.

“It’s a disgrace that this is happening in Europe,” Aleksejs Saripovs of the Latvia Without Fascism group told JTA. “The European Union needs to pressure Latvia into abandoning this shameful event, but so far there is total silence.”

The Latvian SS Volunteer Legion on parade in 1943 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J16133 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Many locals offered flowers to the veterans as they marched from the area around Riga’s St. Peter’s Church to the Freedom Monument.

Advocates of the veterans and their supporters claim that Latvian Legion soldiers were not involved in atrocities against Jews, despite evidence to the contrary. According to the Latvian government, the Latvian Legion was not really an SS unit and that the legionnaires who weren’t forcefully conscripted merely sought independence for Latvia when they joined Hitler’s army.

German Nazis and collaborators led to the near annihilation of 70,000 Jews who had lived in Latvia before the Holocaust.

On Wednesday, a bill proposing to make March 16 a national Latvian Legion Day was defeated in Latvia’s parliament.

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Is Black History Month Simply Racists?

IS BLACK HISTORY MONTH SIMPLY RACISTS?

 

I hope that you noticed that I posed this title as a question and not as a statement. I am going to be posing this article in questioning form, I am trying to get all of us to think, to look inside ourselves to discover, what do we think about these questions. First let us start with Black History Month, is its whole concept derived off of racism? Are the politicians, mostly the Democrats simply bowing down to a group of people who normally vote about 90% for Democrats? Why is there only one non-politician (Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.) who has their birthday as a Federal Holiday? Is it because he was a Black man? In all of U.S. history is Doctor King the only person who really stands out as a special human being deserving of having a Federal Holiday in honor of them? Personally I am in favor of Doctor King being honored in this way, I feel that the man deserves it, but aren’t there others, is he the only one?

 

I have seen in the past when a business celebrates a certain ethnic day, where the company lets a certain group of their employees get the day off or throw a special lunching for just one ethnic group, it causes a lot of friction within the rank and file of their employees. To me, if we are going to do such things as a Nation then we need to vastly expand it, or end it all together. Just as there are institutions within the Black community where we have organizations like the NAACP, the Negro College Fund, Black Colleges, Black Miss America, shouldn’t we also have things like this for all of the other nationalities? Doesn’t it have to be all or none? What would be wrong with the National Association For The Advancement of Oriental People, Hispanic People or European People? Would that be racists? If we had the National White College Fund or the White Miss America Pageant, or Miss Oriental Miss America Pageant or how about the Hispanic College Fund, are these ideas racists? Is the concept of Nation Indian American Pageant or Indian College Fund racists?

 

When it is only one group which is based on skin color, to me it sure looks like the pure definition of racism. What makes it worse is when you have so-called Leaders of that Nationality group who do things like deny that the Holocaust ever happened because they want to say that they, their group, their ethnicity, is the only group that has ever been treated horribly, folks, that is racism. Should we as a Nation honor the other Nationalities? Should March be National Arab Month? Should April be National Persian Month? May National Hispanic Month? The list could go on and on, should we as a Nation do this? Should the same things be evaluated concerning the Colleges and College funds? The Miss America Pageant, should we have one for every race, for every mixed race? As I said, this article today is posed as a question to you, to get us all to think, what is okay, what is racist, what should we as a Nation say yes or no to? If you would, please leave me your thoughts in the comment section, I always do my best to answer all comments within 24 hours when ever possible. Thank you for the kindness of your time, I appreciate you stopping in.

 

 

German car makers spark outrage with exhaust tests on humans

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

HUMANS AND MONKEYS FORCED TO INHALE DIESEL

German car makers spark outrage with exhaust tests on humans

Diesel exhaust tests evoke gas vans used by the Nazis in the Holocaust; major manufacturers disavow study

The exhaust pipes of a VW Diesel car are seen in Frankfurt, Germany, on August 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, File)

The exhaust pipes of a VW Diesel car are seen in Frankfurt, Germany, on August 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, File)

Public criticism of the German auto industry has escalated on reports that diesel exhaust tests were carried out on both monkeys and humans.

The tests were reportedly carried out by a research group funded by major German auto companies. The German government on Monday condemned the experiments and Volkswagen sought to distance itself from them, with its chairman saying that “in the name of the whole board I emphatically disavow such practices.”

The tests from German companies are particularly striking, as during the Holocaust the Nazis killed people by pumping exhaust gas into sealed “gas vans.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

“Monkeys and humans forced to inhale toxic diesel car emissions to demonstrate no health impact” as emissions research for German car manufacturers http://on.ft.com/2rSU9UC 
This was the same gassing test technique perfected by the Nazis’ gas vans ? @FT

Revelations of the tests add a twist to the German auto industry’s attempt to move past Volkswagen’s scandal over cheating on diesel tests and the resulting questioning of diesel technology across the industry.

Volkswagen Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said the tests must be “investigated completely and without reservation,” the dpa news agency reported.

A report by the New York Times found that the research group financed by top German car manufacturers commissioned experiments in which one group of monkeys was exposed to diesel exhaust from a late-model Volkswagen, while another group was exposed to fumes from an older Ford pickup.

Hans Dieter Poetsch, chairman of the board of directors of the Volkswagen stock company, prior to the annual shareholders meeting in Hannover, Germany, May 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)

The experiments were carried out in 2014 before Volkswagen was caught using software that let vehicles cheat on emissions tests. They were intended to show modern diesel technology had solved the problem of excess emissions, but according to the New York Times report the Volkswagen car in the tests was equipped with illegal software that turned emissions controls on while the car was on test stands and off during regular driving.

Volkswagen admitted using the software in 2015. The Volkswagen scandal led to public scrutiny of diesel emissions as regulators discovered that other companies’ vehicles also had higher emissions on the road than during testing, though not necessarily through illegal rigging. The industry has had to fend off calls for diesel bans in German cities with high pollution levels.

Daimler AG said it was “appalled by the nature and extent of the studies,” and said that, though it did not have any influence on the studies’ design, “we have launched a comprehensive investigation into the matter.”

BMW said that it “did not participate in the mentioned study” on animal “and distances itself from this study.” It said it was investigating the work and background of the research group.

People leave the Volkswagen factory at Gate 17 in Wolfsburg, Germany. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

The Times report said the group that commissioned the studies, known by German initial EUGT, got all its funding from the three automakers. Volkswagen said in a statement, the founders were Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler and components and technology firm Bosch.

The New York Times report was followed by one in Monday’s edition of the Stuttgarter Zeitung daily that the now-closed research group also commissioned tests in which humans were exposed to nitrogen dioxide, which belongs to a class of pollutant known as nitrogen oxides. The group reportedly said the tests showed no effect on the subjects.

The human study, carried out by Aachen University, involved studying the effects of exposing 25 subjects, mostly students, to low levels of nitrogen dioxide like those that could be found in the environment — from a 40-liter bottle, not a diesel engine. The individuals gave informed written consent for the study, which was approved by the ethics committee of the university’s medical faculty, according to the study. The university said the study had no relation to the diesel scandal.

The German government condemned the reported tests on animals and humans. Transport Minister Christian Schmidt “has no understanding for such tests… that do not serve science but merely PR aims,” spokesman Ingo Strater told reporters in Berlin.

He called for the companies concerned to provide “immediate and detailed” responses, and said a ministry commission of inquiry that was set up after the emissions scandal broke will hold a special meeting to examine whether there are any other cases.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at the headquarters of her Christian Democratic Union in Berlin for coalition talks, on January 28, 2018. (AFP Photo/Odd Andersen)

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said that “the disgust many people are feeling is absolutely understandable.”

“These tests on monkeys or even humans can in no way be ethically justified,” Seibert said. “They raise many critical questions for those behind these tests, and these questions must urgently be answered.”

He questioned the aims of the tests. “The automakers have to reduce emissions of harmful substances further and further,” he said. “They should not be trying to prove the supposed harmlessness of exhaust with the help of monkeys or even humans.”

Seibert said that the supervisory boards of the companies concerned “have a particular responsibility.”

The governor of the German state of Lower Saxony, a major shareholder in Volkswagen, added his voice to calls for quick answers.

Stephan Weil, who sits on VW’s supervisory board, stressed that “the behavior of the company must in every respect fulfill ethical demands.” He said he had not known about the tests.

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COMMENTS

A Jewish woman sits on a park bench marked “Only for Jews”, 1938

((Photo credit: Institute for Contemporary History and Wiener Library))

(THIS ARTICLE IS A COPY PASTE FROM ‘RARE HISTORICAL PHOTOS’)

A concentration camp victim identifies a SS guard, 1945

((Photo credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum / Harold Royall).)

(THIS ARTICLE IS A COPY PASTE OF THEIR ARTICLE)

Russian survivor liberated U.S. Army in Buchenwald camp in Germany identified a former guard who were brutally beating prisoners. April 14, 1945. Colorized version. The original photograph.

Russian survivor liberated by the U.S. Army in Buchenwald camp in Germany identified a former guard who were brutally beating prisoners. April 14, 1945. Colorized version. The original photograph.

The picture depicts a liberated Russian inmate pointing an identifying and accusing finger at a Nazi guard who was especially cruel towards the prisoners in Buchenwald camp (original picture). There’s something really fascinating about this picture. We can only see so much of the prisoner’s expression here, but that finger means so much. Days, maybe even hours earlier, that prisoner might have been afraid to cross paths with or even make eye contact with this man. Now he’s casting an accusatory finger that’s as well as pointing a gun at the back of the man’s head, and the defeated look on his face seems horribly aware of that.

That medal on the guard’s chest looks like a World War One imperial wound badge, meaning this guard fought for the German Imperial Army during the Great War. The badge is the black variant (3rd class, representing Iron) and was given to those wounded once or twice by hostile action (including air raids), or frostbitten in the line of duty.

After the outbreak of World War II, Buchenwald continued to house political prisoners and, later, Poles and Russians. Most inmates worked as slave labourers at nearby work sites in 12-hour shifts around the clock. There were some 18,000 prisoners after Kristallnacht, 11,000 on the eve of the war, 63,000 by the end of 1944, and 86,000 in February 1945, when Buchenwald became the destination for some of the inmates forcibly evacuated from Auschwitz.

Although there were no gas chambers, hundreds perished each month from disease, malnutrition, exhaustion, beatings, and executions. Camp records indicate that throughout its existence some 240,000 prisoners from at least 30 countries were confined at Buchenwald. At least 10,000 were shipped to extermination camps, and some 43,000 people died at the camp.

(Photo credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum / Harold Royall).

225,000 Hungarian Holocaust Victims Identified

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Yad Vashem identifies 225,000 Hungarian Holocaust victims

The Holocaust museum’s specially trained team pored over pages of records, mapping forgotten victims no one cared to document on the way to their deaths

Hungarian Jews were marched down Wesselenyi Street in the heart of Budapest's Jewish Quarter, on their way to be deported to Auschwitz. (Bundesarchiv Bild)

Hungarian Jews were marched down Wesselenyi Street in the heart of Budapest’s Jewish Quarter, on their way to be deported to Auschwitz. (Bundesarchiv Bild)

Born in Budapest in 1937, Chayim Herzl remembers being taken by his mother Eugenia to visit his father Reuven Salgo at a labor camp outside the city in 1943.

“My hand was small, and I was able to pass some food to him through the fence. That was the last time I saw him,” said Herzl.

He lost his mother in early 1945 when men from Hungary’s Arrow Cross took her  from their safe house outside the ghetto, organized by diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, while he hid under the bed.

Having lost his father at age six and mother at eight, Herzl has only fleeting memories of his parents. Now, thanks to a comprehensive decade-long project to collect names of Hungarian Holocaust victims, completed in a collaboration between Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum Yad Vashem and funded by the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah, Herzl has regained something he calls, “indescribably priceless” — information.

Through the project, Herzl learned that his father died just days before the end of the war in a POW death march, after having been forced into a labor corps in the Hungarian army fighting on the Eastern front. Beyond that, he now has a document with his father’s signature. The signature, his father’s orthographic fingerprint, is the only piece of his father’s writing Herzl owns.

“Through the efforts of Yad Vashem’s Names Collection project in Hungary, I was finally able to find a sense of closure in knowing what happened to my father. Finding a document containing his signature is evidence to the world that my father lived and a testimony to the tragic fate that befell him and so many Hungarian Jews,” said Herzl.

“The job is not yet complete: My mother, from the day she was taken from me, has vanished from the face of the earth and remains among the undocumented. I know that Yad Vashem is committed to leaving no stone unturned in the effort to identify as many Holocaust victims as possible,” Herzl told The Times of Israel.

Chayim Herzl (Salgo) was born in 1937 in Budapest, Hungary, the only child of Reuven (Rudolf) and Eugenia (Geni) Salgo, née Herzl. (courtesy Yad Vashem)

Ten years ago, approximately 40 percent of Hungarian victims were identified after the advances made by Holocaust historian and Holocaust survivor Serge Klarsfeld. Klarsfeld in the 1980s launched the Nevek Project, gathering names from lists of prisoners of forced labor and concentration camps during WWII. Due to funding and bureaucratic issues, he abandoned his project.

Building on Klarsfeld’s Nevek Project, Yad Vashem-trained historians have added some 225,000 victims’ names over the past 10 years of intensive research. This major project was funded by the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah and supported by the late French politician and Holocaust survivor Simone Veil, who served as its first president. On Thursday, Yad Vashem hosted an event that included a special tribute to Veil.

“Simone Veil saw special importance in the collection of names of Hungarian Jews. She witnessed firsthand the arrival and extermination of Hungary’s Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau. It was important to her that their identities be memorialized and therefore decided to support this important initiative,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev.

But the scope of Yad Vashem’s Names Collection project goes well beyond identifying Jewish Hungarian victims. It is, to date, the largest project Yad Vashem has undertaken and represents a holistic approach to collecting information and documents that far surpasses previous efforts.

“This is the most successful project that Yad Vashem’s Archives has undertaken. The holistic approach of the project has become a model for other endeavors we are currently promoting in the name-gathering process, in particular the Polish Names Project, and we hope that with the continued support of the French Foundation we will achieve similar results to those we obtained in collecting names of Jewish victims from Hungary,” said Shalev.

In addition to Poland, which has signed a cooperation agreement with the institution, Yad Vashem is implementing the information-gathering model it founded in Hungary to its names recovery efforts in the territories of the former Soviet Union and the Balkan States.

In conversation with The Times of Israel Thursday, Dr. Alexander Avram, director of the Hall of Names and the Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names, explained the project’s procedures and resonance.

Eugenia (Geni) Salgo, née Herzl, mother of Chayim Herzl (Salgo). (Courtesy Yad Vashem)

Unlike the initial goals of the Nevek Project of attaching a name to every victim, the Yad Vashem project “has revealed part of their individual stories, and in some cases, for the first time was able to connect a rare photograph with the name of the faceless murdered,” said Avram.

The intensive work began in 2007 and was conducted under the leadership of three Yad Vashem historians who trained a staff of some 20 researchers who were on-the-ground in Greater Hungary: Hungary, Slovakia, parts of Romania, Serbia, and Transylvania. Through special diplomatic agreements forged with the Hungarian government in 2005 and 2006, said Avram, the researchers were granted full access to all state archives for this specific project.

“It is not easy in these countries to find documentation about the Holocaust and Jews,” said Avram. “They are no key words for catalogues; there is no archive in Europe that has a topic ‘Holocaust’ and catalogues for this or for Jews.”

The team pored over archive material from all sorts of offices — including the Ministries of the Interior, Defense and Agriculture — “page by page, to map those documents important to Jews and the Holocaust,” he said. The important pages were scanned and sent to Yad Vashem, which is in the process of uploading the pages into its database.

The team, trained by Yad Vashem, must be fluent in Hungarian, and have skills in German, Romanian, Serbian and other languages of the region to decipher the handwriting of the pre-World War II documents.

In December, the intensive research collection is finishing, but the team will continue to decipher documents to add more names and stories into the database.

“In our database we have 4,700,000 names of Jews murdered in the Holocaust. That means that more than 1 million who are not identified,” said Avram. Whereas in central and western Europe some 95% of the victims documented as Jews were arrested, sent to transit camps, and then on to death camps, in eastern Europe there is less of a paper trail.

A Hungarian Jewish woman and young children walk towards the gas chambers in Auschwitz. (Budesarchiv Bild)

Although he said the teams of researchers at Yad Vashem will continue to document victims, it is important to note, said Avram, that the teams have “exhausted most of the easy sources, and now look for names scattered in less unexplored sources where they will sometimes read a book of 500 pages to reach four or five names.”

“We are focusing our efforts in the countries where we have a more significant gap in names of victims,” said Avram. In Hungary, for example, although there were organized transports, “nobody cared to register the names of the Jews on the transports,” he said.

Like the case for Herzl, who discovered his father’s fate through the Yad Vashem project, Avram hopes to find more than mere monikers for the remainder of the victims.

“We can sometimes build a personal story. Previous attempts were to document names of victims; in this project we are trying to go further than that,” he said, and transform the name into a person.

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15 Jewish extremists arrested for threatening Arabs

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

15 Jewish extremists arrested for threatening Arabs

Police pick up Lehava leader Bentzi Gopstein, other members of the group over suspected assault and harassment of Arabs who dated Jewish women

Benzi Gopstein, leader of the far-right Jewish group Lehava, speaks at a ceremony in Jerusalem honoring the late Jewish extremist leader Rabbi Meir Kahane on November 17, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Benzi Gopstein, leader of the far-right Jewish group Lehava, speaks at a ceremony in Jerusalem honoring the late Jewish extremist leader Rabbi Meir Kahane on November 17, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Police arrested the leader of an extremist Jewish group early Sunday on suspicion of making threats against Arabs who were romantically involved with Jewish women.

Lehava head Bentzi Gopstein and 14 other members of the anti-assimilation group were arrested in their homes throughout Israel and the West Bank, police said.

They were all taken in for questioning and police, and 10 of them were released later in the day. Gopstein was set to appear in court later in the day for a remand hearing.

Police said the arrests came after an “undercover and complex” investigation of the group, which was prompted by a number of recent instances of assault and harassment of Arabs in Jerusalem and efforts by the group “to expand its activities.”

An Israel Police spokeswoman said Sunday’s arrests were meant to “cut off the phenomenon” of assaults on Arabs and “prevent radicalization by members of the group and harming others on the basis of racist nationalism.”

“The Israel Police will act wherever criminals are taking the law into their own hands,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.

Gopstein’s lawyer Itamar Ben Gvir said his client’s arrest was due to “leftist extremists” and “Reform Jews” exerting pressure on police.

Benzi Gopstein (C), Michael Ben-Ari (L) and Itamar Ben Gvir seen outside the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City on October 30, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“It is inconceivable that as part of the leftist extremists’ pressure the police are acting on their commands, falling into line and arresting Lehava operatives in an ostentatious arrest without bothering to summon them for questioning,” said Ben Gvir.

He also said his client’s arrest came two weeks ahead of when police were set to respond to a petition calling for Gopstein to be be tried for incitement to racism and violence and Lehava to be branded a criminal organization.

Gopstein has previously been arrested on a number of occasions and investigated for statements he made against non-Jews, including for an article in which he called Christians living in Israel “bloodsuckers.”

He was also arrested shortly after members of his group tried to burn down an Arab-Jewish school in Jerusalem in November 2014. Gopstein was not charged over the attack, for which three Lehava members were eventually convicted.

Lehava protesters hold signs reading ‘Assimilation is a Holocaust’ outside a Jewish-Muslim wedding near Tel Aviv, August 17, 2014 (Flash90)

His organization opposes intermarriage and the assimilation of Jews and tries to stifle any public activity by non-Jews in Israel.

Lehava, which some lawmakers have tried to designate a terrorist group, has frequently called for action to be taken against non-Jews and homosexuals in order to “save the daughters of Israel,” in Gopstein’s words.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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