Vienna school finds our what became of the 50 Jewish Pupils it expelled in 1938

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Vienna school finds out what became of the 50 Jewish pupils it expelled in 1938

Amid widespread ignorance about the Holocaust in Austria, a public high school launches a project to determine the fate of the students it booted under Nazi policies

JTA — On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, a public high school in the Austrian capital corrected its own historical record.

Along with a memorial to World War II soldiers, the Gymnasium Kundmanngasse now also has a plaque with the names of the 50 Jewish students expelled from the Vienna school exactly 81 years ago. And the life stories of these pupils – some tragically cut short – are contained in a book written by teenagers now attending the school.

The dedication of the new memorial on April 25 came just as a new survey reveals a disheartening lack of knowledge about the Holocaust among adults in Austria.

But the Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Study also found a profound commitment to Holocaust education among Austrians, particularly among younger adults.

What the survey found

The study was commissioned by the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and released May 2, Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom Hashoah.

Among the survey findings:

  • 58 percent of Austrians do not know that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust;
  • 36% of respondents said they believed people still talk too much about the Holocaust;
  • 28% said they believed that many Austrians acted heroically to save Jews, when in fact only 109 are recognized as rescuers by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and archive.
  • On the positive side, 82% of respondents – and 87% of younger ones — said they believe that Holocaust education is important.

Data was collected from a randomly selected, demographically representative sample of 1,000 Austrian adults. It was analyzed by Schoen Consulting in New York.

A plaque, reading ‘In Memory,’ at the Gymnasium Kundmanngasse commemorates 50 Jewish students expelled from the Vienna school exactly 81 years ago. (Gymnasium Kundmanngasse)

“On one hand, there are some troubling, problematic results,” Greg Schneider, the executive vice president of the Claims Conference, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “On the other hand, there is a recognition of the importance of learning about the Holocaust, which is very hopeful. It gives us a road map to ensure that the Shoah is taught in schools and given the proper context and support.”

The first duty of Holocaust education is “to honor the memory of those who were killed,” he said.

Oskar Deutsch, president of the Jewish Communities in Austria and Vienna, said in a statement, “The lack of knowledge among many Austrians revealed through this study sets a mission for not only teachers and politicians but all society. A sincere handling of antisemitic incidents today and misrepresentations of the Shoah is crucial.”

Compared to Germany, Austria was notoriously late in confronting its role in the persecution and genocide of its Jewish population. What might be called willful ignorance changed dramatically in the mid-1980s, when the Nazi past of then-chancellor candidate Kurt Waldheim was put on the table. He was elected despite the questions raised about his role.

In 2000, Austria’s Ministry of Education, Science and Research established a Holocaust education program – errinern.at, or “remembrance.at” – that oversees educational projects on the national and state level with help from other foundations. Its programs reach thousands of teachers and students each year.

Today there is a “broad societal consensus that Austria has a responsibility and a share in this history,” said Martina Maschke, chair of errinern.at, in an interview before the Claims Conference survey’s release. Since the Holocaust is a paradigm for genocides, “there will never be enough Holocaust education.”

Nazi leader Adolf Hitler enters the city limits of Vienna, Austria, on March 14, 1938. (AP Photo)

That’s especially clear today, Maschke said, with the rise of the right wing and an increase in anti-Semitism from migrants “socialized in Muslim countries.”

“Of course, the administration is always one step behind the political factum, and this is something that makes me rather sad,” she said. “But I think that this goes for every society.”

In fact, Schneider said, the results of the survey in Austria are similar to those in recent surveys that the Claims Conference commissioned in the United States (April 2018) and Canada (January 2019). He said they share an “appalling lack of knowledge, and a tremendous commitment to the importance of Holocaust education.”

Changing the record

It was just such a commitment that inspired Katharina Fersterer, a history and English teacher at the Gymnasium Kundmanngasse.

Fersterer, 29, had long been interested in Holocaust history. Austria’s Ministry of Education sent her to a summer program at Yad Vashem two years ago, and she returned determined to add to her school’s historical record in time for its 150th anniversary this year.

“My principal said, ‘Yes, let’s do this,’” Fersterer recalled.

Her students found the names of 50 Jewish students forced to leave the school in April 1938, shortly after Germany annexed Austria.

“But we didn’t stop at that. We wanted to know what happened to them,” Fersterer said.

Viennese Jews behind bars at the Mauthausen concentration camp. (Courtesy Claims Conference)

It turned out that most of the former Jewish students had been able to escape Nazi-occupied Austria via the Kinderstransport, a rescue operation that brought Jewish children from Germany, Austria and then-Czechoslovakia to England in 1938-39.

“But some were also killed in concentration camps,” she said.

The students started looking for descendants of the survivors. Ultimately the project, including art and video, involved teachers and students in other departments.

That’s when Elia Ben-Ari of Arlington, Virginia, received her first Facebook message from Samuel, a 17-year-old senior in Fersterer’s class who asked that his last name not be used.

His message came “out of the blue,” Ben-Ari said in a recent interview, “from somebody who said he was a student doing a project about my father. My first reaction was, ‘Who is this person? How do I know this is legitimate?’”

Samuel had chosen to write about two students – Ernst Ratzer, who did not survive the Holocaust, and Martin Buchbinder, who was sent to safety in England in 1939 and later changed his name to Moshe Ben Ari. After living in Israel, he eventually settled on suburban New York’s Long Island with his family. He died in 2011.

Luckily, Moshe Ben Ari had written an autobiography – “My Pre-American History” – that gave Samuel enough information to go on. But it was just the beginning of his research.

“It was really a surprise to actually find a relative, and when it turned out that she was actually his daughter, I was obviously very excited and happy,” Samuel said.

A local momentum

On April 25, the school held a ceremony and dedication of a plaque remembering the 50 former Jewish students.

“We now have a kind of book with all their life stories,” Fersterer said.

That book sits alongside Moshe Ben Ari’s autobiography for anyone to read, in the room with the plaque, she said.

Moshe Ben Ari was one of the children expelled from the Vienna school. A current student at the school has been researching his life story. (Courtesy of Elia Ben-Ari)

“There is no question that there are teachers who manage to succeed, who are doing a lot,” said Richelle Bud Caplan, director of the European Department at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies and a member of the Claims Conference survey task force.

“It doesn’t have to do with funding. It has to do with support from the school administration to create a local momentum, a learning community,” she said. “We very much want people to focus on individual stories, so youngsters can connect,” and understand that “the majority of those who lived during this complex and difficult period did not survive.”

“Our school has a memorial remembering the fallen soldiers of World War II, but it didn’t have one memorial for the Jewish students,” said Samuel, who walks the same halls and climbs the same stairs that they did.

“I can imagine it was terrible,” he said. On the students’ last day, “mobs formed at the entrance of our school, where a few hardcore teachers and students were spitting and shouting names. So it was not a very kind goodbye, as you can imagine.”

As for Ben-Ari, she regrets that she could not attend the dedication ceremony. But “I think my father would have been gratified to know that somebody read his history and cared about it.”

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Israel comes to a standstill in somber remembrance of Holocaust Victims

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel comes to standstill in somber remembrance of Holocaust victims

Sirens sound at 10 a.m., followed by wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem, March of the Living in Poland

People stand still in Tel Aviv, as a two-minute siren is sounded across Israel to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 2, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

People stand still in Tel Aviv, as a two-minute siren is sounded across Israel to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 2, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israel came to a standstill at 10 a.m. Thursday as sirens wailed throughout the country in memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War II.

The annual remembrance is one of the most solemn days on Israel’s national calendar, with much of the country all but shutting down to honor those who suffered under the Nazi killing machine.

The sirens will be followed by ceremonies marking Holocaust Remembrance Day in schools, public institutions, and army bases, including a wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem’s memorial for the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the Knesset’s annual recitation of victims’ names. The March of the Living at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in Poland will begin at 1 p.m.

Events will officially come to a close in ceremonies at Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot (Ghetto Fighters) and Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, named after those who resisted the Nazis in Warsaw and the leader of the uprising, Mordechai Anielewicz.

Volume 90%

The national day began Wednesday evening at sundown, as ceremonies were held throughout the country, with solemn songs, candle-lightings and remembrances from survivors and their descendants. TV channels and radio stations switched to exclusive programming about the Holocaust and stores and restaurants shuttered early in deference to the commemorations.

At Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum, an official state event featured six torch lightings from those who lived through the genocide.

People stand still in Tel Aviv, as a two-minute siren is sounded across Israel to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 2, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Speaking at the ceremony, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel “will not present its neck for the slaughter in the face of threats of destruction,” criticizing the Iranian regime and rising anti-Semitism, which he said was often dressed up as criticism of Israel, as the chief dangers to the Jews and the Jewish state today.

This year’s remembrance day came amid a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents, attacks and rhetoric worldwide and particularly in the United States and Western Europe, a theme that featured prominently in Israeli officials’ speeches at Yad Vashem.

Israelis stand still during a two-minute siren in memory of 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust as Israel marks the National Holocaust Memorial Day, on May 2, 2019, in Tel Aviv.(Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Hours before the ceremony, researchers at Tel Aviv University said that 2018-2019 saw “an increase in almost all forms of anti-Semitic manifestations, in the public space as well as in the private one.” Many Jews in the Diaspora feel increasingly insecure and are questioning their place in society, they said.

Capped by the shooting that killed 11 worshipers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue on October 27, assaults targeting Jews rose 13 percent in 2018, according to the study.

Congregants and other members of the public attend a funeral service at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue for Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in a shooting at the synagogue, in Poway, California, on April 29, 2019. (Sandy HUffaker/AFP)

A separate study by the Anti-Defamation League released this weekshowed a decrease in overall anti-Semitic incidents but an increase in violence against Jews in the United States.

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Ex-official tells US academic: ‘I had in my control first Israeli nuclear core’

Former Israeli atomic official Elie Geisler describes guarding a plutonium core, as well as plans to turn it into a nuclear bomb, during the 1967 Six Day War

Illustrative. A plutonium core from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States in 1946. (US government/Wikimedia)

Illustrative. A plutonium core from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States in 1946. (US government/Wikimedia)

In the lead-up to the 1967 Six Day War, Israel hid a plutonium core in an old British-built police station outside the town of Gedera, with plans to turn it into a functioning nuclear bomb if necessary, according to testimony from a former Israeli official who guarded the site, which was published Wednesday.

The article was published as part of a new series on the nuclear aspect of the Six Day War in the Nonproliferation Review, a journal run by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies that describes itself as focusing on the “causes and consequences of the spread of weapons of mass destruction.”

The testimony of Elie Geisler, the former atomic official, was collected by Avner Cohen, one of the premier researchers of Israel’s nuclear history. Cohen is a contentious figure within Israel, as much of his writings deal with Israel’s alleged nuclear weapons, which is at odds with the Israeli government’s stance of ambiguity — neither confirming nor denying the existence of such capabilities.

In the article series, Cohen delves deeper into his belief that Israel sought to create and potentially detonate a nuclear bomb during the war if necessary as a show of strength against the attacking Arab armies. This view is not universally accepted among scholars of the war.

Professor Avner Cohen (James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies)

Cohen’s assessment is based largely on interviews he conducted in 1999 and 2000 with Col. (res.) Yitzhak Yaakov, who oversaw the military’s weapons program and claimed to have been behind the plan. The interviews were not published until 2017, four years after Yaakov’s death, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the war.

These nuclear plans were “the last secret of the 1967 war,” Cohen told The New York Times in 2017, when he released Yaakov’s interview transcripts.

According to Cohen, this view is further supported by this new testimony, in which Geisler recounts his role in defending what he says was one of the few plutonium cores in Israel’s possession at the time.

“During my inspections, I reflected on the fact that I had under my control the first Jewish, Israeli nuclear core,” he wrote.

Elie Geisler, a former Israeli atomic official who claims to have guarded a plutonium core during the 1967 Six Day War in an undated photograph. (Wilson Center)

In his testimony — parts of which were published in a book under a pseudonym in 2017 — Geisler describes a mini-civil war that nearly took place at the site, as  Col. Yaakov demanded access to the technically civil-run facility.

Due to an apparent mix-up, his permission to enter the site never arrived, and a standoff ensued — Yaakov backed by IDF cadets and Geisler by a contingent of border guards.

Geisler recalled telling Yaakov that “if he tried to use force, we would unnecessarily spill Israeli blood.” To avoid violence, Geisler called one of his superiors, which would normally amount to a breach of protocol, and was told that they “knew about Colonel Yaakov and his visit, but for some reason — someone forgot or something else — had not informed me.”

According to Cohen, Geisler’s account matched a claim made by Yaakov in his 1999 interview that “there was some problem” in gaining access to the site.

Geisler apparently believes that Yaakov’s attempt to enter the site amounted to “an illegitimate effort by the IDF to claim custody over the nation’s nuclear weapons,” according to Cohen.

“I just happened to be there and was an eyewitness to events, some of which I understood their powerful historical footprint, and some I did not. This is why it took me several decades before I could put these memories to paper,” Geisler told Cohen, who compiled the account into one cohesive article from multiple interviews and conversations.

However, Cohen disputes this view, saying he believes that Yaakov’s actions were not an attempted military coup, but rather derived from real confusion and unclear organizational structure, “genuine growing pains of Israel’s abrupt, improvisational entry into the nuclear age.”

‘The package’

From 1963 to 1973, Geisler worked in Israel’s nuclear program as part of the classified Scientific Authority, a civil organization responsible for the country’s weapons development efforts, according to the testimony.

In the weeks preceding the war, Geisler was sent with a contingent of border guards to the British Mandate-era Qatra police station outside Gedera and tasked with guarding a “package,” a wooden crate containing a radioactive “metallic half-sphere.”

“My primary job was to take care of the ‘package’ by using Geiger and other counters to verify the safety and security of the object — the core — and to ascertain that no radiation leakage was present,” Geisler wrote.

As the device released both gamma and alpha radiation, he was convinced that this was the “real thing,” a plutonium core.

The abandoned British Mandate-era Qatra police station outside the central Israeli town of Gedera in September 2018. (Dork105/Wikimedia)

Geisler believes that at that time, Israel would have only had enough radioactive material to create one or two cores, though some have claimed two or three were produced.

“I would stand in this small room and stare at the object with much awe, having seen photos and movies of the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” he said.

“I knew perfectly well that the use of the device would be the ‘last resort’ of the political leadership of the country, whose policy was, and remains to this day, not to be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East, neither confirming nor denying the Israeli nuclear-weapon capability,” Geisler added.

He developed contingency plans with the commander of the border guards for how they could move the core “to an assembly point, where it would join with the remainder of the device.”

Yitzhak Yaakov (YouTube screenshot)

According to Cohen, in his interviews in 1999 and 2000, Yaakov detailed the plan to detonate such a device, which was code-named “Shimshon,” or Samson, after the biblical character.

Yaakov said this plan derived from deep fear.

“Look, it was so natural,” Yaakov told Cohen. “You’ve got an enemy, and he says he’s going to throw you to the sea. You believe him.”

“How can you stop him?” he asked. “You scare him. If you’ve got something you can scare him with, you scare him.”

According to the Yaakov, the plan would see Israel “scare” Egypt by detonating an atomic device on a mountaintop site about 12 miles from an Egyptian military complex at Abu Ageila.

“The plan, if activated by order of the prime minister and military chief of staff, was to send a small paratrooper force to divert the Egyptian army in the desert area so that a team could lay preparations for the atomic blast,” the report said.

An Egyptian transport burning after a direct hit from an Israeli tank during the Six Day War, June 5, 1967. (David Rubinger/Government Press Office)

“Two large helicopters were to land, deliver the nuclear device and then create a command post in a mountain creek or canyon. If the order came to detonate, the blinding flash and mushroom cloud would have been seen throughout the Sinai and Negev deserts, and perhaps as far away as Cairo.”

As it turned out, Israel’s victory was swift and decisive and there was no need for any doomsday plan, but Yaakov still believed Israel should have gone ahead with it and openly declared its nuclear prowess.

In 2001, some two years after his conversations with Cohen, Yaakov was arrested in Israel and charged with passing secret information with intent to harm state security. Though it was not detailed in the indictment, this offense was tied to a memoir that Yaakov had written.

He was acquitted of the main charge but found guilty of the unauthorized handing over of secret information. Yaakov received a two-year suspended sentence.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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FRIEDMAN: ‘HUMAN LIFE MUST BE DEFENDED FROM HATEFUL REGIMES’

‘Jews once again unsafe,’ Jewish Agency’s Herzog warns at March of the Living

Over 10,000 march at Auschwitz to commemorate Holocaust victims, including youth, survivors and political leaders from 41 countries

Jewish youth from all over the world visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland a day before the March of the Living on May 1, 2019 (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Jewish youth from all over the world visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland a day before the March of the Living on May 1, 2019 (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU, Poland — As over 10,000 people joined in the 2019 International March of the Living on Thursday afternoon in the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog warned that “Jews are once again unsafe on the streets of Europe.”

The annual march coincides with Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah) and marks the murder of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany in the Holocaust.

“From this place, I call on world leaders to fight rampant anti-Semitism erupting around the world, especially the shocking and dramatic rise of hate crimes in Europe, Latin America, the United States and around the world,” Herzog, one of the few Israeli officials to attend this year, said at the gathering’s main ceremony.

“It is inconceivable that 74 years after that wretched war, Jews are once again unsafe on the streets of Europe. Jews cannot be murdered in Pittsburgh and San Diego or anywhere. Let us heed the warning and take to heart the lessons of the Holocaust. World leaders must unite with zero tolerance for hate crimes, of any kind,” he added.

Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog speaks during the main ceremony of the March of the Living, at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp at Oswiecim, Poland, May 2, 2019. (March of the Living feed screen capture)

A delegation led by senior officials from around the world joined the three-kilometer walk to the Birkenau death camp, where the central ceremony was held. Youth groups from 41 countries participated in the march, according to organizers.

At the ceremony, participants stood at attention when a commemoration siren sounded, a custom brought from Israel, where a nationwide siren on the morning of Yom Hashoah commemorates those who died in the Holocaust.

This year’s march in Poland comes amid rising anti-Semitism worldwide and organizers said the commemorations are meant to send a resounding rejection of Jew-hatred.

“We are here to say in a clear voice: ‘Never again.’ We march to remind the world of the horrors that occurred during the Holocaust and to lead a global movement to combat anti-Semitism in all its forms,” Shmuel Rosenman, the founder and co-chairman of March of the Living, said in a statement.

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman also spoke at the ceremony.

“There are no words. I have no words to capture the pain, the anger, the sadness, the horror that I feel now at this solemn site,” he said.

“Even if I had the words, they would be drowned out by the shrieks, the cries, the shouts, the agony of the victims in this death camp that have never been silenced, and that are amplified right now, right here, this afternoon.”

He promised that the United States would “give no quarter” to anti-Semitism “anywhere on this planet,” and called Israel “a force for good in the world and a powerful reminder that Jewish life, like all human life, can, will and must be defended from the tyrannical, hate-filled regimes that threaten us.”

Herzog’s speech related the experience of his father Chaim, a future president of Israel, who served in the war as an officer in the British army and was among the liberators of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

“He crossed the River Rhine in one of the most challenging battles of the war, and reached the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April 1945,” Herzog said. “As a young British officer he walked towards the living skeletons and said to them in Yiddish: ‘I am a Jew, I am from Eretz Israel, and I came to rescue you.’ However, some of them thought that he was actually manipulating them, as Nazis did throughout the period. A few days later, on Friday evening, he led the prayers for those who survived the horror,” Herzog related.

No senior Israeli government officials took part in this year’s march, though former chief rabbi Israel Lau and Herzog joined it. Also attending were Friedman and Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, among others.

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ADL blasts Rabbis for diatribes supporting racism, Hitler’s Worldview

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

ADL blasts rabbis for diatribes supporting racism, Hitler’s worldview

Jewish group calls West Bank school leaders’ remarks unconscionable, disgraceful, especially for teachers ‘educating the next generation’

Students at the Bnei David pre-army academy learn in the study hall. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Students at the Bnei David pre-army academy learn in the study hall. (Screen capture/YouTube)

The Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday castigated rabbis from a West Bank religious academy for making derogatory and racist comments about Arabs, defending Adolf Hitler’s worldview, and openly promoting Jewish supremacy.

In a series of undated recordings published by Channel 13 news on Monday, Rabbi Eliezer Kashtiel, the head of the Bnei David pre-military academy in the settlement of Eli, can be heard calling for the enslavement of the “stupid and violent” non-Jews due to their genetic inferiority. In another clip from the Bnei David Yeshiva, Rabbi Giora Redler can be heard praising Hitler’s ideology during a lesson about the Holocaust.

“We harshly condemn statements made by rabbis teaching at the Bnei David Yeshiva in the community of Eli. Rabbi Redler’s attempt to ascribe reason — not to say justification — to atrocities perpetrated by Hitler against the Jewish people is unconscionable,” the ADL said in a statement.

“Statements made by Rabbi Kashtiel regarding non-Jews, specifically Arabs, suggesting they are genetically inferior are disgraceful. Such words are especially grave coming from senior rabbis educating the next generation. We urge them to apologize without delay,” the statement said.

Rabbi Eliezer Kashtiel, the head of the pre-military academy in the West Bank settlement of Eli. (screen capture: Channel 13)

In one sermon released by Channel 13, Kashtiel called for enslaving non-Jews.

“The gentiles will want to be our slaves. Being a slave to a Jew is the best. They’re glad to be slaves, they want to be slaves,” he told a class. “Instead of just walking the streets and being stupid and violent and harming each other, once they’re slaves, their lives can begin to take shape.”

“All around us, we are surrounded by peoples with genetic problems. Ask a simple Arab ‘where do you want to be?’ He wants to be under the occupation. Why? Because they have genetic problems, they don’t know how to run a country, they don’t know how to do anything. Look at them,” Kashtiel said.

In the lecture, Kashtiel went on to embrace racism against non-Jews.

“Yes, we’re racists. We believe in racism… There are races in the world and peoples have genetic traits, and that requires us to try to help them,” he said. “The Jews are a more successful race.”

In another clip from the Bnei David Yeshiva, Redler can be heard praising Hilter’s ideology during a lesson about the Holocaust.

Rabbi Giora Redler, a teacher at the Bnei David Yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Eli. (screen capture: Channel 13)

“Let’s just start with whether Hitler was right or not,” he told students. “He was the most correct person there ever was, and was correct in every word he said… he was just on the wrong side.”

Redler goes on to say that pluralism is the “real” genocide being perpetrated against the Jewish people, not Nazi Germany’s Final Solution, a plan for the genocide of Jews during World War II.

“The real Holocaust was not when they murdered the Jews, that’s not it. All these excuses — that it was ideological or systematic — are nonsense,” he said. “Humanism, and the secular culture of ‘We believe in man,’ that’s the Holocaust.”

The comments drew wide condemnation from opposition lawmakers who called for pulling all state funding to the Eli-based academy over the remarks.

Rabbis teaching at the Eli academy — a darling of the national religious camp for funneling of thousands of religious officers into senior combat positions in the Israel Defense Forces — have a history of making controversial and illiberal remarks.

After the footage was aired on Monday, Kashtiel and Redler, in a statement to Channel 13, acknowledged making the remarks but claimed the comments were taken out of context.

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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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