Monthly Archives: June 2013

Defiance in music: honoring a Holocaust-era pledge

[from the Denver Post website]

PRAGUE—In a concentration camp designed by the Nazis to eradicate Jewish cultural life, among 120,000 of its inmates who would ultimately be murdered, a rising young musician named Rafael Schachter managed one of the miracles of the Holocaust.

Assembling hundreds of sick and hungry singers, he led them in 16 performances learned by rote from a single smuggled score of one of the most monumental and moving works of religious music—Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem Mass.

“These crazy Jews are singing their own requiem,” Adolf Eichmann, a principal architect of the genocide, was heard to remark after attending one of the performances at the unique and surreal camp of Terezin, in what was then German-occupied Czechoslovakia.

But for Schachter and his fellow prisoners, this Mass for the dead became not an act of meek submission to their fate, but rather one of defiance of their captors, as well as a therapy against the enveloping terror.

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Jewish community mark 75th anniversary of Kindertransport

[from The Guardian website]

At 10 years old Ruth Jacobs took her brother by the hand and, without her parents, boarded a train in Vienna to come to England just before the outbreak of the second world war. “We had to say goodbye out of sight, they didn’t want parents there on the platform,” she recalled. “My parents said we would see them in a few weeks, that they would follow us. They didn’t want us to worry.”

Jacobs, now 84, was one of hundreds of Jewish pensioners who gathered on Sunday to honour those who helped them escape Nazi persecution, on the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Kindertransport – the rescue mission that saved their lives.

In the final months before the war, the British parliament took the extraordinary step of accepting 10,000 children from across Europe, who traversed the continent by train and arrived by boat in British ports.

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Giovanni Palatucci, ‘Italian Schindler’ Hailed As Holocaust Hero, Accused Of Being Nazi Collaborator

[from the Huffington Post]

In a controversy that has embroiled many of the leading Holocaust remembrance organizations, a man once hailed as the “Italian Schindler” may have actually been a Nazi collaborator who did little to save the lives of imperiled Jews.

For decades, Giovanni Palatucci has been heralded as a hero who died fighting against Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime in Italy, and who used his status as a police chief to save thousands of Jews in his hometown.

But according to research conducted by historians at the Centro Primo Levi at the Center for Jewish History, very little of this legacy is based in reality. According to the researchers, Palatucci was a relatively low-level officer who worked with the Nazis to help identify Jews who would eventually be shipped to death camps.

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Sounds Jewish podcast: the Jewish revival in Poland

[from the Guardian website]

Writer Denise Grollmus goes on a personal journey of Jewish discovery in Poland, the country where 3 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis during the second world war.

Denise Grollmus grew up in the US, and was especially close to her grandmother, a Polish Catholic from Warsaw. Or at least, that’s who she said she was.  On her 28th birthday, Denise discovered that her grandmother had been keeping a secret – that she was, in fact, a Jew who had changed her identity during the war and then continued to keep her Jewishness hidden for almost 70 years. That discovery instantly made Denise Jewish, too.

Denise has spent the last year living in Poland, on a quest to understand what exactly it means to be Jewish in a country regarded by many as a byword for deeply rooted antisemitism and still feared by many Jews as little more than an enormous graveyard.

Click here to read more and to listen to the podcast

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