Monthly Archives: November 2015

Our fathers the Nazis: film explores the legacy of atrocities

[From The Guardian]

Documentary takes sons of Nazis and professor whose relatives were killed back to the horror of occupied eastern Europe.

Seventy years after Hans Frank, the SS governor of Poland who oversaw the Holocaust, appeared before the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal, a documentary is released this week exploring his embittered family legacy and the possibility of reconciliation following the atrocities.

My Nazi Legacy is a compelling journey into the horrors of occupied eastern Europe in the company of Frank’s son, Niklas, Horst von Wächter – whose father, Otto, was Nazi governor of Galicia (now mostly in modern Ukraine) – and Philippe Sands QC, professor of international law, many of whose family died during mass murders of the Jewish community there in 1942.

The film deals with the relationship between the three men and their attempts to come to terms with what their parents inflicted or suffered, examining the way Germans have dealt with their poisoned inheritance and Ukrainians embroidered their fragile history of independence.

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Filed under Film, Holocaust in the news

Holocaust documents trove unearthed in Budapest apartment

[From The Guardian]

4928A vast and historically valuable trove of Holocaust-era documents, long thought destroyed during the second world war, has been found hidden in a wall cavity by a couple renovating their Budapest apartment.

The haul of 6,300 documents are from a 1944 census that was a precursor to the intended liquidation of the Hungarian capital’s 200,000 Jews in Nazi death camps.

Brigitte Berdefy, co-owner of the apartment overlooking Hungary’s parliament, said in August a worker detected paper after jamming a screwdriver through a crack in the wall.

“We thought we’d ruined the neighbour’s wallpaper,” Berdefy said.

But then her husband Gabor peered through the crack and saw what looked like handwriting.

Carefully removing each brick, the couple eased out around 61 kilogrammes (135 pounds) of dusty papers, many with bits of plaster caked on, but all more or less intact.

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Filed under Holocaust in the news, Other primary sources (not Yiddish)

Living Word From a Dead World

[from The Tablet]

A new project at Yad Vashem analyzes the first letters that survivors wrote after the Holocaust, letting their loved ones know that they were alive

(By Yardena Schwartz)

When Tzipora Shapiro walked out the gates of Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945, the first thing she felt was guilt. Her father, grandfather, brothers, aunts, and uncles all died in the Lodz Ghetto, and when the Nazis transferred Shapiro and her mother to Auschwitz, she watched as they sent her mother to the gas chambers. As a young, able-bodied woman, Shapiro was put to work in the camp—and was the only member of her immediate family to survive.

After being liberated, Shapiro stayed in Poland, hoping to find a distant relative who may have survived the war. Thirteen months later, she finally found the address of a cousin who had fled to British Mandate Palestine before the ghettos of Poland gave way to genocide.

“At long last,” Shapiro wrote on Feb. 15, 1946, in her first letter as a free woman, “I’m hurrying to send you a living word from a dead world.”

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Filed under Holocaust in the news, Holocaust testimonies

The ‘Cellist of Auschwitz

[from the New Statesman]

In the grainy black-and-white photograph the girl poses with her cello, gazing down towards the bow. It was 1938 in Berlin, shortly before Kristallnacht, or the “Night of Broken Glass”, the
first Nazi pogrom that led to the incarceration of Jews. Anita had grown up in a house in Breslau, which was then in the east of Germany, that was filled with music. Lying in bed, she would listen as her mother, Edith, started her violin routine with the opening octaves of a Beethoven concerto. Her father, Alfons, loved to sing. Her two elder sisters played the piano and the violin. She, too, started learning to play an instrument “very young”, as she recalled recently when we met at the JW3 Jewish community centre in London.

“I remember that my mother had such a small cello that she could hold it under her chin,” said Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, who is now 90.

The Laskers’ quiet life soured after Hitler became chancellor in 1933. In the street, children spat at Anita or called her a “dirty Jew”. Schools were segregated. The anti-Semitism became so pervasive that it was no longer possible to find a music teacher brave enough to take on a Jewish pupil.

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Filed under Holocaust in the news, Holocaust testimonies