Ian Stuart Donaldson Skrewdriver

Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust’

The Diary of Anne Frank Coming Out as Interactive App

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

“The Diary of Anne Frank” is being released next month as an interactive app, The London Telegraph reported.

The Anne Frank app, which will be released on October 18, will feature the full text of “The Diary of a Young Girl,” alongside dozens of extra features, including audio extracts, facsimile copies of the original diary pages, exclusive archive materials,footage from the Anne FrankFoundation and an introduction with Buddy Elias, Anne’s first cousin.

The app from Penguin’s Viking imprint and digital developer TradeMobile has been authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation, which was founded by Otto Frank following the death of his daughter Anne in the Nazi death camp of Bergen-Belsen in March 1945.

It will cost approximately eleven dollars.

It has since been published in 60 languages and is seen as a key document of the Holocaust.

“Seventy years since Anne began her diary, it remains one of the most beloved books of all time,” said Viking Publishing Director, Venetia Butterfield. “With the support of theAnne Frank Foundation we are privileged to bring her story to readers in such an inspiring and sympathetic way.”

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Urban Outfitters In Trouble Again For “Jewish Star” T-Shirt

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Another day, another Urban Outfitters controversy. When they’re not stomping on independent artistsappropriating “Navajo”-ness, and donating to Rick Santorum set against a backdrop of sexy faux-lesbianism, they’re… going further than ever, maybe!

Up there is the latest foray into bad taste, the so-called “Wood Wood Kellog Tee,” which is still very much available on their site. It looks like a regular yellow cotton shirt from Denmark-based label Wood Wood but if you look a little closer, you’ll see that it bears what looks like a Star of David as a patch on the breast. Some feel this is a little too close to the style of how Jews were forced to wear it during the Holocaust.

The Anti-Defamation League of Philadelphia issued a statement condemning the style:

Today the Anti-Defamation League issued a strongly-worded letter of condemnation to Urban Outfitters charging that one of its products “…represents a new low.”

Barry Morrison, ADL Regional Director, wrote to Richard Hayne, Chairman, President and CEO of Urban Outfitters, about a t-shirt offered by the company which is associated with the yellow Star of David symbol Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Europe. Morrison said, “We find this use of symbolism to be extremely distasteful and offensive, and are outraged that your company would make this product available to your customers.”

The League has communicated with Urban Outfitters on numerous occasions over the years regarding a variety of projects that have, “tread on the feelings and reinforced stereotypes of various groups—Christians, blacks, and Irish, Mexican, and Jewish-Americans…the list goes on.” The League also demanded an immediate apology from the company asking that the product no longer be sold and urging it to meet with League representatives.

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Hungary far-right leader discovers Jewish roots

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

As a rising star in Hungary’s far-rightJobbik Party, Csanad Szegedi was notorious for his incendiary comments on Jews: He accused them of “buying up” the country, railed about the “Jewishness” of the political elite and claimed Jews were desecrating national symbols.

Then came a revelation that knocked him off his perch as ultra-nationalist standard-bearer: Szegedi himself is a Jew.

Following weeks of Internet rumors, Szegedi acknowledged in June that his grandparents on his mother’s side were Jews — making him one too under Jewish law, even though he doesn’t practice the faith. His grandmother was an Auschwitz survivor and his grandfather a veteran of forced labor camps.

Since then, the 30-year-old has become a pariah in Jobbik and his political career is on the brink of collapse. He declined to be interviewed for this story.

At the root of the drama is an audio tape of a 2010 meeting between Szegedi and a convicted felon. Szegedi acknowledges that the meeting took place but contends the tape was altered in unspecified ways; Jobbik considers it real.

In the recording, the felon is heard confronting Szegedi with evidence of his Jewish roots. Szegedi sounds surprised, then offers money and favors in exchange for keeping quiet.

Under pressure, Szegedi resigned last month from all party positions and gave up his Jobbik membership. That wasn’t good enough for the party: Last week it asked him to give up his seat in the European Parliament as well. Jobbik says its issue is the suspected bribery, not his Jewish roots.

Szegedi came to prominence in 2007 as a founding member of the Hungarian Guard, a group whose black uniforms and striped flags recalled the Arrow Cross, a pro-Nazi party which briefly governed Hungary at the end of World War II and killed thousands of Jews. In all, 550,000 Hungarian Jews were killed during the Holocaust, most of them after being sent in trains to death camps like Auschwitz. The Hungarian Guard was banned by the courts in 2009.

By then, Szegedi had already joined the Jobbik Party, which was launched in 2003 to become the country’s biggest far-right political force. He soon became one of its most vocal and visible members, and a pillar of the party leadership. Since 2009, he has served in the European Parliament in Brussels as one of the party’s three EU lawmakers, a position he says he wants to keep.

The fallout of Szegedi’s ancestry saga has extended to his business interests. Jobbik executive director Gabor Szabo is pulling out of an Internet site selling nationalist Hungarian merchandise that he owns with Szegedi. Szabo said his sister has resigned as Szegedi’s personal assistant.

In the 2010 tape, former convict Zoltan Ambrus is heard telling Szegedi that he has documents proving Szegedi is Jewish. The right-wing politician seems genuinely surprised by the news — and offers EU funds and a possible EU job to Ambrus to hush it up.

Ambrus, who served time in prison on a weapons and explosives conviction, apparently rejected the bribes. He said he secretly taped the conversation as part of an internal Jobbik power struggle aimed at ousting Szegedi from a local party leadership post. The party’s reaction was swift.

“We have no alternative but to ask him to return his EU mandate,” said Jobbik president Gabor Vona. “Jobbik does not investigate the heritage of its members or leadership, but instead takes into consideration what they have done for the nation.”

Szegedi’s experience is not unique: The Holocaust was a taboo subject during Hungary’s decades of communist rule that ended in 1990, and many survivors chose to keep their ordeals to themselves. Russian far-right firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky was anti-Semitic until he acknowledged in 2001 that his father was Jewish.

Szegedi, who was raised Presbyterian, acknowledged his Jewish origins in June interviews with Hungarian media, including news broadcaster Hir TV and Barikad, Jobbik’s weekly magazine. He said that after the meeting with Ambrus, he had a long conversation with his grandmother, who spoke about her family’s past as Orthodox Jews.

“It was then that it dawned on me that my grandmother really is Jewish,” Szegedi told Hir TV. “I asked her how the deportations happened. She was in Auschwitz and Dachau and she was the only survivor in the extended family.”

Judaism is traced from mother to child, meaning that under Jewish law Szegedi is Jewish. Szegedi said he defines himself as someone with “ancestry of Jewish origin — because I declare myself 100 percent Hungarian.”

In the interview with Hir TV, Szegedi denied ever having made anti-Semitic statements, but several of his speeches and media appearances show otherwise.

In a November 2010 interview on Hungarian state television, Szegedi blamed the large-scale privatization of state assets after the end of communism on “people in the Hungarian political elite who shielded themselves in their Jewishness.”

Speaking on a morning program in late 2010, he said that “the problem the radical right has with the Jews” was that Jewish artists, actors and intellectuals had desecrated Hungary’s national symbols like the Holy Crown of St. Stephen, the country’s first Christian king.

Szegedi also complained of “massive real estate purchases being done in Hungary, where — it’s no secret — they want to bring in Israeli residents.”

Szegedi met in early August with Rabbi Slomo Koves, of Hungary’s Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch community, whose own parents were in their teens when they discovered they were Jewish.

“As a rabbi … it is my duty to receive every person who is in a situation of crisis and especially a Jew who has just now faced his heritage,” Koves said.

During the meeting, Szegedi apologized for any statements which may have offended the Jewish community, and vowed to visit Auschwitz to pay his respects.

Koves described the conversation as “difficult and spiritually stressful,” but said he is hopeful for a successful outcome.

“Csanad Szegedi is in the middle of a difficult process of reparation, self-knowledge, re-evaluation and learning, which according to our hopes and interests, should conclude in a positive manner,” Koves said. “Whether this will occur or not is first and foremost up to him.”

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Putin: Keep Nazi Norms in the Past

Monday, June 25th, 2012

FM Avigdor Lieberman greeted Russian President Vladimir Putin at Ben Gurionairport. Putin immediately traveled to Netanya for a Holocaust monument unveiling. There, Putin said, ”The Soviet army put an end to the darkness of the Nazi regime,saving the Jewish nation and other nations. We must keep all forms of Nazism in the past. The Holocaust must not be denied. This would be a crime against those who fought and fell.”

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Neo-nazi lawmakers in Greece arrested following attack on foreigner

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Two freshly elected Greek MPs from the neo-nazi Golden Dawn party and its leader’s daughter were among six people briefly detained after an attack on a Pakistani immigrant, a police source said Saturday.

The two lawmakers, Ilias Panagiotaros and Ioannis Vouldis, as well as leader Nikos Michaloliakos’s daughter, were taken into custody but released for lack of evidence after the incident in Athens late Friday, the source said.

The 31-year-old Pakistani man needed hospital treatment after being assaulted by a group in helmets taking part in a motorbike demonstration “that started off from the headquarters of a political party,” police said in a statement.

The source confirmed this party was Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn), which sent shockwaves through Europe by winning seats in parliament in May 6 elections for the first time since the end of Greece’s military junta in 1974.

Michaloliakos, who has said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz and has questioned the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust, is hoping to match or beat the party’s score of 6.9% in fresh elections on June 17.

Another Golden Dawn candidate, Themis Skordeli, has been accused of beating up, together with two other Greeks, three Afghan immigrants in Athens a year ago. A court case was recently postponed for the sixth time.

Rising levels of racism
Three Greek non-governmental organisations meanwhile welcomed a report by the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) calling on Greece to act against what it said was a rising level of racism and related violence.

“Greece should strongly combat the increasing manifestations of racial discrimination, xenophobia and related violence,” the three groups, including Greek Helsinki Monitor, cited the CAT report as saying.

It called on Athens to condemn publicly all intolerance and violence and send “a clear and unambiguous message that racist or discriminatory acts, including by police and other public officials, are unacceptable.”

A report that 18 monitoring Non-government Organisations released in March had said that racist attacks in Greece mostly go unreported and unpunished and had published a list of 63 racist attacks in just two cities over six months.—Sapa-AFP.

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Čeněk Růžička: Politicians publicly compensate for weakness by crudely defaming Romani people

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Čeněk Růžička, chair of the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust in the Czech Republic (Výbor pro odškodnění romského holocaustu v ČR) and the organizer of the annual commemoration ceremony at Lety by Písek, criticized politicians during his speech there this year for worsening the atmosphere in society with their populism. He expressed great concern for the future. News server Romea.cz publishes his speech in full translation below.

Your Excellencies, precious guests, I bid you all good day.

This Sunday we have gorgeous weather and you certainly could all have chosen to spend time with your loved ones today instead of coming here. Please permit me to welcome you here all the more sincerely on behalf of the bereaved of the Romani victims of Nazism and to thank you for coming.

Romani and Sinti people, just like Jewish people, were all but completely slaughtered during the Second World War, and we are standing right now at one of the places where this happened. In Moravia, at Hodonín u Kunštátu, and right here, the government of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia began running the so-called “collecting camps” 70 years ago. That is what the jailers called them. Those who survived them don’t call them anything but concentration camps. These are Romani people who survived Auschwitz, Ravensbrűck, and other concentration camps – so they know what they are talking about. In both of the camps run here during Nazism, hundreds of our people died solely because they were hated for their membership in the Romani nation.

Dear listeners, I believe you will agree with me when I say we are here to thoroughly reject the opinions of extremists and Holocaust deniers. Let’s remember the names of the victims of the most recent racist murders here as well. The suffering of the Romani people has not ended.

Ladies and gentlemen, we, the bereaved of the victims, come here year after year to call for the removal of the pig farm from this place where the members of our families perished. This year, it’s no different. I call on the politicians of this country, and those citizens who are not indifferent to its reputation: Commit yourselves to getting rid of the national shame that is a pig farm on the site of a former concentration camp. We will never release you from your responsibility in this matter. Return the victims their dignity. Make sure the Czechs do not have to be ashamed of themselves. Get rid of this shame for us. I think our country, and indirectly, Europe, really deserves this, given the facts of history.

Dear listeners, the lives of Romani people in this country are permanently threatened by neo-Nazi groups, and recently, ever-larger numbers of ordinary citizens have been joining them. They are joining them because some candidates and politicians publicly compensate for their own weaknesses by crudely defaming Romani people, with the aim of winning as many sympathizers and voters to their side as they can. Shucks, why shouldn’t they? After all, they know what works for a significant portion of the Czech electorate. They have tested this innumerable times, it’s all the same to them that they are fomenting anti-Romani hysteria in society.

In this context, we might object that there are, after all, laws to address discrimination and racially motivated attacks against Romani people. However, it is also true that those committing the discrimination and hate attacks take no notice of these laws.

The bereaved of the victims of Nazism – and I think part of the nation as well – were just as shocked as I was by the television clips broadcast online by Romea.tv showing a crowd of ordinary citizens in a town in the Šluknov foothills singing the Czech national anthem and then setting out to attack Romani families. What are we to make of this?

If it were not for the police intervention that time, there could have been fatal results. Is this how the Czech national anthem is to be treated? What am I to make of the people turned fanatics in Rotava? I was personally present for the march by the citizens of Rotava together with followers of DSSS leader Vandas and German neo-Nazis in an anti-Romani parade, where the mayor and local teachers led that march with them. How are we to raise our children in such an atmosphere?

There are more and more frustrated Romani people, and the frustration of the majority is also dangerously increasing. What might come of this? We are aware how easily the events we are commemorating here can occur.

In that context, I must recall the following: Responsibility for Romani integration, which is to say, for improving Romani lives, rests with the state and the regional authorities. They should cooperate closely, for example, by releasing EU funds for special programs. The Czech Republic is drawing several billion crowns from EU Structural Funds for addressing this area, but somehow I do not have the feeling that anything has changed for the better. I recently saw a news report that two towns had financed projects through those EU funds that have nothing whatsoever to do with the issue they are supposed to address. Who is monitoring and overseeing how that money is really spent? The EU funds’ coffers are not bottomless, after all. The problem of the coexistence of the majority with Romani people deserves the greatest attention.

Dear listeners, the chair of our newly-created Equal Opportunities Party, Mr Štefan Tišer, is here – and my colleagues and I know what will happen in relation to the Romani minority on the political scene during the upcoming elections. Because we are aware of our co-responsibility for the future development of the relationship between the majority and Romani people, I will give the floor to Mr Tišer next. Mr Tišer will take the opportunity of your presence here to publicize the party’s call to action.

Dear, precious guests, we sincerely thank you for your participation and for the beautiful flowers and we believe we will see you here again next year. After this we will go to the parish cemetery in Mirovice, where the child victims of Lety, mostly, were buried, and where the memorial has been designed to our specifications. Thank you for your patience.

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Monday, April 30th, 2012

During the early 1950’s numerous FBI investigations and trials were conducted against communist agents. Here follows a brief summary of the most well-know cases which demonstrate the disproportionate involvement of Jews in communist activities against the United States.

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Holocaust fraud probe leads to charge against Toronto woman

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

A woman living in Toronto has been formally charged in the U.S. with taking part in a scheme to steal from a Holocaust survivors’ fund.

In documents obtained by CBC News, the FBI alleges that Luba Kramrish was part of a conspiracy that falsified documents to claim financial support from a special fund created by the German government after the Second World War.

Luba Kramrish of Toronto has been charged in the U.S. with being part of a scheme to defraud a Holocaust survivor fund. Luba Kramrish of Toronto has been charged in the U.S. with being part of a scheme to defraud a Holocaust survivor fund.(odnoklassniki.ru)

Germany set up the fund, which is administered by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, to compensate those who lived through the Holocaust. The money was earmarked for people who fled parts of the Soviet Union, ahead of advancing Nazi soldiers and those who somehow managed to survive ghettos and concentration camps.

The FBI announced charges against several U.S. citizens allegedly involved in the scheme in 2010. Now court documents show the investigation has reached into Canada.

The U.S. attorney’s office claims that Kramrish falsified details for her mother’s application to the fund and that once she realized how to cheat the system, she started recruiting applicants, about two dozen of them. In one case, the FBI says, she falsified details to get money for a man who never lived in an area occupied by Nazis. The U.S. indictment says that when he got the money, she took a cut.

A court document states “Kramrish provided documents for approximately 20-25 different cases…[she] helped falsify these applications so that they would be approved.”

Roman Kent, a concentration camp survivor, says he was shocked when he heard about the charges. Roman Kent, a concentration camp survivor, says he was shocked when he heard about the charges. (CBC)

An elderly camp survivor living in New York, Roman Kent, says he was shocked when told about the charges. “My reaction was, how could it be possible? Who could be so low as to try to cheat or steal money from Holocaust survivors?”

The conspiracy to steal from the fund was uncovered in the U.S. just over two years ago. Greg Schneider runs the New York office where millions of dollars of claims are approved and distributed every year. He was one of the first to notice discrepancies in some of the paperwork coming in.

“Within a couple of weeks we had a mass of material that we thought suggested there was something very wrong going on and we brought all of that material to the U.S. federal authorities, the FBI and the U.S. attorney general’s office.”

Greg Schneider, who runs the New York office of the Holocaust fund, was the first to notice discrepanices in some of the paperwork requesting money from the fund. The FBI determined the fraud has been going on since the 1990s. Greg Schneider, who runs the New York office of the Holocaust fund, was the first to notice discrepanices in some of the paperwork requesting money from the fund. The FBI determined the fraud has been going on since the 1990s. (CBC)

The FBI determined a massive fraud was at play and that it had been going on since the 1990s.

“Ultimately several people who were our employees were arrested and it was devastating on many levels,” says Schneider.

The FBI found that the very people who had listened to the stories of survivors had massaged the details and used fake names to submit claims of their own.

The investigation is still underway, but it is estimated that at least $60 million has been siphoned from the fund.

Kramrish’s Canadian lawyer told the CBC that she is not interested in talking about the U.S. indictment.

In the meantime, the German government has tightened restrictions on who can get the money. In some cases, authorities have been forced to ask actual survivors of the Holocaust to prove yet again that they were victims.

Kent says this is a serious issue for elderly survivors. “It is very difficult and many of them are agitated saying, ‘What the hell? You want to ask me these questions? I don’t know, I don’t remember.’”

About $6 billion has been paid out to about 450,000 people since the funds were made available.

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SA Jews call for firing of pro-Nazi banker

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

PRETORIA, South Africa – The South African Israel Public Affairs Committee (SAIPAC) called on Sunday for the director of the South African Reserve bank to be fired from his post because of his pro-Nazi opinions.

In interviews and articles last week Stephen Goodson expressed his admiration for the Nazi regime, and claimed that the Holocaust was a “huge lie.”

Speaking at the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony held in Pretoria on Sunday, David Hersch, head of SAIPAC, called on the South African Reserve Bank to release Goodson immediately from his public position.

“Goodson should be fired immediately or made to resign immediately. The Reserve Bank should be ashamed to have someone like this on their board of directors and now that he has been exposed, they should act immediately,” he said. Hersch emphasized that the bank’s reaction to the issue, stating that Goodson’s mandate would end this July, “is not good enough.”

Hersch also called upon the South African government to issue a clear statement “condemning Goodson and distancing them from him and his statements, opinions, his denial of the Holocaust and adherence to anti-Semitic hate speech and complete falsehood.”

The South African Mail and Guardian revealed last week that Goodson has written articles depicting an “historical analysis of banking history,” according to which Jewish bankers invented the Holocaust just to extract money from Germany. In an interview with an extreme-right American radio station two years ago, Goodson refers also to “ritual murder” executed, so he claimed, by Jews in the early centuries.

The South Africa Jewish Board of Deputies assured the Jewish community on Monday that they are following up very closely on the issue, as they systematically do on all anti-Semitic incidents.

David Jacobson, executive-director of the board in Cape Town, stated that the community was “shocked” over the “grossly anti-Semitic and racially inflammatory views” propagated by Goodson, and that the community welcomed the fact that the Reserve Bank has distanced itself from the opinions expressed by him. This adds to the statement made by the Board’s chairman, Mary Kluk, last week, condemning Goodson’s “hurtful and offensive” views.

Members of the Jewish community emphasized that although they identify with the call to fire Goodson, they understand that legally the Reserve Bank cannot do so, as he is serving as a non-executive director, representing the Reserve Bank’s shareholders, and is not employed by the bank.

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Monday, April 23rd, 2012

We appeal to you, asking you to pay a minimum of attention to our request. We are prisoners who are returning from the Solovetsky concentration camp because of our poor health.

We went there full of energy and good health, and now we are returning as invalids, broken and crippled emotionally and physically.

We are asking you to draw your attention to the arbitrary use of power and the violence that reign at the Solovetsky concentration camp in Kemi and in all sections of the concentration camp.

It is difficult for a human being even to imagine such terror, tyranny, violence, and lawlessness. When we went there, we could not conceive of such a horror, and now we, crippled ourselves, together with several thousands who are still there, appeal to the ruling center of the Soviet state to curb the terror that reigns there.

As though it weren’t enough that the Unified State Political Directorate [OGPU] without oversight and due process sends workers and peasants there who are by and large innocent (we are not talking about criminals who deserve to be punished), the former tsarist penal servitude system in comparison to Solovky had 99% more humanity, fairness, and legality.

[…] People die like flies, i.e., they die a slow and painful death; we repeat that all this torment and suffering is placed only on the shoulders of the proletariat without money, i.e., on workers who, we repeat, were unfortunate to find themselves in the period of hunger and destruction accompanying the events of the October Revolution, and who committed crimes only to save themselves and their families from death by starvation. They have already borne the punishment for these crimes, and the vast majority of them subsequently chose the path of honest labor. Now because of their past, for whose crime they have already paid, they are fired from their jobs.

Yet, the main thing is that the entire weight of this scandalous abuse of power, brute violence, and lawlessness that reign at Solovky and other sections of the OGPU concentration camp is placed on the shoulders of workers and peasants; others, such as counterrevolutionaries, profiteers and so on, have full wallets and have set themselves up and live in clover in the Soviet State, while next to them, in the literal meaning of the word, the penniless proletariat dies from hunger, cold, and back-breaking 14-16 hour days under the tyranny and lawlessness of inmates who are the agents and collaborators of the [Jewish] State Political Directorate [GPU].

If you complain or write anything (“Heaven forbid”), they  will frame you for an attempted escape or for something else, and they will shoot you like a dog. They [Jews] line us up naked and barefoot at 22 degrees below zero and keep us outside for up to an hour. It is difficult to describe all the chaos and terror that is going on in Kemi, Solovky, and the other sections of the concentrations camp. All annual inspections uncover a lot of abuses. But what they discover in comparison to what actually exists is only a part of the horror and abuse of power, which the inspection accidentally uncovers.

One example is the following fact, one of a thousand, which is registered in GPU and for which the guilty have been punished:


“Comrades,” if we dare to use this phrase, verify that this is a fact from reality, about which, we repeat, OGPU has the official evidence, and judge for yourself the full extent of effrontery and humiliation in the supervision by those who want to make a career for themselves. […]

We are sure and we hope that in the All-Union Communist Party there are people, as we have been told, who are humane and sympathetic; it is possible, that you might think that it is our imagination, but we swear to you all, by everything that is sacred to us, that this is only one small part of the nightmarish truth, because it makes no sense to make this up. We repeat, and will repeat 100 times, that yes, indeed there are some guilty people, but the majority suffer innocently, as is described above.

The word law, according to the law of the GPU concentration camps, does not exist; what does exist is only the autocratic power of petty tyrants, i.e., collaborators, serving time, who have power over life and death.

Everything described above is the truth and we, ourselves, who are close to the grave after 3 years in Solovky and Kemi [Jewish run Gulags] and other sections, are asking you to improve the pathetic, tortured existence of those who are there who languish under the yoke of the OGPU’s tyranny, violence, and complete lawlessness….

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Adolf Hitler featured in Turkish shampoo ad

Monday, March 26th, 2012

A Turkish shampoo ad for men featuring Adolf Hitler has been slammed by Jewish groups, but the agency has not yanked it.

The commercial features black-and-white footage of the Nazi leader delivering a speech with a voiceover that says: “If you don’t wear women’s clothes then don’t use a women’s shampoo. Now there’s a 100% men’s shampoo, Biomen. If you’re a man you use Biomen.”

Jewish organizations in Turkey and the Anti-Defamation League have asked the agency to pull the 12-second commercial, which has been airing for a week.

The ADL has called on Turkey’s government to “make clear the offensive nature of this advertisement.”

“The use of images of the violently anti-Semitic dictator who was responsible for the mass murder of 6 million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust to sell shampoo is a disgusting and deplorable marketing ploy,” ADL national director Abraham Foxman said in a statement Friday.

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Students say presentation on Holocaust changes attitudes

Thursday, March 8th, 2012


Like narrating a movie, Scott walked students through a scene in which a victim of the Holocaust, facing death in a gas chamber at the hands of Nazi German soldiers, pried himself from the clutch of his terrified younger brother to climb a pile of dead bodies in a failed attempt to save himself from the poisoned air that was rising from the floor.

It was “your” brother who had already died in the corner as you struggled to stay alive for a few seconds more, Scott said, in attempts to make the history more personal to the students.

“The challenge of Holocaust education is to make those numbers meaningful,” Scott said in an interview after the presentation when he explained his word choice.

At the introduction, Scott said the Holocaust occurred from 1933 to 1945, during which an estimated 7 to 10 million people died. And it wasn’t only Jews who died, but gypsies, homosexuals, clergy of other faiths, communists, socialists, trade union people, the disabled and people who hid Jews or tried to rescue them from the Nazis.

During the second part of the presentation, Scott gave examples of how hatred, racism and prejudice still permeates society in the United States. He called that hatred signs that the Holocaust is “alive and well” today.

He showed video clips of the Ku Klux Klan, National Socialist White Workers Party and skinheads. He spoke of the victims of hate, James Byrd, Jr. in Japser, Texas in 1998 and Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo. in 1998 and students at the tragic shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo in 1999.

He also shared examples of essays he’d received from students who had listened to his previous presentations, and some students’ essays included derogatory remarks towards people who were of a particular race. Scott shared those remarks without censoring them.

Scott said examples of how the Holocaust is present today is even visible in the way popular and so-called unpopular students don’t get along.

Some of the students who saw the presentation shared their reactions.

Student Michael Maniak said he remembered the bad words shared during the presentation.

Student Katie Pulver said the program was full of impact, especially hearing how some people vandalized a synagogue by writing “Die Jew,” on it in Madison.

She said she believed the presentation will help the school.

Student Sierra Crowe said, “It was just really unbelievable.” She said she never thought examples of recent racism could happen in the Dells or in rural communities. She said she is a changed person in how she’ll interact with people.

“I think I’ll get to know them a lot better before I judge them,” she said.

Student Taylor Jarzynski said Scott explained the Holocaust to show the students what it would have been like to be there.

“I thought it was really good how he described it,” he said.

He said he’d been changed by the presentation of the Holocaust.

“I didn’t know how serious it was,” he said.

Part of Scott’s presentation addressed why it is important to study the Holocaust. With examples such as the ones he gave of present day hate crimes, he said, “It’s not lame history anymore.”

He quoted George Santayana who said if people don’t study history they will repeat it.

In the interview, Scott said he didn’t want to oversimplify the cause of the Holocaust. He said factors contributed to it, such as German leader Adolf Hitler’s background growing up in an anti-Semitic environment, an economic depression, wounded pride after World War I, impossible sanctions in the Treaty of Versailles after World War I that left Germany with debt, Social Democrats wanting freedom and the rise of communists.

Scott’s website is www.putouttheflame.com. He strives to “put out the flame” of racism, prejudice and hatred today that were encouraged during the Holocaust.

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Poland, US museum tussle over Auschwitz barracks

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Polish and U.S. officials are engaged in intense talks to determine the fate of a sensitive object: a barrack that once housed doomed prisoners at the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp and is now on display at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

WARSAW, Poland

Polish and U.S. officials are engaged in intense talks to determine the fate of a sensitive object: a barrack that once housed doomed prisoners at the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp and is now on display at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Poland is demanding the return of the artifact, which has been on loan to the Washington museum for more than 20 years and is an important object in its permanent exhibition. But the U.S. museum is resisting the demand, saying the valuable object shouldn’t be moved partly because it is too fragile.

“Due to the barrack’s size and the complexity of its installation, removing and transporting it to Poland presents special difficulties, including potentially damaging the artifact,” the U.S. Holocaust museum said in a statement to The Associated Press. “Both the Museum and our Polish partners have been actively discussing various proposals, and we remain committed to continue working with them to resolve this matter.”

The issue has arisen because of a Polish law aimed at safeguarding a cultural heritage ravaged by past wars, particularly World War II. Under the law, passed in 2003, any historic object on loan abroad must return to Poland every five years for inspection. While Poland appears open to renewing the loan, it says the barracks must return – at least temporarily.

Because of the rule, the U.S. museum in recent years has already returned thousands of objects dating to the Holocaust, including suitcases, shoes and prosthetic limbs, often in exchange for new, temporary loans of similar or identical items.

The barracks on view in Washington are, in fact, just half of a wooden building where prisoners slept in cramped, filthy and often freezing conditions as they awaited extermination, often in gas chambers. The remaining half still stands at Birkenau, a part of the vast Auschwitz-Birkenau complex.

The two camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau, are about two miles (three kilometers) apart but were part of the same machinery of death during the war and the complex is typically referred to simply as “Auschwitz.”

The director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum, Piotr Cywinski, accuses the U.S. institution of violating the terms of a 20-year loan on the barracks, saying the loan expired in 2009.

“We have indicated many times that this half of the barracks must return, that there is no other solution in accordance with the law,” Cywinski said. “It’s a very important object, not just for Washington but for the integrity of Birkenau, the last authentic site of Holocaust remembrance among all the major death camps.”

Many of Poland’s paintings, churches and other cultural gems were stolen, burned or otherwise destroyed during World War II, when Nazi Germany occupied the country, killed 6 million Polish citizens and built death camps across the country where they brought Jews and others from across Europe for extermination.

The legacy today is that the country possesses few old Polish treasures but has many Holocaust relics – including the sprawling site of Auschwitz-Birkenau in the south of the country that is one of the most visited Holocaust remembrance sites in Europe.

The memorial site, in fact, has many personal items that belonged to victims and frequently loans them out to institutions across the world, including Yad Vashem in Israel.

The matter between the Polish and U.S. institutions is extremely delicate and officials on both sides have resisted giving many details, or saying how the matter might be resolved. Poland’s ministries of foreign affairs and culture are also involved in the matter but did not respond to AP requests for comment.

Although the problem might appear intractable, the U.S. Holocaust museum and the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum have cooperated well in the past and share similar missions of Holocaust remembrance – leading to expectations they will reach an eventual compromise.

The U.S. Holocaust museum confirms that the 20-year loan on the barracks began in 1989, but says that it was a renewable loan – and notes that Polish law was changed since then.

The fate of Cywinski, the Auschwitz museum director, is at stake in the matter. Under the law on protecting historic artifacts, he could be jailed for up to two years if he fails to obtain the return of any object on loan.

Roman Rewald, a Warsaw-based lawyer who has represented the U.S. Holocaust museum in the past on a pro-bono basis and has knowledge of the current discussions, says the matter comes down to Polish law, which is rigid and hard to work around.

The law would do a good job, for instance, of stopping an official from giving away a precious 16th century painting, but isn’t as well-suited to regulating Holocaust artifacts, which probably shouldn’t be moved so often.

“The Polish law is designed to make sure that nobody has any leeway in allowing Polish artifacts to leave the country permanently,” Rewald said. “Poland is trying to protect its artifacts, all of them. Unfortunately Holocaust artifacts, which Poland has an abundance of, fall into the same category as all the other artifacts which Poland has been robbed of during wars, especially World War II.”

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Forced Integration is Genocide

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

In an article about White geNOcide in Minnesota, mommy professor displays that forced integration is a very bad thing for Whites:

Researcher Thomas Luce from the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Race and Poverty says it does. He said integrated schools could help the metro area better cope with rapidly changing demographics. In 1990, 9.3 percent of metro area residents were people of color – in 2010, it was 23.6 percent. Luce said racially and economically diverse communities tend to be unstable; they’re transitioning from being mostly white to mostly brown. In many cases, long term white community members startled by the change begin to leave the neighborhood. The transition can snowball as the flight of neighbors convinces more people that the neighborhood is in fact unstable.

White flight is proof that we Whites do not want mass non-White immigration and forced integration. Anti-Whites insist that they be accepted against our will. It is genocide.

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German commemorations avoid Iranian Shoah denial

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Germany commemorated the 67th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on Friday in the Bundestag. The memorial event mirrored the form of remembrance across Europe’s capitals – a solemn pledge to heighten awareness about the crimes of the Holocaust and nebulous declarations about stopping future genocides.

In one of the more bizarre columns tackling the meaning of Holocaust Remembrance Day in the Bundestag, a journalist with the large daily Die Welt, complained about embarrassment because photographers showed up in jeans and sneakers to take photos of the keynote speaker, Marcel Reich-Ranicki. The journalist called for a dress code at future events.

Though last year Iranianlawmakers, who represent a Holocaust- denying government, appeared in the Bundestag for meetings, there were no media calls for a code of conduct barringIranian deniers of the Shoah.

The 91-year-old Polish-born Reich-Ranicki spoke about how he survived the Warsaw Ghetto. Reich-Ranicki is widelyconsidered to be one of Germany’s greatest book critics.

While the president of the Bundestag, Norbert Lammert of theChristian Democratic Union, admirably urged Germans to combat all expression of radical right-wing extremism, he failed to mention that his party colleague, Ruprecht Polenz, helped make his backyard hospitable for Iranian lawmakers who represent Holocaust denial.

In short, it can be argued, what the Bundestag president and deputies ignored on Friday was that their chamber cordially welcomed in June a delegation of Iranian parliamentarians who embody the genocidal rhetoric calling to abolish Israel and the Holocaust denial of Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Polenz, as head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, facilitated the visit of Iranian lawmakers and defiantly declared that “sanctions do not rule out” talks with them.

Just this month Tom Koenigs, a deputy with the German Green Party, traveled to the Islamic Republic. The constant interplay between Iranian legislators and German deputies is part and parcel of a long-running love affair. That helps to explain why The Wall Street Journal Europe ran a series of editorial several years ago on “Germany loves Iran.”

There is a long bill of particulars to be leveled against Germany’s willingness to engage the main exporter of Holocaust denial, the Islamic Republic of Iran. Sacha Stawski, the Frankfurt-based head of Honestly Concerned, one of Germany’s most important watchdog organizations monitoring anti-Semitism, told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday that Germany is not carrying out its declared goal of combating modern anti-Semitism. He cited the presence of Iran’s media in Germany. “An official Bundestag document by an expertcommission outlines, but not outlaws, how the Islamic Republic of Iran redistributes its anti-Semitic hatred and Holocaust denial right from within Germany through its IRIBTV channel,” Stawski said.

Germany permitted the current speaker of the Iranianparliament, Ali Larijani, to issue a statement at the Munich Security conference in 2009 in which elements of Holocaust denial were present. Larijani said his country has “different perspectives on the Holocaust,” and no laws barring such denial.

A year later, Peter Gauweiler, chairman of the Bundestag’s Culture and Education Committee, traveled with committee members from a cross section of German parties to meet Larijani in Tehran. The deputies, Luc Jochimsen from the Left Party, Claudia Roth from the Green Party, the Social Democrat’s Günter Gloser, and Monika Grütters, from theChristian Democrats, remained conspicuously silent about Larijani’s Holocaust denial.

Munich will host the annual security conference next week and Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, apparently will attend. Salehi was sanctioned by the EU for his illicit work on Iran’s nuclear program.

Many commentators have argued that the true litmus test for Germany’s willingness to confront its responsibility for the crimes of the Shoah is its policies toward Iran’s anti- Semitism and its nuclear program.

Tom Gross, a Britishborn Middle East commentator, told the Post on Saturday that “while Holocaust remembrance is welcome, it is contradicted by German officials not shunning representatives of the world’s leading Holocaustdenying government.”

Gross continued, “They [Germans] need to make up their minds about whether they are serious about combating Holocaust denial.”

Stawski told the Post that “Germany carries a special responsibility towards Jews and towards the one and only Jewish state.”

While the Bundestag commemoration event, to its credit, prioritized the horrific scandal surrounding the lackluster fight against a neo-Nazi cell that over the past decade murdered Greek and Turkish immigrants, as well as a German police woman, critics are troubled by the German government and Bundestag’s blind spot – Iranian genocidal anti- Semitism and Holocaust denial.

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Germany reminded of neo-Nazi peril on Holocaust day

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Germany marked the 67th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp on Friday facing serious doubt about how well its institutions are dealing with right-wing extremism.

An opinion poll published by Forsa institute this week suggested as many as one in five Germans aged 18-30 did not know what happened at Auschwitz, while a new report suggested one fifth of Germans harbored anti-Semitic sentiments.

“That is precisely 20 percent too many for Germany,” Norbert Lammert, speaker of the Bundestag (lower house of parliament), told a ceremony where 91-year-old Marcel Reich-Ranicki, an eminent literary critic, told how he survived the Warsaw Ghetto.

Half a million Polish Jews were rounded up in the ghetto by the Nazis and most were later deported to Auschwitz in German-occupied southern Poland, near the city of Krakow. Up to 1.5 million people, most of them Jewish, died in the camp.

Charlotte Knobloch, a Jewish leader from Munich – birthplace of Adolf Hitler‘s Nazi movement – and a deputy head of the World Jewish Congress, wrote in a newspaper that the poll on knowledge about the Holocaust and the anti-Semitism study highlighted “woeful shortcomings” in the political and education systems.

The effectiveness of German security agencies’ efforts to combat right-wing extremism has been under scrutiny since police in November uncovered evidence linking a small neo-Nazi cell in the former East German town of Zwickau to the murders of nine Turkish and Greek immigrants and a policewoman from 2000-2007.

Lammert told the Holocaust ceremony that “the discovery of an unprecedented murder series in recent weeks and months shows we have not yet reached the goal” of making Germany free from racial hatred.

Knobloch wrote in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung that despite Germany’s commitment to atoning for its Nazi past, the Zwickau case showed that right-wing extremists “can still spread discord, hate and fear in this country unimpeded”.

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Exhibit focuses on Nazi persecution of homosexuals

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

The national touring exhibit titled “Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945” is on display in Atwood Memorial Center Gallery.

The St. Cloud State University gallery is the 38th stop for the exhibit, which originates from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and has been traveling across the country since 2003.

“It explores not only the details of the persecution, but explores aspects of the lives of the people who were persecuted,” said Dan Wildeson, director for the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education at SCSU.

The exhibit, filled with photographs and stories, allows visitors to think about others in their “specific humanity” rather than as generalizations, Wildeson said.

The exhibit, he said, is relevant as political factions across the country discuss same-sex relationships and same-sex marriages. It may encourage people to think about how far the gay marriage debate should go and for those in the middle, what it means to protect the human rights of others, Wildeson said.

“This is a historical study, and this is something we need to take a look at,” he said. “In the Holocaust we think about the persecution of the Jews, but there were other groups and understanding the history of that is pretty critical.”

The Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945 will be available through Feb. 23 in Atwood Memorial Center Gallery, 118 Atwood Center.

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Russia row over Nazi massacre site in Rostov-on-Don

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

A row has erupted in Russia over the replacement of a Holocaust memorial plaque in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don which named Jews as victims.

In August 1942 Nazi German troops murdered at least 27,000 people at Zmiyevskaya Balka, regarded as the worst Holocaust atrocity in Russia.

More than half the victims were Jews, the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC) says.

A new plaque does not mention Jews, but “peaceful citizens of Rostov-on-Don and Soviet prisoners-of-war”.

The RJC, a secular foundation representing Russian Jews, says it will take legal action over the unauthorised decision to replace the former plaque, which spoke of “more than 27,000 Jews” murdered by the Nazis. That plaque had been put up in 2004.

According to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Centre in Israel, 15,000-16,000 Jews were murdered by the Nazis in Rostov-on-Don from August 1942 to February 1943.

In the Soviet Union memorials commemorating victims of Nazi massacres spoke of “Soviet citizens” rather than “Jews”.

Violation admitted

The former plaque mentioning Jews has now been put in the Zmiyevskaya Balka memorial hall, Rostov’s Deputy Culture Minister Valery Gelas told Moscow Echo radio.

He admitted that the rules for historical memorials had been broken, but said the new plaque would remain and “we’ve done all we can”.

He said the wording was in line with historical research and data presented to the Rostov cultural authorities.

RJC president Yuri Kanner said the site was “Russia’s Babi Yar” – a reference to the notorious Nazi mass shootings of Jews near Kiev during World War II.

He said it was important to specify exactly who was shot at Zmiyevskaya Balka, pointing out that in law the Nazi slaughter of Jews “is considered a separate crime, with separate prosecutions”.

“There could have been refugees from Poland, not necessarily Soviet citizens, it’s not a question of citizens,” he told Moscow Echo.

He said he did not believe the plaque decision was a case of anti-Semitism, rather that it was a local official’s “attempt to do something to please somebody”.

A Communist MP on the Russian parliament (Duma) committee for nationalities, Tamara Pletneva, said it was time to “forget our bitterness and live in peace”.

“The memorial should commemorate all the war victims… the Soviet Union saved Jews, Russians saved Jews… so why single out Jews? We shouldn’t single out any ethnic group.”

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German anti-Semitism ‘deep-rooted’ in society

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

A neo-Nazi rally in Berlin (May 2010)

Anti-Jewish feeling is “significantly” entrenched in German society, according to a report by experts appointed by the Bundestag (parliament).

They say the internet has played a key role in spreading Holocaust denial, far-right and extreme Islamist views, according to the DPA news agency.

They also speak of “a wider acceptance in mainstream society of day-to-day anti-Jewish tirades and actions”.

The expert group, set up in 2009, is to report regularly on anti-Semitism.

The findings of their report, due to be presented on Monday, were that anti-Jewish sentiment was “based on widespread prejudice, deeply-rooted cliches and also on plain ignorance of Jews and Judaism“.

They added that far-right slogans at football matches were a regular occurrence.

The report’s authors put Germany midway in their assessment of other European countries in relation to the spread of anti-Semitism.

They see extremely high levels of anti-Jewish sentiment in parts of Poland, Hungary and Portugal.

Germany’s Jewish population has experienced something of a revival since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Before 1989, the population was below 30,000 but an influx of Jews, mainly from the former Soviet Union, has raised the number to 200,000.

Speaking on Friday to mark the anniversary of the 1942 Wannsee conference, when the Nazis’ murder of millions of Jews was mapped out, President Christian Wulff pledged that Germany would keep the memory of the Holocaust alive and would never abandon the Jewish people.

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Czech exhibit on International Holocaust Remembrance Day asks “Do you think it’s behind us?”

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

The following is a press release from the organizers of an exhibition entitled “Do You Think It’s Behind Us?”. The exhibition at the Oblástní Galerie Vysočiny in Jihlava will run until 4 February.

For the most part, Czech society links the issue of fascism and Nazism with the period of the Second World War. This is a time period which most of us no longer remember and which has therefore become something that does not touch us personally.

However, our experience tells us differently, and this exhibit is the sad proof of that. Fascist and Nazi ideology did not die out with the end of WWII, even though most people wished it would. While this ideology no longer dominates governments, its promoters have definitely not disappeared and have not changed their main ideological line, which is based in promoting authoritarianism, hate, and racism. As in the 1930s, their main practice is violence, a violence motivated by neo-Nazi ideology and their own aggression.

We want to commemorate the victims of this violence. At the same, time, we also want to commemorate the stance our society took toward the victims in the past. Closing our eyes, downplaying the importance of these problems and sweeping them under rug has never been unusual here, and unfortunately, we sometimes still do this.

Let’s not forget that the people we are commemorating did not die just because they had the “wrong skin color” or because they were “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” In reality, many of them died while defending their families, friends or opinions. They deserve our esteem and respect.

For us, these people are not JUST victims. For us, they are those who have fallen in a war that has lasted since the 1930s until today. The fact that others do not realize this, or don’t want to realize it, unfortunately does not mean that it doesn’t exist. “Nazism did not start with the concentration camps, but it definitely will end with them….”

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Jewish group screens Holocaust documentary

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Sundance is in the air, and the United Jewish Federation of Utah is getting into the act. With the annual Sundance Film Festival showering films on Park City, Salt Lake City and Ogden this week and next, the UJFU is hosting a screening of its own.

The documentary “Paper Clips,” which captures a unique class project undertaken several years ago at a rural Tennessee middle school, will be shown Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the IJ and Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center in Salt Lake City. The screening is free and open to the public.

As recounted in the film, three teachers at Whitwell Middle School in 1998 wanted to create a class project about the Holocaust for eighth-grade students. The students read “The Diary of Anne Frank” and did internet research, but had trouble grasping the enormity of the Holocaust’s 6 million deaths. After learning that World War II-era Norwegians protested the Nazi regime by wearing paper clips on their lapels, the students set out to amass 6 million paper clips in memory of the victims.

‘Happy Hundredth’ to LDS seminary program

What do you get somebody who’s turning 100? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is celebrating 100 years of high school religious education through its seminary program by hosting a special commemorative fireside at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

Elder Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a longtime seminary instructor and former supervisor of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion for the church, will be the featured speaker. The fireside, at 6 p.m. on Sunday, will be broadcast live to LDS stake centers and other facilities, and will also be streamed live online at LDS.org.

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School Children Win Tolerance Contest Using Nazi Symbol

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

A group of 14-year-old schoolchildren won a school tolerance contest in St.Peterbsurg, using a team name containing the Neo-Nazi symbol 14/88, St.Peterbsurg’s Ekho radio station reported.

On November 16, a school in Russia’s second largest city, St.Petersburg, held a competition marking International Tolerance Day, the school’s deputy principal, Tatiana Vasilenko told the radio station.

Later the pupils uploaded a photo of their contest award certificate onto the Internet. It features the name of the team written in big italicized lettering, containing the numbers, St.Peterbsurg’s Ekho said.

The numbers 14/88 have Nazi-linked connotations to followers of right-wing extremist groups – 14 stands for a 14-word slogan coined by the U.S. Nazi, David Lane, who was a member of the white separatist organization The Order, while “88” represents “Heil Hitler” since the letter H is the eighth letter of the Latin alphabet.

Vasilenko, who was in charge of the competition, confirmed that she had not properly controlled the contest.

“It seems that none of the school’s staff understood it [the meaning of the slogan]. The fact that the teachers didn’t notice it is a catastrophe,” Dmitri Dubrovsky of the St.Petersburg Ethnography museum told the radio station.

He added he was pleased other people did not notice the symbol either, Dubrovsky said.

There is no information about whether the school or the pupils will be punished.

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Another freedom of expression issue has raised its head in the Jewish community in Australia.

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

The Promise (SBS)

Another freedom of expression issue has raised its head in the Jewish community in Australia.

This time, it involves a series which recently appeared on SBS and is now being sold as a DVD.

The Promise, written and directed by the UK film-maker Peter Kosminsky, gives a picture of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the eyes of a British soldier (Len), in 1948 Palestine fresh from seeing the horrors of the Holocaust. (Kosminsky himself has been interviewed on a number of occasions on his reasoning and method adopted in the series.)

The long and very detailed series is set in 2005 and looks at his granddaughter (Erin) who wishes to return a key that came into Len’s possession to its Palestinian family. Erin is a rather conflicted, brash young person and the story of the key is used as a device to develop conflict and argument over questions of ethics and morality with her wealthy Israeli host family.

There are also Palestinian characters linked to the key, who similarly, are used as a means of provoking responses.

The principal objection from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry to the series – as explained in a strongly worded and detailed complaint to SBS – is that the “insidious” series involves a collective group libel that:

“Unrelentingly portrays the entire Jewish presence throughout the country, including modern-day Israel, as an act of usurpation by Jews who, without exception, are aliens, predators and thieves and who enforce their usurpation by brutal, racist policies akin to those inflicted by the Nazis upon the Jewish people.”

They also object that SBS marketed a fictional account as a historical truth.

This is an extraordinary charge. In addition the ECAJ’s concerns are going to be raised via political allies at Senate Estimates hearings in mid-February, to which SBS director Michael Ebeid has been summoned. There is an implied threat to SBS funding.

It is also reported that the ECAJ wants the DVD withdrawn from sale until the complaint is adjudicated, and the issue has now had a three-page spread in the monopoly print Australian Jewish News, in the online Jwire, and doubtless is being carried by Jewish wire services internationally.

How seriously should the ECAJ’s complaint – or feelings in the Jewish community that the series is anti-Semitic and grossly insulting to Holocaust survivors – be taken?

It should be taken very seriously, because it has major implications (once again) for artistic licence and the capacity of broadcasters to carry controversial programs. It also has implications for defining the meaning of “anti-Semitism” and discussion of Israeli history and the Holocaust. Mind you, the ECAJ has not complained about Israeli Hebrew-language films which appear on SBS that also carry disturbing messages about Israeli and Palestinian politics and identity.

The ECAJ also objects on the basis that Jews in the film are subjected to a degree of critique that is not imposed upon more generously-depicted Palestinian as victims of oppression, without accounting for Palestinian violence. There are also objections to the literary licence used in the series which has collapsed the time and geography of some events so that some are not “real”.

In fact, the film is a fiction based on considerable historical research but unavoidable simplification: Israel is born out of violence and caught up in violence and division. All its characters are metaphors for different aspects of the conflict, including Omar, the Palestinian who is now part of a joint Israel-Palestinian organisation of former combatants (there is a scene at a meeting of the organisation which would also be confronting for many Palestinian viewers). There is also one terrorist bombing involving Palestinians and other confronting events or allusions to Palestinian actions but there is no attempt at “equivalence”.

Part of the complaint also seems to be that the film presents nothing of Israeli ethnic and cultural diversity: they are a monotype. I would argue that while this is a regrettable slip in the series, it is a metaphorical device: a wealthy family represents privilege over Palestinian poverty, the state of being refugees in their own land. The comparison of the ability to live one’s life as one wants as distinct from having to pass through checkpoints is used to promote discomfort and questioning on the part of the viewer. None of this is made up or akin to anti-Semitic stereotyping, and the main Palestinian character is Christian, not Muslim. Furthermore, much of the first episode is devoted to the horrors of the death camps and Len’s reactions to it, and the Holocaust comes up in many conversations between the Jewish characters, because it continues to traumatise them (and perhaps, most disturbingly, blind them to the effects of Israeli actions).

The film is thus about the difficult relationship between Israelis and Palestinians, and it uses what happened in the 1940s and what happens today, through the eyes of its major characters, to question not the existence of the State of Israel (that is never raised), but the trauma on which it came to exist and how it can continue today.

That is indeed a highly controversial question, but given that the series was written and produced by a British Jew, and that the crew and actors are predominantly Israeli Jews and it must therefore reflect their own sentiments as well about the country they live in. To think of them contributing to such an “insidious” series or being manipulated for anti-Semitic purposes by the writer (as implied by the ECAJ complaint), smacks of conspiracy theory reasoning, rather than understanding that the series is a political and moral examination of one of the most enduring and intractable conflicts of the past century. It is about the confronting trauma that effects Israeli society in its unresolved relationship with Palestinians, not Jewish stereotypes.

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‘Israel jails worse than Nazi camps’

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

A Palestinian official says Palestinian prisoners are subjected to the most inhumane treatment and are tortured in Israeli prisons, which are even more gruesome than Nazi concentration camps.

In an interview with Iran’s Fars News Agency on Sunday, Palestinian Minister for Captives Affairs Ataollah Abu Sabah said of the 44,000 Palestinian inmates currently languishing in Israeli prisons, seven are women and 23 are members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Abu Sabah described the desert prison of Naqab (Negev), where the detainees are kept in tents, as the Israeli regime’s worst prison.

Last year, an Israeli TV station released video footage of Palestinian detainees being tortured by Israeli troops in the notorious Naqab prison in 2008, as a result of which one Palestinian died and several others sustained injuries.

The Palestinian official further confirmed reports that the relatives of the inmates and sometimes even their lawyers are forced to strip and are interrogated.

In late December 2010, a human rights group called Public Committee against Torture in Israel revealed that Palestinian detainees are systematically denied the right to meet a lawyer during interrogations.

Being shackled to chairs for long periods, sleep deprivation, intimidation, torture and excruciating detention conditions are some of the instances documented by the rights group in its report.

Abu Sabah went on to add that stripping captives in the subzero cold in the winter is one of the most common torture methods of the Israeli regime.

The ill captives, he said, are deprived of even the most basic medical treatment, adding that the inmates suffering from medical conditions are not few in number and face gradual death in the regime’s prison

Israel has some secret prisons where it keeps some of the first captives of the Resistance Movement, Abu Sabah said, adding that the regime has even abducted activists from other Arab countries, whose fate is unknown.

Israel Prison Service (IPS) Director Aharon Franco announced in October that there are several prisons in Israel, including Damon prison, Ramle’s Neve Tirza prison, and the Ma’asiyahu prison, that are no longer fit for inmates.

Franco also said the standard in the US is to allocate eight meters of space for each inmate and the standard is six meters in Europe. In Israel, however, just four meters are allocated for each inmate.

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LA judge, who ruled against Holocaust-deniers, dies

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

The Los Angeles judge who imposed a major setback on Shoah-deniers by ruling that the Holocaust was “a fact and not reasonably subject to dispute,” died Dec. 28 at 88 at his Pacific Palisades home.
As a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge, Thomas T. Johnson made history in 1981 by his ruling in a case pitting Mel Mermelstein, a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, against the Institute of Historical Research in Torrance.
In 1980, the institute, which labels the Holocaust as a myth, had offered a $50,000 reward to anyone who could prove that Jews had been gassed at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
In turn, Mermelstein submitted a notarized account describing how he saw Nazi guards take his mother and two sisters to what he later learned was the Birkenau gas chamber. When the institute reneged on the payment, Mermelstein sued for $17 million.
During the trial, Johnson resolved the most controversial aspect of the case by applying the doctrine of judicial notice, which allows courts to recognize as fact information that is common knowledge.
“The court does take judicial notice that Jews were gassed to death in Poland at Auschwitz in the summer of 1944,” when Mermelstein and his family were there, Johnson ruled.
William John Cox, Mermelstein’s attorney, described the judge’s “courageous decision” as “the greatest ruling I could have hoped for.”
Johnson, a native of Kentucky and World War II veteran, presided over a number of headline-grabbing cases, involving such names as entertainer Rudy Vallee, tennis star Billie Jean King, and philanthropist Norton Simon.
However, none of these cases, the Los Angeles Times commented, “matched the historical significance of the lawsuit that asked him to decide whether the Holocaust actually took place.”
Mermelstein ultimately won a $90,00 settlement and a formal apology from the institute. The trial was dramatized in 1991 in the television movie “Never Forget,” with actor Leonard Nimoy in the role of Mermelstein, and described in detail by Mermelstein in his autobiography “By Bread Alone.”
Now an 85-year old Long Beach resident, Mermelstein could not be reached for comment. – By Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

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NAZI HUNTER Sues Wiesenthal Center You’re PROTECTING a War Criminal

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Some of the most powerful Jews in the U.S have concocted a massive conspiracy to discredit a Nazi hunter who claims he uncovered some explosive new information about the Holocaust … this according to a lawsuit obtained by TMZ.

The Nazi hunter behind the suit is Mark Gould (pictured above) — who claims he recently managed to track down a 98-year-old former SS lieutenant colonel namedBernhard Frank (pictured below) … and got him to admit he had a MAJOR role in the Germany‘s decision to exterminate the Jews.

Gould claims he thought his findings would impress the honchos at the famous Wiesenthal Center in L.A. — a powerful Jewish organization dedicated to documenting the Holocaust — since he had been working with them since 2004. But Gould was wrong.

nstead, Gould claims the leaders of the Wiesenthal Center ran a smear campaign against him in 2010 — hoping to discredit Gould’s findings so Frank would NOT be portrayed as a key Nazi figure.

As for why the Weisenthal Center is trying to discredit Gould … one Center official published an article saying Frank was like a secretary who prepared documents but had no real decision-making power.  The suggestion — Nazi hunters should focus on the honchos, not the lackeys.  And the Center believes Gould is after fame, not justice.

Gould claims in his lawsuit the Center never presented any proof that would discredit his work –but still ran a defamatory campaign against him, to destroy his credibility.

Now, Gould thinks the Center should pay for the “hypocrisy and betrayal” — he’s suing for unspecified damages.

A rep for the Center tells TMZ … they have not seen the lawsuit, and therefor cannot comment on the case.

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Holocaust archive to be available in UK

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

For first time, British public will be able to access 50 million digital records from Nazi-era, World War II and 10 years that followed

Some 50 million digital records from the Holocaust, covering 17.5 million people, will soon be available to the British public for the first time.

The International Tracing Service (ITS) archive contains records from concentration, slave labor and displaced persons’ camps from the Nazi-era, World War II and the 10 years that followed.

The UK public will soon be able to access the digital archive, free of charge, at The Wiener Library in London – the world’s oldest Holocaust memorial institution. The Library already hosts the UK’s largest collection of personal papers and testimonies of refugees and Holocaust survivors.

On December 14, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office jointly hosted a reception with the UK ITS Stakeholder Group to mark the arrival in the UK of the digital archive. The Stakeholder Group comprises the leading UK scholars on Nazi Germany as well as the major groups and institutions from across the UK engaged with the Holocaust and its aftermath.

Speaking ahead of the UK launch of the Archive, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said “the International Tracing Service archive is hugely significant. Allowing the British public access to the Archive in the UK for the first time will enable Holocaust survivors, refugees and their descendants to obtain information about the fate of their relatives who suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

“It will also provide an invaluable collection of primary source material for UK based academic researchers and students, and is further proof of the UK’s active approach to preserving the memory of the Holocaust.”

Urgent humanitarian need

Anne Webber, chair of the UK ITS Stakeholder Group, said: “The Stakeholder Group was created to ensure a copy of the Archive was made available in the UK as soon as possible and we are very pleased that the government responded positively to our initiative. It has long been an urgent humanitarian need for people in the UK to have the opportunity to discover the fate of their loved ones, even at this late hour.

“Since the Archive has opened, brothers have found sisters, sons have found mothers, each of whom had never known the other had survived. This is the foremost collection of material on the Holocaust and its aftermath, and having a copy of the Archive in the UK will provide scholars and educators with a vital resource to research, study and teach one of the defining episodes in human history.”

Ben Barkow, director of the Wiener Library, said: “The arrival of the digitized archives of the International Tracing Service in the UK, supported by the huge scholarly and humanitarian resources of The Wiener Library, is very exciting. We are grateful to the Foreign Secretary and government officials as well as to our partners in the Stakeholder Group for getting us this far.

“We all – inside and outside government – look forward to seeing the archive opened up to survivors, their descendants and those concerned with Holocaust education and research once the funding arrangements are in place.”

The Archive was created as a result of a remarkable initiative dating to 1943 when the British Red Cross set up a Tracing Bureau whose purpose to ensure that those millions of people displaced and missing during the World War II could trace and be traced by their families.

In 1944 the Bureau became the International Tracing Bureau, and in 1947 the International Tracing Service. Britain has remained at the forefront ever since, both in gathering up records during and after the World War II and as part of the International Commission governing the Archive since it was deposited at Bad Arolsen, Germany, in 1945.

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Facebook Tells Holocaust Survivors Denial Pages Can Stay

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Earlier this month, 21 Holocaust survivors affiliated with the Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a plea to Facebook asking them to deny access to anyone promoting the idea that the Holocaust was a hoax reports the Jewish Chronicle Online.

In the letter sent July, the survivors wrote:

We are writing to you to protest Facebook’s policy that categorizes Holocaust denial as “free speech,” rather than the shameless, cynical and hateful propaganda that it is.

Followed by:

Do not permit Holocaust denial any platform on Facebook to preach its inherent message of lies and hate. By allowing this hate propaganda on Facebook, you are exposing the public and, in particular, youth to the anti-Semitism which fueled the Holocaust.

Despite the plea from survivors, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes told MSNBC in an email, that one of the toughest questions they have to deal with is how to handle the sharing of controversial ideas and opinions. Noyes wrote that while Facebook finds these groups to be “repugnant and ignorant” after a considerable amount of time discussing issues of Holocaust denial, they concluded that “the mere statement of denying the Holocaust is not a violation of our terms.”

This is not the first time the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which runs The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, has taken issue with Facebook. In 2009, the human rights group told The Sunday Times, that the rise of social networking sites like Facebook have accelerated the spread of racist and bigoted views, and asked Facebook to remove pages that allegedly promote hatred against Jews. And in 2008 the group sent a letter to Jewish CEO Mark Zuckerberg headlined: “Do Not Serve as a Platform for Hate,” again addressing offensive pages.

Facebook has, however, removed pages in the past. CNN reported that in March the social networking site agreed to remove group page entitled the “Third Palestinian Intifada” that encouraged Palestinians to take up arms against Israel, after the Israeli government appealed to Facebook. The page, which garnered more than 350,000 “likes,” was removed because it contained direct calls for violence, explained Facebook.

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Holocaust survivors in Israel send their books back to Germany

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

When Jewish refugees left Nazi Germany for Israel in the 1930s and 40s, many packed the very books the Nazis were burning. Now, the Holocaust survivors are sharing their libraries with German students.


The pupils in class 9S at the Grabbe Gymnasium in Detmold have a particular reputation for boisterousness. But on the day that the package from Jerusalem arrived, you could have heard a pin drop, said 15-year-old Charlotte Schimanovsky.


“Our teacher came late to history class,” Charlotte remembered. “We were all wondering what was going on. Then he arrived with this package, and we opened it and out came these beautiful books.”


Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  The students sent a package of their own back to Israel

The six yellowing books were once the proud possessions of a Jewish girl named Ada Brodsky. Born in Frankfurt an der Oder in 1924, Ada was barely 15 when she was forced to flea Nazi Germany – almost exactly the same age as Charlotte and her classmates.


“She was an amazing woman,” said Charlotte, who studied the little biographical pamphlet included in the package with growing admiration. “I’m so impressed by everything that she achieved.”


Bridging the culture divide


Despite the horrors of the Holocaust, Ada Brodsky remained determined to celebrate the good things about the culture she had grown up in. She lovingly preserved the German books which had escaped with her, and even built a successful literary career on introducing German classics to a Hebrew-speaking audience.


Now, after over half a century, her books have arrived back in Germany as part of a project called No Lightweight Packages. It’s the brainchild of Simone Lenz, director of the Goethe-Institut in Jerusalem.


When Lenz arrived in Jerusalem six years ago, she found herself inundated by requests from the families descended from German Holocaust refugees hoping to find a home for the books they had brought with them from Germany.


Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Charlotte could identify with Ada Brodsky

Most second and third-generation Israelis have long since lost contact with the German language of their grandparents, so the volumes were simply gathering dust. Something about the books, however, caught Lenz’s eye.


“I was moved that they brought us these books of the very authors who were burned in Germany in the 30s,” recalled Lenz, who immediately set about hatching a plan to return the books to their country of origin.


A literary homecoming


Together with the young scholar Caroline Jessen, Lenz worked on compiling biographical information about the books’ donors. Then she contacted various German schools, offering teachers the chance to receive a parcel of books intimately linked to the biographies of individual Holocaust survivors living in Israel.


Steven Förster, a 31-year-old teacher at the Grabbe Gymnasium in Detmold, jumped at the chance to get involved in the project.


“The problem is that if you don’t have a personal story which the pupils can relate to, then it’s just an ordinary lesson,” Förster explained. “But if you can get them to emotionally connect to the life of Ada Brodsky, then it goes much deeper and lasts a lot longer. That’s what history lessons should be about.”


Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Förster says it’s crucial to connect students to personal storiesAccording to Förster, the benefits of developing a personal connection to historical events are social, as well as educational. “If a pupil really reflects on something, then he or she can reach the right conclusions,” said Förster. “That doesn’t just help the pupil, it helps society as well.”


Sadly, Ada Brodsky died before her parcel of books reached Germany. Nevertheless, Förster’s pupils have sent a package of their own to Israel, full of letters expressing their thanks for the gift of her books. They are hoping that her family will read the letters, and that this will be the beginning of a lasting connection.


In the meantime, their teacher has been so inspired by the project that he is keen to try out a similar scheme with people who lived through the communist dictatorship in East Germany.

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Change of heart: Former Nazi teeny boppers are singing a new tune

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Lamb and Lynx Gaede, the dimpled tween rockers whose Nazi-themed pop band, Prussian Blue, sparked an exuberant media firestorm several years back have grown up — and had a change of heart.

“I’m not a white nationalist anymore,” Lamb told The Daily in an exclusive interview, the twins’ first in five years. “My sister and I are pretty liberal now.”

“Personally, I love diversity,” Lynx seconded. “I’m stoked that we have so many different cultures. I think it’s amazing and it makes me proud of humanity every day that we have so many different places and people.”

Now 19, they both still speak in a disarmingly girlish singsong. Their message, however, was not always so sweet. In 2006, the sisters, who formed the band at the suggestion of White Nationalist leader William Pierce, drew international notoriety with songs like “Hate for Hate: Lamb Near the Lane,” a dreamy folksong cowritten by Lamb and the late David Lane, a member of the violent terrorist splinter cell The Order, who was then serving 190 years in prison for his involvement in the murder of Jewish talk show host Alan Berg in 1984 (he and Lamb were pen pals).

Prussian Blue was never a presence on the pop charts and only played small venues. But for a brief time in the mid-2000s, Lamb and Lynx were seemingly everywhere — “the new face of hate,” as one news program put it. They appeared on “Primetime Live” and in a number of other media oulets, including GQ (where I profiled them in 2006).

Their story even inspired a stage musical, White Noise, which began as a low-budget, off-off-Broadway production before finding a major backer in Whoopi Goldberg and earning some decent reviews in Chicago earlier this year. A Broadway production is reportedly in the planning stages.

The twisted appeal, of course, was the incongruity of seeing a racist, anti-Semitic polemic — complete with smiley-face Hitler T-shirts and onstage Sieg Heil-ing — articulated by these cherubic little girls.

Now, the Gaede twins say they have changed their views and attribute their earlier political pronouncements to youthful naivete. “My sister and I were home-schooled,” Lynx pointed out. “We were these country bumpkins. We spent most of our days up on the hill playing with our goats.”

Lamb agreed. “I was just spouting a lot of knowledge that I had no idea what I was saying,” she said.

The twins’ mother, April Gaede, who has been a prominent member of racist fringe groups like the National Alliance and the National Vanguard, brought up her daughters with the ethos of white nationalism — a mix of racial pride, anti-immigrant hostility, Holocaust denial and resistance to the encroachment of “muds,” i.e., Jews and nonwhites.

But after enrolling in public school and moving to Montana — a predominantly white state, albeit one with a decidedly hippie-ish vibe — Lamb and Lynx decided they simply no longer believed what they’d been taught.

Their transformation first became evident to Prussian Blue’s fans during the band’s 2006 European tour, a double bill with the Swedish white-power warbler Saga. Along with their familiar repertoire of Skrewdriver covers, racist folktunes glorifying Rudolf Hess and other Aryan “heroes,” and perky bubble-gum ballads about boys and middle school, the girls threw the audience a curve ball — a rendition of Bob Dylan‘s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”

“Mama, put my guns in the ground,” they sang to a smattering of boos from the crowd of Scandinavian skinheads and other far-right music aficionados. “I can’t use them anymore.”

They knew it was an unorthodox choice. “Oh, our mom warned us,” Lamb recalled. “She said, ‘You know, some people aren’t going to like this — Bob Dylan was a Jew.'”

But the girls, who were then 13 going on 14, were in a rebellious frame of mind. “We just decided to go for it,” Lamb continued. “I mean, if people don’t like the song, don’t f**king go to the show. Don’t listen to my music. Don’t buy my CDs.” As they toured Germany, Denmark and Czechoslovakia, they played the tune at every stop. Then they came home and had a heart-to-heart talk about the band’s future.

“‘Are you done, Lynx?'” Lamb asked her twin.

“Yeah, I’m done,” came the reply.

Lamb and Lynx have spent most of the past five years “lying low and trying to live a normal life,” as Lamb put it, turning aside numerous media requests. Besides which, they know that their change of heart will not not please some members of the movement that once anointed them its standard bearers. “I’ve had people call me a race traitor before,” Lynx said. “It’s definitely something they’re going to have to get over,” she added defiantly.

“There are dangerous people in White Nationalism that don’t give a f***,” Lamb added, “and they would do awful things to people who they think betrayed the movement. We’re stepping on eggshells.”

The girls are still on good terms with their mother, who they say has been surprisingly supportive of their philosophical evolution. “She said she taught us to question things and that she’s glad we don’t just accept everything she says,” Lynx said.

Suffering from a number of medical issues, Lynx lives at home in northwest Montana with her mother, her stepfather and her half-sister, Dresden. Lamb, who works as a hotel chambermaid, lives a short drive away, but she often stops by with a bag of dirty laundry.

Nevertheless, both daughters openly question April’s “fixation,” as Lynx called it, on the fate of the white race, as well as her encouragement of their bizarre musical career. “I’m glad we were in the band,” Lynx said, “but I think we should have been pushed toward something a little more mainstream and easier for us to handle than being front-men for a belief system that we didn’t even completely understand at that time. We were little kids.”

Asked whether she wished she’d done anything differently, April Gaede told The Daily, “I thought it would just be a little fun thing to do. I didn’t expect it to get as big as it did. If the girls feel regretful about it, I guess I would have to as well.”

But April, who is working to create an “intentional” white community in their area, called Pioneer Little Europe, also suspects her daughters’ liberal turn may be a passing phase. “They’re 19,” she said. “I think when they have children of their own, they’ll come to the same conclusions I have.”

Perhaps they will, but for now the girls are eager to put the entire experience behind them. Serving as internationally vilified poster children for the Aryan race was a lot of responsibility, especially for two pimply adolescents with mouths full of braces. “When you’re a preteen, you’re already insecure,” Lynx pointed out, “and we were subjected to more of that because of the situation we were put in. It’s scary when you’re young and you have a bunch of people hating you.”

The media barrage took the family by surprise. They were deluged with hate mail — some of it, ironically, from people professing equality and brotherhood. But the fan mail could be just as disconcerting. “There was a lot of predatory energy from those guys that was really hard for my sister and me to take,” Lynx recalled, “and as we got older, developing and becoming women, we realized this might get a little more intense.”

But both girls say the hardest part of the whole experience was dealing with the media, which they believe routinely misrepresented them and sensationalized their beliefs. Their time in the limelight subjected them to extraordinary stress, and appears to have contributed to severe health problems for both sisters. Lynx was diagnosed with cancer during her freshman year of high school and doctors removed a large tumor from her shoulder. Then she developed a rare condition called CVS, cyclic vomiting syndrome.

Lamb has struggled as well. She suffers from scoliosis and chronic back pain, as well as lack of appetite and intense emotional stress. During several of our conversations, she burst into tears as she agonized about how to balance her love for her mother with her desire to let the world know that the girls have moved on.

Approximately a year ago, Lamb and Lynx stumbled on a new treatment that they say has done wonders for many of these ailments.

“I have to say, marijuana saved my life,” Lynx told me. “I would probably be dead if I didn’t have it.” She discovered pot while recovering from her cancer treatments. She’d been prescribed morphine and OxyContin, which she quit cold turkey. One day when she was having a bout of nausea, a friend offered her a toke. She was reluctant at first. The girls’ biological father had been “a druggie” when they were young, Lynx said.

But the drug worked wonders, and soon Lynx became one of the first five minors to get a medical marijuana card in Montana. Now Lamb has one, too.

Pot has also helped the twins rekindle the creative impulses they once channeled into their music. They’ve both taken up painting — astrological themes, mostly — and Lynx restores furniture. They hope to enroll in college, and intend to dedicate themselves to making medical marijuana legal in all 50 states.

Meanwhile, they’ll keep growing up. Impressive as their transformation has been, for instance, their views on World War II still bear traces of the Holocaust denial ideology they were taught as children. For instance, asked whether the Holocaust happened, Lynx replied, “I think certain things happened. I think a lot of the stories got misconstrued. I mean, yeah, Hitler wasn’t the best, but Stalin wasn’t, Churchill wasn’t. I disagree with everybody at that time.”

Lamb concurred. “I just think everyone needs to frickin’ get over it,” she said. “That’s what I think.”

Indeed, they’d both rather talk about ways to help the world in the present than rehash what seems to both of them like ancient history. They’ve been exposed to enough negative energy to last a lifetime, and they’ve had enough.

“We just want to come from a place of love and light,” Lamb said. “I think we’re meant to do something more — we’re healers. We just want to exert the most love and positivity we can.”

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Holocaust Survivors Again Seek Insurance Claims

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

WASHINGTON — Sixty-six years after she survived the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, Renee Firestone is still trying to find out what became of an insurance policy that she suspects her father, who died in the Holocaust, took out from an Italian insurer before the war.

Renee Firestone in her living room last week in California.

Renee Firestone, a Holocaust survivor, with a photograph of her sister, who did not survive the war.

Ms. Firestone, 87, a naturalized American citizen from the former Czechoslovakia who became a fashion designer in Los Angeles, expected resistance from the insurance companies that fielded claims from many thousands of Holocaust survivors and their heirs. What she did not foresee, she said, was the opposition from her own government — including the State Department and Congress — to her getting her day in court.

“What’s so painful is that we can see they’re just waiting for all of us to die,” she said.

The legal claims by hundreds of American survivors like Ms. Firestone have set off an intense lobbying campaign in Washington on their behalf. But opposition from the government and even from leading Jewish groups has created an uncomfortable rift between groups that are normally in alliance and has created a potential minefield for President Obama.

“The whole thing saddens me,” Elie Wiesel, the Nobel laureate who is perhaps the most well-known Holocaust survivor, said of the rift over the insurance benefits. “I don’t know how or why this has happened, but the survivors should be helped however we can.”

The State Department, under both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations, has vigorously opposed the idea of allowing survivors to press claims in court against European insurance companies because they say it would undermine a reparations agreement that the United States reached in 2000 with Germany, which led to $300 million in insurance payments to survivors and their heirs.

The threat of private lawsuits, administration officials say, treads on the president’s authority to set foreign policy. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit last year validated the State Department’s position as it dismissed claims brought against an Italian insurance company, Generali, which had issued many policies before the Holocaust to European Jews who wanted to protect themselves financially against the rise of Nazi power.

“The State Department is concerned that lawsuits by the survivors could not only disrupt prior agreements with European governments but might also have a negative impact on other reparation agreements growing out of the Holocaust as well,” the department said in a statement on Friday.

In line with the State Department, leading Jewish groups like the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League have also opposed the survivors’ attempts to plead their case in court and have lobbied against prior efforts by Congress to intervene, as have the insurance companies themselves.

Now, however, a new push in Congress on behalf of the survivors appears to be gaining some ground.

“I’m feeling optimistic that this is our year,” said Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican who introduced legislation in the House in March that would force insurers to disclose the names of Holocaust-era policy holders and allow survivors and their heirs to seek claims in American courts.

Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, whose maternal grandparents were Sephardic Jews and whose Miami area district includes many survivors, said she was well aware of the stiff opposition the idea has generated and the concerns from the government about undermining foreign agreements.

“This will not usurp anybody’s authority,” she said in an interview. “This is about giving the survivors their day in court. We’ve already waited too long.”

One group of survivors, known as the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA, has been ratcheting up its efforts in recent weeks to bring pressure on the Obama administration and on leading Jewish groups to change their stance on the volatile insurance issue.

The survivors group took out full-page advertisements in Jewish and mainstream newspapers last month accusing leading Jewish groups like the American Jewish Committee of “dishonoring” the memories of the Holocaust.

The ads accused Jewish groups of “protecting” European insurers like Allianz because the insurers gave money to American-Jewish causes. (Allianz, based in Germany, had committed in 2008 to buying naming rights to the New Meadowlands Stadium for $25 million a year, but the Jets and the Giants pulled out of talks after publicity over the company’s role in insuring Nazi facilities, including Auschwitz, and of blocking payment of survivors’ claims after the Holocaust.)

Eighteen survivors also sent Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton a nine-page letter last week expressing their anger and disappointment over the treatment of their claims.

“It is beyond the pale that we should be perceived as the adversary of our government, to be gamed and denied what was ours and was stolen from us by companies with the protection of the most vicious regime in history,” they wrote. A copy of the letter was provided to The New York Times.

Sam Dubbin, a Miami lawyer who works with a number of Holocaust survivors, said the current proposal in Congress was “the last, best hope” for correcting what he said was a historical injustice. He said that the claims process set in place by the 2000 agreement with Germany was rife with abuse and that money paid out from it represented only a small fraction of the $20 billion in current dollars that was owed on Holocaust-era insurance policies.

The bulk of the claims have gone unpaid, Mr. Dubbin said, while many of the survivors are living in poverty in cities around the United States. “It’s an utter disgrace,” he said.

Susan Rubin, 84, a Hungarian native who survived Auschwitz and now lives in Brooklyn, said that she spotted the name of her father, Jozsef Rosenfeld, who died at Auschwitz, on a listing of unclaimed insurance policies in 2001. It indicated that he had taken out a policy with Generali in Budapest. But after she put in her claim, the processors rejected it for lack of evidence; she was unable to prove that her father was the same Jozsef Rosenfeld who took out the policy.

Incensed and dejected, she and her husband, Nathan, wrote to legislators in Washington and Albany to ask for help, but they got no response.

“It’s not about the money,” Mr. Rubin said. “It’s about what they took away from us. You figure there’s any hope now? There’s not too many years left for us.”

Opponents of the lawsuits concede that the insurance claims process put in place a decade ago was slow and imperfect, but they say the complaints from some survivors are misinformed and driven more by the agendas of class-action lawyers than by legitimate grievances.

The accusation from Mr. Dubbin’s group that Jewish leaders have neglected survivors because of their own agendas “is awful and horrible and offensive,” said Rabbi Andrew Baker, the director of international Jewish affairs for the American Jewish Committee.

He pointed, for instance, to a recent agreement forged with Germany by the State Department and Jewish groups to secure more than $500 million in financing for home care for elderly Holocaust survivors.

Stuart E. Eizenstat, a special envoy to the State Department who worked on the recent home-care agreement, said it was distressing to see the government’s efforts, and his own personal integrity, now under attack by some survivors.

“I can’t figure it out,” he said. “It’s just very, very sad.”


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Parliament urges Germany to hike Nazi victims’ pensions

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011
BERLIN - JANUARY 26:  German President Horst K...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

BERLIN (AFP)—The German parliament has urged the government to raise the pensions paid out to Holocaust survivors from the former Soviet Union living in Germany to redress what it called an enduring injustice.

“The Bundesrat (upper house) calls on the federal government to recognize Jewish Holocaust victims from the former Soviet Union as ‘persons persecuted by the Nazi regime’ and to create the legal basis for independent pension claims for these people,” it said in a resolution.

“Due to the age of the Holocaust survivors, we call on the federal government to table a draft law without delay.”

The Bundesrat, which represents Germany’s 16 states, said that the Jewish former prisoners of concentrations and ghettos had fallen victim to a legal loophole that exempted them from the list of recognied victims of the Nazis.

As such, they were not entitled to state pensions accorded to people persecuted under the Third Reich and were thus dependent on much smaller monthly subsistence payments

A policy approved in January 1991 allowed Jewish Holocaust survivors from
the former Soviet Union to emigrate to Germany as refugees.

That status, however, has meant they had no right to state pensions for
Nazi victims and must even report any savings they had accumulated, for
example from support payments from the Jewish Claims Conference.

Those funds are then counted against them when calculating their welfare
payments in Germany.

The Bundesrat could not immediately provide an estimate of how many people would be affected by a change in policy.

Germany has paid out the equivalent of more than 67 billion euros ($97
billion) to victims of the Nazis including survivors of concentration camps,
ghettos or forced work camps.

During the Cold War, West Germany only offered restitution to people living
in the West and referred those living in the Eastern bloc to the government of
communist East Germany, which refused to assume any responsibility for Hitler’s crimes.

After German unification in 1990 and following negotiations with the Jewish
Claims Conference, the country agreed to establish a new fund for Holocaust
survivors from eastern Europe.

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