Archive for Holocaust

NEW LOWS: ‘Holocaust’ museum goes up in Palestinian West Bank

Posted in Media Watch with tags , , on June 4, 2009 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

we did it againPalestinians honor Holocaust victims
Inter Press Service (IPS)

May 29, 2009

RAMALLAH — On a cool and overcast day, a procession of grim-faced people filed silently past pictures of heaps of skeletons piled high, of emaciated survivors with blank stares corralled behind barbed wire, barely clinging to life.

The memorial and museum commemorating the six million Jews [allegedly] killed by the Nazis during World War II could have been in any of the many international capitals where the Holocaust is remembered.

But this time the memorial was taking place in a quite unexpected place; the Palestinian village Ni’ilin, west of Ramallah in the central West Bank, has established the first ever Holocaust museum in the Palestinian territories.

Ni’ilin’s Hamas mayor Ayman Nafaa later led a group on a Palestinian version of March of the Living through the village’s narrow and winding streets. March of the Living is an international educational [i.e., indoctrination] program, involving Jewish youngsters spending two weeks in Poland where they march silently from Auschwitz to Birkenau, which was one of the largest Nazi concentration camps.

Establishment of the Ni’ilin museum was the brainchild of Israeli-Arab lawyer Khaled Mehamid from the Israeli town Umm Al-Fahm. Four years ago he established a Holocaust museum in his hometown.

Mehamid approached Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, which provided the museum with pictures and materials in Arabic. Its directors now plan to start holding educational tours [i.e., more indoctrination] for students to the museum.

Mehamid had originally visited Ni’ilin to comfort the Palestinian family of a young boy who was shot dead by Israeli soldiers during a protest.

“I met the mayor and explained to him that the Jews have their own pain and that this is inextricably linked with the suffering of Palestinians today under Israeli occupation,” Mehamid told IPS.

Ni’ilin has lost four of its youths to Israeli bullets. Hundreds of the village’s population of 5,000 have been arrested, wounded and beaten up during protests against Israel’s illegal separation barrier which cuts through the village, separating farmers from their land.

The building of this wall, which the International Court at The Hague deemed illegal, has meant the confiscation of thousands of acres of West Bank land by the Israeli authorities for the benefit of the illegal settlements.

“Most of the village is dependent on agriculture for a living,” Hassan Moussa, a member of Ni’ilin’s Popular Committee told IPS. “Sixty farmers have lost land, 40 of them all of their agricultural fields.”

“If you take into account their dependents and their employees, we are talking about 600 people directly affected by the land confiscation,” said Moussa.

[In the face of so much injustice, why would these long-suffering Palestinians be expected to care at all about Jewish suffering that allegedly happened more than 60 years ago on another continent? Especially when that very injustice — which they face every day, here and now — comes at the hands of those very same people that supposedly suffered themselves? — 800]

In an effort to fight the continued expropriation of village land, Ni’ilin villagers, together with Israeli activists and international supporters, have been holding weekly anti-wall protests which have often ended up violently.

Moussa lost his 10-year-old nephew Ahmed Moussa after he was shot in the head with live ammunition by an Israeli sniper. The boy was not involved in any stone-throwing.

The following day Yousef Amira, 17, was left brain-dead and died a week later after he was shot in the head with rubber-coated steel bullets.

Arafat Rateb Khawaje, 22, was shot in the back with live ammunition last December. The same day Mohammed Khawaje, 20, was shot in the head with live ammunition. He died three days later.

[Do you think any of these victims of Israel’s ongoing, internationally-sanctioned holocaust against the Palestinians will be honored by any museums? — 800]

Moussa was arrested last year while escorting the foreign media at a demonstration. No charges were brought against him, and he was eventually granted bail for 800 dollars, which has not been returned.

Moussa agrees with Mehamid that it is important for Palestinians to understand the tragedy that befell the Jews in Europe but which also [conveniently] created added impetus for establishment of the State of Israel.

Over 500 Palestinian villages were razed and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were made refugees by the Israelis [not to mention the thousands killed in cold blood] following the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948.

This followed the UN’s 1947 partition of British Mandate Palestine into Jewish and Palestinian states.

The reaction of the villagers to the museum has been largely positive. “But we have different attitudes here, and some of the people have questioned why we focus on the suffering of the Jews when that is over,” said Moussa.

“They say we should instead focus on our suffering which is current and unresolved, especially as we are being persecuted by the very same people who were themselves persecuted.”

But both Mehamid and Moussa have been quick to explain to dissenters that establishment of the museum is not purely for altruistic reasons but serves the Palestinian cause.

“We believe the Israelis have used the Holocaust for political reasons, to garner the sympathy of the international community,” Mehamid told IPS. “This has been done for both the establishment of the state and for the continued building of settlements and illegal expropriation of Palestinian land and other natural resources,” he added.

It is only through understanding the genuine suffering of the Jews, and how this suffering was used politically, can Palestinians fight back on an even playing ground, said Moussa.

“We acknowledge Hitler’s massacre and in return we would like the Israelis to acknowledge our rights,” said Mehamid. [Don’t hold your breath — 800]

The above article can be found at: Palestinians Honour Holocaust Victims


Obama pledges to confront Holocaust deniers

Posted in ZioBama with tags , , , , , , on May 1, 2009 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

April 23, 2009

WASHINGTON — At a ceremony Thursday remembering millions of Jews [allegedly] slaughtered in World War II, President Barack Obama reaffirmed the strong US bond with Israel and vowed to confront Holocaust deniers.

“There are those who insist the Holocaust never happened, who perpetrate every form of intolerance — racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism and more,” Obama told a gathering in the Capitol Rotunda organized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“We have an opportunity and an obligation to confront these scourges,” Obama said.

[Thanks to DBS at The French Connection for this one]

“We have the opportunity … to commit ourselves to resisting injustice, intolerance and indifference in whatever forms they may take, whether confronting those who tell lies about history or doing everything we can to prevent and end atrocities like those that took place in Rwanda, those taking place in Darfur,” he said.

The US president’s speech came just days after a UN conference on racism where Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denounced Israel as “the most cruel and repressive racist regime.”

Obama reaffirmed the “strong and enduring” bonds between the United States and Israel.

“The nation of Israel rising from the destruction of the Holocaust” was a source of hope to all those who commit to fighting intolerance, he said.

Among those at the gathering, which was part of the US Holocaust Museum’s Days of Remembrance, were five Poles who between them [allegedly] saved the lives of scores of Jews and have been awarded the title of Righteous among the Nations by the Holocaust remembrance organization, Yad Vashem.

“The Righteous remind us that no one is born a savior or a murderer. These are choices we each have the power to make,” Obama said of the Poles as well as the villagers of Le Chambon in France, which [allegedly] refused to turn away or turn in Jews during the war, and saved 5,000 lives.

Jozef Wolszczak, now 90, and the doyen of the group of Righteous, [allegedly] saved the lives of 53 Jews in occupied Poland during the war, [allegedly] buying 20 of them for a kilo of gold from the Germans after an [alleged] raid, [allegedly] giving 30 jobs in his small factory and harboring three more in his home.

Tadeusz Stankiewicz’s family [allegedly] built bunkers in the woods southeast of Warsaw, in which 60 Jews hid.

“We did it because it was the only thing to do. How can you watch so many people suffering and not lift a finger to help them?” Stankiewicz told AFP.

Ireneusz Rajchowski’s family [allegedly] sheltered dozens of Jews in their home, including a man they [allegedly] helped smuggle out of the Warsaw ghetto.

The rescued Jewish man and his family survived the war. His daughter, Barbara Gora, was in the Capitol Thursday, along with two more Righteous Poles, Alicja Schnepf and Anna Stupnicka-Bando, and Krystyna Budnicka, [allegedly] the only member of her Orthodox Jewish family to survive the war.

“The Righteous teach us… that if we have the courage to heed that ‘still, small voice’ within us, we can form a minyan for righteousness that can span a village and even a nation,” said Obama.

A minyan is the quorum required for Jewish communal worship. More than 6,000 Poles have been awarded the title of Righteous among the Nations, the largest number of any country.

Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who [allegedly] survived the Nazi death camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, used his time at the podium in the Rotunda to take on Ahmadinejad.

The Iranian leader was “the number one Holocaust denier in the world,” said Wiesel, whose mother and sister [allegedly] died at Auschwitz, his father [allegedly] at Buchenwald.

“He used the solemn setting of a United Nations gathering again to insult the state of Israel in a way that no civilized person should ever do,” he said, thanking the United States for boycotting the UN meeting in Geneva.

The above article can be found at:

Obama pledges to confront Holocaust deniers

Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers

Posted in Media Watch with tags , , , , , on March 22, 2009 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

righitUniversity Press of Kansas
May, 2002

On the murderous road to “racial purity” Hitler encountered unexpected detours, largely due to his own crazed views and inconsistent policies regarding Jewish identity. After centuries of Jewish assimilation and intermarriage in German society, he discovered that eliminating Jews from the rest of the population was more difficult than he’d anticipated. As Bryan Mark Rigg shows in this provocative new study, nowhere was that heinous process more fraught with contradiction and confusion than in the German military.

Contrary to conventional views, Rigg reveals that a startlingly large number of German military men were classified by the Nazis as Jews or “partial-Jews” (Mischlinge), in the wake of racial laws first enacted in the mid-1930s. Rigg demonstrates that the actual number was much higher than previously thought–perhaps as many as 150,000 men, including decorated veterans and high-ranking officers, even generals and admirals.
Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers the Documentary

As Rigg fully documents for the first time, a great many of these men did not even consider themselves Jewish and had embraced the military as a way of life and as devoted patriots eager to serve a revived German nation. In turn, they had been embraced by the Wehrmacht, which prior to Hitler had given little thought to the “race” of these men but which was now forced to look deeply into the ancestry of its soldiers.

The process of investigation and removal, however, was marred by a highly inconsistent application of Nazi law. Numerous “exemptions” were made in order to allow a soldier to stay within the ranks or to spare a soldier’s parent, spouse, or other relative from incarceration or far worse. (Hitler’s own signature can be found on many of these “exemption” orders.) But as the war dragged on, Nazi politics came to trump military logic, even in the face of the Wehrmacht’s growing manpower needs, closing legal loopholes and making it virtually impossible for these soldiers to escape the fate of millions of other victims of the Third Reich.

Based on a deep and wide-ranging research in archival and secondary sources, as well as extensive interviews with more than four hundred Mischlinge and their relatives, Rigg’s study breaks truly new ground in a crowded field and shows from yet another angle the extremely flawed, dishonest, demeaning, and tragic essence of Hitler’s rule. Mugshot Style Pictures of Anton Mayer righitmugshotsSide and front photographs of “half-Jew” Anton Mayer, similar to those that often accompanied a Mischling’s application for exemption. To see more photographs from the book, click here.

“Through videotaped interviews, painstaking attention to personnel files, and banal documents not normally consulted by historians, and spurred by a keen sense of personal mission, Rigg has turned up an unexplored and confounding chapter in the history of the Holocaust. The extent of his findings has surprised scholars.”–Warren Hoge, New York Times

“The revelation that Germans of Jewish blood, knowing the Nazi regime for what it was, served Hitler as uniformed members of his armed forces must come as a profound shock. It will surprise even professional historians of the Nazi years.” –John Keegan, author of The Face of Battle and The Second World War

“Startling and unexpected, Rigg’s study conclusively demonstrates the degree of flexibility in German policy toward the Mischlinge, the extent of Hitler’s involvement, and, most importantly, that not all who served in the armed forces were anti-Semitic, even as their service aided the killing process.”–Michael Berenbaum, author of The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust

“Rigg’s extensive knowledge and the preliminary conclusions drawn from his research impressed me greatly. I firmly believe that his in-depth treatment of the subject of German soldiers of Jewish descent in the Wehrmacht will lead to new perspectives on this portion of 20th century German military history.”–Helmut Schmidt, Former Chancellor of Germany

“An impressively researched work with important implications for hotly debated questions. Rigg tells some exquisitely poignant stories of individual human experiences that complicate our picture of state and society in the Third Reich.”–Nathan A. Stoltzfus, Florida State University, author of Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany

“An impressive work filled with interesting stories. . . . By helping us better understand Nazi racial policy at the margins–i.e., its impact on certain members of the German military–Rigg’s study clarifies the central problems of Nazi Jewish policies overall.”–Norman Naimark, Stanford University, author of Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe

“An illuminating and provocative study that merits a wide readership and is sure to be much discussed.”–Dennis E. Showalter, Colorado College, author of Tannenberg: Clash of Empires

“An outstanding job of research and analysis. Rigg’s book will add a great deal to our understanding of the German military, of the place of Jews and people of Jewish descent in the Nazi state, and of the Holocaust. It forces us to deal with the full, complex range of possible actions and reactions by individuals caught up in the Nazi system.”–Geoffrey P. Megargee, author of Inside Hitler’s High Command

“With the skill of a master detective, Bryan Rigg reveals the surprising and largely unknown story of Germans of Jewish origins in the Nazi military. His work contributes to our understanding of the complexity of faith and identity in the Third Reich.”–Paula E. Hyman, Yale University, author of Gender and Assimilation in Modern Jewish History and The Jews of Modern France

“A major piece of scholarship which traces the peculiar twists and turns of Nazi racial policy toward men in the Wehrmacht, often in the highest ranks, who had partly Jewish backgrounds. Rigg has uncovered personal stories and private archives which literally nobody knew existed. His book will be an important contribution to German history.”–Jonathan Steinberg, University of Pennsylvania, author of All or Nothing: The Axis and the Holocaust 1941-1943

“An original, groundbreaking, and significant contribution to the history of the Wehrmacht and Nazi Germany.”–James S. Corum, School of Advanced Air Power Studies, author of The Roots of Blitzkrieg and The Luftwaffe

“Rigg’s work has discovered new academic territory.”–Manfred Messerschmidt, Freiburg University, author of Die Wehrmacht im NS-Staat (The Wehrmacht in the Nazi State)

“Rigg’s bracing and unintimidated study lays bare the contradiction, confusion and expedience that governed Mischlinge policy and the maiming cost to those whose lives were burdened by anxiety, guilt and collusion. In the end we must be grateful for his book, a penetrating light cast on some of the murkier corners of the human psyche.”–Michael Skakun, Aufbau

“Rigg has opened brand new territory for historians and students of war, offering new insight into the Nazi mentality on race.”–World War II Magazine

“Rigg has done a very significant piece of historical research and writing.”–Milt Rosenberg, WGN Radio, Chicago

“Rigg has written a truly important history. It is original, it has outstanding scholarship, and there is plenty of it!”–James F. Tent, author of In the Shadow of the Holocaust: Nazi Persecution of Jewish-Christian Germans

“A brilliant and extremely disturbing work of masterful historical research. A must read for everyone. It raises more moral dilemmas than one can answer.”–Steve Pieczenik, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and co-creator of the best selling novels and TV series OP-Center and Net Force

BRYAN MARK RIGG received his B.A. with honors in history from Yale University in 1996. Yale awarded him the Henry Fellowship for graduate study at Cambridge University, where he received his M.A. in 1997 and Ph.D. in 2002. Currently Professor of History at American Military University, he has served as a volunteer in the Israeli Army and as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. His research for this book has been featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and London Daily Telegraph. For more information on Bryan Rigg, view his web site at

The above article can be found at:

The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military

On the murderous road to “racial purity” Hitler encountered unexpected detours, largely due to his own crazed views and inconsistent policies regarding Jewish identity. After centuries of Jewish assimilation and intermarriage in German society, he discovered that eliminating Jews from the rest of the population was more difficult than he’d anticipated. As Bryan Mark Rigg shows in this provocative new study, nowhere was that heinous process more fraught with contradiction and confusion than in the German military.

Contrary to conventional views, reveals that a startlingly large number of German military men were classified by the Nazis as Jews or “partial-Jews” (Mischlinge), in the wake of racial laws first enacted in the mid-1930s. Rigg demonstrates that the actual number was much higher than previously thought–perhaps as many as 150,000 men, including decorated veterans and high-ranking officers, even generals and admirals.

Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers the Documentary

Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers

Fact or Fiction — The story of (another) fake holocaust memoir

Posted in Media Watch with tags , , on January 29, 2009 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

20090129180851766_1The Jewish Daily Forward
January 8, 2009

Josie loved the book “Angel Girl,” by Laurie Friedman. She was a fan of Friedman’s Mallory books, chapter books about the travails of a modern-day third grader: friendships, pets, moving, having her mom begin teaching music at the school she attends (mortifying!). But “Angel Girl” was very different — a non-fiction picture book filled with gorgeous, lyrical, tilted-perspective paintings, about a Holocaust survivor and the “angel girl” who saved him by tossing him apples over the work camp fence.

And now we know that the survivor in question, Herman Rosenblat, invented his story. “Angel Girl” has been withdrawn from the market and its publisher, Lerner Books, has offered a refund to anyone who bought it; Rosenblat’s own memoir has been canceled.

But Josie wasn’t disappointed or upset. When I sat her down to tell her that “Angel Girl” was made up, she said, “It doesn’t matter. It still feels true.” She explained that learning that the apple and the couple’s reunion were lies didn’t affect her love of the story. “I know Harry Potter isn’t real, and there are no flying brooms or magic maps or Voldemort, but the way the writer wrote it, it feels real. And ‘Angel Girl’ feels real.” The notion that people can take risks and help each other in the face of danger and injustice, that love can triumph over evil and that serendipity or destiny have a role in human lives… for her, it was dayenu.

My daughter’s not entirely innocent of darker human motives. “Why would Herman make up this story?” I asked her. “To make money,” she answered instantly. But again, she didn’t care. The story had a life apart from its fallen hero. She loved the art. She loved the way Friedman wrote. That was enough.

Of course, it shouldn’t be. As Adam Lerner, president of Lerner Publishing Group, said in a statement: “While this tragic event in world history needs to be taught to children, it is imperative that it is done so in a factual way that doesn’t sacrifice veracity for emotional impact.” Exactly. I don’t want Josie equating the Holocaust with Harry Potter. And she needn’t. At 7, she can distinguish between the fictional characters in Lois Lowry’s “Number the Stars” and the historical truth behind the book: the way the Danes protected their country’s Jews by smuggling them to freedom in Sweden, the role of the Resistance during the war, the heroism of Danish fishermen and Swedish scientists. A note at the end of the novel clearly spells out what is real and what is fictional. It’s certainly possible to teach children history, its broad and terrible truths illuminated by flickers of human nobility and hope. Josie reads non-fiction too, and has learned that all kinds of narratives, “real” and not, can contain emotional truths. But we parents do have to make sure kids understand what veracity means in the real world.

And it’s not as though flags weren’t raised years ago. Rosenblat first told his story over a decade ago to win a newspaper contest and it’s been floating around the Internet for years. (I got it in e-mail five times.) Dozens of people have pointed out that the fence at the Buchenwald sub-camp where Herman was imprisoned was next to the SS barracks and approaching it was punishable by death; Herman and Roma couldn’t have met on opposite sides of it every day at the same time. But hey, we want to believe. Anything with the gloss of “this really happened!” gives a frisson. Memoir is more titillating than fiction. People will always invent stories and say they’re true, risking exposure, for a variety of motives we can never really know. Greed, a need for attention, the belief that the way it should have been is actually the way it was. And the public will always hunger for sensational “true” tales. Folklorists call them FOAFs — “friend of a friend” stories. This really happened! To my cousin’s sister-in-law’s hairdresser! Attaching a human, no matter how shadowy and distant, to an unbelievable narrative gives it believability.

Perhaps the saddest aspect of this sordid story is that Herman wasn’t a guy who spent three hours in jail when he said he’d spent three months there; he wasn’t a suburban rich girl claiming to be an inner-city gangbanger. He really did survive the camps. His life was already a miracle. It’s a shame that wasn’t enough, for him or for the publishers and Oprah bookers. There had to be an angel girl.

It’s also galling that everyone jumped on the Rosenblat bandwagon when there are so many powerful Holocaust narratives that deserve wider audiences. A number of comic book creators, including Stan Lee, have been trying to sell a story about Dina Gottliebova Babbitt, a young artist who painted a mural of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves on the wall of the children’s barracks at Auschwitz. Josef Mengele then had her paint portraits of gypsies for his records; because of this work, she and her mother survived. After the war, she met and fell in love with one of the animators of the original Snow White film. Today, at 85, she seeks the return of her works from the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum, but the museum refuses. Comic book creators, who know well the pain of having their creations taken from them, have taken up her cause, thus far to no effect. Wouldn’t Babbitt’s story make an incredible children’s book or graphic novel? Or could I interest you in the tale of Irena Sendler, the Polish Catholic woman who saved thousands of Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto, whose story became more widely known after four high school girls in rural Kansas wrote a play about her, in 1999? The play has been performed hundreds of times in schools around the world, and the girls got to meet Sendler in Poland several times. She died in 2008. Is this multi-generational saga not worthy of a children’s book or an HBO movie?

But maybe that’s the biggest problem of the media machine: the notion that memoirs have to be larger than life. The best personal history I’ve ever read is Mark Salzman’s “Lost in Place” (Vintage, 1996). It’s about a nebbishy short kid in the suburbs obsessed with kung-fu. There’s no gang violence, no stints in rehab. There is, well, bike-riding. And pot-smoking. (Hey, it’s Connecticut in the ’70s.) And yet it’s about big themes: yearning for meaning, finding your way in the world, creating a sense of self. It’s lyrical, funny, sweet, humane and moving. Why can’t that be enough?

I admit this entire subject gives me agita, as I’m currently wrestling with these issues while co-writing a memoir, the story of a fashion model who overcame anorexia and exercise bulimia. How can I make sure I’m telling the truth while telling a good story and making larger points about all our lives? As Joni Rodgers, the New York Times bestselling memoirist and ghostwriting guru said on her blog, Boxing the Octopus: “The purpose of memoir is not only to suss out emotional truth and meaning in the actual events, but also to recognize the angel and the liar in each of us. There is a way to tell what really happened and still give voice to what might have been, to what we prayed for or dreamed of.”

We have to resist the temptation to sugarcoat history by throwing apples and angels at it. Of course we shouldn’t overwhelm kids with more detail or darkness than they’re capable of understanding at a given age, but we also shouldn’t make the teaching of history part of the feel-good movement.

The above article can be found at:

Fact or Fiction — The story of (another) fake holocaust memoir