Category Archives: Holocaust/Genocide

Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day

Yom HaShoah begins at sundown, tonight, May 1, 2019, and ends at sundown May 2, 2019. Let us never forget…

Here is a link, to ‘Velveteen Rabbi’ Blog where you can read twelve poems for Yom HaShoah that were written by different individuals, and also a memorial prayer.

If you want to learn more about the Holocaust, visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

You might also want to visit Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center.

This poem was written during WWII, etched on the wall of a cellar in Cologne, Germany, by a Jewish person in hiding. It has also been attributed to being written on a wall in a Nazi concentration camp, in Cologne, Germany.

“I believe in the sun
even when it is not shining
And I believe in love,
even when there’s no one there.
And I believe in God,
even when he is silent.
– Unknown

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Filed under Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog

World War II and Holocaust-related Books Recently Read

World War II books have always been a passion to me, and especially books that cover the Holocaust. I am an avid reader, and feel that my continual reading of Holocaust-related books will keep me focused on remembrance, courage, love and loss, identity, displacement, assimilation, socialization, trauma, and the appalling and horrific events that consumed individuals, both in those who were murdered, and the after-affects and after-effects of survivors and their families.

Here is a list of some of the books I have recently read, that deal with World War II and the Holocaust:

The Wartime Sisters by Linda Cohen Loigman

Ashes in the Snow by Ruta Sepetys

All That Is by James Salter

The Taster by V.S. Alexander

A Brief Stop On the Road From Auschwitz by Goran Rosenberg

In His Father’s Footsteps by Danielle Steel

The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict

News of Our Loved Ones by Abigail DeWitt

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Filed under Fiction, Historical Fiction, Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Non-Fiction, World War II

Remember…

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Another day is upon us.  Let us take a moment to remember what was, what is, and what might come.

Today we lost a woman of great strength and humaneness.  Yaffa Eliach has died.  She created “The Tower of Faces” in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“The Tower of Faces” is so profound.  Each time I have seen it, I am left speechless, filled with awe and deep respect for Yaffa Eliach’s tremendous efforts in creating the memorial.  The photographs speak wonders of the individuals, times gone by, a collective history, moments in living, lives lost due to hatred.

One cannot walk through the immense exhibit without it affecting them intensely.

Thank you.

Rest in Peace, Yaffa Eliach.

~~~~~

Today, I remember Kristallnacht.

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On November 9th and 10th, 1938, Kristallnacht (an intense series of attacks on Jews fostered by the Nazi party paramilitary) became known as the “Night of Broken Glass”. The glass storefronts of the Jewish-owned businesses were totally shattered, by both the paramilitary and by local citizens. The interior of Fasanenstrasse Synagogue in Berlin was destroyed, along with so many other structures.

At least 91 Jews were killed in the attacks, and a further 30,000 arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps.  Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, as the attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers.  Over 1,000 synagogues were burned (95 in Vienna alone), and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged.”

Remember…

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Review: Kaddish for an Unborn Child

Kaddish for an Unborn Child, by Imre Kertesz, was a difficult book, in the sense that the narrator was rambling, repetitiously, due to his stream of consciousness.

The novel opens with the word ‘No!’  It is an answer to a question asked him, the question being did he have a child.   He also answered his wife the same way, when she wanted a child.  From there the reader is led through the narrator’s bleak, dark and depressed outlook on life and living.

The narrator is a writer.  Within the ramblings the sentences run into each other, as his thoughts unfold on the pages.  He tries to illuminate all of his thoughts and feelings, often repeating what he has just stated.  This is due to the workings of his mind, and the fact he has an urgency to get it all out in the open.  This urgency is what keeps him alive, literally.  He has much to criticize regarding his life, including his childhood.

The narrator compares his abusive and restricted childhood to his existence in Auschwitz.  Rules and the oppressive environment almost seem normal to him, coming from his controlled adolescent upbringing.  Once liberated his perceptions regarding daily life continue in the same vein.  He encloses himself within the walls of isolation.

His routine continues to be a somewhat confined existence, as he transcends from being a Holocaust camp prisoner, to living for years sheltered from life in a rented room.  He compares his living arrangement to that of the camps, in the sense that he has been restricted and limited in space, and therefore in daily life.

Of course, much of his limitations have been self-induced repercussions and extensions of the Holocaust.  Once he marries, he ponders the issues of an apartment with his wife, and how he has never thought of spaciousness, furniture, this or that.  The rented room was self-contained, with all of the essentials provided.  His pen was his life’s companion.  He had need for nothing else.

I won’t delve into the story line any further.  It was enough to get through the novel in its entirety.  It was an emotionally, laborious read in many aspects, reinforcing the Holocaust and its mental and emotional effects and affects on those who survive, those who are generational survivors, and on those who are victims of a survivor’s bleak and dark mindset.  In this case, his wife was a victim of the narrator’s mindset and his demons.

Within the darkness, I found Kaddish for an Unborn Child to be an excellent resource on the philosophical and psychological aspects of humanity’s, Holocaust nightmare.

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Lithuania Holocaust Escape Tunnel

sunset bw

The New York Times published this story. “A team of archaeologists and mapmakers say they have uncovered a forgotten tunnel that 80 Jews dug largely by hand as they tried to escape from a Nazi extermination site in Lithuania about 70 years ago.” Read the rest of the story at this NY Times link.

This article reminds me of Father Patrick Dubois and his extensive research into the Holocaust and genocidal practices. His book, The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest’s Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews, is extremely compelling and important.

Here is a link to a New York Times article regarding Father Patrick Dubois and his unending endeavors.

Let us always remember the lives of those who came before us.

Shabbat Shalom!

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Filed under Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, World History, World War II

Those wishing to read an amazing and historical story, one that is compelling from the first page to the last, then Code Name Zegota: Rescuing Jews in Occupied Poland, 1942-1945, by Irene Tomaszewski and Tecia Werbowski, is a must read for you.

In fact, it in my opinion, it is a must read for everyone, Jewish or otherwise, as the foundation of the book is based on factual events depicting both Christian and Jewish rescuers, and the rescued Jews in Poland during World War II.  From the moment I began it, I read straight through the pages, and then went back to absorb some more intense and dramatic pages and historical content.  The pages in the first half of the book deal primarily with the Zegota secret organization and its structure, including the Polish underground, the varied outsources, connections, political entities, well-known individuals, the cells, communications, etc., that composed the entirety of Zegota.  Zegota was the secret code name that was used for the Council for Aid to the Jews.  This was an organization with extremely courageous individuals that were included in the stronghold.

The primary founders were two women.  The well known writer, Zofia Kossak was a co-founder, along with Wanda Krahelska-Filopowicz.  Kossak was initially deemed antisemetic because of her negative reactions to Jewish organizations prewar, and was a conservative nationalist. Krahelska-Flipowicz was heavily involved in the Underground prewar and very influential in the art community, with the AK and the Delegatura. She helped hide Jews in her own home.  Kossak persuaded her own children to help save and rescue Jews, and emphasized the moral, ethical and humaneness of doing so.  She felt the Nazi atrocities and crimes were “an offense against man and God, and their policies an affront to the ideals she espused for an independent Poland”.  She used her published leaflet “Protest” to motivate the Polish people to come forward and help aid them.

From boy scouts to girl scouts, priests and ordinary Catholic citizens, Jewish individuals, members of the Home Army (known as the AK), political liaisons, railway workers, garbage collectors, printers, shop owners, estate owners, children’s homes, professionals, etc., the connections were incredible.

Zegota had connections through the widely read Jewish underground newspapers such as the the Biuletyn Informacyjny (BI), whose editor was Aleksander Kaminski, and Henryk Wolinski who headed the Jewish section of the Underground Bureau of Information and Propaganda, which was the main contact between the AK and the Jewish liaison of The Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB.  These two men who were with the AKI were instrumental in spreading the news throughout the underground, by using their foreign correspondents within Poland (especially in the Warsaw Ghetto) and in other countries, and spreading it to those other organizations and individuals connected to Zegota.

The worst of mankind spewed their hatred during a tumultuous period in time.  Gentile Poles, themselves were treated as subhuman, and forced into hard labor in work camps, murdered, etc.  With the help of Zegota, and the organizations within the organization, many Poles stood up for what was ethical and moral, what was at the heart of goodness, what was the humane action to take.

Irene Sendler was one such Gentile Pole. Her network within the Warsaw Welfare Department was a strong asset to Zegota. She helped smuggle 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto, and hid them within the confines of Polish homes, Austrian homes, and other homes of safety.

The inidividuals were tireless, self-sacrificing, and devoted to the cause of saving Jews. Facts show that between 40,000-50,000 Jews were saved by the Zegota network which issued over 50,000 false documents.

Code Name Zegota is an extremely intense book, dedicated to the telling of the little known facts regarding Zegota. The educational aspect is invaluable, and the research that the authors, Tomaszewski and Werbowski dedicated themselves to, and endeavored to contain within the pages is strongly apparent. They forcefully and strongly illuminate Zegota and what it stood for in its structural capacity, and the willingness of Gentiles/Christians and Jews alike, to forge ahead and work together, at risk of not only their own lives, but the lives of their family members.

Code Name Zegota holds a wealth of statistics and facts. But, primarily, it radiates the hearts and souls of the individuals who helped rescue Jews. Their unwavering commitment is poignant, heart-wrenching, uplifting and inspiring, and Irene Tomaszewski and Tecia Werbowski should be applauded for their accomplishment in bringing Code Name Zegota: Rescuing Jews in Occupied Poland, 1942-1945 to light, for the world to read, for the world to become educated, for the world to carry forth the teachings of the authors. I am stunned after reading Code Name Zegota. The story will linger with me for quite some time. This English edition brings knowledge and inspiration to those who read it, and keeps the candle of the past eternally lit, bearing witness to those who died, those who survived and were saved.

This is my second reading of it, as I recently read it for a book club.

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