Category Archives: World History

Elie Wiesel

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“Elie Wiesel, #Auschwitz & Buchenwald survivor, writer, 1986 #Nobel Peace Prize laureate, died on this day, in 2016.”

For more information on Elie Wiesel, visit –Auschwitz Museum

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” (Elie Wiesel)

Elisha Wiesel remembers his father, and how growing up under Elie Wiesel’s  guidance impacted him.

May his memory be for a Loving Blessing.

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

To the Edge of Sorrow

To the Edge of Sorrow, by Aharon Appelfeld, is a profound book, in many aspects.

Appelfeld leaves nothing to the imagination, as far as word-imagery, illuminating not only the physical horrors, losses, and sorrows of war, but also the emotional perceptions, repressions, and ability to forge through each day, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour.

Jewish partisans struggle from hunger, extreme cold temperatures, living in trenches, life on the run, living in a Ukrainian forest, during World War II. They are adamant about fighting the Nazis.

Judaism is a central theme, within the pages, and how it’s education is part of the partisans’ daily ritual. Whether believers, or not, it is expected that the entire group participates, because their leader is determined that morality will survive the horrors thrust upon them.

Through this daily aspect, some of the group are able to cope better, with their difficult situation.  Others are impacted more emotionally, causing them to reflect on their life, their loved ones, the comforts of home.  The effects, and how each person is affected, is important in the context of the group, as a whole.

The story, with its characters, and depictions, still lingers within me, and will, for quite some time. It is one of those books, that for me, is difficult to let go of.

I have been an avid reader of Aharon Appelfeld’s books. Sadly, this was his last one, as he died in 2018.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Novels, Uncategorized, World History, World War II

Ashkenazi Jews

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I found an interesting article, on Gizmodo regarding Ashkenazi Jews, and it began like this:  “A genetic analysis shows that all of the Ashkenazi Jews alive today — of which there are more than 10 million — can trace their roots to a group of just 330 people who lived 600 to 800 years ago.”  I found that sentence, in itself, absolutely fascinating.

Reading the entire article gave me much insight into the components of Ashkenazi DNA.  Apparently, ‘no more than half of the DNA  comes from Ancient Europeans, while the rest of the Ashkenazi genome comes from the Middle East’.  I knew that Ashkenazi Jews had Middle East DNA in them, as I had read that in several articles, over the years.  Just how much of the Middle Eastern genome was new information to me.

I also read the link to nature dot com, that was included in the Gizmodo article, which showed the entire scientific study on the issue.  The history is intriguing.

After reading the scientific study, I then looked up the subject matter of Ashkenazi Jews on Wikipedia’s website.  The information there gave more extensive information into the Middle Ages aspect of the Ashkenazi Jews.  But, once I stopped to think about it, I realized I know much of this to begin with, due to the nonfiction history books I have read, and also due to some of the historical fiction books I have read, over 1,000, combined, along with printed articles, over the years.

I also read an article on Frontiers in Genetics website entitled, The Origins of Ashkenaz, Ashkenazi Jews, and Yiddish.  Their findings indicate a predominance of Ashkenazi Jews originated in Turkey.  Interesting!

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has information on Ashkenazi Jews, as well.

Sometimes it takes one certain sentence to draw us in, and awaken, and reinforce in our minds, what we already know.

Whether one of these articles is accurate, or a combination of them is, is a changing scene in the scheme of DNA tests.  One study tells us one thing, another study enhances the first study, or diminishes it, in some respect.  New concepts in DNA arise almost yearly, with newly found genetic discoveries.

For instance, I had my DNA tested in June 2019, showing my Jewish DNA and where it stemmed from, as far as the countries it originated from, and/or included.  In December 2019, I received an update on my Jewish DNA showing a different perspective of the countries, including new ones, excluding others.

There seems to be a constant flow of discoveries, through testing and genetic studies, that influence the mapping of Ashkenazi Jews.  I try to keep up with reading material on the issues as much as possible.

 

Copyright Lorri M.

 

 

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Lithuania Holocaust Escape Tunnel

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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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Book Review: The Free World

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The Free World, by David Bezmozgis, is a captivating novel that entails the emigration of Latvian and Soviet Jews, specifically during the late 1970s, when some were permitted to leave. In 1978 the Krasnansky family has decided to leave, and their journey takes them to Rome, where they must wait for visas to continue on to the United States, or possibly Canada.

The elder Samuil Krasnansky is a diehard communist, and decorated war hero for his service while in the Red Army. The Russian Revolution had a profound affect on him, and the effects of war continued to define his life until his death. Emma, his wife, is also there, as are their two sons, Alec and Karl. The two brothers, are as different as they can be in their political and social spheres.

Alec is a roamer, a womanizer, married to Polina. He seemingly cares little about the circumstances surrounding their journey. Karl, on the other hand is a staunch capitalist, ever involved within the circle of individuals he encounters in Rome. Life is not always as it seems for the two of them. Through some humorous twists of fate, Alec feels he is being pursued by female interests, when in fact it turns out to be otherwise.

There are other laugh-out-loud lines and scenarious within the pages, such as Samuil’s reaction to a rendering of Fiddler on the Roof. Yet, withing the comic relief, the story line is one wrought with varied ideals, and varied perspectives of freedom, and what it actually means. Bezmozgis is brilliant in depicting the mindsets of the characters.

I didn’t necessarily like the characters, and found them to be flawed in many aspects. But, I still enjoyed reading The Free World, for its historical factor, and for how the author depicted the lives of the individuals. We are all a part of the whole, no matter our choices, our mindsets and our differences. We are all flawed, and no one individual is perfect in the scheme of things.

Due to Samuil’s health, the family is forced to stay in Rome longer than expected. Their visas are on the line during this time period. Their freedom to journey forward, physically, is hindered by his health. Yes, they could have forged forward, and he could have emigrated at a later point in time, but the familial hold was a strong one, despite the disparities and lack of similarities within the family members. This aspect is strong throughout the pages.

The story line reflects back and forth, and there are back stories of each of the characters. The book spans decades of familial uprising and social standings. The decades infuse the dynamics of revolution and war quite vividly. This brings into focus why they act the way they do, and also gives the reader a sense of their lives before departing for Rome, and the choices they made beforehand.

The roller coaster ride the family finds themselves on only enhances their feelings of suffocation in a city that they were supposed to be temporarily involved in, waiting for the chance to leave. Freedom takes on new meanings, from emotional stifling to physical stand stills. Their wait for visa approval is filled with frustration and the unknown.

The book had me questioning the defining of freedom and the “the free world”. Is there such a place on the planet where a person can be truly free? Does “the free world” exist, or is it just a euphemism for the areas that were located outside of the realm of the communist states. One might live a life in a non-communist environment, but does that mean they are free? Freedom takes on many forms, not the least being emotional constraints.

Before reading this book, I had no idea that there was a “way station” so to speak, in Rome, where emigres had to wait for visas. The daily interactions and emotional aspects of the waiting period is highly illuminated within the pages. The emotional struggles are brought to the forefront.

The Free World, by David Bezmozgis, is a well-formed study and metaphor for freedom and autonomy, within familial dynamics. The visuals are strong, as are the insights into the emotions of the characters. The historical aspect is an important one, in my opinion.

I would rate The Free World a 4 with 5 being the highest.

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Kristallnacht – 75 Years Ago

On November 9th, 1938, Kristallnacht (an intense series of attacks on Jews fostered by the Nazi party paramilitary) became known as the “Night of Broken Glass”. The coordinated attacks on Jews continued through November 10, 1938. 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.

Seventy five years later, please remember all of the victims of Kristallnacht, and of the Holocaust, during your prayer and quiet time.

To learn more about Kristallnacht, browse these links:


United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Wikipedia

Yad Vashem

Martin Gilbert’s Book – Kristallnacht: Prelude to Destruction (Making History)

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