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Jewish, Israeli Leaders to Attend Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism

Leaders from across the Jewish world will join Israeli leaders participating in the 5th Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, which begins on Tuesday, May 12 through May 14, at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem.

Israeli officials attending the forum include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, recently nominated for Education Ministry in Netanyahu’s next government, Speaker of the Knesset and the President of Supreme Court will also attend.

Some 1,000 experts from around the world will take part in the conference – the largest of its kind in the world – including the Justice Ministers of Germany and Romania, the Education Minister of Bulgaria, the Mayor of Paris, and the Minister of State for Multiculturalism from Canada.

Leaders from across multiple Jewish groups will be also be in attendance, including from the Anti-Defamation League; Simon Wiesenthal Center; American Jewish Committee; Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France; the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance; B’nai B’rith; World Jewish Congress; and the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy.

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Wed May 13, 2015, 01:22 AM (0 replies)

Austria marks 70th anniversary of liberation of Mauthausen concentration camp

Source: Shanghai Daily

VIENNA, May 5 (Xinhua) -- Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann Tuesday paid tribute to the victims of the Nazi regime and resistance fighters to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Mauthausen concentration camp by U.S. troops.

"We remember all those who suffered, all those who died, at that place," Faymann said, referring to the concentration camp in Upper Austria where the number of people killed is estimated to run into the hundreds of thousands.

He said one must not simply let this day of the year pass as any other would, but rather engage in fundamental discussions in Austria and Europe, and learn the right lessons from history, something he said the European Union has been doing since its founding.

Read more: http://www.shanghaidaily.com/article/article_xinhua.aspx?id=280429


Nazi Germany incorporated Austria in the Anschluss of March 11-13, 1938. Shortly thereafter, Reichsführer-SS (SS chief) Heinrich Himmler, SS General Oswald Pohl, the chief of the SS Administration and Business Offices, and SS General Theodor Eicke, the Inspector of Concentration Camps, inspected a site they thought suitable for the establishment of a concentration camp to incarcerate, as Upper Austrian Nazi Party district leader August Eigruber put it, “traitors to the people from all over Austria.” The site was on the bank of the Danube River, near the “Wiener Graben” stone quarry, which was owned by the city of Vienna. It was located about three miles from the town of Mauthausen in Upper Austria, 12.5 miles southeast of Linz.

At the end of April 1938, the SS founded a company, German Earth and Stone Works Inc. (Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke, GmbH-DESt), to exploit the granite which they intended to extract with concentration camp labor. In August 1938, the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps transferred approximately 300 prisoners, mostly Austrians and virtually all convicted repeat offenders or persons whom the Nazi regime classified as “asocials” from Dachau concentration camp to the Mauthausen site in order to begin construction of the new camp. By the end of 1938, Mauthausen held nearly 1,000 prisoners, still virtually all convicted criminals and asocials. Three months into World War II in December 1939, the number had increased to over 2,600 prisoners, primarily convicted criminals, "asocials," political opponents, and religious conscientious objectors, such as Jehovah's Witnesses.

An estimated 197,464 prisoners passed through the Mauthausen camp system between August 1938 and May 1945. At least 95,000 died there. More than 14,000 were Jewish.



Location: 20 km from the city of Linz, Austria.
•Established: August 8 1938.
•Liberated: May 5 1945 by the US 11th. armour division.
•Estimated number of victims: aproximately 150.000.
•Sub-camps: 49 permanent sub-camps and aproxametly 10 camps that lasted for some weeks.

Mauthausen was classified as a so-called "category three camp". This was the fiercest category, and for the prisoners it meant "Rûckkehr unerwünscht" (return not desired) and "Vernichtung durch arbeit" (extermination by work).

In summer, wake up was at 4.45 a.m (5.15 in winter), and the working day ended at 7 p.m. This included two roll calls and the distribution of food rations. All the activity revolved around the Wiener Graben and the underground tunneling at the sub-camps of Gusen (I, II and III), Melk and Ebensee. In the Wiener Graben the prisoners were divided into two groups; one that hacked into the granite and the other that carried the slabs up the 186 steep steps to the top of the quarry.

Another killing method, favored by the SS during the winter season, was to gather a group of prisoners in the garage yard and order them to undress. A guard then sprayed water over the group which was left to freeze to death. This was quite effective in a region where the winter temperature usually was around minus 10 degrees Celsius.

On May 5 1945, units of the American 11th Armor Division liberated the main Mauthausen camp. 15,000 bodies were buried in mass graves. Due to diseases and starvation, 3.000 prisoners died in the weeks that followed after the liberation.

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Wed May 6, 2015, 02:03 AM (1 replies)

Anti-Semitism at UCSB: A closer look at bashing the Jews on campus

A nationwide survey of self-identified Jewish students found that a majority of them, 54 percent, had suffered or witnessed incidents of anti-Semitism on their campuses in the last school year.

At the University of California Santa Barbara, that problem has manifested itself in a variety of ways this year, offering a case study, a microcosm of sorts, of the larger issue at hand.

Last October, flyers blaming Jews for 9/11 were discovered on the UCSB campus. They alleged “9/11 was an outside job” and that “9/11 was Mossad,” referring to Israel’s intelligence agency.

The incident prompted a student government resolution denouncing anti-Semitism, but the effort had little effect.

Rabbi Evan Goodman, Santa Barbara Hillel’s leader, recalls a student earlier this year who came to him, upset because after walking home from an event with a small Israeli flag in her hand she was harassed multiple times, with students hurling insults at her for being pro-Israel and Jewish.

In the weeks leading up to a recent student government vote on whether to divest from Israel, Students for Justice in Palestine erected a protest wall condemning Israel’s “Apartheid.” It was placed in the Arbor—the free speech zone— and students and professors were forced to walk around it to continue on the pathway.

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Wed May 6, 2015, 01:48 AM (0 replies)

Nazi-confiscated painting returned to heir of Jewish art historian

Source: Reuters

(Reuters) - A 17th century painting taken by Nazis from a prominent German Jewish art historian has been returned to the owner's daughter, New York state officials said on Tuesday.

The painting, called "Portrait of a Man," was recovered in part by the New York Department of Financial Services’ Holocaust Claims Processing Office, which has helped to return $171 million in assets to relatives of holocaust victims.

"While the terrible damage caused by Nazi persecution can never be repaired, we hope that the recovery of this painting will deliver at least some small measure of justice," department Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky said at a ceremony at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan.

Separately, five paintings missing since World War Two were turned over to a German diplomat at a U.S. State Department ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday for their return to their original owners in Germany.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/05/us-usa-holocaust-art-idUSKBN0NQ1YH20150505
Posted by Behind the Aegis | Wed May 6, 2015, 01:47 AM (1 replies)

Survivors’ children gather at Bergen-Belsen

HANOVER, Germany — Seventy years after the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp by British troops, some 100 people personally touched by the history returned to the site to share their memories and warn against forgetting.

Among them were children born at a displaced persons camp for survivors less than two miles from the camp.

Survivors who recovered started new families. In fact, an estimated 2,000 children were born at the DP camp — the largest in postwar Germany — before it closed in September, 1950.

Aviva Tal was one of them. Her parents, who had married before the war but were torn apart and survived several concentration camps, were reunited at the Bergen-Belsen DP camp, where they shared a room with 12 other survivors.

The women “became pregnant right away, including my mother,” Tal, who was born in February, 1947, told JTA. “They put me in a basket in the middle of the room, and I was the most pampered child, always being held. My feet never touched the floor.”

Tal was one of several children of survivors to speak over the weekend at a panel on Holocaust memory led by Menachem Rosensaft, who was born in the DP camp on May 1, 1948. He recently edited a volume of essays, G-d, Faith & Identity from the Ashes: Reflections of Children and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors.

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Wed May 6, 2015, 01:46 AM (1 replies)

University ousts student president, but not for Nazi sympathies

CAPE TOWN — The student government president at a South African university who publicly praised Hitler was removed from office, but over a separate matter, according to a university leader.

Mcebo Dlamini, who made headlines over the weekend after a graphic appeared on his Facebook page comparing the Israeli government to the Nazi regime, was ousted Monday from his post with the Students’ Representative Council at the University of the Witwatersrand.


Dlamini said Habib removed him from office because he had given in to pressure from “Zionists,” South Africa’s Eyewitness News reported.

The student leader told the Wits newspaper Vuvuzela, “What I love about Hitler is his charisma and his capabilities to organize people. We need more leaders of such caliber.”

In defending his Facebook remarks, Dlamini said he was looking at “Hitler’s good side. Hitler managed to uplift the spirit of the German people.”

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Wed May 6, 2015, 01:45 AM (3 replies)

Expert: Shoa denial emerges in new guises

Discredited or driven underground, Holocaust denial has reemerged in a new form, said Mark Weitzman, director of government affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Instead of claiming the Shoa never happened, revisionists are now equating Zionism with Nazism, or accusing Jews of manipulating the Holocaust for political or conspiratorial purposes.

“Holocaust denial was a failure in which they were laughed at or discredited,” said Weitzman, speaking April 19 at Temple B’nai Shalom in East Brunswick. “It is not outright Holocaust denial that’s a danger, but rather manipulation of the Shoa.”

Weitzman spoke at the annual community Holocaust remembrance program of the Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ.

He described the waning influence of deniers like the California-based Institute for Historical Review. Once a leading voice among deniers, the IHR was so beset by legal issues and loss of credibility that it is no longer able to publish its journal or hold once well-attended conferences.

Instead, in the last several years, its executive director, Mark Weber, has resorted to Zionist conspiracy theories that Jews control all aspects of American life.


This is quite popular now, but I disagree that Holocaust denial and revisionism is "underground." Personally, I feel it is making a comeback!
Posted by Behind the Aegis | Wed May 6, 2015, 01:43 AM (1 replies)

Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day: 33 important Holocaust facts

There are certainly more than 33 things to know about the Holocaust, but some of these items may be less known, and by knowing them, we can cultivate a deeper understanding of the Nazi's "Final Solution."

•The Holocaust began in 1933 when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany and ended in 1945 when the Nazis were defeated by the Allied powers.

•The term "Holocaust," originally from the Greek word "holokauston" which means "sacrifice by fire," refers to the Nazi's persecution and planned slaughter of the Jewish people. The Hebrew word "Shoah," which means "devastation, ruin, or waste," is also used for this genocide.

•It is estimated that 11 million people were killed during the Holocaust. Six million of these were Jews.

•The Nazis killed approximately two-thirds of all Jews living in Europe.

•An estimated 1.1 million children were murdered in the Holocaust.

•On April 1, 1933, the Nazis instigated their first action against German Jews by announcing a boycott of all Jewish-run businesses.

•A few of the major ghettos were located in the cities of Bialystok, Kovno, Lodz, Minsk, Riga, Vilna, and Warsaw.

•Although many people refer to all Nazi camps as "concentration camps," there were actually a number of different kinds of camps, including concentration camps, extermination camps, labor camps, prisoner-of-war camps, and transit camps.

•The Nazis built six extermination camps: Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz, and Majdanek. (Auschwitz and Majdanek were both concentration and extermination camps.)

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Thu Apr 16, 2015, 01:35 AM (18 replies)

Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day: Gay Men and Lesbians

Of the millions of victims of the Holocaust, gays and lesbians were also terrorized by the Nazi death machine. Gay men in particular were brutalized by the Nazi regime, even before the camps were set up and functioning. Unlike other prisoners, gays were made to wear identifying triangles (or other markers) on their backs, as well, as the front, so it was easier for them to be identified by the Nazis and other prisoners. The pink triangles were also a bit larger, like the Jews, so it was easier to spot by guards. Even after the liberation of the camps, most gays were made to serve out their "prison" terms and all property seized was never returned.

While male homosexuality remained illegal in Weimar Germany under Paragraph 175 of the criminal code, German homosexual-rights activists became worldwide leaders in efforts to reform societal attitudes that condemned homosexuality. Many in Germany regarded the Weimar Republic's toleration of homosexuals as a sign of Germany's decadence. The Nazis posed as moral crusaders who wanted to stamp out the "vice" of homosexuality from Germany in order to help win the racial struggle. Once they took power in 1933, the Nazis intensified persecution of German male homosexuals. Persecution ranged from the dissolution of homosexual organizations to internment in concentration camps.

The Nazis believed that male homosexuals were weak, effeminate men who could not fight for the German nation. They saw homosexuals as unlikely to produce children and increase the German birthrate. The Nazis held that inferior races produced more children than "Aryans," so anything that diminished Germany's reproductive potential was considered a racial danger.

SS chief Heinrich Himmler directed the increasing persecution of homosexuals in the Third Reich. Lesbians were not regarded as a threat to Nazi racial policies and were generally not targeted for persecution. Similarly, the Nazis generally did not target non-German homosexuals unless they were active with German partners. In most cases, the Nazis were prepared to accept former homosexuals into the "racial community" provided that they became "racially conscious" and gave up their lifestyle.

On May 6, 1933, students led by Storm Troopers (Sturmabteilung; SA) broke into the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin and confiscated its unique library. Four days later, most of this collection of over 12,000 books and 35,000 irreplaceable pictures was destroyed along with thousands of other "degenerate" works of literature in the book burning in Berlin's city center. The remaining materials were never recovered. Magnus Hirschfeld, the founder of the Institute and a pioneer in the scientific study of human sexuality, was lecturing in France at the time and chose not to return to Germany.

more...Persecution of Homosexuals in the Third Reich

The Gay Holocaust


Under the direction of SS head, police drew up "Pink Lists", and embarked on a vicious crackdown on homosexual men and women. Many were sent to mental hospitals, others were castrated by court order, and 100,000 of these men were sent to concentration camps.The pink triangle (now a symbol of Gay Pride) was placed on the prisoners to mark that they were homosexuals. An estimated 55,000 were executed

Heinz Dormer, spent nearly ten years in prisons and concentration camps. He spoke of the "haunting agonizing cries" from "the singing forest", a row of tall poles on which condemned men were hung: "Everyone who was sentenced to death would be lifted up onto the hook. The howling and screaming were inhuman, beyond human comprehension".

Continued persecution
After the camps were liberated and the plight of the Jewish victims acknowledged worldwide, the persecution of homosexuals continued throughout post-war Germany. While many survivors were rebuilding their lives and families initially in displaced persons camps, homosexuals faced further persecution and social exclusion. In fact many pink triangle survivors were re-imprisoned as homosexuals remained deviants in the eyes of post-war society.

Silent shame
The gay survivors who were liberated (i.e. not subject to further prison terms) often found themselves ostracized from society. Some were not welcomed back to their homes in the aftermath of war for the 'shame' they had brought on their family's reputation. Those that did return often kept their experience to themselves fearing that the sensitive nature of the horrors would bring further distress to family members. Some never spoke out about their suffering.

No Justice
In the 1945 Nuremberg war crime trials that followed the liberation no mention was ever made of crimes against homosexuals. No SS official was ever tried for specific atrocities against pink triangle prisoners. Many of the known SS Doctors, who had performed operations on homosexuals, were never brought to account for their actions. One of the most notorious SS doctors was Carl Peter Vaernet who performed numerous experiments on pink triangle inmates at the Buchenwald and Neuengamme camps. He was never tried for his crimes and escaped to South America where he died a free man in 1965.


Homocaust: The gay victims of the Holocaust

During the Nazi period up to 100,000 gay men & women were persecuted & imprisoned for their sexuality under Paragraph 175 of the German Penal code. The Third Reich had no place for such 'deviants' & set out a systematic strategy to rid itself of this 'poison'. About 15,000 were sent to concentration camps where, forced to wear the 'pink triangle', as many as 60% lost their lives.

Those that did survive were subject to ongoing persecution in post-war society & struggled hard to be recognized as victims of the Holocaust. In 2005 very few of these witnesses are left to speak of their experiences & in a few years there may be no survivors left. Their voices call now to future generations to listen & learn ensuring their plight does not slip quietly in to the realms of history alone.

While the contents of this site do not constitute easy reading, the message remains simple: NEVER AGAIN. Listen closely to these voices because they are calling to you…

more (this site is worth exploring!)...
Posted by Behind the Aegis | Thu Apr 16, 2015, 01:23 AM (18 replies)

Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day: Righteous Among the Nations

Thousands of people put their own lives on the line in order to protect a variety of people who were being targeted by the Nazis. Despite the very real danger of having their own lives ended (and some did die in the camps), they did what ever they could in order to protect friends, and in many cases, people they didn't even know. Many are familiar with people like Oskar Schindler, but there are so many more, unknown to most, but still as important. Here are some of their stories:

Irena Sendler

When Hitler and his Nazis built the Warsaw Ghetto and herded 500,000 Polish Jews behind its walls to await liquidation, many Polish gentiles turned their backs or applauded. Not Irena Sendler. An unfamiliar name to most people, but this remarkable woman defied the Nazis and saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto. As a health worker, she sneaked the children out between 1942 and 1943 to safe hiding places and found non-Jewish families to adopt them.


Fatima Kanapatskaiya and her daughter Aysha (Anna) Trofimova-Kanapatskaiya (Belarus)

One day an unexpected “guest” arrived at the home of Fatima Kanapatski. Fatima Kanapatskaiya, and her daughter Aysha were Muslims of Tatar origin and lived in Minsk. The guest was Israel Davidson, the husband of Fatima’s friend Fruma.

Minsk was occupied soon after the Geraman Attack on the Soviet Union in the end of June 1941. The murder of the Jews began on July 8, and on July 20, the Jews of Minsk and environs were interned in a ghetto, among them Israel and Fruma Davidson with their children, Rachel, Mira and Vladimir. From there Israel Davidson was taken to the Drozdy camp in the vicinity of Minsk. He managed to escape and, although injured, made his way to the home of the Kanapatskis, his friends from before the war. They took him in, sheltered him for several weeks, and treated his wounds until he recovered. Not wanting to leave his family behind, Israel returned to the ghetto. But after the another murder operation in the ghetto in March 1942, he decided to return to the Kanapatski family. Fatima provided him with a more permanent hiding place in a shed in the woods. Both Fatima and her daughter, Anna (Aysha), took care of Israel. The area was searched several times but the shelter was not discovered. During this period, Israel’s daughter Rachel was able to sneak out of the ghetto a number of times to visit her father in the Kanapatski home. Each time they gave her food for her family before she returned to the ghetto.

In June 1943, when the Minsk ghetto was being liquidated, Fruma Davidson and her three children escaped and joined Israel at the Kanapatskis. They hid there with Israel for one day and then they all fled to a partisan-controlled area. There, in the forest, they joined the partisan unit under the command of Shalom Zorin. The Red Army liberated the area in the summer of 1944.


Rescue in the Royal Palace: Princess Alice (Greece)

Princess Alice was born in Windsor Castle in 1885, as Princess Victoria Alice Elizabeth Julia Marie. Her parents were Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria of Hesse, granddaughter of Queen Victoria. The Princess was related to most European royal families.

When she was a young child, her deafness was diagnosed and by the age of eight she had become a fluent lip reader. This handicap may have made her especially sensitive to the underprivileged and outcast.

Princess Alice married Prince Andrew of Greece in 1903. The couple had five children: four daughters and a son – the future Duke of Edinburgh and consort to Queen Elizabeth II of England.

During World War II, Princess Alice lived in the Athens palace of her brother in law, Prince George of Greece, and worked with the Swedish and Swiss Red Cross. She found herself in the difficult situation of having sons-in-law fighting on the German side and a son (the future Prince Philip) in the British Royal Navy.

The Rescue of Rachel Cohen and her Children

The Greek royal family had been well acquainted with the family of Haimaki Cohen, a Jew and former member of Parliament, from Tricala, in northern Greece. In 1941, when Germany invaded Greece, the family fled to Athens – then still under Italian rule, where the anti-Jewish policy was more moderate. However the period of relative saftely lasted only until September 1943, when following Italy's surrender to the Allies, the Germans occupied Athens and the hunt for Jews began. By that time Haimaki Cohen had died. His widow, Rachel, and her five children were looking for a place of refuge. The family's four sons wanted to cross to Egypt, and join with the Greek government in exile that was in Cairo. But the trip proved too hazardous for Rachel and their sister. Princess Alice heard of the family's desparate situation and offered to shelter Rachel and her duaghter, Tilde, at her home. They were later joined by another son who was unable to make the journey to Egypt and had to return to Athens.

The Cohens stayed in Princess Alice's residence until liberation. There were times when the Germans became suspicious, and Princess Alice was even interviewed by the Gestapo. Using her deafness, she pretended not to understand their questions until they left her alone.


18 Months in a Haystack: Pavel & Lyubov Gerasimchik and their children Klavdiya Kucheruk, Galina Gavrishchuk and Nikolay (Ukraine)

Pavel (Pavlo) and Lyubov (Lubka) Gerasimchik and their teenage three children, Klavdiya, Galina, and Nikolay, lived in the village of Szubkow, close to the town of Tuczyn in the district of Równe, Wołyń. In 1935, Pavel Gerasimchik became acquainted with Isaak Khomut (later Emmet), a well-to-do Jew from Tuczyn who was married and had two daughters. When the Germans occupied the area at the beginning of July 1941, unlike most of the locals, Gerasimchik did not turn his back on his Jewish acquaintance. Despite the hardships brought about by the war, his thoughts turned to the Jewish family who were in even greater danger and need, and he told the Khomuts that he would be willing to host them in his home should it become necessary.

In September 1942 when preparations were made to liquidate the Tuczyn ghetto, the Khomut family decided to flee and head for Szubkow. Their attempt failed and they were forced to return to their house in the ghetto. To their great surprise, the following day Gerasimchik appeared at the Khomuts' home and offered to hide the family in his home for a short while. The Khomuts took Gerasimchik up on his offer and when it became dark, Khomut's wife, Polina and their eight-year-old daughter, Lara, secretly left the ghetto and were driven by Pavlo to his village, hidden under the straw in his cart. A few days later, after the ghetto was liquidated, Khomut joined his wife and child. The Khomuts eldest daughter Hanele had been handed over to another family that had promised to save her. Unfortunately, as it turned out, they betrayed her to the authorities and she was killed.

In view of the danger to whoever hid Jews, the decision to take in a Jewish family was probably a very hard decision for Gerasimchik. By agreeing save the Jews he put not only himself, but also his entire family in danger. In fact, intense searches for Jews were repeatedly carried out in the area and locals caught harboring Jews paid with their lives. Gerasimchik was very troubled by having endangered himself and his family. Soon after the Khomuts had arrived, he reminded them that he had only invited them into his home for a short time, and asked them to leave. However, watching the Jewish family preparing to leave the relative safety of his home to what was certain death, Gerasimchik changed his mind and instead of letting his wards move on, started to build a hideout for them under his threshing floor.

What began with an offer of temporary shelter, evolved into Gerasmichik’s hiding the Khomut family for the duration of the occupation. For 18 months Jewish family secretly stayed in two hideouts in the Gerasimchik's yard. Gerasimchik's wife and children played an active role in caring for and saving the Jewish family. They brought them food and cleaned the chamber pots every day, and at night they stood on guard while their charges briefly left the hideout to breathe some fresh air. The entire Gerasimchik family worked hard to provide food for the extra mouths – not an easy task at the time of war. Towards the end of the occupation, as the Germans were retreating, 15 German soldiers billeted themselves on the Gerasimchiks' property. They stayed on the threshing floor exactly above the heads of the hidden Jews. For almost two weeks, until the Red Army liberated the area on February 15, 1944, the Gerasimchiks could not bring the Khomuts food.


Muslim Rescuers in Albania: Veseli and Fatima Veseli and their children: Refik, Hamid & Xhemal (Albania)

In 1934, Herman Bernstein, the United States Ambassador to Albania, wrote:

“There is no trace of any discrimination against Jews in Albania, because Albania happens to be one of the rare lands in Europe today where religious prejudice and hate do not exist, even though Albanians themselves are divided into three faiths.”

The Mandil family came from Yugoslavia, where Moshe owned a flourishing photography shop. When the Germans invaded Yugoslavia in April 1941, the family fled to the Kosovo province that was under Italian control, where the Jews were relatively protected. Towards the end of the summer of 1942 the fugitives were moved deeper into the Italian controlled area – into Albania – where the majority of the population was Muslim. The family – Moshe and Ela Mandil and their children Gavra and Irena – settled in Tirana. As he was looking up photography shops, Mandil came upon a store owned by one of his former apprentices, Neshad Prizerini. Not only did Prizerini offer Mandil work, but he also invited the family to stay at his home.

In the photo shop Mandil met Prizerini's apprentice, 17-year-old Refik Veseli, who had been sent by his parents from their village, Kruja, to learn the trade of a photographer. After the German invasion of Albania the situation became dangerous for Jews, and Veseli suggested that the Mandils should move to his parents' home in the mountains. Veseli and the Mandils set out on a long journey by mules over rocky terrain. They took side roads, moving during the nights and hiding in caves during the days to avoid detection by the German military.

In Kruja, Moshe and Ela were hidden in a small room above the barn, while their children mingled with the Veseli kids. Sometime after their arrival, Refik's brother, Xhemal brought another Jewish family from Tirana – Ruzhica and Yosef Ben Yosef, and Yosef's sister Finica. The two families stayed with the Veselis in their mountain village until liberation in November 1944. Towards the end of the war the military activity in the area intensified – the Germans were engaged in fighting the partisans – the village was bombed and searches were conducted in the area.


Chinese Visas in Vienna: Feng-Shan Ho (Austria)

Feng-Shan Ho, the Chinese Consul-General in Vienna, was given the title of Righteous Among the Nations for his humanitarian courage in issuing Chinese visas to Jews in Vienna in spite of orders from his superior to the contrary.

After Austria’s annexation to Nazi Germany in March 1938, the 185,000 Jews there were subjected to a severe reign of terror, which resulted in intense pressure to leave the country. In order to do so, the Nazis required that Jews have entry visas or boat tickets to another country. However, the majority of the world’s nations refused to budge from their restrictive immigration policies, a stance reaffirmed at the Evian Conference, in July 1938.

Unlike his fellow-diplomats, Ho issued visas to Shanghai to all requesting them, even to those wishing to travel elsewhere but needing a visa to leave Nazi Germany.

Many of those helped by Ho did indeed reach Shanghai, either by boat from Italy or overland via the Soviet Union. Many others made use of their visas to reach alternate destinations, including Palestine, the Philippines, and elsewhere, such as the parents of Secretary-General of the World Jewish Congress and Vice Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, Dr. Israel Singer, who traveled to Cuba.

Eric Goldstaub, who had immigrated to Canada, related how, in July 1938, he received Chinese visas for his entire family after spending “days, weeks, and months visiting one foreign consulate or embassy after the other trying to obtain visas for parents and near relatives, numbering some 20 people.”

Lilith-Sylvia Doron, who had immigrated to Israel, met Ho accidentally as both watched Hitler entering Vienna, on 11 March 1938 — a time when physical assaults were being waged by the Nazis against the city’s Jews.

“Ho, who knew my family, accompanied me home,” says Doron. “He claimed that, thanks to his diplomatic status, the would not dare harm us as long as he remained in our home. Ho continued to visit our home on a permanent basis to protect us from the Nazis.”


Featured here are a number of rescue stories of Righteous Among the Nations.

"Whosoever saves a single life, saves an entire universe"
(Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4:5)
Posted by Behind the Aegis | Thu Apr 16, 2015, 01:04 AM (7 replies)
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