We must never forget.
Neil Rolde’s comprehensive history of the War Refugee Board
Of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds were killed. Many of the same elements that led to the Holocaust survive today. Neil Rolde has dedicated himself to broadening our awareness of this era. His histories highlight the degree to which the U.S. helped save Jews during the war and what that required.
The War Refugee Board saved over 200,000 lives, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive written history about the extraordinary work that the Board did—until now.
Neil’s More Than a Teardrop in the Ocean, The Tempestuous Story of the War Refugee Board is the definitive history of this heroic organization.
“The War Refugee Board’s feat of saving some 200,000 targeted innocents is surely worthy of respect. I’m proud to have told the saga of the War Refugee Board in its detailed entirety, in these two volumes,” said author Neil Rolde.
A new documentary by Ken Burns, The Sharps’ War, is the story of how a Unitarian minister and his wife risked their lives to save an estimated 125 Jews, during the height of WWII. Burns said that their story needed to be told. Continue reading
Book by Charles Norman Shay
In 2007 Charles Norman Shay went to Washington, DC, to receive the Legion of Honor medal from French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The medal has joined the others bestowed on him, including a Silver Star and four bronze battle stars from World War II and the Korean War, in his home on the Penobscot Indian Island Reservation in Old Town, Maine.
As a young Army medic he had been in the famed 1st Infantry Division that landed in the first wave on Omaha Beach, Normandy. He does not recall how many men he pulled from the water while bullets were streaming past him. “We’ve all had our individual experiences, and none are more dramatic than the next,” said Shay, characteristically modest.
Shay was a medic who saved many lives that D-day in 1944 when 3,000 Allied troops died and some 9,000 were injured or went missing. Shay repeatedly plunged into the treacherous sea and carried critically-wounded men to safety. Continue reading
An Enquiry into the Character of the Man Who Denied Visas to the Jews
By Neil Rolde
During the Holocaust, while the Nazis were exterminating thousands of Jews daily, the U.S. State Department official in charge of matters concerning all European refugees was Breckinridge Long. He was known as an extreme nativist, who was suspicious of Eastern Europeans. He feared more immigrants would spoil existing cultural values and bring with them communist ideals.
“He’s an example of the banality of evil,” said Rolde. “I wanted to highlight his own accounts of his life written in all his diaries, and the times in which he lived, to give people a comprehensive look into his character,” said Neil Rolde author of the first full-length biography of Long titled: Breckinridge Long: An American Eichmann??? An Enquiry into the Character of the Man Who Denied Visas to the Jews. Continue reading
By Hubert C. Kueter
My Tainted Blood follows the author, Hubert C. Kueter, as a boy and teenager in wartime Breslau and postwar Germany. People’s names have been changed but the circumstances are all too real. Hubert turned surviving in WWII’s Germany, as a half Jewish youth, into an adventure and writes about his exploits with wit and humor. Perhaps that’s how he managed to stay alive, and keep his family and friends healthy, during the most horrific circumstances.
The incorporation of the author’s love of cooking, at a time when he had to forage for food under the Nazi regime, helps him in part survive and adds a unique dimension to the chronicle. Kueter also imparts insights into German Jews and their unrequited love of Germany and his friendship with a African American soldier. The 400 page novel keeps the reader involved at every stage as one wonders how Kueter will outwit so many adults, and how he can help the love of his life. Continue reading
By David O. Solmitz
“This haunting autobiography is a major contribution to the newly growing body of Holocaust-survivor-children’s memoirs. Its two-part title says much: “Piecing Scattered Souls” highlights the care in the centripetal organization of the three-generation narrative dealing with the author’s survivor parents, his own generation of Holocaust-survivor children and their wives, and the next generation of his four children.
“The tome’s subtitle, “Maine, Germany, Mexico, China, and Beyond,” highlights the macrocosmic venue in which the events unfold. Continue reading
May 16, 2021
As WWII was coming to an end, Nazi’s created “death marches.” In a first time ever exhibit, accounts from survivors of Nazi death marches, will be on display with testimonies translated into English.
The Wiener Holocaust Library collected testimonies from some survivors in the 1950s and 1960s, and now is bringing to light the horror of these “mobile concentration camps.” Death Marches: Evidence and Memory will also be available for free online.
45 testimonies out of 400 now translated are digitised and available in English for the first time on the library’s Testifying to the Truth database. The remaining 1,185 translated testimonies will be released later in 2021.
January 27 marked Holocaust Remembrance Day.
This is a photograph of three year old Josef Schleifstein taken on April 12, 1945 – the day that American soldiers came to liberate over 21,000 Jews at Buchenwald concentration camp. Joesf is completely overwhelmed as someone gives him a sweet to suck on. He smiles uncertainly into the camera and then begins to cry.
Josef who was born in Poland on March 7, 1941 lived the first few years of his life moving from one Jewish ghetto to another as his family tried to survive the German occupation of Poland. In 1943, when Josef was two and a half years old he and his parents were deported to Buchenwald concentration camp where his father was placed in the “line” for forced labor – his mother in another line to be sent to Bergen-Belsen concentration campand Josef was placed with the children and elderly to be killed.
In the confusion of so many people Josef’s father grabbed him and put him in a large sack of tools he was carrying, with instructions to be very quiet.For months Josef remained hidden and his existence was kept secret from all but a few sympathetic German guards.
After the liberation, Josef and his father went to Switzerland for medical treatment. They returned to Germany to find Josef’s mother and lived there until they all were able to emigrate to the United States in 1948.
April 11, 1945, Robert Clary (born Robert Max Widerman was liberated from Buchenwald concentration camp. He was the youngest of 14 children. Twelve other members of his immediate family were sent to Auschwitz. Clary was the only survivor. When he returned to Paris after the war, he learned that 3 of his siblings had not been taken away & survived the Nazi occupation of France. He played LeBeau on the TV show, Hogan’s Heroes.
Some of the major actors on Hogan’s Heroes were Jewish…..Robert Clary, Werner Klemperer (Col Klink), John Banner (Sgt Schultz), Howard Caine (Maj Hochstetter), Leon Askin (Gen Burkhalter).
Robert Clary, John Banner, and Leon Askin were all actual survivors of the Holocaust. A trained Shakespearean actor, Werner Klemperer escaped Nazi Germany in 1933 and agreed to play Col. Klink only if he could play him as a buffoon.At Buchenwald, he sang to an audience of SS soldiers every other Sunday, accompanied by an accordionist.
He said, “Singing, entertaining, and being in kind of good health at my age, that’s why I survived. I was very immature and young and not really fully realizing what situation I was involved with … I don’t know if I would have survived if I really knew that. We were not even human beings. When we got to Buchenwald, the SS shoved us into a shower room to spend the night. I had heard the rumors about the dummy shower heads that were gas jets. I thought, ‘This is it.’ But no, it was just a place to sleep. The first eight days there, the Germans kept us without a crumb to eat. We were hanging on to life by pure guts, sleeping on top of each other, every morning waking up to find a new corpse next to you. … The whole experience was a complete nightmare — the way they treated us, what we had to do to survive. We were less than animals.
Sometimes I dream about those days. I wake up in a sweat terrified for fear I’m about to be sent away to a concentration camp, but I don’t hold a grudge because that’s a great waste of time. Yes, there’s something dark in the human soul. For the most part, human beings are not very nice. That’s why when you find those who are, you cherish them.”
LeBeau” is the last surviving original cast member. He is now 94 and lives in Beverly Hills.Clary published a memoir, From the Holocaust to Hogan’s Heroes: The Autobiography of Robert Clary in 2001.
Not long after Hitler came to power, in 1933, a thirty-year-old woman in Berlin had a series of uncanny dreams. In one, her neighborhood had been stripped of its usual signs, which were replaced with posters that listed twenty verboten words; the first was “Lord” and the last was “I.” In another, the woman found herself surrounded by workers, including a milkman, a gasman, a newsagent, and a plumber. She felt calm, until she spied among them a chimney sweep. (In her family, the German word for “chimney sweep” was code for the S.S., a nod to the trade’s blackened clothing.) The men brandished their bills and performed a Nazi salute. Then they chanted, “Your guilt cannot be doubted.”
These are two of about seventy-five dreams collected in “The Third Reich of Dreams,” a strange, enthralling book by the writer Charlotte Beradt. Neither scientific study nor psychoanalytic text, “The Third Reich of Dreams” is a collective diary, a witness account hauled out of a nation’s shadows and into forensic light. The book was released, in Germany, in 1966; an English translation, by Adriane Gottwald, was published two years later but has since fallen out of print. (Despite ongoing interest from publishers, no one has been able to find Beradt’s heir, who holds the rights.) But the book deserves revisiting, not just because we see echoes today of the populism, racism, and taste for surveillance that were part of Beradt’s time but because there’s nothing else like it in the literature of the Holocaust. “These dreams—these diaries of the night—were conceived independently of their authors’ conscious will,” Beradt writes. “They were, so to speak, dictated to them by dictatorship.”
Beradt—who was born Charlotte Aron, in Forst, a town near the German-Polish border—was a Jewish journalist. She was based in Berlin when Hitler became Chancellor, in 1933. That year, she was barred from publishing her work, and she and her husband, Heinz Pol, were arrested during the mass roundups of Communists that followed the passage of the Reichstag Fire Decree. After her release, she began secretly recording the dreams of her fellow-Germans. For six years, as German Jews lost their homes, their jobs, and their rights, Beradt continued making notes. By 1939, she’d gathered three hundred dreams. The project was risky, not least because she was known to the regime. Pol, who once worked for Vossische Zeitung, Germany’s leading liberal newspaper, soon fled to Prague, and Beradt eventually moved in with her future husband, the writer and lawyer Martin Beradt.
From the New Yorker. Read the full articleHERE.
75 Years After Auschwitz Liberation, Worry That ‘Never Again’ Is Not Assured
Amid a surge of anti-Semitism and a rise in dehumanizing political rhetoric, there is fear that the horrific lessons of the death camp are being lost.
- January 27, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Army’s liberation of Auschwitz, the largest and deadliest Nazi concentration complex.
- First established in 1940 in German-occupied Poland, Auschwitz had a concentration camp, a labor camp, large gas chambers, and crematoria.
- More than 1.1 million people were murdered at Auschwitz, including nearly one million Jews. On the day of liberation, only 7,000 were saved.
Auschwitz was the largest and deadliest Nazi concentration camp.
The camp was established in 1940 and located in the suburbs of Oswiecim, a Polish city the Germans annexed. Between 1940 and 1945, it grew to include three main camp centers and a slew of subcamps — each of which were used for forced labor, torture, and mass killing.
An estimated 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz during its five-year operation, and approximately 1.1 million were killed.
As a child in Japan in the 1950s and 60s, Nobuki Sugihara never knew his father had saved thousands of lives. Few did. His father, Chiune Sugihara, was a trader who lived in a small coastal town about 34 miles south of Tokyo. When not on business trips to Moscow, he coached his young son in mathematics and English. He made breakfast, spreading butter on the toast so thinly “nobody could compete”.
His son had no idea his father saved 6,000 Jews during the second world war. Over six weeks in the summer of 1940, while serving as a diplomat in Lithuania, Chiune Sugihara defied orders from his bosses in Tokyo, and issued several thousand visas for Jewish refugees to travel to Japan.
Even when an Israeli diplomat contacted the family in 1969, the young Sugihara did not realize the scale of what his father had done. “We never thought so many survivors survived, because my father never talked like [it was] a heroic act.
A study released Thursday says 22% of surveyed Millennials are unaware or unsure of what the Holocaust is.
The study was conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. Eleven percent of U.S. adults haven’t heard or are unsure of what the Holocaust was.
- Sixty-six percent of Millennials and 41 percent of US adults don’t know what Auschwitz is.
- Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and the study found one-third of all Americans and four out of 10 Millennials think 2 million or fewer Jews were killed.
- And though a majority (58%) of Americans believe something like the Holocaust could happen again, 70% say fewer people seem to care about the Holocaust than they used to.
The Nazis called them ‘Night Witches’ because the whooshing noise their plywood and canvas airplanes made reminded the Germans of the sound of a witch’s broomstick. The Russian women who piloted those planes, onetime crop dusters, took it as a compliment. In 30,000 missions over four years, they dumped 23,000 tons of bombs on the German invaders, ultimately helping to chase them back to Berlin.
Any German pilot who downed a ‘witch’ was awarded an Iron Cross. These young heroines, all volunteers and most in their teens and early 20s, became legends of World War II but are now largely forgotten. Flying only in the dark, they had no parachutes, guns, radios or radar, only maps and compasses. If hit by tracer bullets, their planes would burn like sheets of paper.”
So begins a NY Times tribute to one of the most famous “Night Witches,” Nadezhda Popova, pictured here. Popova, who flew 852 missions during the war, passed away in 2013 at the age of 91. To read more about her incredible story, visit http://nyti.ms/JbnOMC
For a fascinating new biography about these courageous women for teen and adult readers, we highly recommend “A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II” at https://www.amightygirl.com/a-thousand-sisters
For a new historical fiction novel for adult readers that also explores the history of the Night Witches, check out “The Huntress” at https://amzn.to/2XtTrIa
For two new historical fiction novels based on the Night Witches, both for ages 13 and up, we recommend “Among the Red Stars” (https://www.amightygirl.com/among-the-red-stars) and “Night Witches: A Novel of World War Two” (https://www.amightygirl.com/night-witches)
For adult readers who would like to learn more about the role of Russian women combat pilots during WWII, there are several excellent books including “Night Witches: The Amazing Story Of Russia’s Women Pilots in World War II” (http://amzn.to/2e6z2BQ), “Wings, Women, and War: Soviet Airwomen in World War II Combat” (http://amzn.to/1fyPOs8), “The Unwomanly Face of War” (https://amzn.to/2XyK7Tv), and “Flying for Her Country: The American and Soviet Women Military Pilots of World War II” (http://amzn.to/1mTMad9)
For a highly recommended book about more courageous women who stood up to the Nazi regime, we highly recommend “Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue” for teens and adults like, ages 13 and up, at https://www.amightygirl.com/women-heroes-of-world-war-ii
For a fascinating book about American women pilots during WWII, we recommend “Yankee Doodle Gals: Women Pilots of World War II” for ages 10 to 14 at https://www.amightygirl.com/yankee-doodle-gals
And, for books for all ages about girls and women living through the WWII period, visit our “WWII & Holocaust” section at http://amgrl.co/1l9UWIe
From an article By Mike Lanchin
On 13 May 1939, more than 900 Jews fled Germany aboard a luxury cruise liner, the SS St Louis. They hoped to reach Cuba and then travel to the US – but were turned away in Havana and forced to return to Europe, where more than 250 were killed by the Nazis.
“It was really something to be going on a luxury liner,” says Gisela Feldman. “We didn’t really know where we were heading, or how we would cope when we got there.”
At the age of 90, Feldman still clearly remembers the raw and mixed emotions she felt as a 15-year-old girl boarding the St Louis at Hamburg docks with her mother and younger sister.
“I was always aware of how anxious my mother looked, embarking on such a long journey, on her own with two teenage daughters,” she says.
In the years following the rise to power of Hitler’s Nazi party, ordinary Jewish families like Feldman’s had been left in no doubt about the increasing dangers they were facing.Jewish properties had been confiscated, synagogues and businesses burned down. After Feldman’s Polish father was arrested and deported to Poland her mother decided it was time to leave.
Feldman remembers her father pleading with her mother to wait for him to return but her mother was adamant and always replied: “I have to take the girls away to safety.”
So, armed with visas for Cuba which she had bought in Berlin, 10 German marks in her purse and another 200 hidden in her underclothes, she headed for Hamburg and the St Louis.
“We were fortunate that my mother was so brave,” says Feldman with a note of pride in her voice.
Tearful relatives waved them off at the station in Berlin. “They knew we would never see each other again,” she says softly. “We were the lucky ones – we managed to get out.” She would never see her father or more than 30 other close family members again.
By early 1939, the Nazis had closed most of Germany’s borders and many countries had imposed quotas limiting the number of Jewish refugees they would allow in.
America imposed those quotas too. The person in charge of visas at the US State Department, during this time was Breckinridge Long. He denied visas to Jews when they should have been issued. Click HERE to find out about his biography.