The Shmooze

3.2 Gazillion 'Nazi' Jokes on Twitter for World Cup

By Rachel X. Landes

As Germany hammered Brazil during the World Cup match yesterday 7-1, Twitter exploded in reaction tweets. With a record 36.6 million tweets were sent out during the match, the Germany-Brazil match became the most discussed sports event in Twitter history.

Unsurprisingly a large fraction of those tweets were, well, Nazi jokes.

Of course the ever obvious:

Some pointed out the problem of Holocaust jokes:

And others attempted to be clever:

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A Concentration Camp Poster For Your Home, On Sale at Walmart

By Gabe Friedman

Walmart has always had a knack for building its reputation as a soul-crushing corporation.

Nevertheless, it is still shocking to find that they are selling a poster with an image of the gate of one of the Holocaust’s most notorious concentration camps — Dachau.

Screenshot via Heeb

The description reads “Gate with inscription Arbeit Macht Frei, Dachau Concentration Camp, Dachau” and mentions that the poster “would make a great addition to your home or office.” That’s right – because why wouldn’t you want to be constantly reminded of the Shoah every time you enter one of your favorite rooms?

Heeb reports that some concerned customers complained to Walmart customer service and got some unintentionally humorous responses. One heard back that they “have this product in stock because there are some customer[sic] who like to buy this type of item, but this doesn’t mean [Walmart] are supporting any ideology related to this item.”

Another heard back that customer service had “escalated this matter to [their] corporation so they can release the nazi related propaganda.” Release? Through a bit of inference one can realize that they mean that they would get rid of the posters, but on a touchy subject like this, they should probably rethink their word choice.

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Eric Clapton Headlines Auschwitz Music Festival

By Rachel X. Landes

Eric Clapton headlined the fifth annual Life Festival in Oswiecim, Poland late this month. Yes, you read that right. Eric Clapton just played Auschwitz.

Well, kind of.

The Oswiecim Life Festival started in 2010, and was created by Darek Maciborek, a radio DJ, who wanted to change the negative associations brought up by his hometown. Because of its close proximity to Auschwitz, Oświęcim, has always carried part of the legacy of the death camp, which was where over 1 million people died, 90% of whom were Jewish.

The Life Festival Oswiecim is meant to combat anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia through music and the arts. Various Polish and foreign bands play in the festival. James Blunt played in 2011, and Peter Gabriel in 2012. Last year, the festival pulled in Sting to headline.

Clapton preformed the closing number at the festival, which was his final stop on his four-month world tour.

More than 10,000 people came out for the event, which took place from the 25th – 28th of June.

[h/t Tablet]

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Mengele: Handsome Psychopath in 'The German Doctor'

By Masha Leon

In documentaries and live testimonials, survivors of Dr. Joseph Mengele’s “Right [life]-Left [death]” selection at Auschwitz, remember him as exceptionally handsome.

And so is Spanish actor Alex Brendemuhl, who eerily and seductively portrays the toxic physician in Lucia Puenzo’s film “The German Doctor.” An uncanny Mengele Dopplelganger, Brendemuhl — a Spanish actor working in Germany — had to learn Argentinean Spanish and finesse Mengele’s German articulation.

Meeting Puenzo, — author of the book on which the film is based — what struck me was how young (37), tall and beautiful she is. She said: “I need to say that the German community…helped us make this film. All the actors speak [German] by phonetics.”

Did they know who Mengele was? “I remember in secondary school we knew who Mengele was, what happened during the war [but] I could not remember one fiction film about the subject in Argentina.”

Karen Leon
Lucia Puenzo

Were members of the German community that helped with the film descendants of the earlier [Nazi] Germans? “No! No!” she was adamant. “These are Germans who had no connection at all…something very delicate for them. There is the misconception that every German in Argentina has to have a Nazi background…. They want to defend the idea that it was not all of them.”

Why did she name the little girl— on whom Brendemuhl/Mengele experiments with growth hormones— “Lilith”? Puenzo mused: “I know everything that goes around the name, but strangely, when I began to write the novel, that’s the name that appeared. I tried to change it but it came back as Lilith…. certain characters are born with a name.”

Was Lilith supposed to be Jewish? “No! No! …but she is a victim.” And the Israeli woman, Nora, who suspects the doctor’s identity? “She is based on a real live character…. She was a volunteer from the Mossad…They all say she was murdered…. [that] people from the Israeli embassy took her body [from the lake].

Was she influenced by “The Boys from Brazil” in which Gregory Peck portrays Mengele? Puento responded: “I saw the film several times…a very strange film…. what I don’t like about that film is the idea of the stereotype…from the moment I wrote the novel — and film — I did not want to stereotype this man as a monster who had the word written across his forehead — but a very complex psychopathic personality….

“For me, most horrifying was that when all these men {Nazis] began to be found in Argentina —  forty years after being such a monster — people said [of Mengele] ‘He was such a lovely man, such a good citizen!’”

Has it been seen in Germany? The film has been released in 35 countries,” she replied. “It’s been seen by Germans, but has not been released in Germany.”

Currently playing at Lincoln Center Cinemas and IFC Centers. Go see this eerily fascinating film.

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'Reich Friends' Re-Casts Sitcom With Hitler and Goebbels

By Anne Cohen

I was once of the mind that there is no such thing as a bad “Friends” mashup. I was wrong.

Behold “Reich Friends”, a spoof of the much-loved sitcom brought you by Spanish-language comedy collective Marca Blanca. Using historic footage of Adolf Hitler and his besties, Himmler, Goebbels, Göring and Eva Braun, the group recreates the opening credits, complete with “I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts (you probably know it as “The Friends Theme Song.”)

Hitler’s Bavarian retreat, The Eagle’s Nest is the new Central Perk. In the wise words of Chandler Bing: Could this BE any more offensive?

[h/t A/V Club]

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How Shirley Temple Helped Me Come to America

By Masha Leon

Shirley Temple in 1988 // Photo by Karen Leon.

Shirley Temple Black — who died at 85 on February 10 — may have indirectly helped my mother and me get a visa to America.

I became a Shirley Temple fan after seeing her in “The Little Colonel” in pre-war Warsaw. For weeks I ran around singing “Polly Wolly Doodle” in a Yiddish-Polish-English gibberish. During the bombing of Warsaw I grabbed my Shirley Temple doll as we fled our firebombed building — a doll my mother later traded for food and shelter. In Soviet-occupied Vilno [Vilnius] in 1940, I saw her in “The Little Princess” in which her character searches for her missing father. It was just after my father had been arrested by the Soviet NKVD (precursor to the KGB) and his whereabouts were unknown.

I corresponded with her during her tenure as U.S. Ambassador to Ghana (1975), but did not meet her until June 1988 at an American Booksellers Association Convention in Anaheim, California, where she was feted as author of her autobiography “Child Star.” It was a banner year for celebrity authors that included Ladybird Johnson, Natan Sharansky, Charles Schulz, Jane Russell, Shirley MacLaine, Maurice Sendak, Dr. Theodor S. Geisel (a/k/a/ Dr. Seuss) E. L. Doctorow, Betty White, and U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist gymnast, Mary Lou Retton that was capped by extraordinary parties including (“Scruples”) author Judith Kranz’s then $50,000 party held at a hangar at the John Wayne Airport.

Karen Leon
Autographed photo of Shirley Temple given to Masha Leon.

But it was meeting Shirley Temple who was mobbed by fans at her autograph session that has remained an indelible memory. She stopped to listen as I told her how she might have unwittingly been instrumental in my coming to America. I also sang a fragment [English version] of “Polly Wolly Doodle” that got her laughing.

When after V-E Day in 1945, at which time my mother’s and my “Duration of the War” visas in Canada expired, we were informed by the government that we were being repatriated to Poland! We did not know where my father was — or if he was even alive. Our families had been exterminated in the Warsaw Ghetto and by Einzatzgruppen [execution squads] in what is now Belarus. There was no one and nothing to return to.

My mother ordered me: Shreyb Mrs. Roosevelt. (write to Mrs. Roosevelt!). “Bist meshuge?“ —  “Are you nuts?” — I countered. “Write! and tell her our plight!” she insisted. I wrote a 14-page handwritten letter — which I was informed is now at the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Archive stating, “I want to come to America because of Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire and Shirley Temple.”

A week later, my mother and I were called into the U.S. Consulate in Montreal and were greeted with: “So you are the little girl who wrote to Mrs. Roosevelt who wants to come to America because of Shirley Temple!” He showed me the letter in our dossier. A cousin in Chicago provided affidavits for us.

Mrs. Black smiled, shook my hand warmly, wished me luck and continued signing autographs.

She was a light during some of my darkest moments.

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Steven Spielberg Calls for Action on Holocaust Remembrance Day

By Anne Cohen

Steven Spielberg called on the world to act on the lessons of the Holocaust during a keynote address to a special UN General Assembly marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Mass graves don’t have to open up before we act,” he said. “It is a great accomplishment of our species that the testimonies [of survivors] can be heard in the high chambers of society.”

“Genocide is an evil. But, the greatest evil is when people who have been spared the horrors commit themselves to despair,” Spielberg continued. “We know despair and remembering are a choice. But we need to confront and act on what we learned.”

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World War II Through a German Prism

By Masha Leon

“Generation War” (a hit in Germany as “Our Mothers Our Fathers”) is a must see for those who view World War II /Holocaust films as a kind of cinematic rosary of remembrance.

With a Tolstoyan “War & Peace” sweep, its brutal battles as bloody and grim as those in Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan,” it is also a nod to the wrenching 1987 Byelorussian Holocaust film “Come and See.” The film’s author Stefan Kolditz, noted that he wanted the film to “open a conversation with the generation that lived during World War II in Germany.”

“Generation” follows a quintet of friends — brothers Wilhelm (Volker Bruch) and Friedheim (Tom Schilling), Charlotte (Miriam Stein), Greta (Katharina Schuttler), and assimilated Jew Victor (Ludwig Trepte) who greets everyone with an anachronistic glitch — “Shalom” — with them, in turn, replying the same —this in 1940s Nazi Germany ‘s Berlin!

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Sigmund Rolat Receives Jan Karski Award

By Masha Leon

Recipient of the Spirit of the Jan Karski Award at the November 18 David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies 10th Anniversary Dinner was survivor, philanthropist, Sigmund Rolat.

In his acceptance speech Rolat — who unveiled a monument dedicated to Czestochowa’s 40,000 Jewish citizens who perished in Treblinka, restored the city’s philharmonic–naming it after Bronislaw Huberman (founder of what became the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra) and brought Joshua Bell (with Huberman’s violin) to perform there, and has been the driving force behind the about-to-open Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw — dubbed Karski as “One of the major figures of World War II.”

Karen Leon
Jan Karski

In 1942 Karski, a member of the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa) was ordered to go to the West and report on — among other issues — the plight of Polish Jewry under the Nazis. He met with a Zionist leader and a Bundist and was then smuggled into the Warsaw ghetto by Leon Feiner, a lawyer and Bundist activist, to be an eyewitness to the Jews’ doomed fate.

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Forbidden Auschwitz Art on the Move

By Masha Leon

“This is the second time I am here,” Poland’s ambassador to the United States, Ryszard Schnepf said from the bimah of Park East Synagogue at the November 12th launch of the New York exhibition of “Forbidden Art” created by prisoners of Auschwitz-Birkenau. to Holocaust survivor and Kristallnacht witness Rabbi Arthur Schneier, the assemblage and diplomats from 18 countries.

First seen in Poland, the exhibit of 20 rare and fragile items out of 2,000 original works is part of a nationwide awareness campaign that prompted President Obama to declare: “Exhibitions like ‘Forbidden Art” bring to light the stories of fathers and mothers, sons and daughters and brothers and sisters who endured the unthinkable cruelty of concentration camps” and had ambassador Schnepf amplify: “It is our responsibility to remember the suffering of all people in concentration camps. Remembering them promises a light to a time of no anti-Semitism, a future free of hatred.”

Karen Leon
Polish Ambassador Ryszard Schnepf

Quoting Elie Wiesel, Israel’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations David Roet said, “No other people has such an obsession about remembering.” Gazing down from the bimah he recounted how his father had been saved by a baker in his village “because of a priest’s directive” and that “what helped his father survive in Auschwitz was the memory of the Shabbat and the dates where/when each family member died. But memory is not enough. What is necessary is standing up with Israel so it never happens again.”

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Holocaust Selfies Are an (Awful) Thing

By Toby Axelrod

(JTA) — Smiley selfies from Auschwitz and Buchenwald? They’re trending, apparently

Blogger Hektor Brehl, writing for the German version of Vice magazine, has a piece about the tendency of young travelers to post pics taken at Holocaust memorials in which they show off their new sneakers and crack “uncool” jokes.

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Governor Cuomo Raises Alarm About Anti-Semitism at Wiesenthal Dinner

By Masha Leon

In what was its most successful event, the October 16 Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Humanitarian Award dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria raised a whopping $1.6 million.

Dinner chair Nelson Peltz introduced the Center’s Distinguished Service Award recipient —New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo who good humouredly led off with: “When Nelson [told me] ‘I didn’t vote for you,’ I thought it was a joke. He wasn’t kidding.” Cuomo touted Peltz, CEO and founding partner of Trian Fund Management LLP, as “an icon of the American dream, a great American and New Yorker, a great philanthropist.”

Touting the Wiesenthal Center as “a living memorial to the memory of a great man — Simon Wiesenthal — who died eight years ago at the age of 96, sixty years after his liberation,” Cuomo said: “Now some will say that the Center’s mission is complete.” Apropos the emergence of anti-Semitism worldwide, Cuomo cited incidents in France when “last month a group of Jews were attacked by a gang of teenagers…in Spain two months ago…’Adolf Hitler was right’ was painted across a bullfight arena…. It is very much a real threat in the world we live in…. So Simon Wiesenthal was right and you are right to be here this evening. We need a strong Israel and we need a strong America…working hand-in-glove because they are the bulwarks for democracy on this globe.”

Karen Leon
Nelson Peltz, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Rabbi Marvin Hier

“Anti-Semitism around the world has never been stronger and more dangerous,” Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, declared. His documented scroll of statistics included: “an estimated 150 million Europeans harbor anti-Jewish sentiments…. Seventy years after the Holocaust, in the same country that initiated the Holocaust, a study showed that 20% of Germans living today are anti-Semitic.”

Speaking with the help of an interpreter, 86-year old Medal of Honor recipient Czeslawa Zak — who was a young girl in Warsaw when her parents helped harbor 14 Jews from 1940-1944 — played down her family’s heroism. The family was designated as Righteous Gentiles at Yad Vashem. During the reception I got to chat with Ambassador Yehuda Avner author and star of the Moriah Film documentary “The Prime Ministers” and shared some pre-war Warsaw memories with Zak, who joined me in singing Polish folk songs.

Keynote speaker Vernon Jordan Jr. Senior Managing Director, Lazard presented the 2013 Simon Wiesenthal Center Humanitarian Award to Kenneth Jacobs, Chairman and CEO, Lazard.

The Wiesenthal’s newly opened exhibit/installation in Los Angeles in memory of Anne Frank brought back my 1982 visit to the Anne Frank house where we chanced on an elderly British couple musing: “One wonders if it really happened?” I retorted: “Does one also wonder about the London Blitz?” They apologized. “Yes. Yes. It must have happened.” In Litvishn Yiddish I asked an elderly German woman [from Aachen] with granddaughter in tow, why she came. In German she replied: “My neighbors, my friends, they were taken away in the night to Theriesenstadt…” Tearfully she added: “Ach ja! She needs to know this.”

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Polish President Honors Survivor Sigmund Rolat

By Masha Leon

“Not every Pole is an anti-Semite and not every Jew is anti-Polish, “ has long been the mantra of Czestochowa-born Holocaust survivor Sigmund Rolat, an orphan and survivor of a Nazi slave-labor camp in Czestochowa who in 1948 arrived in New York City as a penniless teenager. On September 23, he was honored at a special ceremony hosted by Consul General Ewa Junczyk Ziomecka at New York’s Polish consulate.

A businessman extraordinaire, philanthropist and major financial backer of The Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Rolat was presented with the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland by Poland’s president Bronislaw Komorowski.

Karen Leon
Sigmund Rolat and President Bronislaw Komorowski

“It is an honor to be decorated by President Bronislaw Komorowski with others, who as myself, emigrated from Poland — but never really abandoned her,” Rolat said. “Life decided that we leave, in all cases dramatically — war, Holocaust, then Communist enslavement. But our hearts remained there — mine in Czestochowa where I was born…There were our homes, our families…there today are graves of our ancestors.”

The gathering of Poles and Jews at the ceremony included past medal recipients Cantor Joseph Malovany, David Marwell, director and CEO of The Museum of Jewish Heritage — a Living Memorial to the Holocaust, as well as this Warsaw-born columnist.

Rolat — who on other occasions stated that “Poland as a nation was also a victim of the Nazis — No other country has a larger list of Righteous Gentiles at Yad Vashem than Poland”— announced, that shortly an international committee will be formed to build a monument to express gratitude to those Poles who saved Jews from death during the Holocaust.” In his address, President Komorowski touted the proposed monument in memory of Poles helping Jews as “making a difference between Polish-American relations, Polish-Jewish relations and Polish-Polish relations.”

On a personal note, my mother and I owe our survival to a Polish peasant woman who risked her life and that of her family to hide us in her hut in the shadow of a Nazi patrol booth, yet refused a reward of any sort stating, “It is my Christian duty.” Benjamin Meed, co-founder of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors once told me that “it took ten Poles to hide one Jew” a statistic that his wife Vladka Meed— who had been a weapons smuggler into the Warsaw ghetto and courier between the Polish Underground and the Warsaw ghetto fighters — concurred during one of our conversations.

Schepping nakhas were Rolat’s son Geoffrey Rolat, daughter Samantha Rolat Asulin, and his grandson Henry Asulin.

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When Selfies Get Out of Control

By Anne Cohen

Sometimes, it’s good to be reminded of the destructive power of the selfie.

A new Tumblr called “Selfies At Serious Places” does just that. It’s exactly how it sounds: people taking close up pictures of their faces with an incredibly inappropriate backdrop. Seriously though: what goes through your mind when you tweet a picture of yourself posing in the gas chamber at Auschwitz? Come on.

Other choice locations include the Anne Frank house, the Berlin Holocaust memorial, Chernobyl, the 9/11 memorial and Pearl Harbor.

Get it together people.

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Auschwitz Survivor Crowned 'Miss Holocaust'

By JTA

haaretz
Shoshana Colner

Shoshana Colmer, 93, a survivor of Auschwitz, was crowned Miss Holocaust at a contest in Haifa.

The second annual Miss Holocaust Survivor Beauty Contest was held Aug. 22 at the Municipal Sports Complex before an audience of thousands.

More than 300 women from Israel and around the world applied to participate in the contest, according to Haaretz. Colmer told the audience that she sang one song to a Nazi guard each morning in Auschwitz in return for an extra piece of bread. She was liberated after taking part in a death march from the camp.

Dr. Izabella Grinberg, a geriatric psychiatrist, and Shimon Sabag, director of Yad Ezer L’Haver, an organization that assists Holocaust survivors, developed the contest. It is designed to help the contestants and the survivors watching to come to grips with their survival and boost their self esteem.

Check out a video about the inaugural pageant, which took place last year:

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Shlomo Carlebach Really Was a 'Soul Doctor'

By Masha Leon

“Soul Doctor” can best be described as “Hair” meets post Holocaust trauma with Eric Anderson’s visceral channeling of Reb Shlomo Carlebach and Amber Imam’s portrayal of Nina Simone illuminating the production.

The 700 opening-nighters at the August 15 performance of “Soul Doctor” at Circle in the Square included philanthropist and Birthright founder Michael Steinhardt (who was married by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach), Tovah Feldshuh in an eye-popping iridescent tangerine hued shawl, 90-years young Yiddish stage legend and TV star Fyvush Finkel, National Yiddish Theater-Folksbiene artistic director Zalmen Mlotek, its executive director Bryna Wasserman and Paul Libin executive vice president of Jujamcyn Theatres.

Karen Leon
Tovah Feldshuh and Fyvush Finkel

Following a standing ovation curtain call, some 500 “Soul Doctor” devotees migrated to the 41st St. Liberty Theater for a post-performance party nosh at which a “kosher menu” was served. When I asked press representative Richard Kornberg why kosher menu was highlighted in the invitation, he said it was because ”this was the first ever kosher menu served at a Broadway opening.”

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No eBay Bids for $3M Schindler's List Yet

By Forward Staff

getty images

No one has made a bid yet for an original copy of Oskar Schindler’s famed list.

The iconic list of Jews to be saved from the Nazis went up up for auction on eBay Friday night and an amazing 250,000 users had viewed the listing as of 10 p.m. Sunday. But there were no bidders for the item, which carried a starting bid pricetag of $3 million.

Though there were originally seven versions of the list that saved thousands of Polish Jews from death at the hands of the Nazis, only four have been located. Two are at Yad Vashem and one in the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington.

According to the New York Post, the list offered on eBay is a 14-page long onionskin document, dated April 18, 1945. 801 male names are featured.

The historic item’s sellers, Gary Zimet and Eric Gazin, two California collectors told the Post they hoped the list would sell for as high as $5 million.

“It is extremely rare that a document of this historical significance is put on the market,” Zimet said. “Many of the survivors on this list and their descendants moved to the United States, and there are names on this list which will sound very familiar to New Yorkers.”

In a statement released on Monday, the Museum of Jewish Heritage expressed its disappointment that a document of such significance would be sold to the highest bidder.

“As a museum, we believe important historical materials such as these best serve the public when they are held in a museum or archive that will ensure they are well cared for and make their contents widely available,” said Anita Kassof, Deputy Director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.

Track the bidding in real time with our widget

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The Heroic Brit Who Saved 600 Jewish Children

By Masha Leon

To the roster of Righteous Gentiles that includes Oskar Schindler and Chiune Sugihara — the Japanese diplomat who in 1940 issued 2039 visas that saved 6000 Jews (including my mother and me) — one must now add Sir Nicholas Winton whose British chutzpah illuminates the Menemsha Film documentary “Nicky’s Family.”

Directed by Matej Minac, the wrenching yet heartwarming film chronicles the rescue of nearly 700 Czech and Slovak Jewish children before the outbreak of World War II. During my overseas exchange with Barbara Winton, daughter of the 104-year-old (and still active!) Winton, she recalled the film’s provenance: “A scrapbook found in an attic in the 1970’s, when I was in my early 20’s. I showed the scrapbook to some Israeli friends. None of us recognized the implications it would have on the names on [the scrapbook’s] list.”

Menemsha Films
Nicholas Winton with rescued child

Interfacing archival film of Hitler’s march into Czechoslovakia with montages of mothers pleading with a 29-year old Winton to save their children, the film transmits the desperation and panic of that period. “He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his remarkable deed,” Winton’s daughter pointed out.

Imagine my surprise when one of the rescued Winton children — who appears as an adult in the film — turned out to be a long-time friend, Hanna Slome! In all the years I’d known her, she never mentioned her history. During our chat this week she revealed: “Only recently did I learn who had saved me! All I remembered was my mother at the train station in Prague, May 1938, telling me ‘if I have your hand, I’ll be with you.’ I was fourteen… an older girl, given a young child on my lap, someone to care for and put on a train to England. I have absolutely no recollection of the four-day train trip.” Yet she clearly recalled that on the ship to England “children sang the Czech national anthem.” At the dock in England, she described, “a 3-year old left waiting to be picked up. A taxi driver took him home, fed him fish and chips. The poorer they were, the kinder they were.”

Most of the children never saw their parents again nor knew what happened to them. Slome told me: “In 1942 my mother spent one week in Terezin — Hitler kept good records! She was then sent to Bergen-Belsen or Treblinka.” To this day many of these rescued children — who had been placed in Christian homes — have not been located. At a 500-strong recent Kindertransport reunion held at The Catskills Nevele Resort, Slome finally met someone from her transport, enabling her to begin to retrace her past.

In a 1988 clip from BBC’s “That’s Your Life,” Winton seems unaware that he is sitting next to those he had saved until half the audience — his rescuees — rise to applaud him! There are over 6,000 descendants worldwide.

“Nicky’s Family” opens in New York on July 19 at the Quad and Manhattan’s JCC. Don’t miss.

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How Poker And Cigars Helped Save Jews In The Philippines

By Masha Leon

Who could have imagined that cigars and poker would be the main ingredients in the recipe of rescue of Jews on the cusp of World War II?

“Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge from the Holocaust,” tells the story of how the five Frieder brothers from Cincinnati, built a cigar empire in Manila and with the help of poker aficionados Col. Dwight Eisenhower, U.S. High Commissioner to the Philippines Paul McNutt and the first president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Manuel Quezon, helped 1,200 Jews find haven in that country.

Karen Leon
Jane Frieder Ellis and Peggy Ellis

The one-hour documentary held its New York premiere on April 10, hosted by the American Jewish Historical Society. Narrated by Liev Schreiber and with a promo quote from Eisenhower’s granddaughter, Susan Eisenhower as “A story for all time,” this 3 Roads Communications film puts the gutsy president Quezon on the map as a Righteous Gentile alongside Oskar Schindler.

Jonathan Karp, AJHS Executive Director, introduced Mario Lopez de Leon Jr, Consul General, Republic of the Philippines in New York, who told the guests — amongst whom were a number of Manila survivors including Berlin-born Dr. Yashar Hirshaut, President of the Israel Cancer Research Fund International Scientific Council — “The story has a special meaning for the Filipino people people…who find kinship with the Jewish people in their shared belief in the dignity of man and human rights. Speaking as a diplomat, this film also served a deeper purpose…to strengthen the vibrant friendship between the Filipino and Jewish people founded [when] the Philippines voted in favor of the UN resolution which gave rise to the State of Israel. We were among the first countries to recognize the State of Israel.”

Present at the screening were film consultant Peggy Ellis, her mother Jane Frieder Ellis and film consultant Barbara Sasser,who says in the film: “Quezon was willing to take in 30,000 or more Jews and settle them on the Island of Mindanao…He was a good Catholic…the most irreligious thing he could think of was to think badly of the people who gave them their savior.”

Quezon’s daughter, Zenaida Quezon Avancena said, “Dad had moral courage….. He believed in the sanctity of life.” His grandson Manuel Quezon III said his grandfather had been born poor, never had the problem of the colonial mindset and was “a great ballroom dancer and a hard-boiled politician,” adding: “He loved the underdog and he knew what it was like to be on the run.”

In the film,George Lowenstein, a German-Jewish refugee, recalls that when the Americans returned with General MacArthur, an American pilot flew overhead and spotted little George. “He did a 360 and dropped a Hershey bar.” After the liberation, 10-year-old George read the “Four Questions” at the first night of Passover celebrated by the GIs and refugees in Manila. The film notes that American GIs helped rebuild Manila’s Emil Synagogue, which had been destroyed by the Japanese.

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Etgar Keret Hates Manchester United

By Dan Friedman

nate lavey
Etgar Keret

In a recent video interview, Israeli novelist Etgar Keret joked that he wouldn’t trust Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, despite his well known union background and anti-racism bona fides, to hide a Jew in his attic during another Holocaust. And he jested that Real Madrid’s star attacker Cristiano Ronaldo — who used to play for Ferguson at the club — wouldn’t behave much better. He bases his assessment, of course, on nothing but the team’s style of play.

Manchester United have been a dominant financial and sporting force in English soccer over the past decade, earning the envy and enmity of millions worldwide. But they uncharacteristically go into the final game of the English Premier League season this weekend needing a better result than their “noisy neighbors,” Manchester City, to pip them to the title.

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