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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, 02:35 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, 02:23 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 [himself, his] parents and [their] 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 [Nazis] 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, 02:04 AM (7 replies)

Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day: The European Romani

The Romani people (often called "gypsies" have a long and interesting history in Europe. Sadly, part of that history includes being a target of the Nazi extermination of "sub-human" people, the Holocaust. Here are some excerpts of articles which describe those events:

Drawing support from many non-Nazi Germans who harbored social prejudice towards Roma, the Nazis judged Roma to be "racially inferior." The fate of Roma in some ways paralleled that of the Jews. Under the Nazi regime, German authorities subjected Roma to arbitrary internment, forced labor, and mass murder. German authorities murdered tens of thousands of Roma in the German-occupied territories of the Soviet Union and Serbia and thousands more in the killing centers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. The SS and police incarcerated Roma in the Bergen-Belsen, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Dachau, Mauthausen, and Ravensbrück concentration camps. Both in the so-called Greater German Reich and in the so-called Generalgouvernement, German civilian authorities managed several forced-labor camps in which they incarcerated Roma.

On September 21, 1939, Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reich Security Main Office, met with Security Police (Sipo) and Security Service (SD) officials in Berlin. With German victory in the invasion of Poland assured, he intended to deport 30,000 German and Austrian Roma from the Greater German Reich to the Generalgouvernement (that part of German-occupied Poland not annexed directly to Germany). Governor General Hans Frank, the top civilian occupation official in the Generalgouvernement, foiled this plan when he refused to accept large numbers of Roma and Jews into the Generalgouvernement in the spring of 1940.

German authorities did deport some Roma from the Greater German Reich to occupied Poland in 1940 and 1941. In May 1940, the SS and police deported approximately 2,500 Roma and Sinti, primarily residents of Hamburg and Bremen, to Lublin District in the Generalgouvernement. SS and police authorities incarcerated them in forced labor camps. The conditions under which they had to live and work proved to be lethal to many of them. The fate of the survivors is unknown; it is likely that the SS murdered those who were still alive in the gas chamber of Belzec, Sobibor, or Treblinka. In the autumn of 1941, German police authorities deported 5,007 Sinti and Lalleri Gypsies from Austria to the ghetto for Jews in Lodz, where they resided in a segregated section. Nearly half of the Roma died within the first months of their arrival, due to lack of adequate food, fuel, shelter, and medicines. German SS and police officials deported those who survived these dreadful conditions to the killing center at Chelmno in the first months of 1942. There, along with tens of thousands of Jewish residents of the Lodz ghetto, the Roma died in gas vans, poisoned by carbon monoxide gas.

Intending to deport them from the so-called Greater German Reich in the near future, German authorities confined all Roma in so-called Gypsy camps (Zigeunerlager). With the suspension of deportations of Roma in 1940, these facilities became long-term holding pens. Marzahn in Berlin along with Lackenbach and Salzburg in Austria were among the worst of these camps. Hundreds of Roma died as a result of the horrendous conditions. Local Germans repeatedly complained about the camps, demanding the deportation of the Roma interned there in order to "safeguard” public morals, public health, and security. Local police used these complaints to appeal officially to Reichsführer-SS (SS chief) Heinrich Himmler for the resumption of deportations of Roma to the east.

more at: Genocide of European Roma (Gypsies), 1939–1945

Gypsies in Auschwitz: Part 1

For Nazi Germany, the Roma became a racist dilemma. The Roma were Aryans, but in the Nazi mind there were contradictions between what they regarded as the superiority of the Aryan race and their image of the Roma people.

At a conference held in Berlin on January 30, 1940, a decision was taken to expel 30,000 Roma from Germany to the territories of occupied Poland.

The reports of the SS Einsatzgruppen which operated in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union mention the murder of thousands of Romas along with the massive extermination of the Jews in these areas.

The deportations and executions of the Roma came under Himmler's authority. On December 16, 1942, Himmler issued an order to send all "Gypsies" to the concentration camps, with a few exceptions...

The deported Romas were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where a special Gypsy camp was erected. Over 20,000 Romas from Germany and some other parts of Europe were sent to this camp, and most of them were gassed there...

Wiernik described the arrival of the largest Roma group brought to Treblinka, in the spring of 1943:

One day, while I was working near the gate, I noticed the Germans and Ukrainians making special preparations...meanwhile the gate opened, and about 1,000 Gypsies were brought in (this was the third transport of Gypsies). About 200 of them were men, and the rest women and children...all the Gypsies were taken to the gas chambers and then burned...

Roma from the General Government [Poland] who were not sent to Auschwitz and to the operation Reinhard camps were shot on spot by the local police or gendarmes. In the eastern region of the Cracow district, in the counties of Sanok, Jaslo, and Rzeszow, close to 1,000 Roma were shot.

According to The Institut Fuer Zeitgeschicthe in Munich, at least 4,000 Roma people were murdered by gas at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

more at: Roma Victims of the Holocaust:Roma in Auschwitz

The Gypsies of Europe were registered, sterilized, ghettoized, and then deported to concentration and death camps by the Nazis. Approximately 250,000 to 500,000 Gypsies were murdered during the Holocaust - an event they call the Porajmos (the "Devouring".

A Short History
Approximately a thousand years ago, several groups of people migrated from northern India, dispersing throughout Europe over the next several centuries. Though these people were part of several tribes (the largest of which are the Sinti and Roma), the settled peoples called them by a collective name, "Gypsies" -- which stems from the one time belief that they had come from Egypt.

Nomadic, dark-skinned, non-Christian, speaking a foreign language (Romani), not tied to the land - the Gypsies were very different from the settled peoples of Europe. Misunderstandings of Gypsy culture created suspicions and fears, which in turn led to rampant speculations, stereotypes, and biased stories. Unfortunately, too many of these stereotypes and stories are still readily believed today.

Throughout the following centuries, non-Gypsies (Gaje) continually tried to either assimilate the Gypsies or kill them. Attempts to assimilate the Gypsies involved stealing their children and placing them with other families; giving them cattle and feed, expecting them to become farmers; outlawing their customs, language, and clothing as well as forcing them to attend school and church.

Decrees, laws, and mandates often allowed the killing of Gypsies. For instance, in 1725 King Frederick William I of Prussia ordered all Gypsies over 18 years of age to be hanged. A practice of "Gypsy hunting" was quite common - a game hunt very similar to fox hunting. Even as late as 1835, there was a Gypsy hunt in Jutland (Denmark) that "brought in a bag of over 260 men, women and children."1

more at: Gypsies and the Holocaust
Posted by Behind the Aegis | Thu Apr 16, 2015, 01:01 AM (6 replies)

Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day

Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG'vurah (יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה; "Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day"

Some 12 million lives were extinguished by the Nazi regime and its allies. Persons murdered for who they were, not what they did. Jews, gays, lesbians, Roma, Poles, Slavs, and the mentally and physically challenged. Persons were murdered for having the "wrong" opinions; Communists, trade unionists, intellectuals, and other "malcontents." It was a systematic, state approved mechanism for ridding the Fatherland of it's Untermensch or undesirable sub-humans. It was cruel and highly effective. Three-quarters of European Jewry ceased to exist, almost half the world's population of Jews were erased from the planet. Anywhere from a quarter to almost half of the European Romani people had their lives extinguished. Medical experiments, death inducing labor, hunger, disease, and some of the most cruel methods of torture and execution were implemented.

Seventy years have passed and the survivors are dying, as are their first-person stories. It is important to remember them, as well as though, who risked their own lives to protect the lives of other innocent people. The heroes came from all walks of life, all types of religions, positions of power, and even some countries (Albania, Denmark) did what the could to stop the scourge of the Nazi death machine.

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Thu Apr 16, 2015, 12:51 AM (25 replies)

An exhibition in Iran will mock the Holocaust

In early May, organizers in Tehran will stage the Second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest. Given the horrors of the Holocaust — in which the Nazi regime systematically killed more than 6 million Jews, as well as millions of Roma, homosexuals, political dissidents and other undesirables — and current fears about a rise in global anti-Semitism, an event with that name ought to raise myriad red flags.

An exhibition will feature some of the 839 pieces of "artwork" submitted as part of the contest by artists from more than 50 countries, reports Iran's semiofficial Fars News Agency.

Its stated goal is to provoke Western sensibilities — particularly as a response to satirical cartoons of the pr0phet Muhammad published in numerous European outlets in recent years. The "contest and exhibition intends to display the West's double standard behavior towards freedom of expression as it allows sacrilege of Islamic sanctities," Fars reports.

But this isn't just about Iranian anger with publications such as France's Charlie Hebdo, which has published cartoons depicting the founder of Islam.

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Wed Apr 8, 2015, 01:50 AM (117 replies)

White powder, threat sent to Colorado Jewish center, synagogue

DENVER (Reuters) Workers at a Jewish community center and a nearby synagogue in Colorado opened envelopes on Monday containing a white substance and at least one threatening message, police said.

The Boulder Jewish Community Center was evacuated after a letter was found to hold white powder, which was later declared harmless, along with a note that read: “your (sic) have enemies,” police said.

“When deputies arrived on scene they evacuated the building, quarantined the office, the people who were in contact with the envelope, and the envelope itself,” said Commander Heidi Prentup, spokeswoman for the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.

About three hours later, police said, a similar envelope was opened at the Congregation Har HaShem synagogue, some two miles south of the community center.

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Wed Apr 8, 2015, 01:44 AM (2 replies)

I did it! I am $2,860 richer because one year ago I quit smoking! (ETA: Thanks!)

I can't believe I actually did it. This last year was a real mixed bag. There were some high points, including my finally being allowed to get married, but there were some real downers, including health issues all year and the death of my beloved cat, but I never smoked. Lord knows I was tempted; still am sometimes. The first month was HELL! I kept the last pack of cigarettes I bought, still unopened, on the table next to the door as a reminder.

I smoked since I was 16, though not heavily. By college, I was a heavy smoker, at least a pack a day and when I left college, I was up to 2 packs a day. There were times I smoked as much as 3 packs a day. For the majority of the time, I smoked 2.5 packs a day, until last year when I dropped to 1.5 packs. The price of cigarettes was about $5 a pack, $55 for a carton, which I bought weekly. I decided to quit when I got a chest X-ray and the doctor said my lungs were clear and it looked as if I had only been smoking for a few years. That was it! Talk about a "gift horse" and I had no intentions of looking it in the mouth. It took two weeks to wean myself off them, but I did it.

If you are thinking of quitting, make your plan and only share it with people who will be supportive and I don't mean they are just supportive of your quitting, but supportive of the process. If you slip, it is OK! Examine why you slipped and how you can conquer that challenge in the future. It takes strength and believe in yourself. Don't do it for anyone else, do it for YOU! You are worth it!

So, there it is...ONE YEAR...hopefully, I will have many more years more!

ETA: I wanted to say "thanks!" for all the comments, well wishes, and additional stories. I had no idea I would get this type of response, and because it was a weekend, I spent it with my husband with occasional computer breaks, but I was busy making dinner and watching documentaries. But, I wanted to express my thanks!
Posted by Behind the Aegis | Sun Apr 5, 2015, 02:32 AM (115 replies)
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