President Joe Biden delivers remarks at U.S. Holocaust Memorial Days of Remembrance Ceremony

May 7, 2024 at the U.S. Capitol:

The full text is available on the White House website.

My favorite quote from President Biden’s speech:

To the Jewish community, I want you to know I see your fear, your hurt, and your pain.

Let me reassure you, as your President, you are not alone. You belong. You always have, and you always will.

And my commitment to the safety of the Jewish people, the security of Israel, and its right to exist as an independent Jewish state is ironclad, even when we disagree.

A Jewish Photographer Documented Nazi Deportation of Jews

The Times of Israel:

Unique and chilling images of one of the first deportations of German Jews from their homes during World War II have been published for the first time by a Berlin-based international research project.

The set of 13 pictures — discovered by chance in an archive in Dresden by historian Steffen Heidrich — were taken clandestinely. They are believed to be the only ones chronicling a deportation captured by a Jewish photographer.

The photos show hundreds of Jewish men and women — from elderly people in wheelchairs to young children grasping their parents’ hands — being rounded up and herded into a beer garden in Breslau, Silesia, on November 21, 1941.

The photographer is believed to be Albert Hadda (1892-1975). Hadda was married to a non-Jew and therefore escaped deportation for a time. It is thought that he had access to the area of the city where the victims were taken to be deported; a section that was sealed off to the general public. Hadda survived the Groß-Rosen concentration camp, and after living in Israel for a time returned to Germany. He died in Frankfurt am Main in 1975 and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Stockholm, where Hadda’s daughter lived.

See also, PetaPixel and #LastSeen.

Switzerland and Dachau

Germany’s National Socialist (Nazi) government and Switzerland had substantial ties. Switzerland’s contribution to the construction of the Dachau concentration camp near Munich is not well known.

Before WWII, Extroc, SA, a Swiss state-subsidized timber company built the Dachau concentration camp, under a contract for 13 million Swiss francs. The contract was negotiated by Colonel Henri Guisan, the son of the later Swiss Commander-in-Chief Henri Guisan (1874–1960) and a Swiss national hero. The Swiss Colonel was in turn connected to Hans Wilhelm Eggen, an SS captain who bought timber in Switzerland for the Waffen SS. This was the wood used to construct Dachau. Dachau was the first regular concentration camp established by the Nazi government.1

According to a now declassified CIA report, Eggen often went to “Switzerland under cover of a delivery agent for wooden barracks.” Eggen was a friend of Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the SS. In Nazi Germany, the SS controlled the German police forces and the concentration camp system.

See, Roberts, Andrew, The Storm of War (p. 113). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition; Goñi, Uki, The Real Odessa: How Perón Brought the Nazi War Criminals to Argentina (p. 170). Granta Books. Kindle Edition.

  1. My father was liberated from Dachau by the US Army. ↩︎

What It’s Like to be Visually Jewish at Yale

Bret Stephens writing in The New York Times:

Netanel Crispe, from Danby, Vt., is a 21-year-old junior studying American history at Yale. He is also, to his knowledge, the university’s only Hasidic undergraduate. When he chose Yale, he told me this week, he was “looking for an institution that asserted its position in terms of maintaining and protecting free expression while not backing down on its principal values.”

It hasn’t worked out that way.

On Saturday evening he and his friend Sahar Tartak, a Yale sophomore and an Orthodox Jew, paid a visit to the university’s Beinecke Plaza, where pro-Palestinian demonstrators had set up an encampment.

“I was wearing my black hat; I was very identifiably Jewish,” Crispe said. “I was yelled at, harassed, pushed and shoved numerous times. Every time I tried to take a step someone confronted me inches from my face, telling me not to move.” Tartak said she was hit in the left eye by a Palestinian flag held by a demonstrator. She ended up in the hospital, luckily without permanent injury. “Thank God, there was a small sphere at the end of the pole,” she told me.

Holocaust Museum Calls on American Colleges and Universities to Protect Jewish Students following Eruption of Antisemitism


The shocking eruption of antisemitism on many American college and university campuses is unacceptable and university and all other appropriate authorities must take greater action to protect Jewish students. Demonstrators at Columbia University calling for Jews to return to Poland — where three million Jewish men, women, and children were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators — is an outrageous insult to Holocaust memory, a failure to appreciate its lessons, and an act of dangerous antisemitism.

America is hardly the Third Reich, but the Holocaust teaches the dangers of pervasive societal antisemitism, and awareness of this history must guide our actions in the present. Nazi ideology was official state policy, but it found a receptive audience on university campuses based on well established contempt towards Jews.

The CIA and Nazi War Criminals

The Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act established the Nazi War Criminal Records Interagency Working Group to locate, identify, inventory, recommend for declassification, and make available to the public at the National Archives and Records Administration, all classified Nazi war criminal records of the United States.

In 1995, the National Security Archive posted the CIA’s secret documentary history of the U.S government’s relationship with General Reinhard Gehlen, the German army’s intelligence chief for the Eastern Front during World War II. At the end of the war, Gehlen established a close relationship with the U.S. and successfully maintained his intelligence network (it ultimately became the West German BND) even though he employed numerous former Nazis and known war criminals. The use of Gehlen’s group, according to the CIA history, Forging an Intelligence Partnership: CIA and the Origins of the BND, 1945-49, was a “double edged sword” that “boosted the Warsaw Pact’s propaganda efforts” and “suffered devastating penetrations by the KGB.” [See Volume 1: Introduction, p. xxix]

The declassified “SECRET RelGER” two-volume history was compiled by CIA historian Kevin Ruffner and presented in 1999 by CIA Deputy Director for Operations Jack Downing to the German intelligence service (Bundesnachrichtendienst) in remembrance of “the new and close ties” formed during post-war Germany to mark the fiftieth year of CIA-West German cooperation. This history was declassified in 2002 as a result of the work of The Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group (IWG) and contains 97 key documents from various agencies.

The full posting is available here.

Antisemitism: ‘We will never be done with it’

Jean Cassou (1897-1986) quoted in Sapir Journal:

An antisemite will always, in the course of his argument, turn to assure you that he is not an antisemite, but that he is against the Jews; another that he is not against the Jews, but that he is an antisemite; another that he is neither anti-Jewish nor an antisemite, but anti-Zionist; another that he is neither anti-Jewish, nor an antisemite, nor anti-Zionist, but anti-Israeli. He will swear to you that he condemns the crematory ovens but that he would like the complete destruction of Israel. See, we will never be done with it.

Steven Spielberg, Honored by USC Shoah Foundation, Cautions Against Rise of Extremism

On March 25, 2024, Steven Spielberg, the winner of three Academy Awards, was honored by the University of Southern California, 30 years after founding the school’s Shoah Foundation and releasing the landmark Holocaust film “Schindler’s List.”

Spielberg denounced the “rise of extremist views” and called for people to use “the power of empathy” against antisemitism or anti-Muslim hate. He also spoke out on behalf of both those killed by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7 and innocent women and children killed in Gaza.

“We can rage against the heinous acts committed by the terrorists of Oct. 7 and also decry the killing of innocent women and children in Gaza,” the filmmaker and Shoah Foundation founder said as he accepted the University of Southern California’s highest honor, the University Medallion. “This makes us a unique force for good in the world. And here’s why we are here today to celebrate the work of the Shoah Foundation, which is more crucial now than it even was in 1994.”

Anti-Semitism: Zurich attacker radicalized in Tunisia and online


The 15-year-old Swiss national with a Tunisian immigrant background is in custody until further notice. On the evening of March 2, he attacked a 50-year-old Jewish man with a knife and seriously injured him. In a video in Arabic, the teenager declared his allegiance to Islamic State (IS).

A Small Taste of How Hamas Hostages are Suffering

Lauren Markoe writing in the Forward:

Smack in the middle of the National Mall, there is a shipping container that advocates for the hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7 want you to walk through. Volunteers with the the Hostages and Missing Families Forum will tell you to wait a minute at its entrance, so your eyes can adjust to the darkness. The whole experience — walking the length of the container and watching a short video about those in captivity — takes about three minutes.

The 100-plus hostages have been held in Gaza for 166 days.

The container is protected by a guard and cost $1,800, a volunteer named Tamar Pinto told me when I visited on Thursday. It was placed on the Mall on Tuesday and will remain through Sunday [March 24], then is headed to New York City; Philadelphia; Rochester, New York; and beyond.

I visited today and made these photos. I found the experience very moving. The moment I walked in the trailer I could not see anything until my eyes adjusted. I was completely disoriented. The kind volunteer who accompanied me said this is the intent of the hostage takers. And I was only in the trailer for about three minutes.

If you can visit, I recommend it.

Norman Miller (1924-2024)

The New York Times:

At 15, he escaped to England. At 20, he enlisted in the British Army and identified Arthur Seyss-Inquart (1892–1946) who, as the Reich commissioner of the German-occupied Netherlands, was responsible for deporting thousands of Dutch Jews to concentration camps.

Martin Greenfield (1928-2024)

The New York Times:

Defying boundaries of taste and time, Martin Greenfield made suits for President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the gangster Meyer Lansky, Leonardo DiCaprio and LeBron James. Men skilled in the arts of power projection — along with fashion writers and designers — considered him the nation’s greatest men’s tailor.

For years, none of them knew the origins of his expertise: a beating in Auschwitz.

As a teenager, Mr. Greenfield was Maximilian Grünfeld, a skinny Jewish prisoner whose job was to wash the clothes of Nazi guards at the concentration camp. In the laundry room one day, he accidentally ripped the collar of a guard’s shirt. The man whipped Max in response, then hurled the garment back at the boy.

Amnon Weinstein (1939-2024)

The New York Times:

Amnon Weinstein, an Israeli luthier who restored violins belonging to Jews during the Holocaust so that musicians around the world could play them in hopeful, melodic tributes to those silenced in Nazi death camps, died on March 4 in Tel Aviv. He was 84.

Canadian Jewish Film Festival Cancelled Due to Gaza-Related Threats

The Forward:

Concerts, book talks and other cultural events are increasingly being canceled because of security concerns about protests over Israel’s war in Gaza.

The Playhouse Cinema in Hamilton, Ontario, about 40 miles from Toronto, became the latest venue to call off a Jewish-themed event when it announced Tuesday that the annual Hamilton Jewish Film Festival would not be held in the theater as scheduled in April.

We Need to Take the Far Right Seriously

Jeremy Stern in a long, thoughtful piece in Tablet Magazine entitled “Can Germany’s Far Right Be Stopped?” writes:

If you really want to stop people from voting for the extreme populist right in your country, you might start by moderating your outrage at their attempts, however manic, to dissent from your leadership—and start taking them seriously.

Stern is a deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He was previously a senior adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin and an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) officer in the U.S. Army.

Variety: ‘Over 1,000 Jewish Creatives and Professionals Have Now Denounced Jonathan Glazer’s ‘Zone of Interest’ Oscars Speech in Open Letter (EXCLUSIVE)’


More than 1,000 Jewish creatives, executives and Hollywood professionals have signed an open letter denouncing Jonathan Glazer’s “The Zone of Interest” Oscar speech.

The list of co-signees provided to _Variety _Monday morning covers a broad swath of the industry including actors (Debra Messing, Tovah Feldshuh), executives (Gary Barber, Gail Berman), creators (Amy Sherman-Palladino), directors (Eli Roth, Rod Lurie), producers (Lawrence Bender, Amy Pascal, Hawk Koch, Sherry Lansing) and representatives (UTA’s Jake Fenton, Gersh’s Jeffrey Greenberg, attorney Craig Emmanuel). About 500 more individuals have added their names to the nearly 500 who signed on when the open letter was first published.

The group’s statement says: “We refute our Jewishness being hijacked for the purpose of drawing a moral equivalence between a Nazi regime that sought to exterminate a race of people, and an Israeli nation that seeks to avert its own extermination.”

Glazer declined to comment.

The full statement and a current list of co-signees follows:

We are Jewish creatives, executives and Hollywood professionals.

We refute our Jewishness being hijacked for the purpose of drawing a moral equivalence between a Nazi regime that sought to exterminate a race of people, and an Israeli nation that seeks to avert its own extermination.

Every civilian death in Gaza is tragic. Israel is not targeting civilians. It is targeting Hamas. The moment Hamas releases the hostages and surrenders is the moment this heartbreaking war ends. This has been true since the Hamas attacks of October 7th.

The use of words like “occupation” to describe an indigenous Jewish people defending a homeland that dates back thousands of years, and has been recognized as a state by the United Nations, distorts history.

It gives credence to the modern blood libel that fuels a growing anti-Jewish hatred around the world, in the United States, and in Hollywood. The current climate of growing antisemitism only underscores the need for the Jewish State of Israel, a place which will always take us in, as no state did during the Holocaust depicted in Mr. Glazer’s film.

Read More →

Google Engineer Uses AI to Identify Faces in Holocaust-era Photographs

Daniel Patt, a software engineer for Google, is the founder of a website called From Numbers to Names, which uses artificial intelligence to find old photographs of loved ones and relatives lost during the Holocaust.

From Numbers to Names has links to archives that contain about 500,000 photos from museums such as Yad Vashem — the World Holocaust Remembrance Center and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Anyone can upload a photo of a Holocaust victim or survivor to the site, and it will compare the photo to its archives. Facial recognition technology then finds the ten best potential matches among photos from the archives.

Patt’s four grandparents are Holocaust survivors from Poland, His initial goal was to help his grandmother find photos of the members of her family murdered by in the Holocaust. His grandmother was just 9 years old when the war started and fled from her hometown of Zamość eastward with her father and siblings, while her mother — Patt’s great-grandmother — stayed behind. Her mother was shot and killed during the Nazi invasion, and Patt’s great-uncle — his grandmother’s brother — was subsequently killed when he went back to rescue her. The rest of the family survived and emigrated to New York City after the war.


‘The Zone of Interest’ Executive Producer Disagrees with Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars Speech Critical of Israel

I just fundamentally disagree with Jonathan on this. The war and the continuation of the war is the responsibility of Hamas, a genocidal terrorist organization which continues to hold and abuse the hostages, which doesn’t use its tunnels to protect the innocent civilians of Gaza but uses it to hide themselves and allow Palestinians to die. I think the war is tragic and awful and the loss of civilian life is awful, but I blame Hamas for that.

Danny Cohen, Executive Producer, ‘The Zone of Interest’


The Hollywood Reporter

Unholy Podcast

‘The Zone of interest’: A ‘Vacuous’ Movie

 Manohla Dargis writing for The New York Times:

What is the point of “The Zone of Interest”? I’ve seen Jonathan Glazer’s movie twice, and each time I’ve returned to this question, something that I rarely feel compelled to ask. Movies exist because someone needs or wants to make art, tell a story, drive home a point, defend a cause, expose a wrong or simply make money. All that is clear from what’s onscreen is Glazer has made a hollow, self-aggrandizing art-film exercise set in Auschwitz during the Holocaust.

In “The Zone of Interest,” Glazer doesn’t simply tell a story; in his use of art-film conventions he provides a specific frame through which to watch it. This is clearly part of its attraction as is the breathing space his approach creates: it is scary, but not too.

These conventions can create a sense of intellectual distance and serve as a critique, or that’s the idea. They also announce (fairly or not) a filmmaker’s aesthetic bona fides, seriousness, sophistication and familiarity with a comparatively rarefied cinematic tradition. They signal that the film you’re watching is different from popular ones made for a mass audience. These conventions are markers of distinction, of quality, which flatter filmmakers and viewers alike, and which finally seem to me to be the biggest point of this vacuous movie.