2024s

    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

    SWI:

    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)’

    Variety:

    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.


    Sources:

    ‘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’


    Variety

    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.

    Producer of an Oscar-Winning Holocaust Film Offended by Jonathan Glazer’s Remarks at the 96th Oscars

    Richard Trank, Academy Award-winning producer of the 1997 Holocaust documentary ‘The Long Way Home’, writing in The Hollywood Reporter:

    Jonathan Glazer made a powerful film based on an incredibly powerful book. Sadly, his arrogant performance accepting his Oscar has diminished that achievement for people like me as well as my family and friends. He can return to England to what I assume is a very comfortable home while many of his fellow British Jews continue trying to figure out a way to leave the U.K. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis are homeless in the south and now in the north, under attack by Hamas’ ally Hezbollah, backed by Iran. It’s unclear whether these facts trouble Jonathan Glazer as he calls for people to “resist” and equates Israel with Nazi Germany. One thing I do know is that many** **Jews around the world were outraged and disgusted by what the Oscar winner had to say at this year’s Academy Awards. And joining that group, I would say that if we are going to resist or refute anything, it’s statements like the one issued by Jonathan Glazer.

    Switzerland Reports Unprecedented Antisemitism in 2023

    SWI:

    The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) and the Foundation against Racism and Anti-Semitism (GRA) reports that in 2023, 1,130 anti-Semitic cases took place in the German- and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland, In 2022, the figure was 910.

    Of the ten physical assaults against Jewish people registered in German- and Italian-speaking Switzerland last year, seven came after the Hamas attacks. Some 114 of the 155 “real world” incidents were logged after October 7, or 74% of the annual total.


    Another group, the Intercommunity Coordination Against Anti-Semitism and Defamation (CICAD), previously reported that anti-Semitic incidents increased by 68% in French-speaking Switzerland last year. Almost half of the incidents occurred after 7 October.

    Holocaust Survivors’ Foundation USA Open Letter to Jonathan Glazer

    David Schaecter, a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor, wrote this letter on March 11, 2024:

    I am 94 years old and the only member of 105 souls in my family to survive the Holocaust. I miraculously survived nearly three years in the hell of Auschwitz and one year in the hell of Buchenwald.

    I watched in anguish Sunday night when I heard you use the platform of the Oscars ceremony to equate Hamas’s maniacal brutality against innocent Israelis with Israel’s difficult but necessary self-defense in the face of Hamas’s ongoing barbarity.

    Your comments were factually inaccurate and morally indefensible.

    The “occupation” of which you speak has nothing to do with the Holocaust. The Jewish people’s existence and right to live in the land of Israel predates the Holocaust by hundreds of years. Today’s political and geographic landscape is the direct result of wars started by past Arab leaders who refused to accept Jewish people as their neighbors in our historic homeland. Now that several Arab countries are making peace with Israel because security and prosperity are better for all people, Iran and its terrorist proxies started another war, abetted by too many, who, through naïveté or malice, blame “the occupation.”

    Worse is that you chose to use the Holocaust to validate your personal opinion. You made a Holocaust movie and won an Oscar. And you are Jewish. Good for you. But it is disgraceful for you to presume to speak for the six million Jews, including one and half million children, who were murdered solely because of their Jewish identity.

    And it is disgraceful for you to presume to speak for those of us who personally saw the world stand silent as our mothers, father, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were murdered. We actually had nowhere to go — no possible place for refuge. No country would accept us even though world leaders knew full well that thousands of Jews were being murdered every day. There was no Jewish nation to which we could flee.

    You should be ashamed of yourself for using Auschwitz to criticize Israel.

    Source

    Almost Half of World Jewry Now Lives in Israel

    Alvin H. Rosenfeld1 writing in Tablet:

    There will be no Jewish future worthy the name without the State of Israel. At present, something like 47% of world Jewry lives in Israel. That’s almost one out of every two Jews alive. Were Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and their allies ever to succeed in liquidating Israel, the loss would be immeasurable and irrecoverable. Most Jews still alive elsewhere would be physically imperiled, psychologically traumatized, and spiritually enervated to the point of collapse. That might have been the Jewish condition after the Holocaust, were it not for Israel’s founding only three years after the liberation of the death camps—an act of collective revival that demonstrated a level of national resilience and spiritual rebirth almost without parallel in history. But far from recognizing the Jewish people’s reestablishment of national independence and political sovereignty in its ancient homeland in positive terms, some of Israel’s neighbors have seen the existence of the Jewish state as an intolerable affront that needs to be reversed.


    1. Director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Irving M. Glazer Chair in Jewish Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington↩︎

    The History of the Swastika May Surprise You

Older Posts →