The Holocaust

Auschwitz memorial weighs in on US racial divisions

WARSAW, Poland — The memorial site of Auschwitz-Birkenau weighed in on the anti-Semitic and racially charged violence that has erupted in the United States, noting that hatred comes from people who promote it.

The state museum, which preserves the site of the former Nazi German death camp, wrote Thursday on Twitter: “One of the hardest lessons for us today. Perpetrators were people. They accepted an ideology that rationalized and promoted hatred & evil.”

Beneath the words is a photo of Auschwitz officers and guards smiling and having fun.

The message was posted in several languages after US President Donald Trump made comments that appeared to defend the actions of neo-Nazis and white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday. A woman was killed and 19 people were injured in the turmoil.

One of the hardest lessons for us today. Perpetrators were people. They accepted an ideology that rationalized and promoted hatred & evil. https://twitter.com/jonathannichol4/status/897877293497860096 

A museum spokesman told The Associated Press that people are free to interpret the message as they wish.

On Sunday, the museum tweeted: “Auschwitz stands today as a painful reminder of what racist & antisemitic ideologies can lead to, of what may happen when people hate…”

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Auschwitz stands today as a painful reminder of what racist & antisemitic ideologies can lead to, of what may happen when people hate…

Nazi Germany killed an estimated 1.1 million people at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in German-occupied Poland, most of them Jews, but also Roma, Poles, homosexuals and others.

Today the Polish state institution preserves the physical remains of the site while leading educational efforts to remember the atrocities committed there.

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Mike Pence commemorates Holocaust, terrorism victims in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Vice President Mike Pence in Argentina commemorated Holocaust victims and those killed in terrorist attacks on Israelis and the Jewish community in 1992 and 1994.

On Tuesday, Pence paid homage to the victims at a memorial in Buenos Aires — his first stop during an official visit to Argentina – in the Metropolitan cathedral.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the 1992 bombing at the Israeli Embassy in the Argentine capital, which was followed two years later by the AMIA Jewish center bombing — the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of Argentina. The two attacks, which Western intelligence agencies said were organized with Iranian support, claimed the lives of 114 people.

“Earlier today, it was my great honor to visit a memorial to these victims in the Metropolitan chapel, and breathe a prayer and read a verse in their memory,” Pence said.

The aftermath of the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires (photo credit: Newspaper La Nación (photo credit: Argentina/Wikipedia Commons)

The vice president landed Sunday in Latin America for a weeklong trip to meet with the leaders of Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama.

“The threat of terror still looms across our hemisphere,” Pence said, “and we will stand together to confront it and protect our people from it.”

This Holocaust monument in Belarus is haunting — and subversive

KHATYN, Belarus (JTA) — Even by Soviet standards, the massive memorial complex near Minsk to the victims of Nazi atrocities stands out for its immense scale and ambition.

Spread across half a million square feet — roughly the size of 10 football fields — the haunting Khatyn Memorial is essentially a graveyard not for people, but for entire villages wiped out by the Nazis in Belarus.  Byelorussia, as it was then known, was one of the few places in Europe where German brutality toward non-Jews matched their anti-Semitic savagery.

The memorial features soil from each of the 186 villages razed by the Nazis in Belarus — 3 million civilians here were killed by Nazis, including 800,000 Jews — and a symbolic tombstone for each village. Bell towers toll here every hour for each of the houses that the German and Ukrainian troops burned in the former village of Khatyn in the massacre of March 22, 1943. And there’s a bleak, black marble monument called the Wall of Sorrow.

The monument “was revolutionary,” said Chaim Chesler, founder of the Limmud FSU Jewish learning group. “There is nothing quite like it anywhere in the former Soviet Union, not in terms of scale, design and concept.” Limmud FSU regularly brings visitors to the monument.

But the Khatyn monument is unusual not only for its size and the scale of the tragedy it commemorates.

The complex’s chief architect was Leonid Levin, an uncommon honor for a Jew at a time of virulent state anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. It also features a rare Soviet depiction of individual, unglorified grief and suffering by ordinary people: a statue called “The Unbowed Man.”

Designed by sculptor Sergei Selikhanov, the work depicts Yuzif Kaminsky, the only villager who survived the Nazi massacre in Khatyn, cradling the corpse of his dead son, Adam. The Kaminsky family wasn’t Jewish, but the father’s grief stands for all the suffering inflicted on the region — and in stark contrast to typical Soviet-era statues of defiant soldiers or a glorious Mother Russia.  

“The inclusion of such work was revolutionary when my father decided on it,” said Levin’s daughter, Galina Levina. “Architecturally and conceptually, he was decades ahead of his time.” Leonid Levin died in 2014.

The Soviet rulers selected Levin along with two other partners to head the project in 1967. State anti-Semitism reached new heights that year with Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War against Moscow’s Arab allies.

“I think it was a recognition of Leonid Levin’s excellence, and a realization that he was the best man for the job,” she said.

In 1970, Levin won the prestigious Lenin Award, the highest civil distinction of excellence conferred by the Soviet Union, for his work on Khatyn. He became one of only a handful of Jews who received it.

Chesler of the Limmud FSU group said he found this honor “the most astonishing element of the whole story” of the Khatyn monument. “Clearly, it shows Levin had a great deal of trust from Belarus’ communist rulers, and he used that trust to make something truly great,” Chesler said.

Simon Lewis, a historian and research fellow at the Freie Universität Berlin who has written about the Khatyn monument, told JTA that Levin was probably selected for the job because he was trusted by the government to deliver a monumental, patriotic message.

It didn’t hurt that Levin had nationalist credentials to offset his Jewish ethnicity, Lewis noted.

“He was a very prominent architect before he made Khatyn,” Lewis said of Levin, “and his work shows a commitment to Belarusian nationality in a certain understanding of the term.”

Levin headed projects in Minsk commemorating Yanka Kupala and Yakub Kolas, two of Belarus’ greatest poets.

To Lewis, Levin’s case is indicative of how individual Jews who did not engage in Zionism or other activities frowned upon by Moscow could be promoted within the Soviet system, despite its anti-Semitism.

After the fall of communism, Leonid Levin became the head of the Jewish community of Belarus and devoted much of his professional efforts to projects commemorating the Jewish genocide.

The Pietà-like Kaminsky statue, Lewis said, may have been a concession by Moscow to the population of Belarus, in recognition of the scale of atrocities committed against their nation. A third of its population perished.

To Galina Levina, the architect’s daughter, this loss forever binds Jews and Belarusians. “It is even appropriate that the man who designed the main monument for the tragedy of the Belarusian people be Jewish,” she said.

Today, hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren each year visit the Khatyn monument, where the country’s leader, Alexander Lukashenko, delivers speeches on memorial days.

“It is a great honor that my father created the site that is responsible for the main effort of genocide education in the country he loved so much,” she said.

When Levin died, he was working on a memorial for the victims of Maly Trostenets, an extermination camp where the Nazis killed the Jews of Minsk, which he was never able to finish. When Levin passed away, his daughter took over from him. The project was completed in 2015.

She said the monument was not only her father’s last project, but also “the most important” one to him.

Yad Vashem warns of Nazi ideology on display in Virginia

The Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum on Monday condemned this weekend’s neo-Nazi rally in Virginia, saying that the ideology on display there was identical to that which led to the murder of six million Jews.

In a statement, the remembrance center said that it “is very concerned by the images, hateful rhetoric, and subsequent violence emanating from the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.”

“In our post-Holocaust global society, there is no room for racism or antisemitism,” the organization said. “The anti-Jewish ideology of the Nazis was a precursor to the eventual murderous policy and extermination of six million Jews. These images are yet another reminder that we must remain vigilant about educating the public regarding hatred and xenophobia.”

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky also slammed the hatred expressed by neo-Nazi participants in the march.

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky attends an emergency meeting in the Knesset of the lobby for strengthening ties with the Jewish world, June 27, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In a statement Sharansky said he was horrified at the racism and hatred demonstrated at the weekend rally by Ku Klux Klan members and other white nationalists in Charlottesville,

“I am deeply concerned by the expressions of antisemitism and other forms of racism and hatred exhibited at the neo-Nazi rally this past weekend in Charlottesville,” he said, “and I am horrified by the death of a protester at the hands of one of the marchers. There is no place for such hate speech or violence in any democratic society, and I am confident that American authorities will do everything in their power to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Sharansky also spoke more generally about threats against Jewish students on campus, and offered specific help to local students.

“No student, Jewish or otherwise, should feel threatened at his or her university,” he said, “and Jewish students at the University of Virginia should know that the local Hillel staff is available to them at all times, as is the Jewish Agency Israel Fellow at UVA.”

Members of the KKK are escorted by police past a large group of protesters during a KKK rally Saturday, July 8, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

White nationalists assembled in Charlottesville on Friday to vent their frustration against the city’s plans to take down a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

Counter-protesters massed in opposition the next day. A few hours after violent encounters between the two groups, a car was driven into a crowd of people protesting the racist rally, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 26 others. The driver was later taken into custody.

These undated photo provided by the Virginia State Police show Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, left, of Quinton, Va., and Lt. H. Jay Cullen, of Midlothian, Va. The two were killed Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, when the helicopter they were piloting crashed while assisting public safety resources during clashes at a nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. (Virginia State Police via AP)

Two Virginia state troopers were also killed when their police helicopter crashed and caught on fire while responding to clashes between white supremacist protesters and counterprotesters.

US President Donald Trump has come under mounting fire, even from members of his own party, for blaming the violence on hatred and bigotry “on many sides,” and not explicitly condemning the white extremist groups at the rally.

On Sunday, the White House released a statement clarifying that his condemnation of hate and bigotry at the “Unite the Right” Virginia rally had been in reference to the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.

How Curious George’s creators saved the beloved monkey from the Nazis (LOL…)

JTA — Curious George — that curious little monkey — is beloved by millions of readers around the world. His adventures with the Man With the Yellow Hat impart important life lessons amidst silliness and mayhem.

But many people probably don’t know that the children’s book character was actually born during very dark times. His two Jewish creators, Margret and H.A. Rey, fled the Nazis in 1940 — on homemade bicycles, no less — carrying their unpublished manuscripts with them.

The story of the couple’s daring escape is told in the forthcoming documentary “Monkey Business: The Story of Curious George’s Creators,” which will premiere online and on on-demand platforms on Tuesday, Aug. 15. At the same time, in a coincidence of timing, the 2005 children’s book “The Journey That Saved Curious George,” will be mailed to 8- to 11-year-olds across the country this month through the PJ Library, a non-profit that champions Jewish-themed children’s books.

No matter what the format, the story of Curious George’s creators is a fascinating one.

Hans Augusto Rey (née Reyersbach) and Margret Waldstein first met in Hamburg in the 1920s. Margret, who had studied art at the influential Bauhaus school and whose father was a member of the German parliament, left Germany for Brazil in 1935 to escape the rising tide of anti-Semitism. Hans had been working in Rio de Janeiro as a bathtub salesman. The pair, who had met over a decade before in Germany, married that year and moved to Paris.

An image from 'Curious George' (YouTube screenshot)

Hans worked as a cartoon illustrator for a newspaper, and Margret wrote copy. A French publisher was impressed with some of Hans’ animal drawings and suggested they work on a children’s book. Their first work was “Raphael and the Nine Monkeys,” and one of those monkeys would later become George.

By June 1940, the situation in Paris looked grim as Hitler’s troops began to close in. Millions of people flocked to trains heading to the south of the country, and the Reys could not get a ticket.

They didn’t own a car, so they decided to flee by bike, as Louise Borden explains in “The Journey That Saved Curious George.” The only problem: They couldn’t find a bike anywhere, either.

Somehow, Hans did something that sounds like a plot point in a children’s fantasy book: He made two bikes that night using spare parts. That incredible act likely saved their lives, as well as the future of the monkey that would become Curious George.

Before their escape, Margret rounded up all of their unpublished children’s book manuscripts, including one titled “Fifi: The Adventures of a Monkey.” The couple biked out of the city 48 hours before the Germans occupied Paris, and slept in barns and restaurants on their journey out of France.

As if in return for being saved, the curious little monkey character helped saved the Reys. As “Monkey Business” director Ema Ryan Yamazaki documents, whenever they were stopped at checkpoints during their escape, the couple brandished the manuscripts and illustrations to prove that they were not dangerous.

Cover of 'The Journey That Saved Curious George' by Louise Borden. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

They eventually made their way to Lisbon, then back to Brazil, then to New York. Fifi became George, and in 1941, Houghton Mifflin published the first “Curious George” book. Since then over 75 million “Curious George” books have been sold and the series has been translated into 19 languages. (He’s also the star of an animated PBS program for kids that premiered in 2006.)

H.A. Rey died in 1977, and Margaret Rey died in 1996.

Yamazaki, who grew up partially in the US and partially in Japan, said she was inspired by the Reys’ story of immigrant success.

“With a deepening refugee crisis and inflamed anti-immigrant rhetoric across the globe, the Reys’ story has become unexpectedly more relevant in the two years I have been making the documentary,” she wrote last year. “The Reys’ refugee story has a happy ending, and represents the American dream at its best.”

Researchers find dozens of Jewish headstones at Babi Yar (LOL….)

Nazi troops dumped dozens of stolen Jewish headstones at the same site near Kiev where they murdered tens of thousands of Jews, researchers in Ukraine discovered.

The Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center last month extracted 50 headstones from the Babi Yar ravine, where Nazis and local collaborators murdered more than 150,00 people, including 50,000 Jews, starting in September 1941.

“The tombstones were removed from a local Jewish cemetery during the Holocaust and thrown into the same ravines where over 150,000 Jews, Roma people and Ukrainians were murdered during the Holocaust,” Marek Siwiec, a former Polish politician and current head of the memorial center, said in a statement earlier this week about the discovery.

With a mandate from the Ukrainian government, Siwiec’s organization, which was set up last year, is heading international efforts to commemorate the Babi Yar tragedy in a manner befitting its scale. Jewish victims are memorialized at the site only by an unfenced six-foot menorah, which is situated near a dumping ground for industrial waste and is vandalized regularly.

“The significance of Babi Yar is of upmost importance, at this horrendously difficult site, the largest single act mass murder of Jews took place during the Holocaust, with 37,771 brutally murdered during a two-day period, it is our duty not just to remember this site but also proactively learn from the darkest days of human history to build a better future,” Siwiec said in the statement about the discovery.

Additional headstones from Jewish graves are scattered in the ravine but they require careful excavations to be extracted intact, according to Jonny Daniels, founder of the From the Depths organization, which promotes the commemoration of the Holocaust in Poland. Daniels visited the site earlier this week to see how From the Depths, which has focused on restoring pillaged headstones in Poland, could assist the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, he said.

Austrians tread carefully as underfoot Holocaust memorials remain controversial

SALZBURG, Austria — Let the dead trip the people into remembering. That was the committee’s first proposal for how the Stolpersteine plaques should be installed into Salzburg’s sidewalks.

They imagined the brass memorial plates would be slightly elevated in the concrete, causing pedestrians to stumble over the dedications to the individual residents of Salzburg who were murdered during the Holocaust. Stolpersteine translates to stumbling stone, and the committee was feeling quite literal.

Artist Gunter Demnig had introduced his Stolpersteine initiative at the end of the 1990s. Since then, cities across Europe have set tens of thousands of these commemorative plaques into sidewalks, allowing for individual victims of the Holocaust to have their names remembered — a way, according to the Talmud, to keep them alive in people’s memories forever. Besides names, the plaques often list the reason the person was persecuted, along with the dates of birth, deportation, and murder.

As one would imagine, planting intentionally raised stones in the pavement was not approved by Salzburg’s city council, but the project itself was green-lighted and the first stones were installed in 2007. Today, there are more than 350 stumbling stones set in Salzburg. Unlike erecting a single Holocaust memorial, the brass plates scattered about the city and placed at the victims’ last residences indicate how widespread the massacre was.

Salzburg had a small Jewish community — just a few hundred — whereas Vienna, in 1938, had a Jewish population of nearly 200,000. By the end of the war, 65,000 Viennese Jews had been murdered. In Salzburg, the number of Jewish victims was 101.

Despite this huge disparity in statistics, the plaques feel ubiquitous in the quaint city — they are set on main pedestrian thoroughfares and cemented into bustling corners. Crossing a stumbling stone in vast Vienna, however, feels as likely as tripping over a tree root in the center of the Gobi desert.

The town of Salburg, Austria. (Noah Lederman/Times of Israel)

While pedestrians in Salzburg must constantly pass stumbling stones, how effective are these brass plates at memorializing the dead? And by laying these stones, have the people of Salzburg remembered the victims? Has the artist and committee appropriately honored the murdered?

Stan Nadel, a retired American history professor, member of the Stolpersteine committee in Salzburg, and author of “Salzburg and the Jews: A Historical Walking Guide,” celebrates Salzburg’s effort to pay tribute to the victims.

“It’s a town with a university and liberal, educated people,” Nadel explained, crediting that atmosphere for the success of the project.

Salzburg’s locals — more than three dozen were interviewed for this story — evidenced a clear understanding that the stumbling stones were memorials for victims of the Holocaust, though most explained that they memorialized the Jews only. (Stones have been laid for all victim groups, including homosexuals, communists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, to name a few.)

A stumbling stone near the entrance of an apartment building in Salzburg, Austria. (Noah Lederman/Times of Israel)

When asked about the brass plates, Peter Panasch, 56, said “I think it’s good to remember the victims of the Nazis.” He sometimes stops to read about the person who was murdered.

Other locals like Christa Gollner, who went to school just after the war and didn’t learn about the Holocaust until she was in her 30s, do not stop to read the plaques. “But I think [about the victims],” she said.

Nadel contends that some residents — he estimated 10 percent — “virulently object to having [Stolpersteine plaques] in front of their houses.” In public, these individuals typically state that they do not want others to associate them with the crimes, Nadel explained, but at ceremonies, he has heard residents say “filthy Jew.”

One couple, who asked to remain anonymous, was pushing their infant in a stroller along Franz-Josefstrasse. They recalled the time when the stumbling stone was cemented into the sidewalk in front of their apartment and roses were laid down.

“It’s good to have them,” said the mother and then signaled down to her young son in the pram. “They should learn everything about it.”

“Sometimes I Google the name [on the Stolpersteine],” said the father. He often found no information, unaware that the Stolpersteine website has biographies in both German and English, detailing the victims’ lives and deaths.

‘Again we murder them with our feet’

On the next block, 80-year-old Warner Rainer, returning from the market with his shopping bags, approached a stone. When asked about the efficacy of the project, he lifted his foot, stomped down upon Margarette Wraubeck’s memorial, and ground the stone with his foot as if crushing her identity like a lit cigarette.

“Again,” he said angrily, pausing for an uncomfortable moment.

Again what? She should die? Another Holocaust?

‘Again, we murder them with our feet’

“Again,” Rainer repeated and added, “we murder them with our feet.” As he spoke about the victims, his neighbors, he nearly came to tears.

For this reason, Munich, Germany has no stumbling stones. Charlotte Knoblauch, the head of the Jewish community in Munich, leads an opposition to the Stolpersteine project, arguing that having people tread upon the names of the dead and allowing dogs to urinate on these plaques is no memorial at all, but an insult to their identities.

A few years back, stumbling stones in Salzburg were desecrated: sprayed with black paint or tagged with the number 1488. (The 14 represents fourteen words that white supremacists hold dear and the pair of eights stand for the eighth letter of the alphabet — HH for Heil Hitler.)

A defaced Stolpersteine , or 'stumbling stone,' in honor of victim Josefine Schneider, with the information scratched out. (Noah Lederman/Times of Israel)

With the rise of refugees fleeing war in Syria and Iraq, the Identity Movement — an anti-immigrant, white nationalist group — has been pasting stickers in Salzburg that read “Faschtung Europa” or Fortress Europe, a term used during World War II that advocates for sealing the border. Some of these stickers have ended up on the Stolpersteines.

But after passing more than 100 stones in the city, only one has been defaced: Josefine Schneider’s identity, the concentration camp she had been deported to, and other scarred details were scraped away with, perhaps, a knife.

While nearly all the locals interviewed were aware of the Stolpersteine project’s significance, the tourists were oblivious.

At one cafe, on the popular Linzergasse street, tables were situated between three commemorative stones that caught the sun. But in the two years that one waiter had worked at the establishment, he said that he had only ever been asked about the stones once. He had never noticed anyone else examine them.

Of the three dozen tourists who were shown a photograph of a stumbling stone on a smartphone, and asked if they’d seen the memorials around the city, only two visitors answered affirmatively. But the two were familiar with the project, as they lived in a German city that also had Stolpersteine plaques.

Each time a tourist was shown the photograph, they had either just passed a stone or were about to approach one. Of those in the latter group, not one tourist seemed to notice the shiny, golden plaque, even after seeing the photograph. They just stepped over it.

Three Stolpersteine , or 'stumbling stones,' dedicated to the memory of Josef Geer and to the Hauslauers -- a married couple who were Jehovah's Witnesses -- in Salzburg, Austria. (Noah Lederman/Times of Israel)

Most disturbing was one tourist who was shown the photograph, took a dozen paces, stood upon three polished stumbling stones — one to remember Josef Geer and the Hauslauers, a married couple who were Jehovah’s Witnesses — paused to bite into his gyro, dripped some sauce near the stones, and moved on.

Perhaps tourists are always looking up — or devouring gyros. Or perhaps there are limits with every effort to memorialize the victims.

When a Chinese-speaking tour guide was asked if she told her groups about the stones, which she had recognized on the smartphone, she said, “They are from Asia, so they don’t know about this. I tell them only if they’re interested.”

Of the more than 70 people interviewed for this article — tourists and locals — the only person to stop and read a stone was Konrad Xu, a German child of about 10 years old, of Chinese descent.

“He’s curious about everything,” the German man accompanying him said when asked about Xu’s interest in Julia Leitner’s memorial. “I told him who lived here.”

When asked if he told Xu about Leitner’s murder in 1941, the older man’s smile disappeared. “Oh, so it’s from then.”

The stigma of memorializing the marginalized

While Jews from Salzburg have the most memorial stones of any one group, the Sinti and Roma people, who lived in the city and its environs, were actually Salzburg’s largest victim group. They were held in a camp near the city center. Most were exterminated in Auschwitz. But only about two dozen stones are set for the Sinti and Roma children born in the camp, who were murdered as infants and toddlers. The vast majority have no individual memorials.

A pedestrian walking by a Stolpersteine , or 'stumbling stone,' dedicated to the memory of a Holocaust victim in Salzburg, Austria. (Noah Lederman/Times of Israel)

Forthcoming plans are centered around remembering homosexuals and resisters, but not without conflict. There is still a stigma attached to both groups. To this day, many families do not want their relatives remembered as such, for fear of shame or even reprisals, as some locals still consider those who resisted the Nazis to be traitors.

Peter Wilhelmstatter, one of the most educated locals on the history of the Jews in Salzburg, said that Austrians view themselves “as the victims of the Nazis… We forget about everything else… People should be more aware and it should be part of the public knowledge.”

Then he smiled, admitting, “I’m also a little ignoring. I’ve never looked [the online biographies] up. I should probably do [that] now, now that you’re asking about it.”

Nadel’s earlier compliments of the city’s assistance with the project were not without criticism.

Salzburg still praises infamous Nazis and known anti-Semites. For instance, Hans Prodinger, whom the city remembers as an anti-fascist and a victim of the Nazis, was also one of the first Salzburg state party chiefs of the Austrian Nazi party, as detailed in Nadel’s book. Prodinger was eventually considered a Nazi traitor, but opted instead to lead the Austro-fascist party and remained fueled by his anti-Semitism.

Back in the 15th century, the sculptor Hans Valkenauer was commissioned by the city to carve the Judensau — an anti-Semitic feature in many Medieval cities that showed Jews suckling from the teats of a pig and eating its excrement. The marble frieze topped the Rathaus for centuries.

A Judensau. (Public domain)

After the Holocaust, the city named streets for both men. (Hans-Prodingergasse leads to the Jewish cemetery.) Despite Stolpersteine committee members’ complaints, the city, according to Nadel, responded that there was no evidence that the Judensau was an anti-Semitic sculpture.

While the Stolpersteine project keeps citizens cognizant of these past crimes and serves as a counter to the revisionist honors bestowed upon the city’s historic anti-Semites, Nadel still views Austria as a country of progress.

Before moving to Salzburg, Nadel had worked at Southwest Oklahoma State University in Custer County, Oklahoma — named for the general who, at dawn, infamously massacred a peaceful group of Cheyenne. Black Kettle, the chief, who had survived the earlier Sand Creek Massacre, tried to stop Custer’s troops, running into the massacre waving a white and an American flag. Custer’s men gunned him down all the same.

“There’s no Eichmann County [in Austria],” said Nadel. “It puts it in perspective.”

World’s oldest man, an Israeli Holocaust survivor, dies at 113

The world’s oldest living man, Yisrael Kristal, died on Friday one month before his 114th birthday.

In 2016 Kristal, born September 15, 1903, had been recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest man.

Kristal, who lived in Haifa, had lived through both World Wars and survived the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Last year he finally celebrated his bar mitzvah — a hundred years later than usual. He had missed the original date because of World War I.

Kristal was born to an Orthodox Jewish family near the town of Zarnow in Poland. He was orphaned shortly after World War I and moved to Lodz to work in the family confectionary business in 1920. During the Nazi occupation of Poland he was confined to the ghetto there and later sent to Auschwitz and other concentration camps. His first wife and two children were killed in the Holocaust.

Kristal survived World War II weighing only 37 kilograms (about 81 pounds) — the only survivor of his large family. He married another Holocaust survivor and moved with her to Israel in 1950 where he built a new family and a successful confectionary business.

A devout Jew, he had wrapped phylacteries daily for the past century.

Kristal will likely now be succeeded as world’s oldest living man by Spaniard Francisco Núñez Olivera, 112, who had been second in line for the title.

Notably, Kristal was the oldest living man but not the oldest living person — that title currently belongs to Jamaican Violet Brown, 117.

Harvey Weinstein (Kike) to direct film on Warsaw Ghetto uprising

Film producer Harvey Weinstein said he will adapt a novel about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising for the silver screen.

Weinstein, who has produced dozens of popular independent and Academy Award-winning films, wrote in an op-ed that he plans to direct a film next year based on Leon Uris’ book “Mila 18.”

Writing in Deadline on Monday, Weinstein said he had delayed the project for several years. His friend Hossein Amini, an Iranian-British screenwriter, has already written a script for it. He explained that he was inspired to finally take it on after recently re-watching Lina Wertmuller’s film “Seven Beauties,” in which an Italian man is captured by the Germans during World War II and sent to a concentration camp.

“[I]t’s a movie I swore I’d direct myself – and in watching ‘Seven Beauties’ again, I just decided, ‘time to make it next year.’ I’ve already started to talk to people about it after delaying it for so many years. I am now committed,” Weinstein wrote.

He also recalled reading “Mila 18” during a trip to visit his great-grandmother in Israel as a kid.

“I guess it is personal – I lost eight great aunts and uncles to Auschwitz. Luckily for me, my grandmother and grandfather moved to America in the 20s while their families stayed back in Poland and Belarus. My great grandmother escaped with the Zionists as did one of her sons,” Weinstein wrote.

Stroop_Report_-_Warsaw_Ghetto_Uprising_09 (Photo from Jürgen Stroop Report to Heinrich Himmler from May 1943, Wikimedia Commons )

The Warsaw Ghetto uprising was the largest revolt of Jews against the Germans during World War II. Several hundred Jewish fighters and thousands of other Jewish civilians living in the city were killed in the fighting.

With his brother Bob, Weinstein founded Miramax and later The Weinstein Company. He has been an executive producer on a number of Oscar-winning films, such as “The English Patient,” “Chicago,” “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist.”

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