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15.06.2014
Rabbi Jacob Jungreis was only 11 years old, but he remembers the exact moment his life was saved. It was June 1944, in the last days of the Holocaust, when about 12,000 Jews were being murdered daily at Auschwitz. From there he, along with 1,683 other Jews, took a train to Switzerland and escaped what he thought was certain death in a concentration camp. Rabbi Jungreis is the brother of Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, a world-renowned Jewish outreach speaker and founder of the Hineni movement, an international organization which brings Jews back to Judaism. The two-hour movie details the life of Rezso Kasztner, also known as Rudolf or Israel Kastner, a Jewish man who saved more Jews than Oskar Schindler but who was later killed at age 51 by a right-wing extremist in Tel Aviv, Israel, after being accused of collaborating with Nazis. Gaylen Ross, the director, worked on the film for the past decade and said she hopes it reintroduces Kasztner to a discussion about the Holocaust from which he has been wiped out.
In Nazi-occupied Hungary, Kasztner negotiated the release of the 1,684 Jews on the train with Adolf Eichmann, the man who some have called the architect of the Holocaust. After World War II, Kasztner moved to Israel, where he was put on trial for what others said was collaboration with the Nazis. Kasztner was found guilty in 1955 and in 1957 he was assassinated by Ze’ev Eckstein, a right-wing extremist. Rosette managed to survive the Holocaust by hiding outside of Paris with a generous farmer and his family.
The Coalition for Holocaust Rail Justice consists of survivors, family members, historians, and volunteers committed to pursuing justice on behalf of victims of SNCF rail deportations.
As we approached Chattanooga on our annual escaping-from-winter migration south, Veronica's memory vault popped open. Back in 1998, teachers noticed that students couldn't fully grasp the enormity of the number six million when discussing the Jewish victims of the holocaust.
The documentary had really moved us and we couldn't pass up the chance to see the result of these children's efforts. At first sight the school looked typical, until we spotted the World War II era German boxcar in front.
The train car, which was actually used to carry prisoners to concentration camps, has become home to the millions of collected clips.
Standing silently alone inside the car, absorbing the gravity of this powerful, emotional monument, we pushed the button for the audio presentation.
At first the students brought paper clips from home or asked family and friends to contribute, then the idea began to spread. Within a couple years not only had they reached their goal of six million, they had passed it. Several companies, on both sides of the Atlantic, pitched in to move the car to the spot where it stands today and the scale of the project was changed forever. Even after the Children's Holocaust Memorial was dedicated the clips kept coming in, enough that another eleven million are enshrined in a steel monument, designed by Charles McFarland, that stands alongside the railcar.
We did our best to absorb the numbers, and realized how successful the memorial was at illustrating the gravity of the horrible events. When the narration was finished we stood in silence again, not ready to leave the hallowed place just yet. Germany's Deutsche Bahn train company has denied a traveling Holocaust memorial exhibit access to Berlin's central station. The Train of Commemoration, a mobile memorial to Holocaust victims, has been passing through train stations in Germany since early November. Organizers have rejected the smaller stations that Deutsche Bahn offered as an alternative.
An ongoing conflict over what the organization is to pay Deutsche Bahn for the use of exhibition space at stations throughout Germany remains unresolved, though fees are estimated to total between 70,000 and 100,000 euros ($110,000 to $157,000).
Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit urged Deutsche Bahn to find an appropriate place in the central station for the exhibit.
Project organizers have planned protest on Saturday at the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin, followed by a silent march to the nearby Deutsche Bahn headquarters.
According to Die Welt newspaper, authorities are examining the legitimacy of the train company's decision.
A Deutsche Bahn spokesman responded that "such statements are made without regard for our many years of active commemoration work. The exhibit, which focuses on the plight of deported children, displays photos and film excerpts of survivors who describe their deportation experience. On May 8, the anniversary of the end of the war in Germany, the exhibit will arrive in Auschwitz, one of the Nazis' most deadly concentration camps.
The German Transport Ministry has attempted to save Deutsche Bahn from being publicly shamed by awarding a grant to a Holocaust exhibition foundation charged by the railway concern for the use of its tracks. Organizers of a rolling exhibit that highlights the role of the German transport system in the Holocaust have complained of a lack of support from Germany's largest national railway company. Auschwitz survivors, and witnesses against former SS-member Reinhold H., gave a press conference ahead of a new trial of the former death camp guard.
Thousands of people have joined a remembrance march through the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz on Israela€™s Holocaust Memorial Day. For DW's series on the best in German cinema, we pick our favorite films set in the capital city, the backdrop for the tumultuous history of the 20th century.
Germany's most prominent feminist, Alice Schwarzer deals with the sex assaults in Cologne on December 31 in a new book.
US alternative rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers have canceled two shows after lead singer Anthony Kiedis was rushed to hospital suffering from an intestinal flu.
The Chinese artist and human rights activist received a permit to enter Gaza during a surprise visit to Israel, which he posted about on Instagram. This year the MOTL attracted 7000 teenagers from 45 countries and, for the first time, a group of 45 adults from Australia.
This group, of which Leon and I were privileged to be a part, was organized specifically for descendants of Holocaust survivors by the Holocaust Centre in Melbourne. We were accompanied by a film crew, educators, psychologists and 3 Holocaust survivors who were making the trip back to Poland for the first time in 60 years accompanied by their children and grandchildren. In 2 harrowing weeks we visited the cities of Krakow, Lodz and Warsaw, stood on the killing fields of Auschwitz, Birkenau, Treblinka and Chelmno and said Kaddish and lit yarzeit candles in numerous empty synagogues, forests and graveyards in a country where Jewish life and culture had previously flourished for over 1000 years and yet is no more. At each place we heard testimonies of survivors, read commentaries of victims, wept, questioned God, raged against man’s inhumanity to man, and tried, in some small way, to imagine the unimaginable.
Standing on the ashes of my people, I felt no triumph over the fact that we Jews have survived Hitler’s attempt to destroy us.


Yet, by the time Nazi Germany had been defeated in 1945, 6 million of Europe’s 8 million Jews had been slaughtered, 3 million of them from Poland.
Since there are now less than 20,000 Jews remaining amongst Poland’s 38 million, there is little illusion about rebuilding a large Jewish population.
There are numerous forums and groups whose mission is to foster Polish-Jewish dialogue, and during our trip, we had many discussions with Poles on ways to eradicate prejudice and stereotypes. There can be no more poignant way of honouring those who perished in, or suffered, during the Holocaust, then to remember and connect with the extraordinary world that they shaped and that shaped them. Speaking for me personally, all I can say is that going to Poland was an incredibly emotional and difficult journey.
Against the 8 million Jews who lived in Europe in 1939, the Nazi bureaucracy assembled all the concerted skills and mechanics of a modern state…. My journey therefore, was to pay tribute to the strength, courage, dignity and human spirit of my parents and all their fellow Jews who suffered, endured and yet somehow survived this unimaginable horror to build a new life for themselves on the other side of the world. I stand in awe of my parent’s heroism and hope that, in some small way, my trip did honour their memory and the memory of the grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins that I never was to know.
All accommodation, tours and meals were organized by the MOTL organization based in America. This was a carefully planned and meticulously executed trip with an extremely intensive educational program coupled with sightseeing.
Our 7000 strong number consisted of 1500 Israelis, 1000 Americans, 850 Hungarians, 500 Canadians, 220 Belgians plus significant numbers from France, England, Sweden, Germany, Argentina, Chile, Panoma, Brazil, Greece, Austria and Romania. One of the most interesting aspects of interacting with the group was that, as we all became closer and closer thru our shared experiences, I was finding that MY story as a child of Holocaust survivors was exactly the same as the other participants. The Jewish population in 1939 was 56,515 and the city was an important Jewish, religious and cultural centre. On March 21st 1941, the SS moved the entire Jewish community of Krakow, most of whom lived in this area, into a cluster of 329 buildings in a poor suburb to form the Krakow Ghetto. It is almost impossible to reconcile the image of a thriving market town with the violence and terror of the nearby place that has become known as Auschwitz.
From a relatively small area located on a swamp, Auschwitz, the German name for Ozwiciem, would be expanded into 3 camps, each with a different function. Auschwitz III — Monowitz was a forced labour camp opened for the construction of a massive synthetic oil and rubber factory for the IG Faben-Buna works. In Auschwitz 1 belongings, photographs and documents recovered from the site are all presented. It is important to note that although the term Auschwitz has gone into our terminology as being synonymous with the destruction of the Jews, it is in fact Auschwitz 11 – Birkenau where the majority of killings took place.
The first experiments with Zyklon B, previously used as an insecticide, took place at Auschwitz1 in September 1941 and these photos are inside that first gas chamber. Soon after the Wannsee Conference on June 20th 1942 when Hitler rubber stamped the wholesale extermination of European Jewry, it became the biggest and most savage of all the Nazi death factories. Although I have lived and breathed the Holocaust almost from the day I was born, nothing prepared me for what I saw when we arrived in Birkenau. I was looking at the site of grotesque horrors yet even I could not believe what I was seeing. According to the census of 1941, Hungary had a Jewish population of 725,000 representing 4.95% of its total population. This photo, of an arrival at Birkenau, of a shipment of Jews from Hungary in June 1944, for me sums up in many ways, the horror that was Auschwitz.
German soldiers are smiling and milling around, behaving as this in all in a days work to them, which tragically it is. The German officer at the head of the line casually flicks his finger to the right and we immediately know the fate of this anonymous elderly man. Within the hour he will be dead and as the Germans kept no name of those who were killed immediately on arrival, there will be no record of his passing, no knowledge of his life, his family, his hopes his dreams.
Will the depth of evil perpetrated on this anonymous Jew and millions like him, ever be grasped, in all its range of horrors, by ordinary decent people?
One of the most powerfully uplifting moments of our trip was the army of 7,000 people from around the world, who marched the 4km route from Auschwitz 1 to the gas chambers of Birkenau, clad in blue and white, waving an armada of Israeli flags and delivering an unambiguous declaration of Jewish unity, Jewish survival and Jewish life. On this day the energy of the group changed completely and the focus, for one glorious hour, shifted from suffering to regeneration. This walk of solidarity, all of us arm in arm, celebrated for one brief moment, the fact that, against the odds, the Final Solution did not succeed. This symbolic march has been organized by the American based MOTL organization whose program began with a handful of participants in 1988.
Each page contains a brief life history and a series of films in which each person tells their story.
Edith escaped Germany on the Kindertransport at the age of 11 and made a new life in Leeds. Jungreis, now a rabbi in Brooklyn, had been in Auschwitz with his family before he was moved to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. Eichmann managed the mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and concentration camps throughout eastern Europe.
He had been accused of writing affidavits for top-level Nazis and not doing enough to save other Jews.
Despite this, Ross said Kasztner’s name had been tarnished and he was not mentioned in history books or memorial walls.
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Her father enlisted to work at a nearby labor camp, but was arrested and transported to Auschwitz on an SNCF convoy. So we broke out the maps and found our way to 1 Butterfly Lane and the Whitwell Middle School. They set up a web page asking for help, and for people to share their thoughts and feelings about the Holocaust. Along the way incredible, compelling stories were coming in with the clips from all over the world. Imagining each clip as a human life was astounding and shocking in the reality they brought to light. Finally we made our way down and lingered for a few minutes in the garden area around the old boxcar. It took on a life of its own and grew far beyond making a number from history tangible to an imaginative group of young people.


It is set to arrive in the German capital on Sunday, April 13, for a 10-day stay at five stations. After Berlin, the Train of Commemoration is set to continue on to six other German cities before crossing over into Poland.
The Nobel Prize in Literature laureate described the horrors of the concentration camps in his novels.
Our journey was part of the annual MOTL project — a carefully planned 2 week program of intensive Holocaust education in Poland and Israel.
Their tales were not of happy family gatherings, fun filled outings or peaceful tranquil days.
Chasidism, Yiddish literature and theatre, Bundism, Zionism, major movements in religious learning and secular culture all blossomed there.
We met several non Jewish Poles of good will who are participating in the cultural revival of Judaism and challenging their society to confront its history of anti-Semitism.
We cannot recreate the pre war past, but pilgrimages to Poland are one way to recover and reconnect with a land and a legacy from which many Australians descend. The 45 adults that comprised our group were mostly from Melbourne with Leon and I from Adelaide and one gentleman from Perth. All 7000 participants received these jackets, plus T-shirts, water bottles and backpacks, so as you can see, we were an easily identifiable group as we travelled thru Poland. The program was based on 2 fulcrums…the Holocaust and the State of Israel, and was aimed at highlighting the passing of Jewry from near destruction to regeneration. The first Jewish publishing house in Poland was in Krakow and after WW1 there was a daily Zionist newspaper.
Freedom from persecution and the opportunity to make a better life drew Jews from central and western Europe to settle here in the first half of the 16th century. The tones of hair, piles of suitcases, shoes, toothbrushes and, as shown here, the prayer shawls, serve as a poignant testimony to the sheer scale of atrocities committed. At Auschwitz 11 the killing machine was perfected and there were 4 enormous gas chambers with their attached crematoria. Located 4km from the original, Birkenau contained 300 barracks and buildings on a site stretching over hundreds of acres.
It is rather the stupendous scale of the complex, the sprawling crematoria, the electrified barbed wire that affects your emotional equilibrium and hits you with a devastating blow. For all that I have read and seen on the subject of the Holocaust, I understand it less and less. He was a former inmate of Auschwitz and he is here recalling some of his experiences in these vast unheated barracks. Hungarian Jews felt very Hungarian and were willing partners in the struggle of the Magyars to strengthen their language and culture.
The Holocaust Machine went into overdrive and 437,402 Jews were deported in the incredibly short time of 7 weeks from 55 major ghettos and concentration centres. We can only guess at the horror of his 4 days in a sealed wagon on his journey from Hungary to arrive here in Poland.
I was overwhelmed with pride and felt joined together by an unbreakable chain to my people. Australia joined 4 years ago and the aim for 2005, the 60th anniversary of the end of the war, to attract 18,000 students. Their recollections include life in the ghettos, the experience of being a slave labourer, surviving concentration camps, life in hiding, and what it what like to arrive in the UK as a refugee. He was then transferred to Buchenwald and finally Langenstein-Zwieberge where he was murdered five days before the camp was liberated. The documentary was called Paper Clips, and it did take place right outside of Chattanooga, in the tiny town of Whitwell, Tennessee to be exact. After learning about the mandatory stars that Jews were required to wear on their clothing, and how some people showed solidarity with the Jewish people's plight by wearing paper clips, they set to collect six million paper clips. A few weeks later the first letter arrived, then more, and by the end of that school year the class had 700,000 paper clips.
When two reporters from Germany, Peter Schroeder and Dagmar Schroeder-Hildebrand, got involved the project made a quantum leap forward. One to commemorate each of the Jewish victims, as well as all of the other casualties of the Holocaust. The weight of the suffering of the people carried to their untimely deaths in this very car was crushing.
But Deutsche Bahn has dubbed the central station off-limits for the privately organized exhibit, citing heavy traffic.
I wept for a way of life that is no more, for the happiness of youth that was denied my parents. Today Poland is a burgeoning republic and American philanthropy is in the process of discovering Poland.
The sheer number of victims challenges easy comprehension, and all that you see violates every fundamental value of decency and humanity.
All this, with the expressed desire to destroy in entirety every Jewish man, woman and child, so that there would be no future Jewish life in Europe.
It was not a remote village in Eastern Poland, but a large town at a main railway junction with links to every capital of Europe. During the Nazi regime the interior of the synagogue was completely destroyed and all its furnishings lost.
The barracks housed approximately 1200 people, tightly packed on wooden pallets with the latrines running down the middle. They found the story so compelling that they located a boxcar at a museum in Robel and raised enough through donations to buy it for the school. Their memories are forever my memories and I, like all children of Holocaust survivors, have carried their pain with me all my life.
A few years later they wrote a book titled Six Million Paper Clips: The Making of A Children's Holocaust Memorial (Kar-Ben Publishing, 2004). Displayed among the clips are letters and other mementos that have been sent along over the years. The German formula for immediate liquidation was anyone over 40, infirm in any way, children under 16 years of age and mothers holding babies.



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