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Benjamin Ferencz, the last living prosecutor from the Nuremberg trials, turned 100 on March 11. Al Jazeera speaks to him to mark his birthday. Ferencz landed on the Normandy beaches in 1944 and participated in the liberation of concentration camps in Germany, before his assignment to the trials of captured Nazis. In the interview, he recalls his feelings as the Nazis in the dock were sentenced, in many cases to death: “I didn’t feel proud or successful. I realised these were human beings that were going to be hanged.” Al Jazeera also describes Ferencz’s life in this profile.
A US court has ordered the deportation of a former Nazi concentration camp guard now living in Tennessee, reports BBC News. Friedrich Karl Berger, now 94, served at the Neuengamme camp complex, where more than 40,000 people are thought to have lost their lives. The deportation order was made after a two-day trial, but Berger’s removal from the country may be delayed considerably if he decides to appeal the decision.
The historic English city of York is to mark the 830th anniversary of the murder of its entire Jewish population in the year 1189. 150 Jews sought refuge from their neighbours in Clifford’s Tower, after members of the community was accused of starting a fire in the city. Their murder was one of a number of similar massacres in medieval England, reports the Jewish Chronicle.
The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has led to the cancellation of this years March of the Living, the annual event bringing together Holocaust survivors and thousands of others in a procession to the sites of WW2-era Nazi death camps situated in present-day Poland. Nathan Jeffay, writing in the Jewish Chronicle, describes the blow the cancellation will be to the many generations of Jews who were due to participate. He writes: “Saddest of all, there will be no survivors walking alongside Jewish youngsters, bravely returning to a site of horrors and showing that Jewish life continues and the link between today’s young Jews and those who Hitler tried to kill is rock-solid.” Simultaneously, the UK’s Holocaust Educational Trust has announced the suspension of its Lessons From Auschwitz and Belsen 75 visits until at least the end of the month.
As the coronavirus crisis continues, the controversy surrounding Amazon’s series Hunters rumbles on, too. The Jerusalem Post reports strong criticism of the show from Stephen Smith, head of the USC Shoah Foundation, an organisation founded by Steven Spielberg and which has recorded the detailed testimony of thousands of survivors over the past 30 years. Smith urged Amazon not to renew the series for a second season, saying that “by blurring the line between fact and fiction, Hunters muddies the historical record, disrespects those who perished, and provides ammunition to those who seek to deny the truth of the Holocaust.”
The Podcast of the Times Literary Supplement discusses Tom Stoppard’s play Leopoldstadt, rumoured to be his last, in which the celebrated playwright has tackled the legacy of the Holocaust and his own family history. Stoppard was himself a child refugee from Czechoslovakia who discovered only later in life the extent of his family’s destruction at the hands of the Nazis. Many critics have given the play glowing reviews, but Toby Lichtig here gives a more measured verdict. Listen from 3’55”.
A letter to the Jewish Exponent tackles the vexed question of comparisons between the experiences of Holocaust survivors and that of present-day refugees. Morris Olitsky of Havertown, Pennsylvania, responds to the suggestion that modern refugee experience are the same as those of Jews in Europe in the 1940s, saying “Really? Are there crematoria like Auschwitz and Dachau in Latin America? Is there mass murder there?”
Florida’s WFLX news reports on the free dental care that Palm Beach dentist Dr Mitchell Josephs has been providing to local Holocaust survivors. He says: “I’ve met so many very successful Holocaust survivors living in this country. I didn’t know that there’s thousand of them in this country living below poverty level.” With his help, survivors without the means to pay for dental work have been able to gain renewed confidence thanks to improved teeth.
Half of the historians working for the Kazerne Dossin Belgian Holocaust memorial have resigned in protest at an event scheduled to be held by the institution to honour Brigitte Herremans, an academic and human rights specialist who has supported boycotts of Israel. The event has since been cancelled. The Times of Israel carries the story.
ABC News in Chicago speaks to 97-year old Dr Dieter Gruen, who fled Germany before the outbreak of WW2 and who went on work as a physicist with the Manhatten Project, the US nuclear weapons programme. Since retiring, Gruen has put his efforts into clean energy solutions to tackle climate change. A short video interview is included in the article.
The header image shows Benjamin Ferencz at the trial of Einsatzgruppen members at Nuremberg, and is used under the principle of fair use and will be removed at the request of the copyright holder(s).
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