Reading List

Reading list #5

A selection of recent articles and posts about the Holocaust. As coronavirus has disrupted society in the western world in ways unseen for generations, Holocaust-related news stories have continued to by published, but the effects of the crisis is evident in a number of these stories.


The Times of Israel reports on the country’s first death in the Covid-19 pandemic. Holocaust survivor Aryeh Even succumbed to the disease, at age 88. Even arrived in Israel in 1949, having survived the genocide of Hungarian Jews during WW2. At the time the article was published, Israel had some 800+ cases of the disease and, given the country’s large and elderly survivor population, more survivors of the Shoah are likely to die as a result of the pandemic.


Forward.com reports on the disruption to the the lives of Holocaust survivors by the spread of coronavirus. Marisa Fox-Bevilacqua’s article includes the thoughts of some survivors, who are meeting the crisis with concern and humour. “Oh, no, will I have to go back using newspaper?” asks Cordula Hahn, a survivor living in Brooklyn. “That’s what we did when we were in hiding in the Netherlands, and seeing the panic over toilet paper immediately brought back that memory.” There’s also some thought-provoking comment on the particular challenges presented by the systems of care in place to help survivors live independent lives, well into their 90s, who in some cases receive many care visitors a day. Well worth reading.


Holocaust Educational Trust Chief Executive Karen Pollock has been tweeting about her phone calls to survivors who work with HET, who would normally be visiting schools and speaking to groups. Many survivors who work with the Trust are in their late 80s or early 90s and are now isolating themselves from contact. In order to continue their educational work, HET is running survivor Q and As via Facebook, the first of which takes place at 12.30 (GMT) on Tuesday March 24th. They are also appealing for messages of support to survivors, with the hashtag #SendSomeLove.


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The last German to have been honoured as Righteous Among Nations by the Israeli Holocaust museum Yad Vashem has died, just short of her 98th birthday. Gertrud Steinl worked as an overseer in a town in occupied Polish town during WW2, and when a woman in her charge confided to her that she was Jewish, Steinl sent the woman to live with her parents, ensuring her survival. The Times of Israel has the story.


Bernice Lerner, author of a new book called All the Horrors of War, asks why writers feel the need to create fiction about the Holocaust (History News Network). “Though I love good stories, I see little need to manufacture them when the truth is powerful and strange and terrible enough,” she writes. In a balanced and thoughtful post, she considers the different reasons writers reach for the topic, and she acknowledges the extraordinary work of the USC Shoah foundation, instigated by Steven Spielberg after the making of the film Schindler’s List, in interviewing tens of thousands of survivors.


Spain has been criticised for paying pensions to police officers honoured with medals by General Franco, some of whom have been accused of involvement in torture, reports The Guardian. The issue is strikingly similar to the controversy around pensions paid by the German government to WW2 veterans, some of whom participated in atrocities during the Holocaust. Last week’s reading list included news of the attempt by American authorities to deport former concentration camp guard Friedrich Karl Berger, now 94, who still receives a wartime pension from the German government.


The death of Holocaust survivor Sam Young has been announced, at age 97. He was a resident of Kern County, California. In 2013, he spoke about his experiences to local station Kern Radio, and you can hear the interview on YouTube in four segments, here, here, here and here.


If you have seen a relevant article that could be included in next week’s reading list, why not get in touch via the contact page, or on Twitter, @holocaustreader?

The header image shows Aryeh Even, the 88-year-old Holocaust survivor conformed as Israel’s first Covid-19 fatality. Images in this post are used under the principle of fair use for the purposes of review, education and study, and will be removed at the request of the copyright holder(s).

Inclusion of articles on this list does not necessarily indicate endorsement of opinions expressed within them.

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