Reading List

Reading list #17: Martha Nierenberg; Preserving memorials

This is Reading List #17, a selection of recent Holocaust-related news stories and links from around the internet.

Forward remembers the life of Holocaust survivor Martha Nierenberg (1924-2020), who died in June. Nierenberg belonged to a successful and wealthy Hungarian-Jewish family, many of whom where able to find refuge when the Nazis gained access to Hungary’s Jews in 1944. She escaped the country in 1945 and went on to forge a career in biochemistry in New York. She spent years fighting for the return of her family’s art collection, which was looted by the Nazis and now belongs to the Hungarian government.

The British government has reaffirmed its commitment to the restitution of property stolen from Jews by the Nazis, in the face of renewed efforts by the Polish government to reject such claims (Jerusalem Post). The Polish government, which has moved considerably to the right in recent years, has worked to dismiss claims for restitution, partly on the grounds that the crimes which robbed Jews of property during the Second World War were committed by the Nazis and not by Poles.

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The Times of Israel reports on a Japanese financial bailout for a museum in Lithuania, dedicated to the heroic work of a Japanese diplomat during WW2, which has faced closure during the pandemic. The museum commemorates the work of Chiune Sugihara, who used his diplomatic connections to secure visas for 6000 Jews, mainly from Poland, which helped them escape to safety in Japan. When Sugihara returned home in 1947, he was fired by the Japanese government. Japanese tourists had accounted for most of the museum’s visitors, but none have been able to visit since early in the year.

Representatives of Sinti and Roma communities in Germany have expressed concern about plans to construct a new subway line under Berlin’s memorial to the victims of the Nazis’ persecution and genocide of Roma and Sinti people (DW). The planned line would pass directly beneath the memorial and some fear that it will require the closure or demolition of the memorial, an enclosed garden centered around a circular pool, which sits in a quiet corner of Berlin’s Tiergarten park. Representatives of Germany’s Deutsche Bahn have been sought to reassure campaigners, but the controversy is deepened by the fact of the DB’s historical involvement with the deportation of victims of Nazis persecution to the concentration camp system. The article also includes a very useful slide show with images and text giving background to the story of the genocide of Roma and Sinti people, a crime that is still little known beyond academic and historical circles.

Five Books features a long conversation with historian Andrea Pitzer, author of One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, about the books her recommended books on concentration camps. Pitzer recommends titles which range across the 20th century and show the concentration camp (as distinct from the death camp) as a feature of many wars and regimes.

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?

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

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).

The header image shows Martha Nierenberg and is taken from YouTube.

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