The Jews are an “inferior race,” says Diana, 26, Budapest

October 15, 2004

CONTENTS

1. "Children of Auschwitz" museum reopens after Indiana arson attack
2. Hungary fears violence between Nazis and Jews at Budapest rally today
3. German court frees 86-year-old Slovak in Nazi war crimes trial
4. Federal judge in New York dismisses 20 Holocaust lawsuits
5. Turkey's main synagogue reopens after terror attack
6. Israel condemns lauding of Latvian Nazi war criminal
7. Accused Austrian Nazi guard faces deportation from the U.S.
8. Germany declines to ban "anti-Semitic Arab books" at Frankfurt Book Fair (the world's biggest book fair)



[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch contains items from today and from earlier this week concerning the Holocaust and contemporary anti-Semitism.

Some of these items – notably those from Indiana, Istanbul, Budapest and Riga – are updates of previous items sent on this list over the last 18 months.

I attach summaries first for those who don't have time to read them in full.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

"CHILDREN OF AUSCHWITZ" MUSEUM REOPENS AFTER ARSON ATTACK

(Associated Press, October 12, 2004)

"A Holocaust museum created in 1995 and then burned to the ground last year in what many believe was an act of hate has made the first step toward rising again. Ground breaking for a new CANDLES Museum, which stands for Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Experiments Survivors, occurred Monday after backers raised nearly $300,000 to rebuild the museum from an arson fire last year.

... The museum's founder, Eva Kor said donations to help rebuild came in from as far away as Israel, London and New York, but residents also chipped in. Kor said local school children in Indiana also raised about $25,000. Kor said she still needs about $150,000 for the building's interior and other expenses."

[Tom Gross adds: I attach this item also because I know and have previously interviewed Eva Kor, now aged 70. With her identical twin sister, Miriam Mozes Zeiger, Eva was subjected to horrific torture dressed up as "medical experimention" by Dr. Josef Mengele in Auschwitz. Eva and Miriam were small girls at the time. Eva is now aged 70. Miriam died of cancer in 1993.]

 

HUNGARIAN OFFICIALS FEAR VIOLENT CLASH BETWEEN NAZIS AND JEWS AT BUDAPEST RALLY

(By Amiram Barkat and Yehuda Lahav, Ha'aretz, October 15, 2004)

"Hungarian police officers are making plans to secure an anti-fascist rally in Budapest, organized by the Jewish and gypsy communities and student groups, as they fear a violent confrontation may ensue if Nazi activists arrive at the scene of the demonstration.

Hungary has revoked the license given to Nazi activists, who had planned a protest today in the heart of Budapest. Nazis had requested a permit to hold a rally to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the revolution led by Arrow Cross fascist movement leader Ferenc Szalasi. During World War Two, members of the Arrow Cross murdered scores of people, including many Jews…

The Nazis' rally was to have been held following calls made by The Hungarian Future Group. The group is lead by Diana Bacsfi, 26. Bacsfi considers herself a national socialist, declared ... Jews and gypsies "inferior races," and denied the Holocaust. Hungarian law does not forbid anti-Semitic statements..."

[Amiram Barkat, Ha'aretz's Jewish affairs, correspondent, is a subscriber to this email list]

[Tom Gross adds: In all, almost 100,000 Budapest Jews were killed by the Arrow Cross regime, which lasted barely four months in the capital and two more in western Hungary. After German troops replaced it and occupied Hungary in March 1944, a further 450,000 Jews were sent to concentration camps in a period of just 56 days. Szalasi and nearly 150 other officials were executed after the war and some 27,000 others were convicted of war crimes.]

 

GERMAN COURT FREES 86-YEAR-OLD SLOVAK IN NAZI WAR CRIMES TRIAL

(Associated Press, Friday October 15, 2004) (This is the full item)

A German court today ordered that an 86-year-old man charged with Nazi-era war crimes in Slovakia be freed from custody while his trial continues, a decision that came after a key witness said he could no longer clearly remember what happened. The Munich court ruled that former Capt. Ladislav Niznansky, who is charged with 164 counts of murder in massacres in three villages, was no longer under "urgent suspicion."

Niznansky went on trial last month. He is accused of heading the Slovak section of a Nazi unit code-named Edelweiss, which hunted resistance fighters and Jews after the Germans crushed an uprising against Slovakia's Nazi puppet government.

According to prosecutors, in 1945 Niznansky personally shot at least 20 people, and formed a shooting squad to kill 18 Jewish civilians discovered hiding in underground bunkers. On Monday, key witness Jan Repasky said he no longer clearly remembers what happened, despite having testified against Niznansky in a separate trial in Czechoslovakia four decades ago.

 

FEDERAL JUDGE IN NEW YORK DISMISSES 20 HOLOCAUST LAWSUITS

(Associated Press, October 14, 2004) (Extracts only)

A federal judge Thursday threw out 20 lawsuits accusing an Italian insurance company of failing to pay benefits to victims of the Holocaust. U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey said the lawsuits are pre-empted by the U.S. government's policy of trying to resolve such claims through a special commission. The class-action lawsuits – filed in New York, Wisconsin, Florida and California by Holocaust survivors and their heirs – claimed Assicurazioni Generali refused to honor policies held by victims of the World War II-era genocide...

 

TURKEY'S MAIN SYNAGOGUE REOPENS AFTER TERROR ATTACK

(Associated Press, October 12, 2004)

"Hundreds of Turkish Jews chanted hymns and a religious leader blew a ram's horn during the reopening of this predominantly Muslim country's main synagogue nearly a year after a suicide bombing. Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva marked the reopening by carrying a Torah scroll into the Neve Shalom synagogue, one of two synagogues bombed in a string of November 2003 suicide attacks that killed more than 60 people in Istanbul. The attacks were blamed on al-Qaida.

... Turkey, with about 25,000 Jews, has one of the largest Jewish populations among Muslim countries. Many trace their roots to Spain, where Jews fled the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th Century and were welcomed by the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

The bombings aimed "to damage the peaceful social fabric of Turkish society and to upset and derail Turkey, a country with a Muslim population, a secular democratic state that has continued to develop its relations with Israel and USA, and aims to be part of the European Union," said Silvyo Ovadya, president of the Jewish community.

... Neve Shalom had been targeted in two earlier attacks: In 1986 gunmen opened fire, killing 22 people, and in 1992 the Iranian-backed Turkish Hezbollah organization set off a bomb; no one was killed... Ovadya said the community was looking for a new plot of land to build a more secure community center and synagogue. He said the prime minister had expressed support..."

 

ISRAEL CONDEMNS LAUDING OF LATVIAN WAR CRIMINAL

(Associated Press, October 5, 2004) (Extracts only)

The Israeli Embassy and the Latvian government condemned the distribution of privately printed commemorative envelopes honoring a famous Latvian pilot who served in a World War II commando unit that murdered thousands of civilians, including Jews. A small extremist group published copies of the envelopes, bearing the inscription: "National hero of the people of Latvia pilot Herberts Cukurs."

"Herberts Cukurs was an active and willing participant in the mass murder of the Jews of Latvia during the Holocaust," Israel's ambassador to Latvia, Gary Koren... Latvian Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks also condemned the release of the envelopes by the little-known extremist group, the Union of National Force, and asked the state's security police department to investigate... Nearly 80,000 Jews in Latvia, 90 percent of the prewar Jewish population, were killed during the Holocaust.

... Cukurs fled to South America after the war and was assassinated in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1965 by an organization calling itself "Those who do not forget."

The Latvian government considers Cukurs a war criminal and the country's prosecutor general's office has twice rejected requests made by Cukurs' relatives to have his memory rehabilitated.

Jewish groups and the Latvian government have clashed at times over how Latvia has dealt with its Holocaust past. Israeli officials last year denounced the presence of several high-ranking Latvian government officials at the unveiling of a cemetery and memorial to Latvia's Waffen SS soldiers who fought in Latvia with the Nazis against the Red Army..."

 

ACCUSED AUSTRIAN NAZI GUARD FACES DEPORTATION FROM THE U.S.

(England's "Press Association," October 9, 2004) (Extracts only)

"A 79-year-old man accused of serving as a Nazi concentration camp guard during the Second World War says he was forced against his will to join an SS battalion.

The US government alleges that Anton Geiser, a retired steelworker, was a guard at the Sachsenhausen camp near Berlin from January to November of 1943. It is seeking to revoke his US citizenship and deport him.

In papers filed yesterday in Pittsburgh federal court, Geiser said he was a 17-year-old farmworker in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia when he was drafted in 1942 and that his service "was entirely involuntary and was performed on pain of death."

Geiser "does not dispute the fact that rampant and outrageous atrocities were committed" at the camp but maintains that "he has no culpability for those crimes," according to court filings.

... US Officials also allege that Geiser – then surnamed Geisser – lied on his visa application about his involvement in the SS when he, his wife and two children were granted immigration visas.

... Geiser is the 131st person publicly accused of being a Nazi by the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations, created by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 to track down Nazis who emigrated to the United States."

 

GERMANY DECLINES TO BAN "ANTI-SEMITIC ARAB BOOKS" AT FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR (THE WORLD'S BIGGEST BOOK FAIR)

Probe plea by Jewish body rejected
Agence France Presse
October 9, 2004
(This is the full item)

German authorities declined to open a criminal probe following a complaint by a leading Jewish rights group that Arab publishers were displaying anti-Semitic literature at a major book fair.

"We reviewed the written complaint and saw no reason to take direct action," said a spokesman for the prosecutor's office in the western city of Frankfurt, Joerg Claude.

Frankfurt Book Fair director Volker Neumann received a letter Wednesday from the Simon Wiesenthal Center in protest against books on display at stands run by Arab publishers, the guests of honor at this year's show.

Book fair spokesman Holger Ehling said the organization had mentioned "six or seven" books from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Libya which allegedly glorified the late leader of the Palestinian radical group Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, denied the Holocaust and attacked the Israeli secret service Mossad.

Ehling said the prosecutor's office was immediately informed but that the books had not been pulled from the booths. "The book fair has no right to censor books so we handed the matter to the authorities," he said, stressing that books critical of Israel were not necessarily in violation of Germany's strict hate speech laws.

On the opening day of the fair Wednesday, a small group of Jewish protesters waved Israeli and American flags in front of the fairgrounds, calling the decision to highlight the Arab world at the event a "scandal" and distributing brochures listing human rights abuses in the Middle East.

Security has been stepped up at the event this year, with frequent police patrols and airport-style metal detectors at entrances. The Frankfurt fair, the world's largest annual publishing event, runs through Sunday.



FULL ARTICLES

HOLOCAUST MUSEUM REOPENS AFTER FIRE

Holocaust museum reopens after fire
The Associated Press
October 12, 2004

A Holocaust museum created here in 1995 and then burned to the ground last year in what many believe was an act of hate has made the first step toward rising again.

Ground breaking for a new CANDLES Museum, which stands for Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Experiments Survivors, occurred Monday after backers raised nearly $300,000 to rebuild the museum from an arson fire last year.

"It's a very simple design, but very symbolic," museum founder and Holocaust survivor Eva Kor, 70, said before the ceremony. "I can't wait until I see the bricks going up."

Kor said the new building on the same site will contain symbolism to remember both the Holocaust and the fire. Parts of the burned drywall from the old museum and some charred books will be displayed so people will know "this is the way hatred and prejudice look today."

The old museum was destroyed November 18, 2003, when police say someone torched the small brick building and wrote "Remember Timmy McVeigh" on the side of the museum, a reference to the executed Oklahoma City bomber.

No one has been charged in the blaze, but Kor is convinced it was an act of hate.

Kor and an identical twin sister, Miriam Mozes Zeiger, were subjected to genetic experiments by Dr. Josef Mengele, Auschwitz's infamous "Death Angel." Her sister died of cancer in 1993.

Kor said the new museum will feature six narrow windows near the entrance that look like candles to symbolize the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust. It will also feature 11 windows throughout the museum to symbolize the total number of people, both Jews and others, killed in the Holocaust.

"It's very important that we remember all the victims," Kor said.

She said donations to help rebuild came in from as far away as Israel, London and New York, but Indiana residents also chipped in. Kor said local school children raised about $25,000.

Kor said she still needs about $150,000 for the building's interior and other expenses. The structure is scheduled to be completed by February.

 

HUNGARIAN OFFICIALS FEAR VIOLENT CLASH AT BUDAPET RALLY

Hungarian officials fear violent clash at Budapest rally
By Amiram Barkat and Yehuda Lahav
Ha'aretz
October 15, 2004

Hungarian police officers are making plans to secure an anti-fascist rally in Budapest on Thursday, organized by the Jewish and gypsy communities and student groups, as they fear a violent confrontation may ensue if Nazi activists arrive at the scene of the demonstration.

Hungary has revoked the license given to Nazi activists, who had planned a protest Friday in the heart of Budapest, according to the Jewish Agency.

Nazis had requested a permit to hold a rally to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the revolution led by Arrow Cross fascist movement leader Ferenc Szalasi. During World War Two, members of the Arrow Cross remained in Hungary for several months, under the aegis of the Nazis, until they were banished from the country by the Soviets. They murdered scores of people, including many Jews, killed liberal and anti-fascist statesmen, insisted upon continuing the Battle of Budapest against the Red Army, and led to the destruction of the Hungarian capital.

The Nazis' rally was scheduled to take place in front of a building that housed the Arrow Cross party headquarters.

The Nazis' rally was to have been held following calls made by The Hungarian Future Group. The group is lead by Diana Bacsfi, 26. Several weeks ago, group members placed pictures of Szalasi on central street in Budapest. Police were unable to find grounds for banning the group's activities. Encouraged by their success, the group stuck stickers of an arrow cross, with xx in the center. The use of the arrow cross has been banned in Hungary, as it is considered a "symbol of the dictatorial regime," but the modified version of the cross, with the xx, is allowed by police and state prosecution.

Bacsfi considers herself a national socialist, declared that her movement aims at a dictatorship, and calls for the "destruction" of the movement's political opponents. During her interrogation by police, she said recently that her movement calls for the establishment of a ministry dealing with racial matters, and for the reinstatement of the Nazi constitution. She also called Jews and gypsies "inferior races," and denied the Holocaust. Hungarian law does not forbid anti-Semitic statements.

After reports of the planned Nazi demonstration were made public, a large-scale public protest was organized. First to call for a counter-protest were leaders of the Jewish community, as well as leaders of an anti-fascist organization. Shortly thereafter, representatives from coalition parties joined them, as did representatives from the opposition parties, albeit they were hesitant to do so. Representatives from all four parties represented in the Hungarian parliament signed a declaration condemning the planned Nazi demonstration.

 

TURKEY'S MAIN SYNAGOGUE REOPENS

Turkey's Main Synagogue Reopens
The Associated Press
October 12, 2004

Hundreds of Turkish Jews chanted hymns and a religious leader blew a ram's horn during the reopening of this predominantly Muslim country's main synagogue nearly a year after a suicide bombing.

Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva marked the reopening Monday by carrying a Torah scroll into the Neve Shalom synagogue, one of two synagogues bombed in a string of November 2003 suicide attacks that killed more than 60 people in Istanbul. The attacks were blamed on al-Qaida.

"I want to state here once again that I am fundamentally against the association of the terrorist attacks we suffered 11 months ago... with the name of a religion," Haleva said.

Turkey, with about 25,000 Jews, has one of the largest Jewish populations among Muslim countries. Many trace their roots to Spain, where Jews fled the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th Century and were welcomed by the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

The bombings aimed "to damage the peaceful social fabric of Turkish society and to upset and derail Turkey, a country with a Muslim population, a secular democratic state that has continued to develop its relations with Israel and USA, and aims to be part of the European Union," said Silvyo Ovadya, president of the Jewish community.

In a message read at the ceremony, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a devout Muslim, vowed that the attacks "will never hurt Turkey's national unity."

Leon Esim, 51, who had been at a bar mitzvah at Neve Shalom at the time of the blast, welcomed the reopening.

"This is my second home," Esim said, with tears in his eyes. "Today is a very happy day."

The November attacks raised questions about the synagogue's future and the safety of the Jewish community.

Neve Shalom had been targeted in two earlier attacks: In 1986 gunmen opened fire, killing 22 people, and in 1992 the Iranian-backed Turkish Hezbollah organization set off a bomb; no one was killed.

Ovadya said the community was looking for a new plot of land to build a more secure community center and synagogue. He said the prime minister had expressed support.

In July, the synagogue held a private ceremony to mark the return of the Torah scrolls. Monday's ceremony, though, was considered the official reopening.

Foreign diplomats from Israel, the United States, and European countries and Muslim and Christian religious leaders also attended.

"This is a very happy and important day for us all," said Emmanuel Nahshon, deputy chief of mission at the Israeli Embassy. "This proves that the terrorists lost."

Turkish officials have charged 69 suspected members of a Turkish al-Qaida cell in connection with the bombings at Neve Shalom, the Beth Israel synagogue, the British Consulate and a London-based bank.

Beth Israel reopened in December.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.