‘Diary of Anne Frank’ to be read at all Italian soccer matches (& anti-Semitic professors in US)

October 25, 2017

Graffiti in London, England. The design plans for a new national Holocaust memorial were announced yesterday. (See item below.)

 

Fliers found on Monday posted on the campus of the U.S. Ivy League university, Cornell. (See item below.)

 

Above, one of many anti-Semitic Facebook posts and slurs made by Rutgers University microbiology professor Michael Chikindas, who has also blamed the Armenian genocide on Jews, and promoted 9/11 conspiracy theories. Last year, an associate professor of women’s and gender studies at Rutgers (which is New Jersey’s largest publicly-funded research university) claimed Jewish doctors were “mining [Palestinians] for organs for scientific research”.

 

CONTENTS

1. ‘Diary of Anne Frank’ to be read on loudspeakers at all Italian soccer matches
2. La Repubblica: “We are all Anne Frank”
3. UNESCO and Anne Frank
4. Rutgers professor blames Jews for Armenian Genocide, makes slew of anti-Semitic remarks
5. Anti-Semitic fliers at Cornell
6. “The Oskar Schindler of document rescue”
7. London Holocaust memorial design winners announced
8. “Anne Frank diary to be read at games after Lazio fans’ anti-Semitism” (Guardian, Oct. 25, 2017)
9. La Repubblica editorial: Siamo tutti Anna Frank
10. “A Trove of Yiddish Artifacts Rescued From the Nazis, and Oblivion” (By Joseph Berger, New York Times, Oct. 19, 2017)

 

[Notes below by Tom Gross]

(This is one in an occasional series of dispatches on the Holocaust and its aftermath.)

‘DIARY OF ANNE FRANK’ TO BE READ ON LOUDSPEAKERS AT ALL ITALIAN SOCCER MATCHES

The Italian Football (Soccer) Federation has said that a passage from “The Diary of Anne Frank” will be read on loudspeakers before the start of all soccer matches in Italy this evening after fans of Lazio (one of Rome’s two biggest teams) plastered Rome’s Olympic Stadium on Sunday with stickers mimicking Anne Frank and graffiti denying the Holocaust. It is the latest in a long line of anti-Semitic incidents involving Lazio and other European soccer clubs.

The decision to hold a moment of silence and read from the diary at all professional, amateur and youth matches throughout Italy was announced yesterday by Italy’s sports minister, the enterprising Luca Lott.

Lazio President Claudio Lotito said yesterday that in response to the incident, his club will also play with Anne Frank’s image on their shirts this evening for their game at Bologna, and will take 200 fans every year to visit Auschwitz. Players will also visit schools to speak to students about respecting rules and stamping out racism.

Prior to the decisions being announced, Lotito laid a wreath in front of Rome’s main synagogue yesterday in memory of Holocaust victims.

In the past, Lazio fans have unfurled banners at matches aimed at Roma fans, stating: “Team of Blacks, Crowd of Jews” and “Jews to Auschwitz”.

In 2005, one of Lazio’s most famous players, Paolo Di Canio, was fined and suspended after giving a straight-arm salute to Lazio fans. He defended his actions by saying, “I’m a fascist, not a racist.”

Thousands of Italian Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. Only a few of those deported survived, including Primo Levi, arguably the greatest writer on the Holocaust.

This is the passage from Anne Frank’s diary which will be read before the matches, according to the Italian soccer federation:

“I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.”

Anne Frank was murdered at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 at the age of 15.

 

LA REPUBBLICA: “WE ARE ALL ANNE FRANK”

One of Italy’s leading newspapers, La Repubblica, also had an editorial on the subject, which I attach below after the news pieces from The Guardian.

I don’t have the resources to have it properly translated but I attach a Google translate version in English following the Italian, which appears to be good enough.

***

UPDATE to this dispatch here: They refused to play the anthem when he won gold, so he quietly sang it himself

 

Among other dispatches and articles about the slander of Anne Frank:

* Sharon and Hitler share space at Anne Frank house in Amsterdam (Jan. 29, 2004)

* Repulsive cartoon published in Belgium and Holland of Anne Frank in bed with Hitler

* Does Oxford think it ok to honor a man who calls Anne Frank a “Holo-porn” star? (Jan. 21, 2008)

 

Among other recent dispatches on soccer:

* Syria are now just three games away from extraordinary World Cup qualification

* Palestinian girls’ soccer defies the odds in a conservative society

* “Stars of David: The story of Israel’s first national soccer team”

 

UNESCO AND ANNE FRANK

The U.S. and Israel recently announced their intention to withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after a slew of anti-Israel and arguably anti-Semitic resolutions by the world cultural body.

Although there are many bigots and anti-Semites working within UNESCO, there are also honest people working there too.

One of them is my friend Karel Fracapane (a former French diplomat and longtime subscriber to this email list – who, for the record, is not Jewish). He has helped organize an exhibition “Let Me Be Myself – The Life Story of Anne Frank” at UNESCO Headquarters during the Upcoming 39th session of the UNESCO General Conference next week.

The exhibition highlights the life of Anne Frank from her childhood, life in hiding during the Holocaust, until her death at Bergen-Belsen. The exhibition connects her life story to modern experiences of discrimination and exclusion, based on interviews with youths with diverse backgrounds and identities.

More information here:

https://en.unesco.org/events/anne-frank-house-exhibition-let-me-be-myself-life-story-anne-frank

See also:

* UNESCO makes Beirut “World Book Capital” as it bans The Diary of Anne Frank (May 4, 2009)

* UNESCO is a “diplomatic version of Isis” (Oct. 24, 2016)


 

Anne Frank in 1940, aged 11, before she went into hiding

 

ANTI-SEMITIC FLIERS AT CORNELL

The Cornell Daily Sun reports that anti-Semitic fliers with swastika-like symbols were discovered on the campus of Cornell University in upstate New York on Monday.

The posters (one of which can be seen in the photo at the top of this dispatch), which read “Just say no to Jewish lies!” and urged students to “join the white gang,” were taken down the same day.

The Ivy League school’s president, Martha Pollack, said in a statement:

“Whoever is responsible for these fliers is hiding under the cover of anonymity, having posted them overnight. Whoever they are, they need to ask themselves why they chose our campus, because Cornell reviles their message of hatred; we revile it as an institution, and I know from many personal conversations that thousands of Cornellians deplore it individually.”

Police said they were increasing patrols around Jewish buildings on campus.

 

RUTGERS PROFESSOR BLAMES JEWS FOR ARMENIAN GENOCIDE, MAKES SLEW OF ANTI-SEMITIC REMARKS

Rutgers University microbiology professor Michael Chikindas has published a series of Facebook posts blaming the Armenian genocide on Jews, referring to “international fat Jewish pockets,” and making other slurs.

In one post to students, he lied: “We must not forget that the Armenian Genocide was orchestrated by the Turkish Jews who pretended to be the Turks.”

In another post, Chikindas appeared to suggest Israel should be wiped out because (he claimed) it “has one of the highest percentage of gays in the world.”

On Facebook, he also shared an interview with conspiracy theorist Christopher Bollyn, who has claimed American Jews were behind the 9/11 attacks.

He also praised Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters, who has been accused of anti-Semitism.

In another post, he called First Lady Melania Trump, and President Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka “jewish motherf*****s” and “b**ches”.

In an interview with the Jewish website The Algemeiner yesterday, Chikindas claimed (wrongly, of course) that he couldn’t be an anti-Semite, because he was previously married to and had a child with a Jewish woman, and was “25 percent Jewish” himself.

In a statement, Rutgers said it would be difficult to discipline him because he has tenure, and “needed to respects the free speech rights of its faculty members,” but were looking into the matter.

Last year, Jasbir Puar, an associate professor of women’s and gender studies at Rutgers (which is New Jersey’s largest publicly-funded research university) also promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

She told students at a faculty-sponsored event at Vassar College, that Jewish doctors were “mining [Palestinians] for organs for scientific research”.

Next month, Puar is due to publish a new book through Duke University Press, which critics who have seen an advanced manuscript say is full of anti-Semitic lies about Israel.

 

“THE OSKAR SCHINDLER OF DOCUMENT RESCUE”

A trove of 170,000 Jewish documents thought to have been destroyed by the Nazis during World War II has been found hidden under a church in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

Among the findings:

• Five notebooks of poetry by Chaim Grade, considered along with Isaac Bashevis Singer as one of the leading Yiddish novelists of the mid-20th century.

• Two letters by Sholem Aleichem, the storyteller whose tales of Tevye the Milkman formed the basis of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

• A postcard written by Marc Chagall, the famous Jewish painter.

• An early poem by Abraham Goldfaden, the father of the flourishing Yiddish theater in Europe and on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

• Ten poems handwritten in the Vilna ghetto by Abraham Sutzkever, among the greatest Yiddish poets.

• Other unpublished manuscripts by famous Yiddish writers.

As the Jews were deported to their deaths or killed in mass shootings by Lithuanian Fascists, the documents were hidden in a basement under a church by a Lithuanian librarian, Antanas Ulpis. He helped hide them not just from Hitler but then later from Stalin, who also tried to wipe out Yiddish culture. He is now being dubbed the “Oskar Schindler of document rescue.”

Some of the findings will now be displayed in New York.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said yesterday: “Displaying this collection will teach our children what happened to the Jews of the Holocaust so that we are never witnesses to such darkness in the world again.”

Dani Dayan, Israel’s consul general in New York, called the documents “priceless.”

It is worth reading the article further down this dispatch by Joseph Berger in the New York Times. (Berger is a subscriber to this email list.).

 

LONDON HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DESIGN WINNERS ANNOUNCED

The designers of Britain’s new national Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre were announced yesterday.

Located next to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, the new memorial will honor the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust along with the other victims of Nazi persecution, including Roma, homosexual and disabled people.

The winning entry was the unanimous choice of a panel of judges which included British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (who is a Muslim) and Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott.

The chosen design features 23 tall bronze fins with spaces in between representing the 22 countries in which Jewish communities were destroyed during the Holocaust.

Chief Rabbi Mirvis said of the winning design: “The question of how we will memorialize the Holocaust in the years to come, in a society which will no longer be able to rely on first-hand testimony of survivors, is one that should occupy the mind of every one of us. Today, the British nation has taken an important and historic step in offering our answer to that question.”

Among other recent works of David Adjaye, who will lead the London design team, is the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC, which I found very impressive when I visited it earlier this years, as I noted at the end of this dispatch.

There will be an underground learning centre below the London memorial.

You can see images of it here.

Tom Gross adds: Most European capitals now have national Holocaust memorials. One prominent city that unfortunately doesn’t is Prague, as I pointed out in a quote in the last two paragraphs of this article in The Guardian last year: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/11/former-schindlers-list-factory-plans-czech-museum-nazi-industralist

***

I attach three articles below.


ARTICLES

ANNE FRANK DIARY TO BE READ AT SERIE A GAMES AFTER LAZIO FANS’ ANTISEMITISM

Anne Frank diary to be read at Serie A games after Lazio fans’ antisemitism
By Ed Aarons
The Guardian
October 25, 2017

The Italian football federation (FICG) has announced plans to read out a passage from Anne Frank’s diary before matches this week in response to acts of antisemitism by Lazio fans.

During Sunday’s league game against Cagliari, supporters of the club defaced their Stadio Olimpico home in Rome with antisemitic graffiti and stickers showing images of Frank, the teenager who was killed at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945, wearing a jersey of their rivals Roma. Their actions have been widely condemned, with Lazio’s president, Claudio Lotito paying a visit to Rome’s main synagogue on Tuesday to lay a wreath to remember victims of the Holocaust.

He also promised a new education campaign culminating in an annual trip to Auschwitz with 200 young fans at a club which has a history of antisemitic behaviour, including a Lazio banner in the city derby nearly 20 years ago aimed at Roma supporters that read: “Auschwitz Is Your Homeland; The Ovens Are Your Homes.”

An image of Frank will be put on Lazio’s shirts for Wednesday’s game at Bologna, the club said, to demonstrate their fight against “all forms of racism and antisemitism”. The FIGC also said a minute of silence will be observed before Serie A, B and C matches this week, plus amateur and youth games over the weekend, with a passage from Frank’s diary entry on 15 July, 1944 being read out over loudspeakers.

It reads: “I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquillity will return once more.”

A statement from Anne Frank House, one of Amsterdam’s most visited tourist sites, condemned the Lazio supporters’ attitudes but welcomed the response since Sunday’s match.

“We are shocked by these anti-Jewish expressions, which are extremely painful to those who have experienced the consequences of the Jewish persecution,” they said in a statement. Fighting football-related antisemitism is part of our educational activities. We are pleased to see that others, including Italian football clubs, have expressed their indignation about this action.”

The head of the European Parliament has also denounced Lazio fans’ behaviour. Antonio Tajani, who is also Italian, told the European Parliament in Strasbourg that “using the image of Anne Frank as an insult against others is a very grave matter”.

The Italian prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, said the stickers were “unbelievable, unacceptable and to not be minimised”.

A statement on Lazio’s website outlined the plans to place Frank’s image on the club’s shirts.

“The president of SS Lazio, Claudio Lotito, has decided that tomorrow the team will be coming to the stadium at Renato Dall’Ara Stadium in Bologna with an image of Anne Frank on the Biancoceleste shirt, demonstrating the club’s commitment to fighting all forms of racism and anti-Semitism,” it said.

Lotito announced the Auschwitz trip initiative in comments reported by Gazzetta dello Sport: “Today, I can officially announce that Lazio will partake in a new initiative, organising an annual trip to Auschwitz for 200 Lazio fans to educate and make sure we don’t forget certain episodes, so that these lads can know what it is we’re talking about.

“You can’t play around with these facts, we condemn all forms of racism. Lazio will launch this initiative.”

 

LA REPUBBLICA EDITORIAL: SIAMO TUTTI ANNA FRANK

(English follows the Italian.)

Siamo tutti Anna Frank
Ribaltiamo i piani, restituiamole il suo valore, trasformiamola in un omaggio, non lasciamola sola e in mano all’ignoranza

di Mario Calabresi

Siamo tutti Anna Frank

L’idea che l’immagine di Anna Frank possa essere utilizzata per insultare qualcuno è talmente arretrata e grottesca da squalificare per sempre chi l’ha pensata. Quel volto è nei cuori di ogni studente che abbia letto il suo Diario e l’abbia avuta come ideale compagna di banco: quella ragazzina ci ha raccontato non la sua morte ma la vita, i sogni, le speranze, il futuro sebbene si trovasse nel cuore della notte dell’umanità. Grazie a lei generazioni hanno compreso cosa è stato il nazismo, cosa abbia significato vivere nascosti, essere deportati e morire in un campo di sterminio.

Quando ieri sera al giornale abbiamo visto la sua foto con la maglia della Roma, usata da un gruppo di ultrà della Lazio per infamare gli avversari, ci siamo indignati come tutte le volte che ci troviamo di fronte alla banalità del male. Ma questa volta abbiamo pensato che è necessario fare un passo in più.

Come è diventato possibile che Anna Frank sia considerata un modo per offendere? Ribaltiamo i piani, restituiamole il suo valore, trasformiamola in un omaggio, non lasciamola sola e in mano all’ignoranza. E allora Anna Frank siamo tutti noi, può e deve avere la maglia di ogni squadra, essere parte della nostra vita. Ogni club dovrebbe farne una bandiera, per rispondere senza esitazione alla deriva degli estremisti delle curve.

Soprattutto oggi che non solo una parte delle curve degli stadi ma una parte della società sta diventando ricettacolo di razzismo, antisemitismo e xenofobia. Perché Anna è la
ragazzina che non ce la fa a sopravvivere fino alla Liberazione. Il suo Diario è la trama di una vita spezzata, che diventa parte della vita di tutti noi. Riprendiamocela, non lasciamola nelle mani di chi vuole calpestarla ma continuiamo a leggerla e a dedicarle strade, scuole e biblioteche.


Google translate version:

We are all Anne Frank

The idea that Anne Frank's image can be used to insult someone is so retarded and grotesque to disqualify forever who has thought of it. That face is in the hearts of every student who has read her Diary and has had it as an ideal companion for a student: that girl told us not her death but life, dreams, hopes, the future though she was in the heart of the night of humanity. Thanks to her, generations they understood what Nazism was, what it meant to be hidden, to be deported and to die in an extermination camp.

When last night in the newspaper we saw his photo with the shirt of Rome, used by a group of Lazio ultras to infamate our opponents, we are as angry as we all face the banality of evil. But this time we have thought that it is necessary to take a step further.

How has it become possible that Anne Frank is considered a way of offending? We rebut the plans, return it to its value, transform it into a tribute, let alone it and in the hands of ignorance. And then Anne Frank is all of us, she can and must have the team's shirt, to be part of our lives. Each club should make it a flag to respond without hesitation to the drift of the extremists of the curves.

Especially today that not only a part of the stadium curves but part of society is becoming a recipe for racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia. Because Anne is the little girl who can not survive it until Liberation. Her Diary is the plot of a broken life, which becomes part of the life of all of us. Let's resume it, let's not leave it in the hands of those who want to trample it but we keep reading it and dedicating it to roads, schools and libraries.

 

A TROVE OF YIDDISH ARTIFACTS RESCUED FROM THE NAZIS, AND OBLIVION

A Trove of Yiddish Artifacts Rescued From the Nazis, and Oblivion
By Joseph Berger
New York Times
October 19, 2017

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/18/arts/a-trove-of-yiddish-artifacts-rescued-from-the-nazis-and-oblivion.html

In one of their odder and more chilling moves, the Nazis occupying Lithuania once collected Yiddish and Hebrew books and documents, hoping to create a reference collection about a people they intended to annihilate.

Even stranger, they appointed Jewish intellectuals and poets to select the choicest pearls for study.

These workers, assigned to sift through a major Jewish library in Vilna, Vilnius in Lithuanian, ended up hiding thousands of books and papers from the Nazis, smuggling them out under their clothing, and squirreling them away in attics and underground bunkers.

In 1991, a large part of the collection was found in the basement of a Vilnius church, and were hailed as important artifacts of Jewish history.

But months ago curators at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in Manhattan, the successor to the Vilnius library, were told that another trove, totaling 170,000 pages, had been found, somehow overlooked in the same church basement.

These documents, experts say, are even more valuable and compelling. Among the finds:

• Five dog-eared notebooks of poetry by Chaim Grade, considered along with Isaac Bashevis Singer as one of the leading Yiddish novelists of the mid-20th century.

• Two letters by Sholem Aleichem, the storyteller whose tales of Tevye the Milkman formed the core of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

• A postcard written by Marc Chagall, the Jewish modernist painter.

“These are gold,” said David E. Fishman, a professor of Jewish history at the Jewish Theological Seminary, who traveled to Vilnius in July at YIVO’s behest to assess the trove’s importance. He came back with the sort of enthusiasm one might find in an explorer who has just discovered unknown lands.

A selection of 10 items from the newly found literary manuscripts, letters, diaries, synagogue record books, theater posters and ephemera will go on display on Oct. 24 at YIVO headquarters on West 16th Street.

In interviews, Mr. Fishman and Jonathan Brent, YIVO’s executive director, discussed other findings, including, an early poem by Abraham Goldfaden, the father of the flourishing Yiddish theater in Europe and on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and 10 poems handwritten in the Vilna ghetto by Abraham Sutzkever, among the greatest Yiddish poets. In one poem, Sutzkever expresses his fear that “Death is rushing, riding on a bullet-head/To tear apart in me my brightest dream.”

Mr. Brent and his staff said they were just as excited by more quotidian items like scripts of “Sherlock Holmes” and other popular entertainments that delighted prewar Jews and an astronomical guide with a set of dials to calculate when religious holidays should fall, given variations in the lengths of Jewish lunar months. A 1933 “autobiography” by a malnourished fifth grader, Bebe Epshtein, describes how her parents forced her to eat by telling her beguiling stories. When “I would open my mouth,” she wrote, “they would pour in food.”

Many of the items, the experts said, offer glimpses into the hardscrabble everyday lives of the Jews of Eastern Europe when the region, not Israel or the Lower East Side, was the center of the Jewish world.

Almost as intriguing as the cache is the serpentine story of the documents’ rescue and rediscovery, much of which had been known before but which has been updated with the new find.

When the Nazis occupied Lithuania from 1941 to 1944, they were determined to incinerate or grind up the country’s Jewish collections, particularly those at YIVO, which from 1925 to 1940 in Vilna was the world’s foremost library of Jewish life in Eastern Europe. With characteristic incongruity, though, they decided to save a third of the YIVO collection for a research center near Frankfurt that would study “the Jewish question” even if they planned to make sure the Jews would be extinct. (In Lithuania alone, 90 percent of the prewar Jewish population of 160,000 was murdered.)

They needed Yiddish speakers to analyze and select the materials, and deployed 40 ghetto residents like Sutzkever and another raffish poet, Shmerke Kaczerginski, as slave laborers. Risking death by a firing squad, this “paper brigade” rescued thousands of books and documents.

When the Germans were pushed out of Lithuania by the Soviets, survivors like Sutzkever spirited some hidden treasures to New York. (The Soviets frowned on anything evocative of ethnic or religious loyalties.) Meanwhile, a gentile librarian, Antanas Ulpis, who was assembling the remnants of the national library in a former church, St. George’s, stashed stacks of Jewish materials in basement rooms to hide them from Stalin’s enforcers. He is, as a result, regarded by YIVO as a kind of Oskar Schindler of document rescue.

The bulk of the basement collection – documents totaling 250,000 pages – was recovered after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Last year, the entire basement collection was transferred to the Martynas Mazvydas National Library of Lithuania, which had reopened in a grand colonnaded building, and in May officials there informed Mr. Brent, of the new trove of 170,000 documents. They had been stored in a separate church basement room and had never been evaluated because none of the assigned archivists could read Yiddish or Hebrew.

Lithuania has chosen to hold onto all the Jewish documents in the library’s Judaica center as part of its national heritage. But it has allowed YIVO to digitize them for the use of the general public – and to have select items to display in Manhattan later this month.

“It’s going to take decades for scholars to analyze all of this,” said Mr. Fishman, who this month published “The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures From the Nazis.”

Among the more mundane curiosities that were salvaged is a weathered agreement from 1857 between a yeshiva in Vilna and a union of water carriers.

What is a water carrier, a Talmud student might ask?

In Vilna at that time, water carriers were needed to deliver buckets of water to homes from available wells. The ragtag Jewish water carriers formed a guild, which promised to donate a Torah scroll and a set of Talmuds to the yeshiva if members were given a room of their own, rent-free, for worship.

The crew that rescued these records largely did not survive the war. Some 34 of the 40 people viewed by experts as having been members of the “paper brigade” died, according to Mr. Fishman, some in death camps like Treblinka or in labor camps or in more random fashion. Mr. Kaczerginski was killed in 1954 in a plane crash in the Andes. Sutzkever had an illustrious career as a poet in Israel and died at age 96 in 2010. Mr. Ulpis, who helped save the documents later found in the church basement, died in 1981.

 

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