German program uses Shoah funds to play down Holocaust

October 14, 2011

BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT 10/14/2011 (h/t Docs Talk) School program is vehemently anti-Israel, NGO Monitor says; main focus was devoted to alleging Israeli violations and immorality.

BERLIN – The German Holocaust Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility, Future (EVZ)” has used public monies to finance a second anti-Israel high school program that includes elements of Holocaust denial, according to a new report issued on Friday by the Jerusalem-based watchdog organization NGO Monitor.
The new revelations add to the bombshell disclosure in late September that EVZ provided 21,590 euros to a dubious 2010-11 student exchange program between an east German high school (Gerhart Hauptmann) and an Israeli- Arab school in Nazareth (Masar Institute for Education) to produce brochures delegitimizing Israel’s existence. The brochure compared Israel to the former communist East German state and depicted Jewish pupils in distorted and biased terms.

The Jerusalem-based watchdog organization NGO Monitor issued to The Jerusalem Post in early October an eye-popping report about a second EVZ-funded school program in which Holocaust funds were ostensibly misappropriated to finance playing down the severity of the Holocaust and promoting hatred of Israel.
According to the report, between March-July 2011, EVZ contributed funds to a partner agency for a program titled “Human Rights – Rights of Occupation,” with the German (Anne Frank School in Gütersloh) and Palestinian (School of Hope in Ramallah) students.
The NGO Monitor document notes that “while Palestinian participants questioned “whether the Holocaust had really happened to that extent,” the main focus was devoted to alleging Israeli violations and immorality, not on Holocaust education.
In July 2011, the Anne Frank School hosted Hajo Meyer, a Holocaust survivor and anti- Israel activist. In his presentation, Meyer referred to the “criminal State of Israel.” He also “wanted to express that many Jews today feel that no one else suffered like them during the Holocaust, which makes them blind for the suffering of the Palestinians under the occupation.”
Meyer, who lives in Holland, argued that “the earliest cause for anti-Semitism is situated in Jewry.”
The prominent German-Jewish journalist, Henryk M. Broder, has slammed Meyer as an “expert on applied Judeophobia” who traffics in the “brown filth”of the Nazi era.
The head of NGO Monitor, Prof. Gerald Steinberg, told the Post that “the latest revelations about the Remembrance Responsibility Future Foundation are morally shocking and unacceptable. Instead of teaching young Palestinians who are taught to question whether the Holocaust ever happened, the Foundation has created programs that exploit this tragedy as part of the demonization of Israel. The role of Hajo Meyer, an elderly Holocaust survivor, in this effort adds to the moral abuse.”
Steinberg continued: “To say that this contributes to delegitimization of Israel and modern anti-Semitism understates the case. Instead of using the funding to educate about and compensate victims of the Holocaust, the EVZ sponsors programs for German students that reflect the political war against Israel, and greatly distort the Arab-Israeli conflict. German foundations and their officials have a particular obligation to be sensitive to such unacceptable activities.”
According to the website of the German school – named after German-Jewish teenager Anne Frank who was murdered in Auschwitz – from her name a program has been established as a “point of reference for value assessments.”
Post phone and e-mail queries seeking a comment from Gunnar Weykam, a teacher at the school who runs the exchange program, were not answered as to why the school participates in anti- Israel activities and permits the Holocaust to be downplayed. Weykam coordinates the school’s “Palestine Project.”
Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor’s legal advisor, told the Post: “This program needs much more than changes and evaluation. EVZ must shut down immediately, and only begin again once the entire program, committee members, and staff has been entirely revamped.”
She added that “The German government not only has failed to compensate Holocaust victims – but by its onesided and obsessive focus on alleged Israeli ‘sins,’ it seems that the money has been used to minimize the Jewish experience, while at the same time heightening the inflammatory rhetoric and tension surrounding the conflict.”
Katja Wegner, a spokeswoman for the EVZ, told the Post, that EVZ doled out 17,100 euros for the program, which the Anne Frank school took part in. In a statement issued to the Post, EVZ defended the Anne Frank school exchange program, saying it contributes to a “different perception of Jews through Palestinians” and combats “anti- Semitism and hostility toward Israel.”
Jewish NGOs and academic experts on anti-Semitism in Germany accuse the EVZ with stoking hatred of the Jewish state and ignoring modern expressions of anti-Semitism in Germany.
The EVZ was founded in 2000 with a contribution of 5.2 billion euros by the Federal German government and German industry to compensate former slave and forced laborers during the Nazi period.
NGO Monitor cited in its report on the pro-Palestinian activities of the Anne Frank school that “as part of this program, the German students concentrated ‘on article 17 of the UN Human Rights Charter of 1948, in which the right to ‘own property by yourself as well as together with others’ was established. The German students have discovered and documented through conversations with victims, lawyers, human-rights workers and peace activists, whether, that and how the State of Israel violates this right.”
According to NGO Monitor: “During an August 2011 meeting with the mayor of Gütersloh, the students ‘discussed the question what our responsibility for the German past means and if it doesn’t implicate that we need to criticize all human rights violations, no matter who commits them.”
The German students met with Farida Amad in April 2011, during a visit to the “women’s society Inash-Il- Osra” in Al-Bireh. Amad said “Maybe we can’t liberate Palestine in 50, 80 or 100 years, but I’m 100 percent convinced that there will be a time when we get it back,” noted the NGO Monitor report.
Multiple e-mails and phone queries to Volker Beck, a Green Party deputy who sits on the EVZ Board of Trustees and frequently issues statements about countering anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel, were not returned in connection with financial mismanagement at EVZ.

German Court Convicts then Frees Nazi Guard John Demjanjuk

May 15, 2011

At first, the court gave him just 5 years and most of the major Jewish establishment organizations and many Holocaust survivors welcomed and praised that decision..which is probably why the court then quickly figured, “hey, why not free the guy? via

Demjanjuk is not deemed at risk of fleeing Germany because of his age and the fact that he is stateless, Alt said.
The five-year sentence cannot be implemented until the appeal process is exhausted.
In a signal that Demjanjuk may not serve the entire term, or even any of it, even if his appeal fails, Alt said that an incarceration period of five years is “not commensurate” with such an elderly defendant.
Demjanjuk has been in German jail for two years.
“It doesn’t seem likely that Demjanjuk will actually serve any more time in the end. The appeal will take at least a year and at that time his health may not allow putting him in prison,” Alt told journalists after the court ruling.
Demjanjuk cannot return to the United States because the US government stripped him of his citizenship in 2002. via

Soldier, 92, breaks silence over Auschwitz heroics

April 1, 2011

It took him more than 60 years to break his silence, but in a new book 92-year-old Denis Avey tells the story of how he broke into Auschwitz concentration camp twice to witness for himself the horrors of the Holocaust.

Ernst Lobethall and his sisterSusana
Ernst Lobethall
Ernst Lobethall moved to the US
after the end of World War II.

Mr Lobethall, later Ernie Lobet,
lived a ‘long and happy’ life in America

Avey was a British soldier captured during World War Two and sent to a labor camp close to Auschwitz where he worked at the IG Farben plant alongside inmates from the concentration camp, nicknamed “stripeys” after their uniforms.
While Avey, a headstrong, battle-hardened soldier, was told about the mass extermination of Jews and experienced the sickening smell from a nearby crematorium, he wanted to see for himself what was happening in Auschwitz.
While conditions in his own labor camp were appalling, the food was better and treatment less harsh than in Auschwitz.
And as a prisoner of war, Red Cross packages occasionally made it through containing chocolate and cigarettes, which could then be bartered for better provisions and aid survival.
After weeks of preparation, including bribes to a guard, Avey twice swapped uniforms with a Dutch Jew of roughly the same height to sneak into the camp where he spent the night.
On both occasions the men managed to change back into their own clothes, despite the risk of discovery and certain death.
“I did my homework over weeks and weeks, but the common denominator of all that was a tremendous amount of luck,” Avey said in an interview to promote his biography “The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz,” co-written by Rob Broomby and published in Britain by Hodder & Stoughton.
“My life depended on 50 cigarettes — 25 in, 25 out. He (the guard) could have shot me easily.”
His motivation for risking his life was twofold: to “put one over on the enemy” and to see what was happening so he could tell the world afterwards of the atrocities.
He recorded seeing piles of “vaguely human” corpses of workers who died each day. They were carried away by fellow inmates who showed no emotion. Body carriers collapsed, earning them a beating and almost certain death.
Men were pulled from lineups and taken away to be gassed, but there was no protest, so weak and dejected had they become.
Avey described the “foul air” of the sleeping area and putrid “soup” the men were served which he dared not eat.
He held whispered conversations with the inmate lying next to him who was in on the plan, finding out what he could about the concentration camp.
“Auschwitz III was like nothing else on earth; it was hell on earth. This is what I had come to witness but it was a ghastly, terrifying experience.”
After surviving the camp and the “death march” at the end of the war, Avey tried to tell the army about his experiences, but when he came up against what he called the “glazed eye syndrome,” he gave up and kept silent for 60 years.
Even his mother did not know what he had been through, and never asked why he was so emaciated when he returned to England.
For six years Avey had regular nightmares and woke up in a cold sweat. He still recalls his experiences today.
Then, during a radio interview a few years ago he opened up and told his story, and since then has gained recognition for his bravery from Holocaust organisations and politicians.
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation has honored Avey with a diploma, and a spokesman in Israel said: “We feel that his story is genuine,” adding that a fellow survivor corroborated his account to the foundation’s satisfaction.
Avey said his book was relevant today.
“The difference between right and wrong is fast receding. Awareness is being diluted, people are just saying ‘such is life’. People are like this now.”
Despite its dark content, the story ends on a note of hope.
Avey recently discovered that a Jew called Ernst survived Auschwitz and recorded his testimony on video.
In that testimony he talked about a soldier — Avey — who arranged for him to get 10 packs of cigarettes from England which he swapped for food and new soles on his shoes without which he said he would not have survived the death march.
“I thought he was dead,” said Avey. “I couldn’t believe it.”

via via LONDON (Reuters)

43 states agree on property restitution to Holocaust victims. Russia Declines

June 10, 2010

Photo courtesy of the Terezín Memorial

43 states agree on property restitution to Holocaust victims
{CTK) – Forty-three countries have agreed in Prague on a set of recommendations concerning the restitution of the property of Holocaust victims and other victims of Nazi persecution that Czech PM Jan Fischer and U.S. Department of State adviser for Holocaust assets Stuart Eizenstat presented yesterday.
The document recommends the principles the restitution and compensation for the property of the Jewish victims of the Nazi persecution should be based on.
The states express in it their willingness to consider working out national programme and legislation on the still open restitution issues.
The recommendations concern not only the synagogues, cemeteries, schools and other buildings that served religious purposes before the Nazis confiscated them in 1933-1945, but also private real estate, Eizenstat said.
He said the recommendations also involve the property that has no more owners to be returned to. The revenues from it should serve the survivors with low income.
There are about 500,000 such survivors all over the world. About a half of them live below the limit of poverty, Eizenstat said.
He said the list of recommendations is not binding, nor does it break the law of the countries that have agreed with it.
Russia disagrees with the recommendations and would not follow them, the Russian embassy in Prague said in reaction to the disclosure of the document yesterday.
The Terezin Declaration, which EU representatives signed in Terezin (wartime Theresienstadt with a Jewish ghetto and a Nazi prison), north Bohemia, at the close of the Czech EU presidency in mid-2009, calls for the restitution of the Holocaust victims’ property, including private, that was seized by the Nazis.
Ways to the implementation of the demand in individual states are outlined by the document that a commission of experts discussed in Prague in the past days.
A Russian delegation headed by Alexei Fedotov, the Russian ambassador to Prague, took part in the negotiations.
Fischer welcomed the states’ agreement on the restitution principles yesterday. He said it is a “common shame” that the issue remains unsolved 65 years after the war.
Nevertheless, it is better if justice is secured belatedly than never,” he said.
Eizenstat said the recommendations are voluntary, not binding on the countries involved. In fulfilling them, the states should each respect its own law, Eizenstat said.
He praised the Czech Republic’s leading role in this activity.
In its statement yesterday the Russian embassy says the approved document on the compensation and restitution methods does not reflect the approaches that Russia considers crucial.
A reference to “treaties and principles of the post-war arrangement of Europe” is missing in the document. That is why Russia has not joined the recommendations in it, nor does it feel bound by any commitments ensuing from it, including moral ones, the embassy said.

Sounds like the Rooshins are perhaps a bit leery that there will be a call for restitution for the crimes against Russian Jews committed by the stalwart hero of the American Left, Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili.

Eizenstat said Russia’s reaction surprised him. He said Russia demanded a special reference to the post-war arrangement which a number of countries, such as Germany, would probably oppose as this does not directly relate to restitutions.
Apart from Russia, the Prague initiative has not been joined by Belarus, Serbia and Malta for the time being.
“We’re addressing the remaining countries with a proposal to join [the initiative] additionally,” said Tomas Pojar, Czech ambassador to Israel, who participated in the negotiations.
The Prague Jewish Community’s former chairman Tomas Jelinek said Russia showed a reserved stand on the restitution talks in the past. Russia seems to be the first country to decide not to join the agreed-upon principles, Jelinek said.
“This reserved stand [of Russia] was known,” he continued, adding that the restitution of the aryanised immovable property concerns Russia only marginally.

Helen Thomas and Jimmy Carter were unavailable for comment.
Via The Prague Monitor