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Category : Poland
(ABC Nightline) Important but difficult Viewing– The Children of Auschwitz: Survivors Return 75 years after Liberation
For seven decades, “never forget” has been a rallying cry of the Holocaust remembrance movement.
But a survey released Thursday, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, found that many adults lack basic knowledge of what happened — and this lack of knowledge is more pronounced among millennials, whom the survey defined as people ages 18 to 34.
Thirty-one percent of Americans, and 41 percent of millennials, believe that two million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust; the actual number is around six million. Forty-one percent of Americans, and 66 percent of millennials, cannot say what Auschwitz was. Only 39 percent of Americans know that Hitler was democratically elected.
“As we get farther away from the actual events, 70-plus years now, it becomes less forefront of what people are talking about or thinking about or discussing or learning,” said Matthew Bronfman, a board member of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which commissioned the study. “If we wait another generation before you start trying to take remedial action, I think we’re really going to be behind the eight ball.”
41% percent of Americans cannot say what Auschwitz was, a survey found https://t.co/cWRE5rcPqM
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 12, 2018
(WSJ) Mathhew Hennessey: The Priesthood Is a Heroic Vocation, as the case of St. Maximilian Kolbe reminds us
Catholics around the world will celebrate the feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe on Monday. His story is one the church’s finest, though too few people—Christian or not—have heard it.
Kolbe was born to a German father and Polish mother in 1894. He entered the seminary at 13 and was ordained a priest in 1918. With a special devotion to the Virgin Mary and a talent for writing and publishing, the bearded, bespectacled Franciscan founded monasteries and media outlets in Poland and Japan during the 1930s.
When Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, German forces arrested Kolbe. Although he refused to sign a document giving him the privileges of German citizenship, he was released after three months. His monastery continued to issue anti-Nazi publications. It was shut down in 1941, and Kolbe was arrested again. Eventually he was taken to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.
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In 1960 he moved to San Francisco to become Professor of Slavic Languages at the University of California at Berkeley. He experienced cultural shock and depression by his new environment far different from Europe. It was not until he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980 at age 69 that his work became universally recognized. Hitherto his writing in Polish was proscribed in Poland. He was able to return home to visit and was feted for expressing the angst of his generation and nation. In 2000 he moved to Krakow where he died and was buried in Skalka, a crypt belonging to the monastery of the Pauline Fathers in close proximity to many of Poland’s major artists.
In contrast to many intellectuals he was pessimistic in appraising life because he had experienced the power of Evil. He believed passionately in the Devil because he had seen his face in the Nazis and in the Soviets. He was discouraged by his students at Berkeley who were indifferent toward Christianity. In teaching Dostoevsky he came into serious conflict with them when he openly acknowledged the existence of good and evil, which they dismissed as reactionary. “They took it as given that human behavior was governed by certain social and psychological ‘determinants,’, that, in other words, all values were relative. Just so, Russian intellectuals of the last century shifted moral responsibility onto the ‘environment’: change the society and you change the man. And it was precisely this denial of individual responsibility that Dostoevsky took as depressing proof of Christianity’s decline among educated Russians.”
Here are three things that will stay with me:
First is the way that the perpetrators at Auschwitz tried to dehumanise their victims ”“ in a way that actually cost the humanity of both. It worked to some extent. Prisoners killed others in order to live ”“ and were then killed themselves. Others gave their lives, like St Maximilian Kolbe and St Edith Stein.
Second, these atrocities were committed by ordinary people. When one of the priests leading our retreat was asked who was to blame, he said: “People did it to people.”
Third, it was idolatrous and demonic.
“I wrote feverishly, breathlessly, without rereading. I wrote to testify, to stop the dead from dying, to justify my own survival,” he recalled in a 1995 memoir.
The resulting manuscript was published in 1955 in Argentina, to little notice, as “Un di Velt Hot Geshvign,” or “And the World Remained Silent.” The following year, at the urging of French writer Francois Mauriac, Wiesel translated the work into French, and it was published in 1958 as “La Nuit,” or “Night.” An English version was published in the U.S. in 1960.
It had limited early success. The first run of 3,000 copies took three years to sell. Wiesel gained a larger following in the 1970s, as American colleges began delving into Holocaust studies. In 1976, the National Jewish Conference Center in New York convened a meeting on “The Work of Elie Wiesel and the Holocaust Universe.”
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Since Poland joined the EU in 2004, about two million Poles have left in search of higher paid jobs, many of them heading to the UK, where they can earn up to four times as much doing the same job here.
It is estimated 850,000 Poles now live in the UK, making them the largest non-British nationality. Poland’s National Bank reckons Poles send home more than $1bn (Â£728m) a year, driving consumption in many parts of the country.
For Poles in the UK, especially those who have not lived there for the five years needed to apply for permanent residency, the future is uncertain.
Watch it all–a super powerful story about love and adoption; KSH
On Dec. 6, 1942, 10 German soldiers marched into RekÃ³wka, a Polish village 90 miles south of Warsaw. They’d received a tip from some locals that two families, the Skoczylas and KosiorÃ³ws, were sheltering Jews. When the Germans apprehended the families in their shared house, all but four of its inhabitants were at home. The soldiers spotted a trapdoor in the kitchen, which opened to a small, but empty, hiding place. They demanded that the families reveal the whereabouts of the stowaways, but nobody would talk. The soldiers took them to the barn behind the house, locked them inside and burned them alive. When two of the boys tried to escape, they were shot in the back.
Almost 72 years later, in August 2014, a cultural investigator named Jonny Daniels lifted that trapdoor for the first time since the surviving family members sealed it off years ago. He lowered himself down a ladder into a dark, damp space, with no light source and a floor covered with straw. He didn’t know it at the time, but he had uncovered the only known World War II hiding place for Jews that has remained intact and undisturbed since the end of the war.
On Thursday, after a year of negotiations and research, the space became an official heritage site in Poland, the only one of its kind.
As a young pilot of 24, Avraham Harshalom found himself hospitalized at Tel Hashomer hospital. He suggested to the doctor that while he was there, he could remove the tattoo from his left arm. “At that age you just want to be like everyone else,” he says. “People would see the tattoo and look at you differently.”
Sitting in the lobby of the Krakow Holiday Inn, Harshalom is for once surrounded by men and women who are not different to him. He is one of more than a hundred survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau who have been brought here by the World Jewish Congress to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation. The survivors are at the center of attention here, surrounded by family members and well-wishers. Everyone is aware that this could well be the last reunion of such a large group of survivors.
Another thing these grandparents and great-grandparents in their late eighties and nineties have in common is that for decades after liberation, they did not share their experiences. They just tried to be like everyone else.
A decade ago, 1,500 Holocaust survivors traveled to Auschwitz to mark the 60th anniversary of the death camp’s liberation. On Tuesday, for the 70th anniversary, organizers are expecting 300, the youngest in their 70s.
“In 10 years there might be just one,” said Zygmunt Shipper, an 85-year-old survivor who will attend the event in southern Poland to pay homage to the millions killed by the Third Reich. In recent years, Shipper has been traveling around Britain to share his story with school groups, hoping to reach as many people as he can while he has the strength.
“The children cry, and I tell them to talk to their parents and brothers and sisters and ask them ”˜why do we do it and why do we hate?’” he said. “We mustn’t forget what happened.”
World champions Germany lost for the first time in 19 competitive matches as Poland beat them to move top of their Euro 2016 qualifying group.
Arkadiusz Milik’s 51st-minute header was added to late on by Sebastian Mila’s sweeping finish.
Poland had never before beaten Germany, who had also not lost in 33 previous qualifiers, a run dating back to 2007.
The Poles move above Republic of Ireland on goal difference and next host Scotland on Tuesday.
…those leading the battle to protect ritual slaughter don’t believe their opponents are driven by anti-Jewish bigotry. “This has more to do with ignorance,” said Jonathan Ornstein, a former New Yorker who heads the Jewish Community Center in Krakow.
Mr. Ornstein and Rabbi Schudrich both described a relentless campaign by animal-rights activists, inundating members of parliament with dozens of emails and phone calls each day. The protestors regularly make false claims, including that kosher slaughter is outlawed in the U.S. This pressure, along with support from a rebel faction of the ruling Civic Platform party, caused the defeat of the government’s pro-ritual slaughter bill in July.
With the High Court ruling on the horizon””Rabbi Schudrich expects it to be delivered by the end of this year””advocates for ritual slaughter want to ensure that the decision goes their way. To avoid reducing the controversy to one about anti-Semitism, Messrs. Schudrich and Ornstein are emphasizing the idea that ritual slaughter is predicated on the importance of animals suffering as little as possible. The message is buttressed by the fact that both men are vegetarians.
This past August, while contemplating the beauties of the Ottawa River from the deck of my family’s cottage on Allumette Island, Father Raymond de Souza, the Canadian commentator and a former-student-become-friend-and-colleague, offered an interesting take on World Youth Day 2016, which will be held in Cracow. When you think about it, he said, “the 20th century happened in Cracow.”
I think I know what Father de Souza meant. Cracow and its people suffered terribly under both Nazi and communist occupation; the murders at Auschwitz took place a few dozen kilometers away; the city-without-God, Nowa Huta, was built outside Cracow, as payback for the city’s failure to vote correctly in a bogus communist election. Yet the bad news was not all the news there was, in Cracow. For in this same city, the divine answer to the unprecedented human wickedness of the 20th century was given, in the visions of the divine mercy that seized the religious imagination of an obscure Polish nun, Sister Faustina Kowalska. And it was from Cracow that there came a man who brought Sister Faustina’s message of divine mercy to the world.
The two men grew up on separate continents, speaking their own languages. One was not yet 20; the other was bearing down on 100.
Yet within half an hour of meeting each other this week for the first time, Henry Kabiyona and Sol Rosenkranz knew each other’s stories before the words reached their lips.
n official says the oldest known former prisoner of the Auschwitz death camp has died in Poland at the age of 108.
Jaroslaw Mensfelt, a spokesman at the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum, says Antoni Dobrowolski died Sunday in the northwestern town of Debno.
They are in their 80s now, the last living links to Janusz Korczak, the visionary champion of children’s rights who refused to part with his young charges even as they were herded to the gas chambers.
When they speak of him, the old men are young again: transported to their days in his orphanage, a place they remember as a magical republic for children as the Nazi threat grew closer.
“It was a utopia,” said Shlomo Nadel, 85, one of the surviving orphans who managed to flee Poland before the Jewish orphanage was forced into the ghetto.
Herewith the blurb about the show:
Dr. Janucz Korczak (1878-1942) was a Polish-Jewish pediatrician who had revolutionary ideas about humanism for children, and was one of the first proponents of children’s rights. He established the first progressive orphanages in Poland, and wrote numerous books on child psychology, including How to Love a Child and the Child’s Right to Respect. Pediatrician Dr. Susan Weisberg describes how Dr. Korczak has inspired her life’s work, and tells the story of Dr. Korczak’s tragic but noble Holocaust death. Dr. Michael Greenberg hosts.
You can play it or get it via podcast (last about 14 and 1/2 minutes and requires [free] registration). This was the highlight of the week for me–KSH [Hat tip: Elizabeth Harmon]. If you are unable or unwilling to access this recent ReachMD show, do take the time to explore this NPR piece from 2007 here (full transcript there).
When pregnant women in Poland decide to have an abortion, they take a common but highly secretive step. “I found some phone numbers in the newspaper; I called around,” explains a young blonde woman named Jola. The doctors are listed anonymously in the classifieds section offering to “induce menstruation” or provide “full service.” Everybody understands.
“You cannot use the words ‘abortion’ or ‘termination’; rather, ‘I am pregnant ”“ can you help me?’ Something like that,” she says, speaking of her illegal abortion in the 2009 Polish documentary, “Underground Women’s State.” None of the seven women interviewed give their full name and all are well disguised.
Although the topic has long been taboo in Poland, leaders on both sides of the abortion debate now acknowledge the existence of this hidden, private practice. And this month, the Polish parliament is expected to vote on whether to liberalize its abortion policy, one of the strictest in Europe.
The threat to freedom of information in Poland, with attempts to limit the broadcasts of the country’s only Catholic television station, is a little known issue in the rest of the world.
On Dec. 19, 2011, the National Council of Polish Radio and Television (KRRiT in Polish) did not grant the country’s only Catholic television station space on the new digital platform, which from 2013 will ensure Poles free access to a series of TV broadcasts.
A chill wind snapped around the base of the massive concrete statue of Christ, arms outstretched, that rises more than 118 feet into the sky above this small town in western Poland.
“It gives you a very religious feeling, especially because it’s Christmastime,” said Waldemar Kierzkowski, who this week visited the towering year-old image that has become a lightning rod in Poland’s culture war.
Mr. Kierzkowski, a 55-year-old car dealer, and his wife, Alina, drove from their home in Goleniow, more than 150 miles away, to shoot a few photos with the gray monument””whose builders say it is the tallest Jesus in the world””soaring behind them.
Germany is the only country in Europe that can act to save the eurozone and the wider European Union from “a crisis of apocalyptic proportions”, the Polish foreign minister warned on Monday in a passionate call for more drastic action to prevent the collapse of the European monetary union.
The extraordinary appeal by Radoslaw Sikorski, delivered in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate in the German capital, came as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development called on European leaders to provide “credible and large enough firepower” to halt the sell-off in the eurozone sovereign debt market, or risk a severe recession.
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Dozens of rabbis from across Europe have gathered in Warsaw for the largest meeting of Jewish religious leaders in Poland since the community was virtually wiped out during World War II.
This year’s Conference of European Rabbis will focus on a range of issues affecting European and global Jewry, including attempts in Europe to ban the Jewish method of religious slaughter of animals.
But, the rabbis will also discuss the problem of validating the Jewish identity of people who have not practiced Judaism in two or three generations. This has become an issue in countries like Poland, where many people with Jewish ancestry were so traumatized by the Holocaust and postwar anti-Semitism that they lived secular or Christian lives for decades and are only now again embracing a Jewish life.
Wow–watch it all.
Here, the students witnessed the establishment of a German-Polish-Russian forum designed to encourage a rapprochement among three countries with fundamentally different historical narratives of World War II.
Any such process would ultimately mean Russia confronting its past, particularly Stalinist crimes and the gulags, and reassessing its role as victim and victor during and after World War II. It would also mean Russia embracing the European idea of dealing with memory and the past, now so much a part of the European identity.
“Being European is about being aware of what we did,” said Ivan Krastev, historian and chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia.
As the late Pope John Paul II is beatified in the Vatican, many in his home country, Poland, are jubilant. But Poland’s attachment to the late Pope stems from more than just national pride, since many credit him with helping to overthrow the communist state.
In the town of Wadowice in southern Poland, John Paul II is everywhere. His face flutters from flags lining the streets, and he beams down on passers by from statues and photographs. Wadowice is the late Pope’s home town. He was born Karol Wojtyla in 1920, in a three-room flat that now houses a museum filled with his personal affairs – his cradle, his skis and a doily made by his mother.
“John Paul II is blessed because of his faith — a strong, generous and apostolic faith,” Pope Benedict XVI said May 1 just minutes after formally beatifying his predecessor.
Italian police said that for the Mass more than 1 million people were gathered in and around the Vatican and in front of large video screens in several parts of the city.
Many in the crowd had personal stories about seeing Pope John Paul or even meeting him, and Pope Benedict ended his homily at the Mass sharing his own personal story.
During public ceremonies, Pope John Paul put people at their ease, often with a sense of humor. When he held hands and danced onstage with young people in Australia in 1986, one of the girls began to cry. The smiling pope hugged her and said simply, “Don’t worry.”
Carl Anderson, the supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, was impressed with the way Pope John Paul patiently greeted the sick and disabled at his public events, chatting with them one by one and blessing them. He was not going through the motions; he was interested in them.
“These were small actions that were not necessary and not expected. It was something he was doing that was different, personal and made that person feel very special with the encounter,” Anderson said.
Strange as it may seem, I’ve been vaguely worried about today’s beatification of a man with whom I was in close conversation for over a decade and to the writing of whose biography I dedicated 15 years of my own life.
My worries don’t have to do with allegations of a “rushed” beatification process – the process has been a thorough one, and the official judgment is the same as the judgment of the people of the Church.
I’m also unconcerned about the fretting of ultra-traditionalists for whom John Paul II was a failure because he didn’t restore the French monarchy, impose the Tridentine Mass on the entire Church, and issue thundering anathemas against theologians and wayward politicians….
No, my worries have to do with our losing touch with the qualities of the man himself….