Sunday, December 29, 2013

New on the Bookshelf

Conscripted Slaves
Hungarian Jewish Forced Laborers on the Eastern Front during the Second World War
Robert Rozett
NIS 174 NIS 128
$58 $44 (airmail included)
From the spring of 1942 until the summer of 1944, some 45,000 Jewish men were forced to accompany Hungarian troops to the battle zone of the Former Soviet Union. The Hungarian authorities considered these men unworthy of bearing weapons, yet they demanded they take part fully in the “blood sacrifice” that was the war against Stalin and his forces. Some 80% of the Jewish forced laborers never returned home. They fell prey to battle, starvation, disease, and grinding labor, aggravated immensely by brutality and even outright murder at the hands of the Hungarian soldiers responsible for them. This study tells the story of these modern-day slaves – a story that is integral to understanding the destruction of Hungarian Jewry in the Holocaust.

The Kasztner Report
The Report of the Budapest Jewish Rescue Committee 1942–1945
By Rezső Kasztner
Editors: László Karsai & Judit Molnár
NIS 174 NIS 128
$58 $44 (airmail included)
Rezső Kasztner was one of the most controversial figures to emerge from war torn Europe and the ashes of the Shoah. A leader of the Budapest Jewish Rescue Committee, during the last year of the war in Europe, the Zionist Kasztner became the point man for negotiations with the SS to save Hungarian Jewry. In Israel in the 1950s he was vilified by some for having sold out his Jewish brethren and was saddled with the blame for the suffering and murder of the lion’s share of Hungarian Jewry. Kasztner was assassinated in Tel Aviv following a spectacular post-war libel trial in which he had tried to defend his good name. Today scholarship sees him in a different light and his Report, now published in English and with scholarly footnotes for the first time, is one of the main reasons why.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Journey of Exploration into a Family’s Righteous Past

Peter and Rineke Hetem at Yad Vashem December 18, 2013
"If they want to come here, let them do so." Almost 70 years since his grandparents Petrus (Pieter) and Adriane Kleibroek spoke these words, agreeing to their daughter Nelie’s request to provide shelter for the Jewish Drukker family, Peter Hetem and his wife Rineke came to Yad Vashem to see the story of the rescue activities of his grandparents and mother told in the special temporary exhibit: “I am my Brother’s Keeper: 50 Years of Honoring Righteous Among the Nations”. The new exhibition is made up of five different documentary films describing five central rescue paradigms: each describing a myriad of dilemmas and situations that involved both the non-Jewish rescuers and the Jews they attempted to help. The film focusing on the Kleibroek and Drukker families, entitled “Paying the ultimate price”, narrates one of the many tragic stories of those Righteous who paid for their rescue attempts with their lives. Featured in the film is Peter’s recent discovery of his family’s courageous role in hiding Abraham and Juliette Drukker and their 13-year-old daughter Marjan during the Holocaust. 
Righteous Among the Nations Pieter and Adriane
Kleibroek and daughter Nelie Hetem-Kleibroek

family of farmers from Warmenhuizen in the Netherlands, the Kleibroeks took in the Jewish Drukker family in February 1944, who after several months of hiding in Amsterdam, managed to contact Nelie pleading for a place to take refuge. Nelie turned to her parents who bravely agreed to share their small farm with the Drukkers and provide shelter from the Nazis and their collaborators during the Shoah. Providing an account of their lives with the Kleibroeks in his diary, Abraham Drukker recounted, “Our life here on the farm was so much better than earlier in Amsterdam – with air! – even though we could not go outside – and a view. Moreover, we were not always nervous about each sound and we were resigned to our fate, which was bearable.”
The Drukker family before the war: Abraham and Juliette Drukker and
daughter Marjan
Unfortunately their safe haven was temporary. In May 1944, some 700 German forces, assisted by Dutch collaborators, searched the area and discovered the Drukker family hiding in a haystack on the farm. All three members of the Jewish family were immediately arrested and sent to the Westerbork transit camp, then deported to Theresienstadt and finally to Auschwitz where they were murdered in October 1944. Pieter Kleibroek was also incarcerated and sent to the Vught concentration camp and later to the Sachsenhausen camp in Germany. A couple weeks before the end of the war, Pieter was shot and killed while on a death march from Sachsenhausen to Luebeck after stopping due to extreme exhaustion. Adrianus Bruin, a fellow inmate of Pieter described the scene: "After he stopped and lay down at the side of the road, I saw that one of the guards approached him, charged his revolver and killed him with a shot in his neck."
Peter and Rineke Hetem watch the completed film for the first time in
the "I am my Brother's Keeper" exhibiton at Yad Vashem
While visiting the “I am my Brother’s Keeper” exhibit at Yad Vashem, Peter and Rineke Hetem became noticeably emotional as, for the first time, they watched the completed film portraying Peter’s journey of exploration of his grandparents and mother’s exceptional role in aiding the Drukker family. Until receiving a phone call from Nannie Beekman, from the Righteous Among the Nations Department at Yad Vashem, Peter, who is named for his late grandfather, knew very little concerning the details of his family’s history during World War II and the rescue story of the Drukkers. “It was something we did not speak of in our family and I knew almost nothing about.” After the recognition of his grandparents and mother as Righteous Among the Nations, film producers went to the Netherlands to follow along and document Peter’s personal discovery and exploration into his family’s past to be included in the exhibition at Yad Vashem. “The two days of filming for the documentary project gave me a sense of closure regarding my family’s story. I got the opportunity to talk with the neighbors’ children and a young farmhand of my grandfather. Even learning small things, such as the revelation that my grandfather was musical, was very important to me. I came to know and understand who my grandfather was, something of which I knew very little.”
On November 8, 2011, Yad Vashem recognized Pieter Kleibroek and Adriane Kleibroek-Nannes as well as their daughter Nelie Hetem-Kleibroek as Righteous Among the Nations.
For more information about the rescue story and others featured in the exhibit I am my Brother’s Keeper: 50 Years of Honoring Righteous Among the Nations”:

Monday, December 23, 2013

Looking Back, Moving Ahead: Yad Vashem at 60

Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate addressing 
the international symposium 
“Yad Vashem's story as an institution is rare: an initially small, ground roots initiative in a new nation that developed remarkably into a world-renowned institution which meaningfully influences multitudes of people, in the Israeli, Jewish and international spheres. This influence provides a guiding path in the fields of Holocaust research, documentation, education and commemoration.” So stated Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate at the international symposium marking 60 years since the establishment of Yad Vashem. The day-long event on December 19, 2013, organized by the International Institute for Holocaust Research, featured speakers from Israel, Poland, France and Germany, and took place in the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem.
The symposium, generously supported by the Gutwirth Family Fund, focused on Yad Vashem at 60 Years with a wide range of speakers who discussed its formation, consolidation and challenges. Speakers included Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, Dorit Novak, Israel, Amb. Reuven Merhav, Israel, Prof. Dan Michman, Israel, Dr. Bella Gutterman, Israel, Prof. Dina Porat, Israel, Dr. Boaz Cohen, Israel, Prof. Annette Wieviorka, France, Prof. Pawel Spiewak, Poland, and Dr. Susanne Heim, Germany.
From left to right: Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel 
Meir Lau, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev 
and Chairman of the Executive Committee, Claims Conference 
Ambassador Reuven Merhav
Following opening remarks by Dorit Novak, Director General of Yad Vashem, who shared an article about its founding, Avner Shalev elaborated on the function Yad Vashem serves in both Israel and around the whole world. “Yad Vashem was founded from the ground up and was nurtured into fulfilling a deep widespread need, by revealing dimensions of meaning for Holocaust remembrance and providing a distinct supportive context to articulate those meanings.” When asked about some of the major obstacles he faced during the past 20 years as Chairman of Yad Vashem, Shalev answered, “A major challenge has been to prepare Yad Vashem for the next generation by refocusing the emphasis on education through the establishment of our International School for Holocaust Studies. Another challenge remains: to ensure Yad Vashem's steady evolution to meet the dynamic needs of our contemporary generation by successfully conveying the relevance of the Jewish experience in the Shoah. That is best and uniquely grasped here on the Mount of Remembrance.”
Recounting this uniqueness of Yad Vashem in the world, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council highlighted the importance of the institution's success in maintaining a unified space for Holocaust remembrance. “Yad Vashem serves as a keepsake for the entire Jewish people and not just specific sectors of it, thus providing a more comprehensive and complete account of the Jewish experience during the Holocaust.”
Those in attendance included Yad Vashem staff, Holocaust survivors, 
international speakers and general public
Yad Vashem was established by a law of the Knesset in 1953 to commemorate the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Through its museums, archives, International School for Holocaust Studies, International Institute for Holocaust Research, and recognition of the Righteous among the Nations, Yad Vashem has become the world center of Holocaust documentation, research, education and commemoration, with some 1 million people visiting the campus annually, and some 12 million visits to its website recorded last year. Over the years, Yad Vashem has received the Israel Prize for special contribution to the society and State of Israel in 2003, the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord in 2007, and numerous other awards and recognitions for its work on behalf of Holocaust commemoration, research and education. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Yad Vashem 60th Anniversary Coin Issued by Bank of Israel

The special Commemorative Coin issued by the Bank of Israel to mark the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of Yad Vashem, was presented on Hanukka (Sunday), December 1, Kislev 28, to Yad Vashem Chairman, Avner Shalev, at a ceremony held at Yad Vashem in the presence of the Governor of the Bank of Israel, Dr. Karnit Flug.
Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev being presented the anniversary 
coin by the Governor of the Bank of Israel Dr. Karnit Flug 
Designed by artist Yossi Lemel, the coin obverse bears the Israel State Emblem, Face Value, "Israel" in English, Hebrew and Arabic, Mint Year and Mint Mark. The reverse depicts a striped shirt with yellow Star of David, that Jews were forced to wear. A Star of David rising in the background symbolizes the continuity and rebirth of the Jewish people in the modern State of Israel. Around the border is the inscription "Yad Vashem – 60 Years".
The coin is available in three variations: Gold proof-quality with face value 10 New Sheqalim, 30 mm diameter (just over 1"), 16.96 grams weight of .917 fine (22kt) gold in a limited mintage of no more than 555 pieces and two sterling silver coins - a proof-quality silver coin with 2 New Sheqalim face value,  measuring 38.7 mm (1½ in.) in diameter and weighing 28.8 grams with limited mintage of 2,800 and a prooflike silver coin with 1 New Sheqel face value, diameter 30mm, weight 14.4 grams and limited mintage of 1,800.

While speaking at the event, Dr. Karnit Flug said, "I am moved to stand here at Yad Vashem, as the Governor of the Bank of Israel, and daughter of Noach Flug, who served as chairman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel. I'm proud to take part in strengthening the economy and prosperity of the State of Israel, which serve as a fitting response to the history seen before us here." 
Established in 1953 by a law of the Knesset, Yad Vashem is the world center for the commemoration of the six million Jews murdered in the Shoah. Situated on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem and spread over some 45 acres, Yad Vashem has spent the last 60 years committed to Holocaust documentation, research, education and commemoration, through its Archives, Libraries, International Institute for Holocaust Resarch, International School for Holocaust Studies and Museum Complex, and through its recognition of the Righteous Among the Nations.
The ceremony took place at the International School for Holocaust 
Studies, Yad Vashem on the 5th night of Hanukka
Over the years, Yad Vashem’s programs and activities have gained increasing recognition in Israel and around the world.  Yad Vashem holds diverse activities, in conjunction with Holocaust survivors and the next generations, commemorating victims of the Shoah and the Jewish world that was destroyed. In 2003, Yad Vashem was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement: A Unique Contribution to Society and to the State; in 2007 Yad Vashem was the recipient of the international Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, the Spanish-speaking countries’ equivalent of the Nobel Prize; in the same year, French President Nicolas Sarkozy presented Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev with the Legion of Honor award.  Recently, the Yad Vashem Pages of Testimony repository was added to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.
The coin is distributed by Israel Coins and Medals Corp. and part of the proceeds from sale of the coin will be donated to Yad Vashem. To order or for more information, contact ICMC at,, P.O. Box 2040, Nesher 36680, Israel,  Tel. 972-4-821-2807, Fax 972-4-821-2818