Eugene was born Jeno Schwartz in Munkacs, Czechoslovakia in 1928. He had a happy family life with 3 sisters and a brother. His mother came from an orthodox Jewish family but his father, who was a master tailor, did not. Religion played little part in Eugene’s upbringing.
In November 1938 the area where Eugene’s family lived was given back to Hungary. On 19th March 1944 German forces occupied Hungary completely. Immediately all Hungarian Jews were ordered to wear the Star of David and within ten days the Jewish population was moved into ghettos. Eugene’s house was within a ghetto area, so his family took other people into their home.
On May 14th Eugene was returning home from school. 200 yards from home, he saw a German military lorry outside the family home with his two sisters and father on board. He saw an SS man hit his mother across the face and push her on to the lorry. Eugene wasn’t allowed into the house; he was forced onto the lorry with the rest of his family and other Jewish people from the ghetto.
The lorry was driven to a nearby brickyard, where the Jewish population was being forcibly gathered together. Eugene and his family were ordered into railway cattle trucks and from there transported to Auschwitz Birkenau. Eugene was swiftly separated from his mother and sisters, then also from his father. After being completely shaved and then showered, he was given his number, 55546, and a striped uniform.
Filmmaker Nancy Spielberg’s new documentary “Above and Beyond” has a simple message wrapped up in a complex story that continues to resonate seven decades later.
The film tells the story of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War from the perspective of the pilots who fought for the newly established state of Israel. The pilots, many of them American Jews who had fought in World War II, tell their stories with pathos, drama and a bit of salty humor.
While the story focuses on Israeli history, its foundation is “that American spirit,” the desire to help others in need, Spielberg said.
Spielberg, the sister of director Steven Spielberg, comes to Greenville March 31 to screen “Above and Beyond” at Furman, in an event organized by the Greenville Jewish Federation.
Her credits include a documentary on Nazi hunters and another focusing on a mother caring for a disabled adult daughter, so this subject was a departure for Spielberg, who produced “Above and Beyond.”
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — It was World War II, Warsaw was under German occupation, and the wife of the director of the Warsaw zoo spotted Nazis approaching the white stucco villa that she and her family inhabited on the zoo grounds.
According to plan, she went straight to her piano and began to play a lively tune from an operetta by Jacques Offenbach, a signal to Jews being sheltered in the house that they should be quiet and not leave their hiding places.
That scenario, repeated over years of war, was one of the tricks that allowed Jan and Antonina Zabinski to save the lives of dozens of Jews, a dramatic chapter in Poland’s wartime drama that was virtually unknown until an American author, Diane Ackerman, published a book about the Polish couple in 2007 called “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”
Since the beginning of 2014, there has been an increase of 400 percent in the number of antisemitic incidents in Europe and around the world as compared with 2013.
The data showing the increase was collected as part of a special project by Israel’s NRG news website and the Forum to Coordinate the Fight Against Antisemitism. The report, coming almost seventy years after the Holocaust and the end of World War II, shows that there is real concern for the future of world Jewry, and particularly European Jewry.
In 1935, Roman Vishniac, a Russian-born Jew and heralded photographer, journeyed throughout Eastern Europe with one goal: photograph impoverished Jewish communities. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, his employer, planned to use the images to raise funds for relief efforts, but the photos would become an iconic link to the culture that vanished as a result of the Holocaust.
Years earlier, long before his trip through Eastern Europe, Vishniac and his family emigrated from Russia to Berlin, where he built a photo-processing laboratory, pursued his interest in microscopic research, and became an acclaimed street photographer. As Hitler and the Nazi Party rose to power in the 1930s, Vishniac remained in Berlin, but after Kristallnacht in 1938, he initiated plans to leave Germany with his family. In 1939, he spent six weeks in an internment camp in France, ultimately managing to secure release and moving with his family to New York City. After the war, he returned to photograph Jewish communities in displaced persons camps in the late 1940s, as well as those in 1950s New York City. Only 350 of Vishniac’s images were published or printed during his lifetime, though his photo archive of negatives numbers around 9,000.
Some teenagers with a special interest in World War II are reaching out to a declining and often lonely South Florida community: Holocaust survivors.
Local Holocaust survivors get help, courtesy of Germany Local Holocaust survivors get help, courtesy of Germany The teens, working through a new program, From March to Miriam, visit 25 survivors in south Palm Beach County once a month, accompanied by an adult and sometimes another survivor. The teens, many of whom traveled to Poland and Israel on a popular trip called the March of the Living, also call their survivor at least once a week as they work on developing a cross-generational friendship.
“After the first time they came, I knew they would become part of my heart,” said survivor Clara Mond, 87, about her monthly visitors, Amy Freidus, 17, and her mom, Hindy. “They have given me something no wealth can bring.” Amy Freidus, a senior at Donna Klein Jewish Academy west of Boca Raton, is preparing to go on the March of the Living, a two-week spring trip for high school students that includes visits to the concentration camps of Eastern Europe followed by a week in Israel. Her great-grandparents were Holocaust survivors, and her great-grandfather, 96, is a survivor from Lodz, Poland, where Mond also lived.
The world’s oldest known Holocaust survivor has died aged 110, her family have said.
Alice Herz-Sommer, who lived in London and was originally from Prague, was confined in the Terezin – or Theresienstadt – concentration camp for two years after the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia during the Second World War.
Ms Herz-Sommer was a renowned concert pianist who is said to have counted esteemed existentialist writer Franz Kafka among her family friends.
She was recently made the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary, The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life.
His voice cracking with emotion, his eyes welling with tears, Joseph Samuels, 84 and a retired Jewish real estate developer, recalled the pogrom’s angry Muslim mobs in Baghdad that his Iraqi family and the Jewish community there faced during the Holocaust. Known as the “Farhud,” this violent pogrom was carried out against the Jews in early June 1941 and has rarely been spoken about publicly by those who survived the massacre.
Samuels is one of a small remaining group of survivors of the Farhud, and during the past decade he has begun to write about and speak publicly about this dark chapter to various groups in Southern California.
“I was 11 years old when the Farhud broke out in Baghdad against the Jews,” said Samuels, who now lives in Santa Monica. “It was a horrible massacre of Jews for two days straight, with mobs of Muslims slaughtering the Jewish men, raping the Jewish women and throwing the little kids in the Tigress River.”
Samuels said Jewish homes and businesses in Baghdad also were looted during the Farhud, which was incited by the pro-Nazi regime in control of Iraq and by daily anti-Semitic radio broadcasts made by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni. “My two uncles had their homes looted but escaped the mobs by jumping from the different roofs of homes in Baghdad’s Jewish quarter,” he said. “I was so frightened as a child — we brought furniture to reinforce the door in our home, which was located just outside the Jewish quarter. I saw Muslims looting outside, and I still remember them saying, ‘We’ll come back for you!’ since they knew which homes were Jewish because of mezuzahs.”
Although official records of the massacre claim nearly 180 Jews were killed and a few hundred injured, Samuels said the Iraqi Jewish community long has believed the number of Jews killed is closer to 1,000. He said he and his family survived the Farhud because British forces invaded Baghdad and stopped the violent mobs. Still, the memories of that pogrom haunted Samuels for nearly six decades, along with the painful memories of his escape with his brother from their homeland in 1949 due to the constant persecution of Jews. For many years, he said, he never even spoke to his children or anyone about his difficult life in Iraq, but he finally decided to open up after taking a memoir-writing class.
After multiple careers in education, politics and community service, Arthur Flug found his true calling as executive director of the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives at Queensborough Community College. It was 2006 and he was 67 years old. Flug, who helped transform the center from a basement library to a interactive learning lab on tolerance, is retiring at the end of the year after overseeing a multi-million dollar renovation and program expansion.
Retirement does not come naturally to Arthur Flug.
But he will still keep a watchful eye on the center he has sheparded for almost 10 years.
“There are some projects I want to see completed,” said Flug, a longtime Queens resident who helped transform the center from a basement library into a renowned interactive learning lab on tolerance.
After 30 years in the New York City public school system, Flug went to work for then-Rep. Gary Ackerman. He also volunteered for the Israeli Army before finding his dream job at the center at the age of 67.
“I finally figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up,” Flug said with a laugh.
As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindle with time, the mission to save their stories is more important than ever, Flug said.
He works with students who interview Holocaust survivors and archive their stories, reminding them they are “insurance policies” so history is not forgotten.
Former President Bill Clinton and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel spoke at an event marking the 20th anniversary of the Holocaust Museum. Both recalled the dedication ceremony for the museum, where Mr. Wiesel called on President Clinton to do something about the genocide and ethnic cleansing taking place in Yugoslavia and Bosnia.