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June 1, 2018     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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June 1, 2018

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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 1, 2018 Totko Teklak, gesturing, shows a visitor from Israel where his father hid her mother Lea Hirsch (1) in eastern Poland meets a man who knew her uncle before he was tour- during the Holocaust in eastern Poland, June 2017. dered in 1944, June 2017. By Cnaan Liphshiz ing them into a murder alive. Trusting Teklak, Genia buried. The family is raising Teklak'sson, Totko, andhis But Hirsch also has "tre- investigationwhosespecifics Kopf begged her brother to fundsforanexhumationwith familymetHirsch, hersonand mendous anger" over the (JTA)--JosefKopfsurvived lieattheheartofthedebatein stay. But Josef Kopf "just the intentionofbringingJo- other relatives in Turobin in murder of her uncle, who Sobiborby killingaguardand Polandabout localcomplicity laughedand said he'dbe back sefKopf's remains to Israel for an encounter last year that "survived the hell of Sobibor staging the first successful and resistance during the the next day," his sister said burial.Theywillbereturning Hirsch said was "extremely only to be killedand dumped escape from that death camp Holocaust. in the recording of their last for further interviews in July emotional." at an unmarked grave because in Poland, where the Nazis The testimony that trig- meeting, with the hope of finding out Her mother's rescue andhewasjusta Jew." Like many murdered 250,000 Jews. gered the investigation was This information lastyear who killed him. uncle's murder left Hirsch descendants of Holocaust But Kopf, whose unlikely onanold recording of Genia led Lea Hirsch and her son, "Wedon'thavealotoftime with "mixed feeling" about survivors, Hirschsaidgrewup escape in 1943 preceded by Hirsch, who passed away in Amit, to Poland with a dual becausethewitnessesareold, the polarizing debate grip- in avery small family. several months a full-scale 2011. She hardly ever spoke mission: Locate the Teklak butit'sagradualprocess,"Lea ping Polish society in recent "I could have had an uncle," uprising at Sobibor, did not about the Holocaust to her family to honor his bravery Hirsch said of her talks with months about the behavior she said. live to see Nazi Germany's children, Lea Hirsch said. and find Josef Kopf's grave Polish villagers in the area. of the Polish people during Amit Hirsch, Lea's son, defeat. But in the recording, which and killer. "People have to open up; ifwe the Holocaust. Thousands said his family history re- After the liberation in the family only recently dis- "Something in me just rushitthey'llclamup.Abottle of Jews died at the hands of flects "the complexity of 1944, he returned to his covered, Genia recounted in woke up, an unstoppableofvodkahere, a conversation non-Jewish Poles; thousands the historical record on the hometown of Turobin to detail the last time she saw drive to find out what hap- there--youhave to pave their more were rescued by them. Holocaust in Poland." Poland reclaim some possessions-- herbrotheraliveandthestory pened," said Lea Hirsch, a path to the truth." In January, Poland's par- has 6,706 Righteous Among andwas never seen or heard ofherownrescuebyhernon-65-year-old marketing and ForHirsch, uncoveringthe liament passed a law that the Nations--non-Jewswho from again. Jewish neighbor, salesprofessionalandmother identity ofher uncle's killer is criminalizes blaming the were recognized by Israel as "We always assumed Josef According to Genia's testi- of three children from the secondary in significance to Polish nation forNazicrimes, having risked their lives to was killed by a local, but mony, JosefKopffoundherat Haifaarea. finding the placewhere he is The measure triggered a dip- save Jews from the Holocaust. we never knew for sure. We the home of her rescuer, An- In Poland, she and other said to have been buried, lomaticcrisiswithIsraelamid And while this is the high- never even knew where he tekTeklak, just days after the relatives hired an interpreter Reconnecting with the criticism by the Jewish state est number of righteous in was buried," said Lea Hirsch, Red Army liberated Turobin and a cameraman. Within a descendants of her mother's and many Jewish organiza- any nation, "there was also Kopf's niece from Israel. Her and eastern Poland. But the couple of days, witnesses told rescuers also was important tions that it risked silencing betrayal and deadly pogroms mother, Genia, and Josef siblings' reunion was short Hirsch that a former partner to Lea Hirsch and her family, public debate and research and anti-Semites," Amit Kopfwere the only ones from lived, she said. Josef Kopf of Kopf had killed him, and she said. Risking a summary about the Holocaust.And the Hirsch said. their family of eight children told Genia and Teklak that that a friend of Kopf buried execution of his entire family, debate also unleashed a wave He said the law on rhetoric who survived the Nazi death he would return to Turobin hisbodyinawheatfieldinthe TeklakhidGeniafortwoyears of anti-Semitic rhetoric, abouttheHolocaustinPoland machine, to "work out" some business town of Zolkiewka, six miles in what she described in the "I have an undying appre- is designed to "manipulate Last year, though, the that he had had before the north of Turobin. recording as "a hole in the ciation for the people who historysothatonlytherescue 75-year-oldmysterywaspar- war with a friend, whom he The witnesses provided ground." Teklak took her in saved my mother," Hirsch stories are heard." tially solved.Along-forgotten did not name partialinformation, claiming after she escaped the ghetto said. "I was shocked to stand Rescue stories"indeedneed testimony led Hirsch and Teklak warned Josef Kopf not to know who killed Kopf. where the rest of her family on the ground under which a tobeheard,"AmitHirschsaid, other relatives to Kopf's pre- not togo, sayinghewouldnot But they led the family to the was kept before they were non-Jewishherokeptheralive "but alongside the terrible sumed burial place, launch- make it out of his hometown fieldwhere they say Kopfwas murdered, for years." things that happened." IAF commander Maj.-Gen.Amikam Norkin (center) holding a press conference on Wednes- day with Lt. Gen. Enzo Vecciarelli, Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force (r) and Air Marshal Stuart Atha, Deputy Commander of Britain's Royal Air Force (1) at Tel Nof Air Force Base. By Yaakov Lappin on IsraelAWForce jets in re- in Israel, which brought cent months during multiple together commanders from (JNS)--Some 50percentofoperations, a senior air-force 20 foreign air-force establish- air-defense batteries belong- source said on Wednesday. ments to discuss professional ing to the regime of Syrian The officerwas speaking to and operational matters with President Bashar Assad have reporters during an interna- the IAF. Participants included beendestroyedaftertheyfired tional air conference hosted the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, February and May, Syrian Lt. Gen. Enzo Vecciarelli, Poland, Italy, Brazil, Greece air-defense systems fired ChiefofStaffoftheItalianAir and Romania. on Israeli jets "hundreds of Force, saidholdingadialogue "The risks are all around times," the source revealed, with the IAFwas valuable for us--whether it is instabil- "Inasinglemission, theyfired his personnel. "We appreciate ity in Syria or in Lebanon, over 100SAMS [surface-to-air flying together. We enjoy the where Hezbollah is a forward missiles]," he said, referringto beauty of your country and ]Iranian] division, or Hamas, the May 10 Israeli operation the quality of this training which gets its support from to strike 50 Iranian targets machine," he added. Iran. Iran is all over, often- across Syria in retaliation Air Marshal Stuart Atha, sivelytryingtooperateagainst to Iranian rocket fire on the Deputy Commander of Brit- Israel, and we have to weigh Golan Heights. ain's Royal Air Force, said: and assesthe risks constantly "All of the batteries that "There is no air force with a as we operate against this ag- fired on the IAF were de- prouder history than the IAF. gression," the senior source stroyed.All of them.And this This is also an opportunity stated, policywillcontinue.Wedonot to celebrate and recognize He described Syria as hav- destroy batteries that do not what we are doing, day to ing the most heavily guarded fire on us," said the source, day, as air forces. And, more airspaceintheworld, withthe During the conference on importantly, to look to the highest number of surface- Wednesday, IAF Commander future--at how as air forces to-air missile batteries of all Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkinwe can continue to work kinds scanning the skies, held a joint press appearance together." "Andwestillhavetooperate with counterparts from Italy 'Iran has its owns aspira- inthisstrategicarenaandstill andtheUnitedKingdomatTel tions as a regional player' hit targets, and maintain the Nof air base, south of Tel Aviv. According to the senior IAF IAF's air superiority, whichis "This [conference] is asource,"thefighttomaintain the biggest challenge of the part of our cooperation," said air superiority is ongoing. We air force," added the officer. Norkin."We share operational take risks to achieve our mis- In recent months, during knowledge, training knowl- sions, and sometimes we pay a number of Israeli airstrikes edge, and we talk about how the price. We understand the against aggressive Iranian get air superiority as ameans activity in Syria between to regional stability." Syria on page 15A