Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
July 14, 2017     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 14     (14 of 68 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 14     (14 of 68 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
July 14, 2017

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2019. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 14, 2017 By Cnaan Liphshiz WESTERBORK, Nether- lands (JTA)--Nothing about the footage that Rudolf Bre- slauer filmed here on May 30, 1944, suggests that it was taken inside one of Europe's largest Nazi concentration camps. In the film by Breslauer, a German-Jewish inmate of the Westerbork camp in Hol- land's northeast, prisoners are seen playing soccer enthusi- astically in team uniforms, complete with a referee in a special outfit. A middle-aged man wear- ing a suit and a boy who may have been his grandson stroll cheerfully in the sun past spectators. In other segments, inmates are seen putting on theater performances, work- ing in modern factories and even going to church--an activity undertaken by many German Jews before the Ho- locaust, including some who had converted to Christianity just before or during the Holo- caust in a vain effort to escape persecution by the Nazis. The film is one of only two cinematic works known to have been produced inside a functioning concentration camp for Jews--the otherwas in Theresienstadt. Commissioned by West- erbork's commanders for propaganda purposes, Bre- slauer's film is a rare docu- mentation of the sophisti- cated facade employed by the Nazis at the camp, where 75 years ago they began carrying out the systematic murder of three quarters of Dutch Jewry--the highest death rate in Nazi-occupiedWestern Europe. Westerbork served as a so-called transit camp from which 100,000 Dutch Jews were shipped to Nazi death camps in Poland. The subterfuge maintained the illusion that the camp's inmates were sent to work camps, giving them hope and an incentive to comply with orders that helped ensure Westerbork's deadly effi- ciency, according to Johannes Houwink ten Cate of the Uni- versity of Amsterdam, who is among the world's foremost experts on the HolOcaust in the Netherlands. According to ten Cate, the deceit extended far beyond the possibly staged scenes that Breslauer captured with his camera (Breslauer was sent to Auschwitz with his wife and three children in 1944. Only their daughter Chanita survived the war). "The size of Camp Wester- bork's hospital, which was one of the best and largest hospi- tals of its kind, symbolizes the Nazi lie that Jews were going to be put to work" further east, ten Cate told JTA in an interview last week ahead of the 75th anniversary of the first death transport out of the camp, which took place on July 15, 1942. "It was one of a great many German efforts focused at making sure that Jews did not understand what the Nazis were up to," he added. These efforts paid off, ac- cording to Henny Dormits, 87, a Holocaust survivor who lived in the camp with her family for two years before they were sent to Theresienstadt. While Jews in many other parts of Europe were subjected to violence, torture, abuse and murder in camps, in Wester- bork, "people were not abused, they were treated correctly," she said during an interview for Dutch television in 2011. She spoke at the former liv- ing quarters of Albert Gem- meker, the Nazi commander of Westerbork, which is the only part of the camp that still exists today. The Germans "did every- thing possible to keep people calm here so no one was afraid," Dormits recalled. And so when people were shipped off in cattle carts, "everyone assumed we'd be going to another work camp." Westerbork included many amenities that Jewish concen- tration camp inmates else- where could only dreamof, in- cluding permits to leave camp without supervision--given exclusively to people with family still inside the camp, so they would not escape--and cabaret productions with musical instruments. But it was the quality of medical treatment in West- erbork that clinched the illu- sion, according to Dormits. "People were operated on here by the best doctors, they would be hospitalized for en- tire weeks as they healed, and when they were all better they were put on a transport," she recalled in the documentary. "This was the make-believe world in which we lived." This form of deception was extremely effective, according to Dirk Mulder, the director of the Camp Westerbork Memo- rial Center, a nongovernmen- tal organization with state funding that is responsible for commemoration and edu- cational work in the former camp. The message of the hospital was, "We Germans have the best intentions for you, get better in this large hospital so we can put you to work elsewhere," Mulder said in the Dutch documentary. Still, not everyone was duped. Gemmeker, who had a friendly relationship with the Jewish filmmaker Breslauer, once told the cameraman something that made Breslau- er realize the transports were a one-way ticket, according to Chanita Moses, Breslauer's daughter. Her father did not say exactly what Gemmeker told him, she told the Dutch television film crew. Philip Mechanicus, a Dutch Jewish Holocaust victim who secretly chronicled his stay in Westerbork before he was murdered, wrote about his "tremendous fear" of when he would be shipped out. On Sept. 13,1943, a65-year- old woman in Mechanicus' barracks committed suicide, he wrote. She was put on a list of deportees to There- sienstadt, prompting her daughter tovolunteer to leave with her mother. The mother killed herself "to prevent her daughter from making the sacrifice," wrote Mechanicus, who died in 2005. Camp Westerbork origi- nally was set up in 1939 as a de- tainment facility by the Dutch government in a remote, rural area of the country for fewer than 2,000 Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany. Two years after the Germans invaded in 1940, they took over the space and massively increased its capacity. They treated the first German in- mates as a preferred prisoner population. And they set up am unarmed Jewish policing unit that was responsible for taking people to the trains to be shipped off to death camps in the east. Cnaan Lipshiz Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomon Jacobs' parents survived the Holocaust in hiding, and he often speaks about the genocide at Westerbork to schoolchildren. Today, what used to be the camp grounds in a grassy flatland borders a large ra- dio observatory. A memorial area contains informational plaques and several monu- ments, including a German cattle car of the sort used to transport Jews and a statue featuring railway tracks that curl up heavenwards. Whereas elsewhere in Eu- rope former Nazi camps were preserved and used as educational exhibits about the Holocaust, the original barracks and facilities of West- erbork were used for housing refugees from Indonesia in the 1970s until the facilities were stripped for wood. The failure to preserve Westerbork was part of a greater reluctance in the Netherlands, where many non-Jews felt victim to the Nazi occupation, to acknowl- edge the uniqueness of the Jewish tragedy, according to ten Cate. He said the Dutch also were reluctant to look at the role of ordinary Dutch- men, including police officers who rounded up Jews. This began to change in the 1990s, making way for a wave of renewed interest in the Holocaust in recent years. But the belated timing means that Amsterdam is one of Europe's very last capital cities to receive a Holocaust museum: It opened last years and is still in its "in- fancy stages," ten Cate noted. Back in Westerbork, Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomon Jacobs, whose parents survived the Holocaust in hiding and who often speaks about the genocide at the former camp to schoolchildren, told JTA in April that the camp's story is a constant reminder against giving in to wishful thinking. "When disaster happens slowly, in installments, people have a tendency to accept each installment," said Jacobs, who in 2014 shocked many Dutch- men when he said that anti- Semitism in the Netherlands means he would advise his congregants to live in Israel or the United States. "This is what happened here. So I think we cannot afford to stay silent and just hope for the best." Good summer reads: / 914265387 273148659 658937142 147352896 382694715 596871234 829516473 431729568 765483921 By Victor Wishna (JTA)--Sure, winter might seem like the ideal time of year for curling up with a good book--but summer is when you might actually have time to read. So before these warm months all too swiftly fade to fail, here are some Jewish- themed titles, from a wide range of genres, to fill your beach bag (or tablet) for the season. A bonus: These works, from an international smat- tering of authors, are equally enjoyable while riding in an overcrowded bus on your way to work. "AI Franken, Giant of the Senate" (Twelve Books) by AI Franken Franken may be best known for his years on "Saturday Night Live" and his popular satirical books, but he needed to contain his comedic chops in preparation for his cur- rent gig: U.S. senator from his home state of Minnesota, which he earned by the nar- rowest of margins after a recount in 2008. Yet once he was comfortably re-elected in 2014, he said he could finally be funny again. It was worth the wait: This new memoir features plenty of Franken's patented political and po- lemical comedy--including numerous takedowns of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ("an obnoxious wrench in the gears ofgovern- ment")--along with some touching reflections on his childhood in "St. Jewish Park" (as the Minneapolis suburb St. Louis Park is known), his family life and, of course, his winding career path from 30 Rock to Capitol Hill. "Heretics" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) by Leonardo Padura, translated by Anna Kushner A celebrated Cuban jour- nalist and author, Padura is best known in the English- speaking world for his series of mysteries set in Havana featuring Lt. Mario Conde. In this newest adventure, as in- terpreted by Kushner, Conde is hired by a descendant of the Kaminsky family, who were among the German Jews who made a voyage of the damned from Hamburg to Havana and back again aboard the refugee ship St. Louis in 1939. The Kaminskys had carried with them a rare Rembrandt paint- ing. Both the family and the painting disappeared during the war, but the Rembrandt reappeared decades later at a London auction. In pursuit of the truth, Conde must navi- gate layers of anti-Semitism, the corruption of contempo- rary Cuba and the ghosts of history. "Man of the Year" (Flatiron Books) by Lou Cove Do you remember 1978? Cove, a former journalist whose resume includes senior roles with the Harold Grin- spoon Foundation, Reboot and the National Yiddish Book Center, will never forget it. His quirky new memoir recalls his 13th year--traditionally a time of transition for any Jewish boy--when his family leaves New York City for Salem, Massachusetts, and a seem- ingly humdrum small-town existence. This purgatory is interrupted by the arrival of a stranger from California, his father's old friend Howie--he may be better known to read- ers of that month's issue of Playgirl as Mr. November. But as Cove recounts in funny, touching prose, Howie isn't satisfied with a single month: He wants young Lou to lead his campaign to become the magazine's, yes, Man of the Year. "The Matrimonial Flirta- tions of Emma Kaulfield" (Arcade Publishing) by Anna Fishbeyn This debut novel by actress, comedian, writer and web pro- ducer Fishbeyn elevates the literary rom-com with inven- tive language and a distinctive immigrant identity twist. The title character has grown from a 10-year-old Soviet refusenik and new American into a beautiful, all-but-assimilated New York University grad student engaged to "one of her own people'--a handsome, Russian-born Jew. But when a random encounter with a stranger turns into a torrid affair, Emmafinds herself torn between the wants and needs of love and career, which are intertwined with the bonds and burdens of her family and heritage. If that all sounds a little heavy, take note that it's all pretty hilarious, too. "Red Shoes for Rachek Three Novellas" (Syracuse University Press) by Boris Sandler, translated by Bar- nett Zumoff Sandier, who retired last year from his post as editor- in-chief of the Yiddish For- verts, is among the most prolific of the small circle of contemporary authors and poets writing in Yiddish. This 2010 award-winning collection of three novellas, just now available to English readers thanks to the work Reads on page 15A