"Studying the Holocaust changed the way I make decisions." - Student

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Featured book for March

Worlds Torn Asunder
Dov Beril Edelstein

"...an important personal and historic document... Gracefully written... a triumph of the human spirit... a universal message." 
-- Prof. Emeritus Michael Kerestesi, Wayne State University

More than a Holocaust survivor memoir. More than just a harrowing tale of survival and hope. What makes this story special is its unique three-dimensional depth.  A retired Rabbi and educator, the author masterfully weaves personal memoir into historical context, with a deep appreciation for Jewish lore and tradition.

Dov Beril Edelstein was Auschwitz inmate #A7868.  He lost both parents, both grandparents and 2 brothers in the holocaust. But he survived... a twisting journey of incredible physical, emotional and spiritual endurance.

But readers of all stripes will also gain a special glimpse into the full richness of Jewish life in Hungary in the years leading up to the war. Jewish faith, customs, community and ethics not only sponsored hope for survivors like Edelstein, these values continue to inspire the forgiveness and tolerance which define the Jewish perspective on this still surreal period of history.

Originally published in the US and later in German by Bohlau Verlag Publishing,  Worlds Torn Asunder has also been used for over a decade as a text at various schools and universities in religion courses with titles like "The Quest for Wholeness."  This enduring memoir is celebrating its 27th year with the release of a new digital version.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Featured book for February

Michael Gruenbaum with Todd Hasak-Lowy

Recommended for Young Readers

Resilience shines throughout Michael Gruenbaum’s “riveting memoir” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) about his time in the Terezin concentration camp during the Holocaust, in this National Jewish Book award finalist and Parents Choice Gold medal award winning title, an ideal companion to the bestselling Boy on the Wooden Box.

Michael “Misha” Gruenbaum enjoyed a carefree childhood playing games and taking walks through Prague with his beloved father. All of that changed forever when the Nazis invaded Prague. The Gruenbaum family was forced to move into the Jewish Ghetto in Prague. Then, after a devastating loss, Michael, his mother and sister were deported to the Terezin concentration camp.

At Terezin, Misha roomed with forty other boys who became like brothers to him. Life in Terezin was a bizarre, surreal balance—some days were filled with friendship and soccer matches, while others brought mortal terror as the boys waited to hear the names on each new list of who was being sent “to the East.”

Those trains were going to Auschwitz. When the day came that his family’s name appeared on a transport list, their survival called for a miracle—one that tied Michael’s fate to a carefully sewn teddy bear, and to his mother’s unshakeable determination to keep her children safe.

Collaborating with acclaimed author Todd Hasak-Lowy, Michael Gruenbaum shares his inspiring story of hope in an unforgettable memoir that recreates his experiences with stunning immediacy. Michael’s story, and the many original documents and photos included alongside it, offer an essential contribution to Holocaust literature.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Interesting Books in the Library

The Sweet Dell
The True Story of One Family's Fight to Save Jews in Nazi-Occupied Holland
By Nicholas John Briejer, WA: Pilgrim Spirit Communications, 2015
A hopeful and captivating true story that transports the reader into the dark years or Nazi-occupied Holland.
Arrested on October 6, 1943, Dr. Pieter Schoorl listened to the heavy iron doors of a basement cell in the Gestapo's Amsterdam headquarters close behind him. It had been easy for him to hide the first Jew--a blonde-haired, blue-eyed three-year-old. And had Dr. Schoorl and his wife Anne helped only the one child, this would be as far simpler story. But the pleas for help never ended. Dutch commandos met at the Schoorls' kitchen table, and shot-down Allied pilots shared breakfast with their five children. Jews continually arrived at the Schoorl's farm unannounced in the dark of night. The couple eventually filled their two homes with "guests". When there was no room left, they searched the countryside for more hiding places-addresses as they called them.

One hundred forty thousand Jews lived in Holland before the war; fewer than 10,000 would survive. This is the story of how a handful of those survivors endured, a story that invites the reader to consider the price paid to do-- in the words of Dr. Schoorl- "what any man should do"

Pushing Time Away
My Grandfather and the Tragedy of Jewish Vienna
By Peter Singer, NY: Harper Collin Publishers, 2003
"What binds us pushes time away," wrote David Oppenheim to his future wife, Amalie Pollak, on March 24, 1905. Oppenheim, classical scholar, collaborator and then critic of Sigmund Freud, and friend and supporter of Alfred Adler, lived through the heights and depths of Vienna's twentieth-century intellectual and cultural history. He perished in obscurity at a Nazi concentration camp in 1943. More than fifty years later, philosopher Peter Singer set out to explore the life of the grandfather he never knew.
Combining touching family biography with thoughtful reflection on both personal and public questions we face today, Pushing Time Away captures critical moments in Europe's transition from Belle Époque to the Great War, to the rise of Fascism, and the coming of World War II.

The Pink Triangle
The Nazi War against Homosexuals
By Richard Plant, NY: Henry Holt and Company, 1986
This is the first comprehensive book in English on the fate of the homosexuals in Nazi Germany. The author, a German refugee, examines the climate and conditions that gave rise to a vicious campaign against Germany's gays, as directed by Himmler and his SS--persecution that resulted in tens of thousands of arrests and thousands of deaths.
In this Nazi crusade, homosexual prisoners were confined to death camps where, forced to wear pink triangles, they constituted the lowest rung in the camp hierarchy. The horror of camp life is described through diaries, previously untranslated documents, and interviews with and letters from survivors, revealing how the anti-homosexual campaign was conducted, the crackpot homophobic fantasies that fueled it, the men who made it possible, and those who were its victims, this chilling book sheds light on a corner of twentieth-century history that has been hidden in the shadows much too long.

The Hidden Holocaust?
Gay and Lesbian Persecution in Germany 1933-45
The persecution of lesbians and gay men by the Nazis is a subject that has been constantly debated during the last decade, providing a theme for books, articles, and plays. Until recently the discussion has remained speculative: most of the relevant documents were stored in closed East German archives, and access was denied to scholars and researchers.

As a result of the unification of East and West Germany, these archives are now open. Hidden Holocaust, by the German scholars Gunter Grau and Claudia Shoppmann of Humboldt Uinversity, Berlin, demonstrates that the eradication of homosexuals was a declared gol of the Nazis even before they took power in 1933, and provide proof of the systematic anti-gay campaigns, the methods used tjo justify discrimination, and the incarceration mutilation and murder of gay men and women in Nazi concentration camps. 

A chilling but ground-breaking work in gay and lesbian studies

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Meet A Volunteer: Nyayan

My name is Nyayan.  For the past few weeks I've been volunteering at the Holocaust Center. 

My mother was pregnant with me when my family fled the civil war in Sudan, so I was born in Ethiopia as a refugee.  My mother wanted me to have opportunities in my life and when I was 8, she sent me to the United States to live with my uncle.  I’ve been separated from my family for 10 years. I have been to school and learned English.  It has been very hard for me.

Last year my teacher at the Seattle World School brought our class to see the Anne Frank Exhibit at the new Holocaust museum.  While I was there, I saw this large picture of Steve Adler when he was 8 years old with a swastika symbol on it.  I learned that this was his passport to board the ship that took him to freedom.

Mr. Adler also came to visit us at the World School, where all the students are refugees working on our subjects and English.  We heard Mr. Adler tell us about his life as a refugee.  At the end, he asked “who is a refugee” and the whole class raised their hands.  It made me think that if he could make a difference in his life, so could I.  The day he came to talk at my school I began to think about my life and how Steve and I were both sent away from our country.  He thought one day, I would tell my story.  

Now I have been volunteering at the Holocaust Center before school starts again.  It is my first time working in an office, so it is interesting to experience that.  It's not as boring as I thought!  It is pretty quiet and chill here.  I have enjoyed helping prepare for the luncheon in October, and I learned how to use the printer and scanner.

Thanks to the Holocaust museum and center for helping me to begin to learn about the Holocaust and about myself. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

New Books in the Library

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

By Nathan Englander. NY: Vintage Books, 2013
A New York Times Notable Book. An NPR Best Book of 2012. 
These eight powerful stories, dazzling in their display of language and imagination, show a celebrated short-story writer and novelist grappling with the great questions of modern life.

From the title story, a provocative portrait of two marriages inspired by Raymond Carver’s masterpiece, to “Peep Show” and “How We Avenged the Blums,” two stories that return to the author’s classic themes of sexual longing and ingenuity in the face of adversity, these stories affirm Nathan Englander’s place at the very forefront of contemporary American fiction. Read More

Taking Root: My Live As A Child Of Janusz Korczak - The Father Of Children's Rights. The biography of Shlomo Nadel.

By Lea Lipiner. Translated by Ora Baumgarten. Toronto: Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, 2015.
Shlomo Nadel was born in 1920 in Warsaw, Poland. His father died when he was very young and his mother was forced to place Shlomo in Dr. Korczak’s orphanage and his younger brother Simcha (Samek) in a very different type of orphanage. Nadel thrived during his time at the orphanage (1927 -1935) and became the resident photographer. It was the orphanage’s policy to “discharge” children at the age of 15. It was a harsh reality for Nadel to face, but the skills he acquired served him well. Shlomo Nadel's memories of the orphanage reveal the story of a wonderful institution founded by Dr. Korczak for Jewish children in Warsaw. 
Borrow the book from our library or download the book for free here.  Special thanks to Tatyana Spady for donating the book to our library. 

White House in a Grey City. 

Written and Illustrated by Itzchak Belfer, a child of Janusz Korczak. Toronto: Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, 2015.
Itzchak Belfer, born in Warsaw, Poland, one of the children in the orphanage under the management of Dr. Korczak, was the only survivor of his large family which was wiped out in the Holocaust.
Itzchak fulfilled his dream of living in Israel and studied at the Avni Institute of Art and Design. He has channeled his artistic talents, which were already obvious during his years in the orphanage, to the commemoration of Dr. Korczak's work and the memory of his family. Borrow the book from our library or download the book for free here.  Special thanks to Tatyana Spady for donating the book to our library. 

One Voice, Two Lives: From Auschwitz Prisoner to 101st Airborne Trooper

By Cantor David S. Wisnia. NJ: ComteQ Publishing, 2015.
This powerful memoir takes the reader from a peaceful home in Sochaczew, Poland to terror in Auschwitz-Birkenau and lastly to the safety of the Screaming Eagles. David Wisnia, a child singing star, was the middle child in a family of five. His father was a prosperous furniture manufacturer; his mother a contented housewife.  After the family moved to Warsaw, David’s family celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. He remembers the marmalade, a rare delicacy, served on this special day. Months later, Europe was at war, Warsaw was occupied, and tragedy struck his family. David became a fugitive on the run from the Nazis. Special thanks to Carl Shuthoff for donating this book to our library. Read More

A Brief Stop on the Road From Auschwitz.

By Goran Rosenberg. Translated by Sarah Death. NY: Other Press, 2015. Winner of the August Prize. 
A shattering memoir by a journalist about his father’s attempt to survive the aftermath of Auschwitz in a small industrial town in Sweden. On August 2, 1947 a young man gets off a train in a small Swedish town to begin his life anew. Having endured the ghetto of Lodz, the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the slave camps and transports during the final months of Nazi Germany, his final challenge is to survive the survival. 
In this intelligent and deeply moving book, Göran Rosenberg returns to his own childhood to tell the story of his father: walking at his side, holding his hand, trying to get close to him. It is also the story of the chasm between the world of the child, permeated by the optimism, progress, and collective oblivion of postwar Sweden, and the world of the father, darkened by the long shadows of the past. Read more

Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Books!

Gottesfeld, Jeff. The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank's Window. (Peter McCarty, Illustrator.) NY: Knopf Books, 2016.

Told from the perspective of the tree outside Anne Frank's window—and illustrated by a Caldecott Honor artist—this book introduces her story in a gentle and incredibly powerful way to a young audience.

The tree in the courtyard was a horse chestnut. Her leaves were green stars; her flowers foaming cones of white and pink. Seagulls flocked to her shade. She spread roots and reached skyward in peace.

The tree watched a little girl, who played and laughed and wrote in a diary. When strangers invaded the city and warplanes roared overhead, the tree watched the girl peek out of the curtained window of the annex. It watched as she and her family were taken away—and when her father returned after the war, alone.

The tree died the summer Anne Frank would have turned eighty-one, but its seeds and saplings have been planted around the world as a symbol of peace. Its story, and Anne’s story, are beautifully told and illustrated in this powerful picture book.

Stargardt, Nicholas. The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939-1945. NY: Basic Books, 2015. 

As early as 1941, Allied victory in World War II seemed all but assured. How and why, then, did the Germans prolong the barbaric conflict for three and a half more years?

In The German War, acclaimed historian Nicholas Stargardt draws on an extraordinary range of primary source materials—personal diaries, court records, and military correspondence—to answer this question. He offers an unprecedented portrait of wartime Germany, bringing the hopes and expectations of the German people—from infantrymen and tank commanders on the Eastern front to civilians on the home front—to vivid life. While most historians identify the German defeat at Stalingrad as the moment when the average German citizen turned against the war effort, Stargardt demonstrates that the Wehrmacht in fact retained the staunch support of the patriotic German populace until the bitter end.

Astonishing in its breadth and humanity, The German War is a groundbreaking new interpretation of what drove the Germans to fight—and keep fighting—for a lost cause.

Tornillo, Louis. What Do You Know About the Holocaust? Race and Genocide. FL: BookLocker.com, 2015. 

Written by a former public school teacher, What Do You Know is organized around an interactive quiz that tests the reader's knowledge, followed by short essays which deeply explore key events and issues with rich historical detail. It focuses on the racial ideology that drove the Holocaust, and links it to the racism that is still a potent force in our own society. "What Do You Know About The Holocaust? Race and Genocide" will surprise and provoke readers.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

New Books in the Holocaust Center's Library

Sasso, Sandy Eisenberg. Anne Frank and the Remembering Tree. Ill. Erika Steiskal. IN: The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. 2015. 

"In most windows I saw people working and children playing. When the soldiers came, people began covering their windows, so I couldn't see inside anymore. But the tiny attic window of the narrow brick house behind Otto Frank's business offices had no shade. For a long time the rooms were empty. Then one day, Otto's whole family came to live there. They called their new home the Secret Annex..."

A story of Anne Frank, who loved a tree and the tree who promised never to forget her.

This book is co-published with the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, chosen by the Anne Frank Center as the first U.S. recipient of a sapling from the tree outside of the Secret Annex window (the tree is the narrator in the book). Recommended for ages 6-9.  Thank you to Bob Evans for donating this book to the Holocaust Center's Library.

Douglas, Lawrence. The Right Wrong Man: John Demjanjuk and the Last Great Nazi War Crimes Trial. NJ: Princeton University Press. 2016.

In 2009, Harper’s Magazine sent war-crimes expert Lawrence Douglas to Munich to cover the last chapter of the lengthiest case ever to arise from the Holocaust: the trial of eighty-nine-year-old John Demjanjuk. Demjanjuk’s legal odyssey began in 1975, when American investigators received evidence alleging that the Cleveland autoworker and naturalized US citizen had collaborated in Nazi genocide. In the years that followed, Demjanjuk was twice stripped of his American citizenship and sentenced to death by a Jerusalem court as "Ivan the Terrible" of Treblinka—only to be cleared in one of the most notorious cases of mistaken identity in legal history. Finally, in 2011, after eighteen months of trial, a court in Munich convicted the native Ukrainian of assisting Hitler’s SS in the murder of 28,060 Jews at Sobibor, a death camp in eastern Poland.

An award-winning novelist as well as legal scholar, Douglas offers a compulsively readable history of Demjanjuk’s bizarre case. The Right Wrong Man is both a gripping eyewitness account of the last major Holocaust trial to galvanize world attention and a vital meditation on the law’s effort to bring legal closure to the most horrific chapter in modern history. Thank you Nick Coddington for donating this signed copy to the Holocaust Center's library.  

Helm, Sarah. Ravensbruck: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women. NY: Doubleday, 2014.

Months before the outbreak of World War II, Heinrich Himmler—prime architect of the Holocaust—designed a special concentration camp for women, located fifty miles north of Berlin. Only a small number of the prisoners were Jewish. Ravensbrück was primarily a place for the Nazis to hold other inferior beings: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Resistance fighters, lesbians, prostitutes, and aristocrats—even the sister of New York’s Mayor LaGuardia. Over six years the prisoners endured forced labor, torture, starvation, and random execution. In the final months of the war, Ravensbrück became an extermination camp. Estimates of the final death toll have ranged from 30,000 to 90,000.

For decades the story of Ravensbrück was hidden behind the Iron Curtain. Now, using testimony unearthed since the end of the Cold War and interviews with survivors who have never talked before, Sarah Helm takes us into the heart of the camp. The result is a landmark achievement that weaves together many accounts, following figures on both sides of the prisoner/guard divide. Chilling, compelling, and deeply necessary, Ravensbrück is essential reading for anyone concerned with Nazi history. Thank you K. Kennell for donating this book to the Holocaust Center's library. 

Hornby, Elfi. Dancing to War. WA: The First World Publishing, 1997.

In this, her first book, the author recounts her incredible experiences as she, a sixteen-year-old dancer, was being sent to the worst battle zone of WW II—the Russian front in mid minter of 1943—to entertain German troops. Under the thumb of an unsympathetic, exploitative director, she faces unimaginable hardships and challenges, witnesses the horrors of war, meets many of its heroes and villains and is forced to rethink all she had been taught about life, country and God. She and her colleagues barely escape, riding in a cattle car back to Berlin.

The book brims with action and adventure, and is amply sprinkled with both laughter and tears. It offers a rare glimpse of war from “the other side.” Thank you to Dr. and Mrs. Elie Levy for donating this book to the Holocaust Center's library. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Introducing Julia

Hello everyone!  My name is Julia Thompson and I have just joined the staff of the Holocaust Center for Humanity as its first Education Outreach Associate.  I interned at the Center for the past two summers and am thrilled to be back in a full-time position!

I was born and raised in Seattle and recently graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington with a History degree.  While at Whitman I worked as a writing tutor as well as in the study abroad office, was involved in my sorority, and studied piano alongside my classes.  My honors thesis – inspired by my time at the Holocaust Center – focused on Jewish Displaced Persons and Allied policy in several DP camps in occupied Germany.

I am so excited to be working for the Center in its beautiful new building.  I will be working closely with Ilana on educational programs like teaching trunks, field trips, seminars, the Speakers Bureau, and more.  I look forward to reaching people all over the region through these amazing programs, and to help spread knowledge and awareness of the Holocaust and related topics.  I am extremely grateful to have this wonderful opportunity immediately after graduation.  It is truly an honor and a pleasure to be part of such an important organization in this community alongside so many dedicated, wonderful individuals!  I look forward to meeting you soon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Magda Schaloum: Beloved Holocaust Survivor

Magda Altman Schaloum

Auschwitz survivor, Holocaust educator, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, Magda Schaloum, 92, passed away on June 9, 2015.

Magda told her story of Holocaust survival to thousands of students, teachers and community groups in the Northwest as a member of the Holocaust Center for Humanity’s Speakers Bureau.  She told her audiences-who were awed by her honesty and grace, that she wanted them to remember that they had heard her story of survival, so that they could say, ‘I have seen and heard a survivor.’”

Magda was born in Gyor, Hungary in 1922.  She was 22 years old when the Germans occupied Hungary on March 19, 1944.  The Nazis began systematically depriving Jews of their rights and forcing them to move into ghettos.  Magda, her mother and brother were deported to Auschwitz. When she and her mother were lined up for ‘selection,’ she tells students “Mother was sent to the left, and I was sent to the right. And I tried to run after my mother, and they grabbed me back and they said, ‘Just go ahead, she will go take a shower, and we will me So I yelled out, ‘I love you mom and I'll see you later.’ That was the last I saw my mother.”

Magda was then sent to Plaskow, the concentration camp in Schindler’s List.  After several months, she was sent back to Auschwitz, and it was at this time that she was tattooed with the number A-17170.

After working in several slave labor camps, Magda was finally liberated by the US Army in 1945.  While in a displaced persons camp in Feldafing, Germany, Magda met her husband, Izak, a Sephardic native of Salonika, Greece. He had also survived Auschwitz. Isak and Magda were married six weeks later while still in the camp. They settled in Seattle in 1951.

Madga was an active member of Sephardic Bikur Holim in Seattle. She was featured in an exhibit and book Weaving Women’s Words: Seattle Stories that showcased thirty women, born in the early 20th century, who made their homes in the Seattle Jewish community. Magda was interviewed many times by local media.

We all loved Magda and will miss her.

Learn more about Magda and her incredible life on our website: http://www.holocaustcenterseattle.org/survivor-voices/magda-schaloum

The Center has established the Magda Schaloum Educational Fund in her memory. Tributes may be made to the Holocaust Center for Humanity—2045 Second Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121; (206) 582-3000; www.HolocaustCenterSeattle.org.

                  Magda's son Jack Schaloum continuing her legacy by
 sharing her story of survival, June 8th.

Monday, April 20, 2015

New Books in the Library!

Swansong 1945
By Walter Kempowski 
Swansong 1945 chronicles the end of Nazi Germany and World War II in Europe through hundreds of letters, diaries, and autobiographical accounts covering four days that fateful spring: Hitler’s birthday on April 20, American and Soviet troops meeting at the Elbe on April 25, Hitler’s suicide on April 30, and finally the German surrender on May 8. Side by side, we encounter vivid, first-person accounts of civilians fleeing Berlin, ordinary German soldiers determined to fight to the bitter end, American POWs dreaming of home, concentration-camp survivors’ first descriptions of their horrific experiences, as well as the intimate thoughts of figures such as Eisenhower, Churchill, Stalin, Joseph Goebbels, and Hitler himself.
These firsthand accounts, painstakingly collected and organized by renowned German author Walter Kempowski, provide the raw material of history and present a panoramic view of those tumultuous days. The more than 1,000 extracts include a British soldier writing to his parents to tell them there are no baths but plenty of eggs and chocolate, an American soldier describing “the tremendous burst of lilacs” as he approaches the Elbe, Mussolini wishing Hitler a happy birthday, Eva Braun bragging to a girlfriend about what a “crack shot” she’s become, and much more.
Motherland: Growing Up with the Holocaust
By Rita Goldberg 
Like Anne Frank, Hilde Jacobsthal was born in Germany and brought up in Amsterdam, where the two families became close. Unlike Anne Frank, she survived the war, and Otto Frank was to become godfather to Rita, her first daughter. “I am the child of a woman who survived the Holocaust not by the skin of her teeth but heroically. This book tells the story of my mother’s dramatic life before, during and after the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands in 1940. “I wrote Motherland because I wanted to understand a story which had become a kind of family myth. My mother’s life could be seen as a narrative of the twentieth century; along with my father she was present and active at many of its significant moments.” 
Rita Goldberg Hilde Jacobsthal was fifteen when the Nazis invaded Holland. After the arrest of her parents in 1943 she fled to Belgium, where she went into hiding and worked with the Resistance at night. She was liberated by the American army in 1944. In April 1945 she volunteered with a British Red Cross Unit to go to the relief of Bergen-Belsen, which had itself been liberated one week before her arrival. The horror and devastation were overwhelming, but despite her shock and grief she stayed at the camp for two years, helping with the enormous task of recovery. Sorrow and exuberance went hand in hand as the young people at Belsen found renewed life and each other. Hilde got to know Hanns Alexander (subject of the recently published Hanns and Rudolf), who was on the British War Crimes Commission, and, eventually, a Swiss doctor called Max Goldberg. Motherland is the culmination of a lifetime of reflection and a decade of research. Rita Goldberg enlarges the story she heard from her mother with historical background. She has talked with her about the minutest details of her life and pored over her papers, exploring not only her mother's life but her own. Complicated feelings are explored lightly as Rita takes the story beyond Bergen-Belsen, where paradoxically her parents met and fell in love; beyond Israel’s War of Independence where they both volunteered, and on to the next chapter of their lives in the US. A deeply moving story, Motherland will become an essential text about World War II, the Holocaust and the survival of the spirit.
Stranger in my own Country: A Jewish Family in Modern Germany
By Yascha Mounk 
As a Jew in postwar Germany, Yascha Mounk felt like a foreigner in his own country. When he mentioned that he is Jewish, some made anti-Semitic jokes or talked about the superiority of the Aryan race. Others, sincerely hoping to atone for the country’s past, fawned over him with a forced friendliness he found just as alienating.
     Vivid and fascinating, Stranger in My Own Country traces the contours of Jewish life in a country still struggling with the legacy of the Third Reich and portrays those who, inevitably, continue to live in its shadow. Marshaling an extraordinary range of material into a lively narrative, Mounk surveys his countrymen’s responses to “the Jewish question.” Examining history, the story of his family, and his own childhood, he shows that anti-Semitism and far-right extremism have long coexisted with self-conscious philo-Semitism in postwar Germany. 
     But of late a new kind of resentment against Jews has come out in the open. Unnoticed by much of the outside world, the desire for a “finish line” that would spell a definitive end to the country’s obsession with the past is feeding an emphasis on German victimhood. Mounk shows how, from the government’s pursuit of a less “apologetic” foreign policy to the way the country’s idea of the Volk makes life difficult for its immigrant communities, a troubled nationalism is shaping Germany’s future.
Mendel's Daughter: A Memoir
By Martin Lemelman
In 1989 Martin Lemelman videotaped his mother, Gusta, as she opened up about her childhood in 1930s Poland and her eventual escape from Nazi persecution. Mendel's Daughter, selected as one of the best books of 2006 by the Austin Chronicle, is Lemelman's loving transcription of his mother's harrowing testimony, bringing her narrative to life with his own powerful black-and-white drawings, interspersed with reproductions of actual photographs, documents and other relics from that era. The result is a wholly original, authentic and moving account of hope and survival in a time of despair. 
Gusta's story opens with a portrait of shtetl life, filled with homey images that evoke the richness of food and flowers, of family and friends and of Jewish tradition. Soon, however, Gusta's girlhood is cut short as her family experiences Hitler's rise, rumors of war, invasion, occupation, round-ups and pogroms, forcing Gusta into flight and hiding. 
Mendel's Daughter is Martin Lemelman's solemn and stirring testament to his mother's bravery and a celebration of her perseverance. The devastatingly simple power of a mother's words and a son's illustrations combine to create a work that is both intensely personal and universally resonant. Mendel's Daughter combines an unforgettable true story with elegant, haunting illustrations to shed new light on one of history's darkest periods.
To borrow these books or any other books in the library, please contact us at 206-582-3000 or email Amanda@HolocaustCenterSeattle.org 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Books in our Library!

All of these books and more are available to check out from our new library! Please email Amanda@holocaustcenterseattle.org

Escape in Time: Miri's Riverting Tale of Her Family's Survival During World War II

By Ronit Lowenstein-Malz

Nessya’s grandmother, Miri Eneman Malz, has friends, a loving family—and a secret: she is a Holocaust survivor. When twelve-year-old Nessya learns the truth, she wants to know what happened. After decades of silence, Grandma Miri decides it’s time to tell her story. It all begins one terrible day in the spring of 1944, when Germany crosses Hungary’s border and soldiers arrive in Miri’s hometown of Munkács. Suddenly, the Jews are trapped and in danger. Surrounded by war and unimaginable hatred, the family makes a daring escape. But that is only the beginning, and over the course of the year new threats continually confront them. Incredibly, despite numerous close calls, they defy the odds and live. Based upon actual memoirs, this is the story of the Eneman family . . . of their remarkable ingenuity, astonishing luck, boundless courage, and unending love.

A Good Place to Hide: How One French Community Saved Thousands of Lives During World War II

By Perter Grose 

The untold story of an isolated French community that banded together to offer sanctuary and shelter to over 3,500 Jews in the throes of World War II. Nobody asked questions, nobody demanded money. Villagers lied, covered up, procrastinated and concealed, but most importantly they welcomed.This is the story of an isolated community in the upper reaches of the Loire Valley that conspired to save the lives of 3,500 Jews under the noses of the Germans and the soldiers of Vichy France. It is the story of a pacifist Protestant pastor who broke laws and defied orders to protect the lives of total strangers. It is the story of an eighteen-year-old Jewish boy from Nice who forged 5,000 sets of false identity papers to save other Jews and French Resistance fighters from the Nazi concentration camps. And it is the story of a community of good men and women who offered sanctuary, kindness, solidarity and hospitality to people in desperate need, knowing full well the consequences to themselves.

The Story of an Underground: The Resistance of the Jews of Kovno in the Second World War
By Dov Levin & Zvie A. Brown 
This is the story of the fighting underground of the Jews of Kovno, Lithuania, in World War II. The authors, historians Zvie A. Brown and Dov Levin, were themselves members of the Kovno underground, and this well-researched book based on documentary material, verbal testimonies, and written memoirs of witnesses, among other sources is supplemented by the authors own personal accounts. The authors here describe the first steps of the organized Jewish underground in the Kovno Ghetto, its desperate search for allies outside the ghetto, and its first bloodstained attempts to break through the ring of isolation and establish a base of support for partisan battle. They relate the insurgence at its height: contacts with partisans in the forest, acquisition of weapons and equipment, and training of fighters for partisan warfare. The authors paint a picture of daily life in the partisan brigades, including the tense relationship between the Jewish and non-Jewish fighters. They relate the final days of the underground as the ghetto was being destroyed, and then the last journey of the Kovno brigades from the forest bases back to liberated Kovno.

The Diary of Rywka Lipszyc: Found in Auschwitz by the Red Army in 1945 and first published in San Francisco in 2014

Here is the extraordinary Diary of Rywka Lipszyc, finally published 70 years after it was created. Handwritten in a school notebook between October 1943 and April 1944, this remarkable diary depicts the nightmare of life under the Nazis in Poland's infamous Lodz ghetto-through the eyes of a brilliant, 14-year-old Jewish girl. With the eloquence of an innocent, Rywka vividly chronicles the disease, starvation, deportations, fear and cruelty she witnessed. She lost her entire family-parents, brother, and two sisters-in Nazi ghettos and killing centers. Yet in the face of despair, she reveals a belief in God and a faith in humanity that inspired in her a determination to live. In 1945, Rywka's diary was found in the ruins of the Auschwitz-Birkenau crematoria by a doctor serving with the liberating Soviet Army. For more than a half-century the diary remained among the doctor's private possessions, until after her death, when her granddaughter emigrated from the USSR and brought it to Jewish Family and Children's Services' Holocaust Center in San Francisco. Sensitively translated, with footnotes, historical essays, photographs, maps, news clippings, and the gripping story of the recent search for Rywka Lipszyc-whose fate has never been determined-this book is sure to enter the ranks of the most poignant Holocaust testimonies, a tale of darkness and light, faith and love.

From the Red Desert to Jerusalem

By Elia Kahvedjian 

From the Red Desert to Jerusalem is the remarkable autobiography of a remarkable man. Urfa-born Elia Kahvedjian witnessed the Genocide of Armenians as a 5-year-old boy. The book tells of his adventures in the badlands of Turkey and Syria, his eventual move to Jerusalem, and his many achievements as a top photographer, painter, and community leader in the Holy City. The book was translated into English by his eldest son Harout Kahvedjian of Toronto.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Confused by the recent ruling? So were we. "Serbia and Croatia Didn't Commit Genocide"

We were a bit confused by this ruling and court case and sought out insight from a few individuals who could help clarify the situation.

"Serbia and Croatia Didn’t Commit Genocide in 1990s, U.N. Court Rules"

Associated Press. Feb. 3, 2015.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The United Nations' top court ruled Tuesday that Serbia and Croatia did not commit genocide against each other's people during the bloody 1990s wars sparked by the breakup of Yugoslavia.


Dr. James Waller, Author and Professor, Genocide Studies at Keane College, NH
Very simply, this new ICJ ruling is ONLY about allegations of genocide by Croatia against Serbia and counter-allegations of genocide by Serbia against Croatia.  The court found that neither country committed genocide against each other’s people during the war.  So, the only countries involved in this new case are Serbia and Croatia…they did horrible things to each other’s citizens and on each other’s territory, but, according to the court, nothing amounting to genocide.
This judgment has NOTHING to do with the ICJ’s previous 2007 ruling on Srebrenica and Serb atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina (a completely different country).  So, the court’s previous ruling on Srebrenica as genocide still stands.

Here’s also a good news link: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31104973.

Selena Salihovic Hutchins
The article specifically addresses the Croatian and Serbian populations, not the Bosniak (Muslim) population. I think, in a way, this ruling will be helpful toward the pending Hague trials because we have had some folks on trial at the Hague respond that they (Serbian generals) sent their armies to kill Muslim populations because they felt threatened by outside populations. Stating that a genocide was not attempted on Serbian populations makes these arguments moot. 

I will say, though, that my parents and I are refraining from going because while it has been years since the war, tensions are very high again. 

Marie Berry, PhD, Genocide Studies
If I understand this correctly, this ruling just applies to Serbian crimes in Croatia (and vice versa), so doesn't apply to crimes in Bosnia. Since Srebrenica was in Bosnia, this ruling doesn't change anything related to the legal definition of that massacre as genocide. While the article references a 2007 ICJ judgement about Belgrade not being responsible for the genocide in Srebrenica in 1995, this is misleading, as the court did find that the massacre at Srebrenica was genocide and that the individual Serb forces that committed the atrocities were responsible for genocide. The decision simply did not find that the state of Serbia as a whole was responsible. 

But frankly, this NYTimes piece does a terrible job of spelling that out and makes it seem like this ruling is a big shock. I think the take away is that Serb forces committed genocide in Bosnia (especially in the Drina Valley region, but arguments have also been made for genocidal crimes in the Krajina region and elsewhere as well), but that their engagements in the rest of the region (and in other parts of Bosnia) should be considered part of a civil war, not a genocide.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Marie-Anne at Seabury Middle School

Last week, Continuing Generations speaker, Marie-Anne Harkness spoke to students at Seabury Middle School in Tacoma.  Check out their blog to see pictures and hear about her visit!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

New Books in Our Library

By Gene Printz-Kopelson, September 2014

How Could This Happen: Explaining the Holocaust 
By Dan McMillan
(New York: Basic Books, 2014)

Adolph Hitler had thousands of willing accomplices in his plan to exterminate European Jewry. Dan McMillan reviews how Hitler easily found men to do the job. In all the postwar trials, there was not one example of punishment for failure to follow orders to kill Jews.

 Unlike the typical fanatical SS units, he cites Reserve Police Battalion 101: a group of 500 uniformed Germans who shot 38,000 Polish Jews and who rounded up another 45,000 and forced them into cattle cars headed to the gas chambers of Treblinka. The police were ordinary Germans, not Nazi fanatics, who had been drafted into the army. Many had voted against the Nazi Party in 1933.

When first told of their orders, their commander offered that they could be assigned other duties; only ten of the 500 did. The remainder began their first massacre of unarmed Jews. Offers to opt out of the killings continued with few takers.
The author delves into three factors explaining their willingness to kill the innocent: obedience to authority, the need to conform to group behavior, and the tendency for a person to adapt to any role they must fulfill and adjust their notion of morality.

This book is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the true roots of how the holocaust happened.

The Whispering Town
By Jennifer Elvgren
(Minneapolis: Kar-Ben, 2014)

Little Anett lives in a small Danish town during the Nazi occupation. One day her parents tell her they have new friends living in the basement. Each day Anett goes to town to buy extra supplies and brings food and books to her new friends. The Nazis are searching for hidden Jews and Anett stands up to them. She and her father arrange that the townspeople whisper directions to the escaping Jews to guide them at night safely to the harbor to board rescue boats to Sweden.

This is a heart-warming illustrated children’s book explaining the true story of one town’s joint  rescue of Danish Jewry during the High Holydays of 1943. Young readers will find this a good introduction to the holocaust.

Gifts from the Enemy
By Trudy Ludwig
(Ashland: White Cloud Press, 2014)

Jewish teenager Alter is taken from his loving family by Nazis and sent to a forced labor camp. At the point when he almost gives up, a kindly German woman factory worker secretly leaves him food every day for a month. He is stronger, physically and emotionally, from this kindly act and survives the holocaust. He realizes that there are good and bad people in every group.

This illustrated holocaust children’s book is made not too frightening for young readers and its optimistic theme is  another good introductory book about the holocaust.

Hope is the Last to Die
By Halina Birenbaum
(Oswiecim: Publishing House of the State Museum, 2012)

Ten year old Halina witnesses the outbreak of World War II when her native Poland is defeated by the Nazis. She experiences the horrors of the holocaust first hand living underneath the city streets during the 1943 Warsaw Jewish Rebellion. Witnessing SS cruelty and murders, she is sent to Majdanek concentration camp where the horrors worsen. Forced labor, starvation, diarrhea were only part of the sufferings she endured. Miraculously, one German crosses her name off the list of those selected to die. She watches her sister-in-law slowly die. She is sent from one labor camp to the next until finally in Auschwitz is freed by Russian soldiers. Miraculously after the war she finds one of her two brothers alive in Warsaw.

This autobiography is one of hundreds to document Nazi atrocities that also sends a message of hope because the victim survived. It documents in detail life in the Warsaw ghetto and in several concentration camps including Majdanek and Auschwitz.

If you would like to borrow any of these books, or other books about the Holocaust that we offer, please contact admin@wsherc.org for more information on our free library

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Inspiring change one teacher at a time

"Meagan Talbot, along with two other teachers at her school, have requested the use of three of our classroom sets of books.  This is the second year the school has used all three sets at one time. We emailed her and asked her to tell us a little bit more about what she is doing.  Here is her response!" - Ilana Cone Kennedy, Director of Education

Today is the first day of school, and so far everything has gone quite well! We are all 8th grade Language Arts teachers and we collaborate on a Holocaust unit. Our anchor text is “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” by John Boyne, which all students read.  We also have students select one novel of their choice about the Holocaust. We use your trunks to help students select a novel about people who experienced the Holocaust. Students do a number of essays, class discussions, and presentations about their findings. We also read many survivor accounts, articles, share pictures and artifacts, watch historical videos and watch videos of survivor accounts, and read poetry as supplements.  Students really love the unit and come to be quite passionate about sharing the experiences they read about in their student selected texts. It’s amazing to watch them go from knowing nothing about the Holocaust and WWII, to understanding how it slowly grew into the Holocaust, and how people were able to survive it physically and emotionally. We do this unit at the beginning of the school year, and it’s amazing how students connect to it, and refer back to all year. Your trunks are an incredible resource, and we so appreciate the opportunity to use them!
Thank you!
Meagan Talbot
6th and 8th English Language Arts
North Whidbey Middle School