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WARSAW — More than 72 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, the first traveling exhibition about the Nazi death camp will begin a journey later this year to 14 cities across Europe and North America, taking heartbreaking artifacts to multitudes who have never seen such horror up close.

The endeavor is one of the most high-profile attempts to educate and immerse young people for whom the Holocaust is a fading and ill-understood slice of history. The Anne Frank House, the Jewish Museum Berlin, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and others all find themselves grappling with ways to engage an attention-challenged world with a dark part of its past.

Yet anything that smacks of putting Auschwitz on tour instantly raises sensitivities. Organizers of the exhibition, which include the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum itself, took pains to explain that, yes, visitors would probably be charged to enter in at least some locations. But officials at that museum and the company behind the exhibition say that their intent is not to create a moneymaker out of the suffering of millions of Nazi victims.

Several prominent Jewish leaders expressed support for taking pieces of Auschwitz to people who might not otherwise see this history. They said that they were not overly concerned about an entrance fee; organizers said that they would ask for it to be small, if any, and for admission to be free for students.


A child’s shoe and sock. Credit Pawel Sawicki/Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, via Musealia

“If you’re telling me, ‘Gee, they’re coming out and they’re going to be millionaires over this,’ I would object,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, who founded the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human-rights organization. “But if they’re making what is normally considered to be a fair amount of profit since the final end is that hundreds of thousands of people maybe in different places all over the world will see the exhibit — I think that’s quite legitimate.”




The exhibition — announced on Wednesday by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the organizer, the Spanish company Musealia — will include pieces from the museum such as a barracks; a freight car of the same type used to transport prisoners; letters and testimonials; and a gas mask, a tin that contained Zyklon B gas pellets and other grim remainders from the complex’s gas chambers.

Seven years in the making, the exhibition is a response to growing anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere, those involved with it said.

“We have never done anything like this before and it’s the first project of this magnitude ever,” said Piotr Cywinski, director of the state museum, which is on the site of the former camp, in southern Poland. “We had been thinking about this for a long time, but we lacked the know-how.”

Even though the Holocaust remains a major focus of study by historians and is a staple of school curriculum in many countries, knowledge about the camps is fading for younger generations, he said.

The exhibition will make its first stop in Madrid, aiming for an opening around December, and then tour for seven years. Precise dates and locations will be announced in about a month.

It is no longer enough to “sit inside four walls, stare at the door and wait for visitors to come in,” Mr. Cywinski said, so museum officials decided to reach out to a more global audience.

The exhibition was broached in 2010 when Musealia, a family-owned company whose shows include artifacts from the Titanic, approached the museum.

Luis Ferreiro, the company’s director, said the idea came while he was grieving the death of his 25-year-old brother. He had found consolation in “Man’s Search for Meaning,” a book by a Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, Viktor E. Frankl, about his experiences in four extermination camps after his pregnant wife, his parents and brother all perished.

Inspired by the book’s lessons for spiritual survival, Mr. Ferreiro said he decided to try to make the subject of the Holocaust closer to those who might never have a chance to visit the museum.


A wooden box made in Auschwitz by Bronislaw Czech, a Polish prisoner. Czech became involved in the anti-German resistance movement in 1939, presumably as a mountain courier. Credit Pawel Sawicki/Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, via Musealia

It took time for Mr. Ferreiro to gain the trust of the board of the Auschwitz museum, which was surprised to receive such a request from an exhibition company outside the museum world.

The museum demanded that the artifacts be kept secured at all times and that the exhibition comply with the museum’s strict conservation requirements, including finding proper transportation and storage, as well as choosing exhibition spaces with sufficient lighting and climate control.


A belt buckle from a German SS uniform. Credit Pawel Sawicki/Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, via Musealia

The museum also insisted that the artifacts be presented in historical context, especially because many aspects of World War II are only vaguely understood by younger generations. For instance, in Spain, asking about the history and place of Jews in Europe “would probably get some strange answers.” The exhibition will show that Spain — which during the war was led by Francisco Franco, a dictator and ally of Adolf Hitler — was not home to large Jewish communities and did not have extensive connections with the Holocaust; yet there were notable exceptions, like Ángel Sanz Briz, a Spanish diplomat who saved more than 5,000 Jews in Hungary from deportation to Auschwitz.

“In other words, we want to show that the Franco regime was certainly very sympathetic to the Nazis,” said Robert Jan van Pelt, a history professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada and a Holocaust scholar who has been working on the exhibition. “But individual Spaniards could make, and made, a difference.”

As for the morality of charging money to see artifacts from a death camp, and potentially turning a profit, Mr. Ferreiro said that traveling exhibitions like this one usually generated huge expenses. Putting the display together has already cost more than $1.5 million, and there are no guarantees “the exhibit will even be sustainable,” Mr. Ferreiro said.

“We need to earn an income to sustain ourselves and keep the enterprise going,” Mr. Ferreiro said, “but our goal is to focus on larger social goals such as enlightenment and education.”

The Auschwitz museum will get a fixed amount that will be given to it yearly to cover any expenses arising from the project, though neither museum officials nor Musealia specified how much. If the exhibition is profitable, the amount the museum receives will be increased, Mr. Ferreiro said.

The story of Auschwitz, as told through the artifacts, will cover the physical location of the camps and their status as symbols of structuralized hatred and barbarity. The exhibition will begin with the history of Oswiecim, the Polish site of the German camps, whose population was about 60 percent Jewish before the war. That history will be followed by the origins of Nazism after World War I.


Never Again? The Holocaust can happen again --- and it's up to us to stop it!
  by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach - May 15, 2017
Since my recent return from March of the Living at Auschwitz, I’ve written a series of articles on both my experiences at the death camp and the harrowing mental processing that’s followed. When you visit a place like Birkenau, where the very earth you walk on is soaked in the blood of innocent men, women and children, there is simply no limit to the pain, loss, and righteous indignation one can feel for their deaths.
But there’s another side to the equation. There weren’t just victims at the death camps — there were perpetrators, too. Who were these people? How could they have done this? What brand of brutal inhumanity could ever possess a man so deeply that he could herd droves of children into a furnace?
Were they monsters?
Well, if you’d been reading the signs at Auschwitz-Birkenau or almost any other concentration camp, you may be led to believe they were: a special brand of beasts known as Nazis.
There is almost no mention at the camps of where these Nazis came from, what they believed, or what they were fighting for. They might as well have arrived from another planet. One would, in all likelihood, find no evidence that these men had anything to do with a Western-European state called Germany. That they came from Germany, believed in Germany, fought for Germany, and killed for Germany.
In my humble opinion, that’s a problem.
The truth is, these men weren't monsters. They were ordinary people, just like me and you. They had families, girlfriends, pets and gardens they’d tend to. Hitler himself was known for the warmth and love he felt for his dog, Blondi. Many of those who perpetrated the holocaust were not just professional killers — they had advanced degrees in such areas as agriculture and the humanities.
Ludolf von Alvensleben, one of the SS leaders in Poland and Crimea, had a degree in agronomy, for example, and spent his years after the war overseeing fisheries in Argentina (no, he was never brought to justice.) Hans-Adolf Prützmann likewise earned a degree in agriculture just a few years before he would oversee the Einsatzgruppen detachments that perpetrated the Holocaust in the Baltic States. Paul Blobel, who murdered over 33,000 Jews in the forest of Babi Yar and commissioned the first gas vans, was a trained architect and spent nearly a decade in that profession. Richard Baer, who ran Auschwitz in the last year of the war, was a trained confectioner. Yes, one of the men who ran the world’s largest factories of death originally made sweets for a living.
The Nazis were not monsters at all. They were in fact people who believed so deeply in the superiority of Germany and its godlike Fuhrer that they’d kill 6 million innocent people to advance their national cause.
Twice in 1932, the German people elected the Nazis as the largest party in the Reichstag, and in 1933, the Nazis got 43.9 percent of the popular vote — making the Nazis Germany’s most popular party by far.
Then, in 1933, the parliament voted to allow the Deutschnationale Coalition to govern without the consent of parliament members. The law itself was unconstitutional, but it was passed with such an overwhelming majority — a majority large enough to change the constitution — that the democratically elected parliament didn't even bother taking the step to legalize their measures.
Following the death of President Hindenburg in August 1934, Hitler gave the German people a referendum whereby they would approve his assumption of supreme power. Here, over 88 percent of the population voted for the Fürher.
Finally, in the German and Election Referendum of 1936, 98.8 percent of the German population voted in support of Hitler, a level of popularity unparalleled in history. This election, I must mention, took place just after the passage of the notorious Nuremberg Laws, which stripped all Jews and other non-Germans of all rights.
Sure, Hitler didn't campaign on promises of a Holocaust, but as the Nuremberg Laws had shown, his outspoken hatred of the Jews and his willingness to act upon his virulent anti-Semitism was abundantly clear. Worst of all, once Hitler did begin to perpetrate unprecedented atrocities, the German people, by and large, stood fervently by his side.
According to historian Ian Kershaw, German popular support for Hitler reached its peak when he returned from his tour of the newly conquered Paris in July of 1940. By this time, the Einsatzgruppen had already begun their campaigns of systematic murder throughout Poland. Over 95,000 Jews had been deported as part of the Nisko Plan. Concentration camps were up and running. And Reinhard Heydrich had begun to hole up all of Poland’s Jews in the squalor of the ghettos, where thousands died from maltreatment, disease, starvation and exhaustion.
So let’s say it as it is: the Holocaust wasn’t a crime perpetrated by just the Nazis, a political party, but one supported and therefore committed by the German people as a collective.
This is not to say that Germans today are culpable for the actions of their forbearers. Judaism has never preached vertical accountability, where children must bear the guilt of their ancestors (18 Ezekiel says most emphatically they do not). But what we do demand is horizontal accountability, where if an entire nation elects, supports and executes the orders of a murderous government like that of the Nazis — especially when they do so enthusiastically — then they must own the crime.
If there’s any reason we must remember the Holocaust, aside from its own sake, it’s so that we never allow it to happen again. To do that, we have to foresee potential mass killings before they start. And if we have any hope of achieving that critical goal, we need to understand that mass murderers like the Nazis can rise up at any place and at any time.
It is for this reason that our organization, The World Values Network, plans to announce, at our May 21 Gala in New York City honoring the memory of our friend Elie Wiesel, and in the presence of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, the creation of a global anti-Genocide initiative with offices in New York, Jerusalem, and Kigali, Rwanda.
As I walked through Auschwitz and saw that all the signs said “Nazi” without mention of the word “Germany,” I felt like I was being subjected to historical revisionism of the worst kind. I felt like museum curators were inadvertently trying to load the blame of the Holocaust upon a foreign screed of devils who somehow made it onto earth. That they were a historical fluke, an exception to humanity’s rule, some sort of once-in-a-historical-lifetime aberration.
But they weren’t. They were people. And people today can become whatever it is that they choose to become. Yes, Bashar Assad can embrace the ideology of the mass murder that we associate with the Nazis — as the death toll in his country nears the half-million mark, he’s well on his way. The mullahs in Iran, threatening as they are to raze Israel to the ground and wipe it off the map, are using 1940s Germany as their model.
Perpetrators of genocide can and will rise so long as we fail to see them. So long as we dissociate the crimes of the Nazis from the nation of Germany, we push the concept of genocide one step further away from our collective consciousness and out of our world. In a world, however, where mass killing and the threat thereof is a regular reality, our awareness of genocide needs to be right here with us always, down to- earth and firmly set within our minds.


Holocaust Survivor Rooms with Granddaughter of Nazi
March 2, 2017
When the Nazis ripped his family from their home in Poland, Ben Stern survived the ghettos and the concentration camps by never losing faith in human kindness.
So now, at the end of his life, the 95-year-old has found an almost perfect antidote to how he was treated by the Nazis: Opening his California home to one of their descendants.
His roommate, Lea Heitfeld, is a 31-year-old German student at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, whose grandparents were active and unrepentant members of the Nazi Party. Rather than shy away from her family’s history, it has inspired her to learn about Jewish people and educate others about their religion and what they endured during the Holocaust. She’s even getting her master’s degree in Jewish studies.
Welcoming Heitfeld, the kin of the very people who brutally forced him from his childhood home, to live as his roommate while she finishes her degree feels like “an act of justice,” Stern said in an interview. “It was the right thing to do. I’m doing the opposite of what they did.”
There is much about their living situation that defies norms: the sizable generation gap, the gender divide and, of course, the fact that they’re a Holocaust survivor and the granddaughter of Nazis. And yet they’ve both found they have so much to give each other.
In the evenings, the unlikely pair watch TV together, usually the news. They have dinner together almost every night, and snack on herring salad and crackers before their meal — a mutual favorite. They have long conversations about history and current events and he tells her stories of his life in Poland before the war. Last semester, Stern, who never went to high school or college, audited a graduate class with her, and they walked together to campus every Thursday night.
For Heitfeld, Stern’s friendship is the rarest of gifts — an insight into human resiliency and compassion.
“This act of his opening his home, I don’t know how to describe it, how forgiving or how big your heart must be to do that, and what that teaches me to be in the presence of someone who has been through that and is able to have me there and to love me,” she said. “That he was able to open the door for someone who would remind him of all his pain.”
‘I was reborn’
Stern was a teenager when Nazis took over his small Polish town. He survived life in the Warsaw Ghetto, nine concentration camps, including Auschwitz, and the death march from Buchenwald. When Americans liberated them, he went searching for his family and found no one.
He met his wife, Helen, in a displaced prisoners camp after the war and the young couple made their way to America with nothing more than a dream for a new life. He had no education, no trade, no money and could not speak English. But he had his life.
“I was reborn. I did not forget what happened to me, but I was determined to rebuild the family that I lost and speak out on the pain and losses that so many people gave their lives for no reason only because they were hated because of their particular religion,” Stern said. “We found a mixture of religions being accepted and that was opening the door for a free life, that was a gift that until today I am thankful for the opportunity to enjoy the freedom to build the beautiful family that I have.”
His daughter, Charlene, has preserved her father’s story in a 28-minute documentary called the “Near Normal Man,” which is what he calls himself. No one could spend a day in Auschwitz and call themselves normal, he’d tell her. In the film, Stern recalls in his own words and with moving detail what he endured and how it shaped his worldview afterward.
“When the Nazis came, his only weapon was his insistence upon living and remaining human,” Charlene Stern said. “I asked him, ‘How did you change? How did you change after the Holocaust?’ He said, ‘Char, I became more compassionate.’ That’s the father I inherited.”
Charlene’s voice caught as she recalled showing the film to Heitfeld’s parents when they came to visit. After watching, Heitfeld’s father, whose parents were Nazis, asked whether he could help her get the movie shown in Germany. He said they would travel around the country together — the daughter of a Jewish Holocaust survivor and the son of a Nazi solider.
Charlene and Lea Heitfeld are both, in a way, students of their past who feel compelled to use their family history to educate. Heitfeld grew up in a small town in northern Germany and, until she moved to the United States five years ago to work as an au pair, she’d never met a Jewish person, she said. On her way to dropping off the children she took care of at school, she’d pass a Jewish retirement home. With several hours in the morning to herself, she decided to volunteer there. It was one thing to be meeting Jewish people her own age, but she said she wanted to spend time with the generation directly affected by what her ancestors did.
“I’ve reflected so much about my own identity. If I want to identify with my country, it’s about confronting the things that hurt and put me in an uncomfortable position,” she said. “I feel responsibility for the memory of the Holocaust.”
Not staying silent
The rise of anti-Semitic-fueled acts in the United States — bomb threats at Jewish community centers and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries — has been weighing heavily on Stern and Heitfeld.
The vitriol directed at minority groups, not just Jews, is all too reminiscent. “I walk with a fresh injection of pain and hurt,” Stern said.
Heitfeld feels it, too. “I’ve been in more pain that I’m living with a man who went through this and now has to be confronted with this on the news,” she said.
But this is not the first time Stern has been faced with this painful reminder of his past. In 1977, he and his family lived in Skokie, a suburb of Chicago, which at that time was majority Jewish. A neo-Nazi group requested a permit to demonstrate in the streets in their town. It was a haunting proposition, the idea that a group bearing swastikas would once again converge on his town. Stern refused to sit idly by and let this happen, so he organized an effort to block them from coming. Because of First Amendment rights, Stern didn’t succeed in banning them, so instead he encouraged other Jewish people to not hide away afraid, but instead to stage a counter-demonstration if the Nazis came.
Ira Glasser, the former director of the American Civil Liberties Union, which advocated for the neo-Nazis’ right to march, wrote in the Huffington Post that it was “a brilliant response and a perfect remedy for a country with strong First Amendment rights.”
Living with a millennial. Making the film. It’s all in service to Stern’s lifelong mission to ensure young people are informed to stand up to hate once there are no more survivors left to tell their stories. For Stern, this new wave of hate is yet another moment that he cannot stay silent.
“I feel like it’s important for the reason I survived to tell the world, to tell the next generation what to look out for to have a better, secure, free life,” he said. “It’s important for them to learn how to behave with other people, with other nations, religions. We’re different, but we’re all human and there is room for each and every one of us in this world. It should be in harmony instead of hatred, racism. … We are all born; we’re all going to go. While we’re here, we should try to improve the world.”
Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss provided an audience at Washington University insight on national politics in light of the history and crimes against humanity she experienced and overcame.
Noting Adolf Hitler’s ability to harness power using people’s fear of communism, Schloss advised the group of a couple hundred people that to prevent future atrocities they must engage in politics, educate themselves about policies and people and never forget history.
“Help people when they are in trouble and become good citizens in your own country and as well in the world. And learn from the past, because we can only learn from the mistakes that have been made by previous generations,” she said during her visit Thursday night.
The words harmonized with encouragement from Chabad center co-director Rabbi Hershey Novack, who reminded audience members of their role as the bearers of an important history.
“You here tonight are at the strange crossroads of a memory. You’re the last generation of people, young people, who have the privilege to meet (Holocaust) survivors. And you are the very first generation who will need to remember the Holocaust without the privilege of having survivors present,” Novack said, noting the honor of learning from the strength of people who “had the ability to peer beyond the abyss of pure evil and yet rebuild their lives.”
Schloss, 87, detailed her life starting at her childhood in Austria and later as a refugee fleeing German forces in Belgium and the Netherlands. In Amsterdam she formed a friendship with famed diarist Anne Frank, who she described as gifted and self-assured.
The government there gradually began placing restrictions on Jewish people. Once conditions worsened, Schloss and her family were forced into hiding for two years. Later, her family and hundreds of others in Amsterdam were imprisoned and deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, she said.
“The only thing to sustain you to the next day was hope,” Schloss said, remembering horrific moments in the camp of separation, starvation, sickness and death.
She said luck, miracles and hope were the three parts of survival.
After the war, she and her mother returned to the Netherlands, but her father and brother, a skilled musician and artist, did not survive. Her mother later married Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father. Schloss now lives in London .
Chesterfield resident Michelle Segal, originally of England, was in the audience. She said she had ever heard Schloss speak about her life, though her family and Schloss’ were close when she was a child.
Segal was childhood friends with Schloss’ children in the 1970s, she said, remembering playing outside with them and visiting each other’s homes. But she was largely unaware of Schloss’ past.
“I remember asking as a child why she had numbers on her arm,” Segal said, but her parents shied away from talking about what the numbers meant. “It was taboo.”
After decades of withholding her story, Schloss began to share her tale through speaking engagements and books that helped her to let go of the burden of her memories, she said. Among her books is “Eva’s Story: A Survivor’s Tale by the Stepsister of Anne Frank.”
Schloss believes the deaths of millions could have been prevented had Jewish people been allowed easier access to visas and the opportunity to legally emigrate to safety in Europe and the United States. Acknowledging some similarities with the plight of Syrian refugees now, she said countries should accept refugees so they can start a new life.
While Schloss has been directly critical of Donald Trump in the past, her comments were more measured Thursday concerning the U.S. president and other global movements.
“Trump has been elected. In England, we have Brexit. In France … the right wing government,” she said. “People are dissatisfied. People want change. They want change for the better. You know, the people are speaking. And things will change because we as people, we are powerful. More powerful than the government.
“As long as we stick together as a people, wanting things to be better, we will get it,” she added later.
Highlighting revolutions through history, Schloss said when the government goes too far, “the people will revolt against it” by speaking up.
“People are afraid that this change is worse, but it might not be,” she said. “Let’s have a look. Let’s wait.”

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Holocaust Survivor Has Told Story to Thousands
MILWAUKEE — Jack Marcus could have died on the day in 1939 when the Nazis rounded up all the Jews in his hometown in Poland and executed everyone.
He could have died as a prisoner at Auschwitz or Dachau, or he could have lost his life on a death march in the ending months of World War II, his photo snapped by a passerby and printed decades later in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
But Marcus was a survivor — one of the few Jews still alive in Europe at the end of the war — and he dedicated his life to telling others his story.
Germany slowly relaxes its grip on how it confronts the Holocaust
"He went from being afraid of being caught by the Nazis to feeling very committed to the world knowing this story," said his son, Leonard Marcus.
Marcus, 93, died Tuesday in Milwaukee.
Before he was Jack Marcus, he was Prisoner 144346. And before his left forearm was tattooed by the Nazis, he was Itzek Markowski, a boy growing up in the small town of Radziejow, northwest of Warsaw. On the day German soldiers came, his mother gave him a small bag of food and told him to flee. Marcus initially refused but relented at his mother's insistence.
"You can imagine how painful it was for her to push her only son out, but she wanted him to have a future," said Leonard Marcus.
An only child, 15-year-old Marcus hid in a haystack. His parents and the rest of the Jews in his town were loaded into specially outfitted trucks with engine exhaust piped into the back. They were driven around until everyone was asphyxiated. They were buried in a mass grave.
Marcus realized the only way to survive was to work, so he went to a labor camp in Poland. When the Nazis built the giant camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Marcus was sent to work there. One day while working in a steel plant, a heavy girder fell on his foot. Marcus was taken to the camp hospital where one of his toes was amputated.
"Ten days in, the doctor came to him and said you only get 14 days in the hospital. If you're still here after 14 days, they come and take you to the crematoria," Leonard Marcus said.
Marcus went back to work, hobbling 2 miles each day from his spartan living quarters to the work site, eating a bowl of weak soup in the morning and evening and a piece of bread at noon.
One morning, Marcus was walking to work when he saw his uncle arriving at Auschwitz. He was thrilled to see his uncle from afar and later that day excitedly searched for him in his quarters. To his horror, he found only his uncle's clothes and Marcus knew his uncle had been gassed immediately upon arrival.
As the war was winding down in the winter of 1945, Marcus and hundreds of other laborers from Auschwitz were put on an open coal train and spent days traveling from Poland to Germany with no food or shelter from the brutal cold.
The train stopped occasionally, and bodies of people who died from the cold and starvation were tossed off. One day Marcus saw a shivering boy ask a Nazi guard if he could get a coat from the body of one of the dead men thrown from the train.
"My dad watched this young boy jump off the train and get a coat from a pile of bodies. A soldier went up to him and shot him in the back. My dad said, 'That's when I gave up hope,' " Leonard Marcus said.
Later, when the train stopped in another town, someone threw a loaf of bread at Marcus' train car. But the bread fell on the tracks. He knew if he jumped off to get the bread he would be killed, his son said. But by then he no longer cared. He threw the loaf up to the people in his train car. Instead of killing Marcus, a guard beat him and told him to get back on the train. The bread was gone by the time he clambered aboard, but Marcus told his son he got something else. He got his humanity back.
At the end of the war, Marcus was fed by American soldiers and in return he gave them caps he made after teaching himself to be a tailor. He eventually immigrated to Milwaukee in 1950 where his cousins introduced Marcus to a young woman whose family had fled his same hometown before the war. Two months after they met, Marcus married Marlene and they were married 66 years until her death last month.
He worked as a tailor and clothing cutter in Milwaukee. After he retired, he began speaking at schools about his experiences.
"Once he retired, he stepped back and looked at his whole life and knew it was his obligation to make sure future generations knew what happened. He saw more death than any of us can imagine," said his son.
In addition to his son, Marcus is survived by daughter Sharon Lerman and grandchildren. Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at the chapel of the Jewish Home and Care Center, 1414 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee.

Holocaust Play Tours Tri-State Area    


IMAGES: Remembrances of the Holocaust - THE EVA SCHLOSS STORY by J.E.Ballantyne, Jr., which premiered at the Youngstown Playhouse in August 2016, is about to launch a tri-state tour of the show.  The tour is targeted to begin in early spring and will be an open ended tour pending tour bookings.       Ballantyne says that he has received inquiries about the tour from as far away as Iowa and Colorado. The immediate tour, however, is being designed to cover Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. not that other stops may not be considered.  Schools will be a primary interest for the tour.  To that end a 30-minute version of the show has been created so that schools can present it during the day in an assembly time format for their students.  The full length show version will also be available for school presentation.  Ballantyne also stressed that the show is available for dates at local community theaters, larger theater venues as well as group and organization venues.     IMAGES follows the life of Holocaust survivor and Anne Frank step-sister Eva Schloss.  Where two previous plays about Mrs. Schloss stopped after she was liberated form Auschwitz, IMAGES follows Eva’s entire life through some difficult post-war years right up through the present day as she travels the world telling adults and students her story.  The powerful one-woman show is accompanied by video segments which highlight important moments and people in Eva’s life.   A study guide is also available to schools which teachers can use in the classroom once their students have viewed the play.  Ballantyne went on to say arrangements can also be made for production personnel to visit classrooms and interact with the students.  He added that IMAGES carries a very uplifting message for everyone who sees it.     Molly Galano, who created the Schloss role in the premier production, will star in the tour (with an occasional alternate actress doing some tours). Galano is an award winning actress having worked in virtually every theater in and around the Youngstown area.   With acting triumphs in productions like Death of a Salesman, All My Sons, Lost In Yonkers,  The Spitfire Grill, The Normal Heart, and many others, Galano brings a powerful yet heartfelt performance to the role of Eva Schloss.     Schools, theater venues and other venues and organizations are urged to call J&B Production Arts Services at 330-799-6176 to inquire about booking dates for the tour at their locations.  Information may also be obtained and a trailer of the show viewed by going to     Ballantyne also stated that they are currently hiring two technical positions to travel with the show.  Needed are an experienced sound operator and an experienced video operator.  BOTH POSITIONS ARE PAID.  Call 330-799-6176 for more information.

“...a stirring performance” - TheVindicator

“This is a production that all area students need to see” - Connie Cassidy, English/Language Arts Teacher

“....a lesson to the audience beyond the Holocaust.” - Harold Davis, B’nai B’rith #339<< New text box >>

Excavators at Death Camp Uncover Possible Link to Anne Frank
JERUSALEM – Researchers excavating the remains of one of the most notorious Nazi death camps have uncovered a pendant that appears identical to one belonging to Anne Frank, Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial said Sunday.
Yad Vashem says it has ascertained the pendant belonged to Karoline Cohn — a Jewish girl who perished at Sobibor and may have been connected to the famous diarist. Both were born in Frankfurt in 1929, and historians have found no other pendants like theirs.
The triangular piece found has the words "Mazal Tov" written in Hebrew on one side along with Cohn's date of birth. The other side has the Hebrew letter "heh," an initial for God, as well as three Stars of David.
esearchers are now trying to reach out to any remaining relatives of the two to confirm whether they were related.
Since 2007, the Israel Antiquities Authority, together with Yad Vashem, has been conducting excavations at the former camp in Poland in a novel approach to Holocaust research. The camp was destroyed after an October 1943 uprising, with the Nazis leveling it and planting over it to cover up their crimes. Yet, archeologists have managed to uncover the gas chamber foundations and the original train platform.
More than 250,000 Jews were killed in Sobibor, in eastern Poland, one of the most extreme examples of the Nazi "Final Solution" to eradicate European Jewry. Frank died at the Bergen-Belsen camp, in northern Germany, in 1945.
Unlike other facilities that had at least a facade of being prison or labor camps, Sobibor and the neighboring camps Belzec and Treblinka were designed specifically for exterminating Jews. Victims were transported there in cattle cars and gassed to death almost immediately.
"These recent findings from the excavations at Sobibor constitute an important contribution to the documentation and commemoration of the Holocaust, and help us to better understand what happened at Sobibor, both in terms of the camp's function and also from the point of view of the victims," said Havi Dreifuss, of Yad Vashem's International Institute for Holocaust Research.
Sylvia Melamed was one of the rapidly dwindling number of Holocaust survivors to have stood before Josef Mengele, the Auschwitz “angel of death.”
With a nod of his head, the notorious doctor sent prisoners to one of two lines. One meant death, the other a chance at hard labor — and life.
She slipped from the line of captives marked for death and lived.
Mrs. Melamed told her story to the USC Shoah Foundation, which collects Holocaust survivors’ stories. There’s a chilling moment in her video when she describes seeing Mengele at the concentration camp.
She draws up taller. Tilts her head back. Folds her arms in front of her. For just a flash, she conjures the imperious Nazi.
Sylvia and Leon Melamed survived WWII concentration camps to build a new life in America.
She and her husband Leon survived the camps thanks to luck, resolve, loyal friends and their tailoring skills. They made gloves, Nazi uniforms, anything that made them useful.
“According to my mother, there were two things that kept you alive,” said her son, Stephen. “You had to be strong enough to survive the hard labor, or you had to have a skill.”
After the war, she and her husband immigrated to the United States and made a new life in Skokie.
Mrs. Melamed died Oct. 8 at her apartment in Vernon Hills. She was 98.
When she was liberated by American troops, she weighed less than 80 pounds.
An only child, she’d grown up Sylvia Weisberg in the Polish town of Radom. Her father was a merchant. Her seamstress mother taught her how to cut patterns and make gloves.
She and Leon Melamed married at the beginning of the war. But the Nazis sent him to Buchenwald. He escaped but was captured and taken to Dachau.
Mrs. Melamed recalled being held in a vermin-infested jail awaiting transport to Auschwitz. “Between the cracks of the wooden floor, lice came out, and we were covered with them,’’ she told the Shoah Foundation.
At Auschwitz, she felt as if she’d entered an open-air asylum. “We saw naked people running, heads shaved.”
At the center was Mengele.
“Mengele picked me to go to the other side,” she said, “to go to the gas chambers.”
But she had girlfriends who’d passed Mengele’s inspection, “girls that stuck together like glue,” Mrs. Melamed said. Food would get rolled into camp in 100-liter barrels, and, “That day, my friends volunteered to bring it in because holding onto that barrel, I could get back into the barrack.” They motioned her to join them.
“They were going like this, like ‘Come, come,’ ” she said, “and I was always very timid.”
But a surge of strength came over her, “like somebody would have pushed me, and I walked out from that march” to the gas chambers. She said a Nazi struck her on the head, but “somehow I ran over to [her girlfriends] and went back into the barrack.”
In December 1944, she and her girlfriends were sent to work in an ammunition factory where conditions were marginally better, but “there was no fear of being gassed because there was no crematorium.”
In March 1945, the Nazis marched them for three days toward Bergen-Belsen. “We heard bombs falling, and they told us….we had to lay with our face down and be quiet. . . . It got awfully quiet, and we didn’t hear anything.” The Germans had disappeared, fleeing the approaching American liberators.
With the help of the Red Cross, she reunited with her husband, whose 10 brothers and sisters all were killed in the Holocaust.
In 1948, the couple immigrated to the West Side, where Leon Melamed had relatives. He landed work as a pattern-maker on Michigan Avenue at Pucci, the swirly pinnacle of couture. Later, he designed Wilson Garment Co.’s Youthmore clothing line. Mrs. Melamed did private tailoring.
They raised Stephen and another son, Harvey, in Skokie, where she’d soothe her husband when he woke with night terrors from the war. He died in 1993.
Stephen Melamed said his parents spoke Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish and Hebrew. If they discussed the horrors they’d seen, “They would jump from language to language in the same sentence so we could not follow what they were talking about.”
In her later years, Mrs. Melamed became a surrogate grandmother to Justin Dobo, one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan” who found refuge in Chicago in his 20s. The Melameds helped him acclimate to America and earn his GED. At 34, he works as a mechanic and maintenance worker in Fargo, N.D., which has a sizable Sudanese population. When she told him her story, “It reminded me of what I [went] through during the war in southern Sudan,” Dobo said. “She was a real good woman.”
She is also survived by four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Services have been held.
Nearly 80 letters written by Anne Frank’s father, shining a light on his tough battle to preserve her legacy after the Holocaust, are currently up for sale.
The messages from Otto Frank also described in detail his struggle to promote Israel’s standing in the world, and his reaction after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The asking price for the collection: $35,000.
As a teenager, Anne Frank hid with her family in an Amsterdam apartment to stay away from the Nazis during World War II, all while writing in her diary. She was arrested in 1944 and died in a concentration camp the next year. Her father survived the Holocaust, and died in 1980.
One of Otto Frank’s top priorities: keeping the Anne Frank Foundation fully funded so that future generations could continue to learn her story. “I cannot continue to carry the burden principally alone and we have to find a way to be able to go on. I never want to accost Jewish people for this purpose, as I think they should give as much as possible for Israel, therefore I have to choose other sources,” he wrote.
Anti-Semitism and Israel’s standing in the world clearly were also very important to him. “The Arabs learned from Hitler that repeating lies is rewarding. People believe them at last! And the countries who know the truth are too cowardly to repulse the lies with the exception of Israel itself.”
Otto Frank fought hate and detested war, keeping the message he felt his daughter represented. She was constantly on his mind, evident in all of his letters.
“It is necessary to spread Anne’s message for peace and understanding and to teach the younger generation whereto prejudice and discrimination are leading.”
He also apparently considered Kennedy a hero. After the president was shot and killed in 1963, Frank responded, “All of us are terrified, it is a detesting crime. We looked up to Kennedy, we admired him, his ideals, his humanity.”


The Hague (AFP) - An "extremely rare" handwritten poem by Anne Frank, penned shortly before she went into hiding from the Nazis, is to be auctioned and could fetch up to 50,000 euros ($55,000), the auctioneers said Thursday.The poem was written in the friendship book of the older sister of Anne's best friend, and is signed by the Jewish teenager and dated March 28, 1942, auctioneers Bubb Kuyper said.

The 12-line long text, written with black ink on white paper, is reportedly only the fourth time that something in the young diarist's handwriting has gone up for sale, according to the Dutch daily"The Diary of a Young Girl," which Frank wrote while hiding from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic from June 1942 to August 1944, has sold more than 30 million copies and been translated into 67 languages. She died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in early 1945 less than a year after the Nazis found her and her family members.

"Autographs by Anne Frank are excessively rare and have come onto the market only sporadically in the past 35 years," the auctioneers said in a statement, estimating it could sell for between 30,000 to 50,000 euros. A series of letters between Anne and her sister Margot with American penpals were sold for $165,000 in 1988. And a 1925 edition of Grimm's fairy tales, with both girls' names written on the title page, went for $62,500 in May in a New York auction -- fetching twice the estimated price.

The poem, which had been written into the book belonging to "Cricri" van Maarsen, the oldest sister of Frank's friend Jacqueline, is "a typically edifying poem of the sort that was often written" into friendship books, the auctioneers said. The first four lines were probably copied from a 1938 periodical, but the following four lines have so far not been traced to another source.

Frank was to die of typhoid in the concentration camp at the age of 15, just months before World War II ended. The house in which she and her family hid has long been a museum.

While it is not planning to bid for the poem at the auction on November 23, the museum said "it is extraordinary to find an unknown manuscript after so many years," NRC added.





When making Oscar predictions, I’ve learned to never underestimate the Holocaust movie. When in doubt with those pesky documentary short subjects, pick the one about the Holocaust. It sounds crass, and it’s an eye-rolling industry truism, but if you chose “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life” in 2014, you were right. Out of seven nominated Holocaust feature documentaries, six won the Oscar.

The Holocaust is a heart-rending and complicated subject. There have been many other genocides in history, of course; Oscar-winner “The Killing Fields” addressed Cambodia, and other films have examined Armenia, Rwanda, Indonesia, and Bosnia. Still, that’s nothing compared to the hundreds of movies that have addressed how Adolf Hitler and his Nazis exterminated 6 million Jews during World War II.





This year is no exception. Well-intentioned court procedural “Denial” (Bleecker Street), starring Rachel Weisz as an American academic on trial in Britain for defaming a Holocaust denier (Timothy Spall), opens Friday with Oscar hopes on its sleeve. And Ken Burns’ latest PBS documentary, “Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War” (streaming now), co-directed with Artemis Joukowsky, joins the long list of nonfiction treatments.

Géza Röhrig and László Nemes of "Son of Saul."

Géza Röhrig and László Nemes of “Son of Saul.”

The cliche is true: Many older, Jewish Academy members, who remember World War II, lean in to the subject. “They can’t get enough,” one Oscar campaigner told me. “The Jews built the industry. Since World War II, it’s one horror story they’ve told over and over again.”

They vary from Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” (which leads the Oscar pack with nine), Bob Fosse’s “Cabaret,” Alan J. Pakula’s “Sophie’s Choice,” and Kraków ghetto survivor Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” to Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds.”

The list is also long among documentaries (“The Long Way Home”) and foreign-language films (“Ida”). And there are four memorable foreign language nominees that did not win, like Agnieszka Holland’s 1985 “Angry Harvest” and Lina Wertmuller’s 1975 entry “Seven Beauties.”

 An annual Holocaust Film Series in Australia has no trouble booking 30 premieres every year. This spring’s 2015 edition presented films from 15 countries, from Atom Egoyan’s “Remember” starring Christopher Plummer as an Auschwitz survivor to “Persona Non Grata” about a Japanese vice-consul who issued 200 visas to Jewish refugees.

However, if the list of deserving Oscar winners is deep (the most recent being the 2016 best foreign film, László Nemes’ “Son of Saul”), so are the piles of forgotten Holocaust dramas, from “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” to “The Book Thief.”

“Denial” is such a movie. Like Oscar-bait “My Week with Marilyn,” the film puts a bankable, Oscar-winning actress (Rachel Weisz, “The Constant Gardener”) at the center of a movie where she doesn’t really have that much to do. When the movie works, it’s about the complex legal process of constructing an argument debunking the Holocaust denier. This may be why “Denial” has soft reviews that are not quite what an Oscar contender needs.

Burns is more successful with his film, which approaches the topic with a very intimate story. He was toying with a long-form look at America and the Holocaust when he became distracted by his friend Joukowsky’s film about his grandparents, Waitskill and Martha Sharp, who left their children behind to save hundreds of Jews in Europe.

While juggling multiple projects from “The Address” to the PBS series “The Vietnam War,” Burns found himself obsessively reorganizing Joukowsky’s movie late into the night. He eventually took over the project, partly because Joukowsky was too close to his subject.

Martha Sharp gives out milk during World War II.

Martha Sharp gives out milk during World War II.

Courtesy of Sharp family.

“This is one hell of a story,” said Burns. “This is a Unitarian minister and his wife who lived this comfortable, middle-class life where the biggest drama was what they were going to say on Sunday. They leave their little kids behind and she’s dodging Gestapo agents in the darkened streets of Prague and he’s in capitals laundering money. I was drawn to this [historical spy novelist] Alan Furst quality, this intrigue, I bump into this intimate story.

“Finally, you say 6 million and it means nothing anymore. It’s an opaque, impenetrable Fort Knox, it doesn’t have meaning to us. Here on the edges of the Holocaust you’ve got a couple involved in saving a few hundred human beings. It’s dramatic and compelling and filled with the courage of sacrifice— and the price of sacrifice, in the case of their marriage and family. But each one of the people they saved turned into somebody. And then it becomes about potentiality. You can think of 6 million just like each of these intimates you got to know, who became a professor or a poet or joined the RAF. It’s about the lives not lived.”

As to why filmmakers keep returning to this topic, Burns says he expects it to continue.

“The 6 million are an amputated limb that we still feel that still itches and aches,” he said. “That’s what it means.”

                                                       “Eva Schloss Story”
                                        Released for Production


J&B Production Arts Services just announced that IMAGES: Remembrances of the
is available to schools and theaters that may be interested in producing the play at their venues. The World Premier production was a co-production between J&B Production Arts Services and the Youngstown Playhouse this past August.
J.E.Ballantyne, Jr said that some rights restrictions may be applicable if the touring production is playing in the same area at the same time that a school or theater may want to perform the show. A production is currently in the works at a theater in Menomonie, Wisconsin for January of 2017. He went on to explain that the tri-state tour of IMAGES will kick off after the beginning of January 2017. A special assembly length version of the show will also be available to schools that wish to present it to their students during the school day. Currently one show, of
the full production, is scheduled in the New Castle, Pa. area with about six other tour dates currently in discussion. They really haven’t promoted the tour, as of yet, but word has gotten out that the tour will take place which has generated early interest.
IMAGES is a one-woman show telling the life story of Anne Frank childhood friend and posthumous stepsister, Eva Schloss. It is a very powerful story augmented by multi-media which helps to further illustrate and underscore events in Eva’s life. Eva and her family spent nine months in the infamous Auschwitz Concentration Camp after being arrested while they were in hiding. Ballantyne said that audiences that saw the production at the Playhouse were all very moved by the show and Molly Galano’s performance. Numerous audience members
expressed their hope that the show could go far beyond Youngstown and reach as many people as possible. Ms. Galano will be available for the tour but will occasionally turn the role over to another actress, yet to be hired.
For information on booking the tour or acquiring the rights for an in-house production, interested parties should call J&B Production Arts Services at 330-799-6176 or they can go to and send an email message.
In related news, the full production video of IMAGES: Remembrances of the Holocaust - THE EVA SCHLOSS STORY will soon be available. The DVD includes the full World Premier production as it was done at the Youngstown Playhouse along with the post-performance discussion with the audience. The DVD sells for $25.00 and should be available before Christmas. Anyone interested in purchasing a copy of the DVD should contact J&B Production Arts Services.
The website, is being re-designed and should be back up within a few days to a week.

Contact Us Today!

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Phone: 330-799-6176


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