Monthly Archives: March 2012

Holocaust Denial: Deceptive hatred

I found the following paragraph on the Anti-Defamation League website regarding the topic of Holocaust denial:

“Holocaust denial, which its propagandists misrepresent as “historical revisionism,” has become one of the most important vehicles for contemporary anti-Semitism. It is the invention of a collection of long-time anti-Semites and apologists for Hitler…”

This is a significant problem facing the worldwide Jewish community.  The logic is simple.  You can’t fight the battle to make sure it never happens again if you have to fight the battle of whether or not it happened in the first place.  Hitler’s Germany persecuted the Jews of Europe in systematic fashion.  In my upcoming book, “Jew Face: A story of love and heroism in Nazi occupied Holland”, I show how the Nazis destroyed most of the Dutch Jewish community in incremental fashion, ultimately murdering 104,000 of what was a community of close to 150,000 people.  The concept of Holocaust denial can only be seen as ultimately having  the same goal.  The evidence is clear.  The photographs are there, the names are there, the personal accounts have been given.  To anyone other than the avid anti-Semite, there is no doubt that these atrocities took place.  It is my hope that by getting the attention of as many people as possible, I am helping increase awareness of what took place.  For if we allow acts of barbarism to be forgotten, we increase the chances of them happening again and again.  Not only to the Jewish people, but to innocents all over the world.

The Dutch Resistance

This site will not only remember and honor the victims and survivors of the Nazi occupation, but it will also chronicle the activities of the Dutch Resistance.  The following is a link to the Verzetsmuseum, the Dutch Resistance Museum and provides some insight to those remarkable Dutch citizens who stood up to the evil of the time, sometimes at the cost of their own lives.

Never Forget

The Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem, the official Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, Israel.

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Camp Erika

Camp Erika, also known as Camp Ommen was a hard labor and prison camp in Holland during the Nazi occupation and is a setting for an important story that takes place in the upcoming book “Jew Face” .  Many members of the Dutch Resistance once arrested were sent to this location.  On many occasions they were forced to dig their own graves and then shot.

Why is shock important?

When writing a book about a time so significant and devastating to the Jewish people, one has a moral responsibility to acknowledge and honor those who perished from the brutality and suffered the horrors perpetuated by one of the most, if not the most evil governments in the history of civilization.  On the surface this seems to be an uncomplicated task, but when confronted with decisions on how to present the story, one must use their own judgment in choosing the means that best accomplish the goals set out in putting pen to paper.

Once on a visit to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I made the comment that although I live my life almost entirely different than the Hasidic Jews that live there, I love going there because when I walk through the neighborhood I realize that with all the death and destruction Hitler orchestrated against the Jewish people, in the end he did not win.  Nazi Germany is long gone and the specific threat that it posed to the very existence of the Jewish people no longer exists, but the war of the anti-Semite against the Jewish people has not ended and still needs to be fought.  The attempt at intellectualizing Holocaust denial and the efforts by those who wish to accomplish this on a global scale threatens the Jewish people in a deceptive and methodic way.  Little by little there is a danger that more and more people will choose to believe that it did not happen and that 6 million Jewish lives were not killed by Hitler’s Germany.  In writing this book, and titling it “Jew Face”, even at the risk of offending some of my fellow Jews, I do so with the purpose of getting the attention of as many people as possible.  The alarming title will startle people, but if it gets many to read what happened and be aware, then it has served a positive purpose.

You can’t fight fire with smoke.  You must fight fire with fire.  And if giving this book a title that shocks people and makes them interested in its content I increase awareness of what truly took place, I have been successful in accomplishing the book’s most important task.  Honoring the victims and helping the world never forget what took place.

Congressional tribute to Rabbi Nardus Groen

The following is a Congressional tribute to my father less than 1 month 
after his death by then Congressman Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania. 

[Congressional Record Volume 153, Number 112 (Friday, July 13, 2007)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1512]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office 

                     TRIBUTE TO RABBI NARDUS GROEN


                            HON. JOE SESTAK

                            of pennsylvania

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, July 12, 2007

  Mr. SESTAK. Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize and honor the
life of a husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother,
son, veteran, and community leader--Rabbi Nardus Groen, who passed away
on Wednesday, June 13 after living a full life of community service.
  Rabbi Nardus Groen was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on
December 18, 1919 and grew to become a hero and a family man. As a
member of the Dutch Underground during World War II, Rabbi Groen was
captured by German soldiers multiple times and heroically managed to
escape each time. One particular act of heroism occurred in 1940 when
Groen was guarding a Jewish hospital in the Netherlands during its
evacuation. Although the patients had escaped, Groen was protecting a
group of Jewish nurses as the Nazis approached. Selflessly, he slipped
on a Red Cross arm band and escorted the nurses into a room. When the
Nazis asked who was in the room, Groen explained that he was caring for
patients with Scarlet Fever. Fearing the illness, the Nazis spared the
Jewish nurses, including Groen's future wife, the former Sipora
  After World War II, Rabbi Nardus Groen served at Camp Lejeune, North
Carolina under the American Marine Corps. Following his stint with the
Marines, Groen worked as a psychologist at a Jewish orphanage for
Holocaust survivors. He helped countless youths cope with one of the
greatest tragedies in human history. Two years later, he began to serve
as a rabbi at the oldest congregation in the Western Hemisphere in
Surinam. Groen led a mixed Sephardic Ashkenazic congregation in Surinam
until 1952 when he served as a rabbi in Einhoven, the Netherlands. He
became one of the foremost leaders of his community, uniting two
different cultures in one synagogue.
  Nardus Groen moved to Lansdale, PA as a renowned rabbi in 1963 where
he served as Beth Israel Synagogue's rabbi for 13 years. He provided
guidance and spiritual leadership to Beth Israel's community, helping
his community grow to the vibrant Jewish center it is today. Groen
moved back to Europe and retired in 1986 as the chief rabbi for the
eastern six provinces of the Netherlands. He lived what he preached and
will be remembered across the Netherlands.
  After his retirement, Rabbi Groen and his loving wife Sipora lived in
the Netherlands and Delray Beach, Florida after his retirement before
permanently settling in Florida in 2005. Rabbi Groen spent his last
years as a loving father to Marcel Groen, Leo Groen, Ruben Groen, David
Groen, and Debra Groen; a loving brother to Meyers Groen and Sophia
Groen; a loving grandfather and great grandfather to twelve
grandchildren and six great grandchildren; and a loving husband to
Sipora Groen.
  Madam Speaker, I ask you to join me in honoring and remembering Rabbi
Nardus Groen. Through his hard work, Rabbi Groen has spread hope across
three continents and will be remembered as a strong leader, a caring
mentor, and a true mensch.

Concentration Camp Theresienstadt

Theresienstadt plays an important role in a chapter in the book.  I had family members who did spend time there and there is a story surrounding them that needed to be told.

The reason behind the title “Jew Face”

When the Nazis occupied Holland in 1940, 10% of Amsterdam’s population was Jewish.  In those days, Amsterdam was not as it is today, a city with various minorities making it far more difficult to identify with certainty a person’s religion or ethnicity.  In 1940, a person with a dark complexion and dark hair in Amsterdam was assumed to be Jewish.  To the German’s, the ‘Joden Kop’ was a way of harshly identifying that they recognized the face of a Jew. Sipora Groen, my mother, was seen as having one of those identifiable faces.  Hence the title of the book “Jew Face”, the story of my parent’s life, taking place primarily during the time of the occupation between 1940-45 and revolving around their journeys and experiences during those years not only of horror and sadness, but also courage and strength.

The Nazi Invasion of Holland