Tag Archives: Nazi

An Important Poll and lesson on telling the story of the Holocaust

I urge everyone to put personal bias aside and take a moment to read this article from CNN.com.   It discusses Anti-Semitism in Europe while going into some detail about the lack of understanding or even worse, knowledge of existence of the Holocaust.  There IS a direct correlation between increasing hostility towards the Jewish people and lack of information about what happened to the Jewish people during Nazi occupation.  Yes, anti-Semitism existed before the Holocaust and seperate from the Holocaust, but making the average citizen of the world know where ignorance and hatred can lead is a critical element in preventing it in the future.

Each one of you who takes it upon yourself to combat the rise of hatred will do it in your own way, and as long as your intentions are pure, no one should speak against what direction you go in doing so. I will do so by sharing as many of the most important stories of real people as I possibly can.

Personally I believe the most important lesson to be learned from this poll is not how to deal with the perpetrators of hatred and hostility, but in how to tell the masses of decent people the truth, so that they can stand up against those perpetrators.  I don’t claim to know the answer to stopping those who are evil and self-serving, but I can do my part in telling the much larger number of good people the truth, and hope that they will stand with us against the evil ones, much as the righteous people connected to my family did during the 2nd World War.

Never Again.

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5 Passages to Bram: Passage 2:Marcel & Deborah Rodrigues-Lopes

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As a child growing up I knew different things about the families of both my mother and father.  Over the next 4 weeks as I write these brief posts in the series “5 Passages to Bram”, my intention is to keep it more personal than specific.  When it comes to my mother’s parents, Marcel and Deborah Rodrigues-Lopes, most of what I have to offer is personal.

My mother would always speak warmly and affectionately about the mother she lost when she was a child of only 13. She spoke of her mother Deborah as being a soft and gentle woman, loving and kind. That softness was passed on to both her children, but in many ways even more so to her son Bram, and the gentle kindness was passed on more to her daughter, my mother Sipora.  Although there is an undisputed sadness in her life being cut so short due to an illness very treatable in today’s world, some might say she was fortunate not to have to witness what would take place in Holland only 5 years after her death.  Her husband Marcel was very much in love with her, and my mother would often say that after her passing he was a different man.  A fact that would be easy to understand given the fact that she was taken from them at the young age of 35.    Her passing left a 13 year old Sipora with greater responsibilities than most see at that age, including a significant impact on the everyday life of her little brother Bram, a young boy of only 10.

Marcel Rodrigues was one of those men with a lot going for him.  He was youthful, athletic, handsome and accomplished in business.  I never once heard my mother challenge whether or not he loved his children, but it was clear that he was never the same after his wife Deborah passed away.  Even with that he was a man that by his very nature wanted to make the most of life, a quality I believe he passed on to his daughter Sipora.  An avid soccer player and traveller, he loved his children dearly, looking for ways to protect them when things were at their worst.  Willing to face the bitter reality, he wanted to do whatever necessary to get them to safety after the Nazi onslaught.  Sipora chose to stay in Amsterdam at the hospital where she worked and had the help and support of her relatively new friend and later to be husband and my father Nardus, while Bram would go with his father in an attempt to escape Holland through Belgium, only to picked up at the border and taken to their death in Auschwitz.

My mother honored her parents throughout her life.  May their memory be blessed.

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A correction has been made to the previous post in which I referred to my paternal grandmother as Marjan.  Frankly, I know I did not make up the spelling of Marjan, subsequently knowing I did get it from somewhere and or someone connected to her history, but in looking up the Yad Vashem archives she is referred to as Marianne.  I have made the correction in the post and thank my cousin Bettie for bringing it to my attention.

 


On the anniversary of Kristallnacht, of course I condemn. But first I remember

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On this solemn anniversary of Kristallnacht I have heard shouts from my fellow Jews on the right  side of the aisle calling for those on the left side of the aisle to condemn the anti-Semites of today.  Although I am prepared to do that, I also must make the point that condemning the evil of today is not a prerequisite to mourning those taken from us by the evil of the past.  That is why my first priority is to honor and remember as best I can.

Many years back in trying to relate to another my understanding of the Holocaust, I suggested the following exercise.   Close your eyes and imagine almost everyone you know, are friendly with, or love.  Then imagine them not only all gone, but brutally murdered. Now open your eyes and realize that this is what it was like for most people who survived The Holocaust.  Almost everyone and everything they knew was gone, and all they were left with was the hope that God, if they still believed in God’s existence, would give them the strength they needed to move forward.

However, as if that horror alone was not enough, the Nazis, masters of terror, were so sadistic and obsessed with their hatred towards the Jews that they felt their first priority was instilling maximum fear in the Jewish population and destroying  Jewish businesses and houses of worship. On what we would forever know as Kristallnacht, “The Night of Broken Glass”, they proudly and brazenly burned synagogues and businesses to the ground and killed close to 100 Jews.  The following day they arrested 30,000 Jewish men. The Nazi brutality knew no limits and the suffering they caused the Jewish people is unlike anything seen in human history.  The significance of Kristallnacht, beyond the pure destruction and murder, is that is symbolizes the beginning of this horrible time, and must be seen as a day to honor, respect and mourn the 6 million Jewish lives murdered.

It is also however a sad lesson of the ability that evil has to consume an entire society, how anti-Antisemitism and persecution of the Jewish people is nothing new and is a real danger not ever to be taken lightly.  I do condemn the Louis Farrakhans, David Dukes and Linda Sarsours of the world whether or not their anti-Semitism is unhidden and blatant like Farrakhan’s or more devious and masked like Sarsour’s. But I do not, and I say this unequivocally, condemn my fellow Jews who may not see things exactly as I do, nor do I use this day as a reason to condemn Donald Trump or far left wing radicals.  And here is why.

Do you think that when the Nazis went on their rampage through Germany on November 9, 1938 they first asked Jews their political viewpoints?  Do you think if anyone of us would have been crammed into a bunk, starving, exposed to disease and most likely marked for the gas chamber in Auschwitz that it would have mattered whether you were a politically conservative or liberal Jew? We all know the answer.  Yes those that rose up and fought in the Warsaw Ghetto were a special kind of hero, but those who hoped it would get better or didn’t want to believe the worst did not merit scorn, they needed guidance and protection, and ultimately our prayers.  Fighting our fellow Jew takes away from the real fight at hand and plays right into the hands of our enemies.

It is also a time to step back and understand that Kristallnacht, as bad as it was, was nothing compared to what was to follow.  In retrospect the Jewish people would have given anything for it to have stopped there.  Now understand that nothing being done in the United States of America comes close to even comparing to Kristallnacht.  That is not to say that anti-Semitism is not a problem, it is, but even the worst of actions against American Jews today are not actions taken by any formal institution of any significance. So to compare Donald Trump or left wing extremists, to Nazis is a disrespectful and irresponsible comparison.  To pay close attention and condemn the Farrakhans, Dukes and Sarsours of the world, individuals who directly or indirectly call for the death and destruction of the State of Israel and or the Jewish people is not only responsible, it is necessary.

On this very sad and important anniversary, let us all remember and honor the Jewish martyrs murdered by the Nazis, and use their memory for good to do what is needed to unite and protect us all moving forward.

 

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Remembering Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff

This is not my only website. Over the years I’ve dabbled with other sites which I’ve used to discuss various issues.  Holland’s Heroes is primarily used for discussions regarding the book I wrote about my parents experiences during Nazi occupation and articles I’ve written regarding Israel, the Jewish people, social injustices and all matters political. So when I sat down to write this, since it was going to be a short tribute to a soccer player, I originally intended to post it on my other site, The Daily Column.  But then I realized that I was about to write about a Dutch hero.  Not a hero made famous for saving lives, changing political discourse or impacting social development, but a hero known for how he lived and played football, aka soccer.  All that being true, the man I speak of is truly one of Holland’s heroes, and his name is Johan Cruyff.

I am the son of parents who were born and raised in the Netherlands.  I take a lot of pride in my Dutch background.  My first memory of anything soccer, albeit a very faint one, was the Netherlands losing the World Cup final to Germany in 1974.  This game, a fuzzy memory at best, was won by Germany on what the Dutch considered to be a questionable penalty kick.  Looking back, although the Dutch squad would have loved to have won the World Cup, something they are yet to do- many including myself refer to them as the best team to never win the World Cup- the most significant memory for me, particularly in retrospect, was the brilliance and global dominance of their on the field leader John Cruyff.

Johan Cruyff died to day at the age of 68.  Although the greatest heroes the world has to offer are those who are willing to sacrifice their lives or put themselves in danger to protect others, it can’t be denied that there are many different types and levels of heroe.  The true sports hero, someone who inspires a nation, brings joy to his fans, and encourages thousands upon thousands of people to strive for greatness, is a different type of hero, but a hero nonetheless.  For the Dutch people and all the fans of not only Dutch soccer but soccer worldwide, Johan Kruyf was that type of hero.  Here’s saying thank you to him and hoping he rests in peace.

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Does it make a difference?

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In speaking with my mother, a Dutch survivor of the Holocaust, I have learned that Holocaust Remembrance Day is like any other day set aside for commemoration of an event.  In some ways it’s not really necessary.  Every day is, to some extent at least, a day in which the Holocaust is remembered.  For those who honor their parents as they should, who really needs Mother’s Day, right?

Maybe not.  Yes it is something that sticks with so many of us on a constant basis, but the question we really need to ask is what is the real purpose of a Holocaust Remembrance Day?  Especially one sanctioned by the United Nations of all things. An organization that has repeatedly shown disdain for, and prejudice against Israel and the Jewish people has a day in which they are saying everyone should remember the victims of the Holocaust during the reign of Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Party.  Is this day a day designed to strengthen world morality in order to see to it that no similar atrocity ever happens again?  Consequent actions and behaviors by the UN over the years certainly wouldn’t back that up.  Is it a satisfaction of guilt for a so-called world organization that does far less than it should to protect innocent people?  Or is it part of the farce that is the United Nations image that allows it to continue its worthless existence in which it does more to make corrupt people rich and powerful than it does to care for the weak and persecuted?

Whatever it actually is, if the results of this day set aside to remember does indeed increase awareness somewhere and with someone, who knows what type of positive ripple effect it could have.  I wrote a book about what my parents went through in the time of Nazi occupation.  Was this something I did as a totally selfless act?  The honest answer to that question is no.  Any success or achievement I have or will get out of the book certainly satisfies me on a personal level, but that does not negate the fact that nothing is more satisfying to me than inspiring or enlightening someone when it comes to the events that took place.  Now magnify this and imagine how many people may never have known that 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis if it were not for a Day of Remembrance.  If any of these people are inspired to the point that they actually do something to make a difference in the future, then no matter how disingenuous the formation of a memorial may be, it does some good, and in a world with so much bad, and in a world where hating Jews is becoming more and more in fashion, we need all the help we can get.  Even if it comes from a reluctant source.

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What would my Father have thought of the World today?

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Today my father would have been 96 years old.  He passed away on June 13, 2007.  Although many of the challenges we face today were already in place or developing back then, the world naturally changes over the course of time and I can’t help but wonder, and for the sake of this piece speculate, what he would have thought about what is taking place in our world today.

The hardest thing for me to speculate on is how he would have felt politically.  Although my father was staunchly supportive of Israel, I wonder to what extent it would have impacted his vote.  I don’t believe any supporter of Israel is entirely pleased with how President Obama has been towards Israel, but I do wonder if my father would have supported the candidates of today that support Israel while taking very conservative stances on other issues.  I am not saying my father was a Liberal per se, but he was remarkably open minded when it came to political issues and generally voted Democrat.  That being said he also formed many of his own viewpoints and was not influenced by the media in the way so many others are today.  If I had to guess, I think he would have waited to see who was running in the general election and then would have picked whomever he felt was the best of the 2, or maybe 3.

I believe he definitely would have been outspoken about the dangers facing us from Muslim extremism and would often have referenced the 5th Column, those who were Nazi collaborators living quietly in Holland before the war waiting patiently and helping the German war machine with deceptive infiltration.  I don’t think he would have supported Donald Trump’s views because he was not one for absolutes on issues like this, but I also know he would have had no trouble clearly stating the threat facing the world.  Just as my mother feels today, my father most likely would have seen similarities to Europe in the late 30s.

I am sure he would have been glued to CNN and FOX, just as he often was back then and would not have missed any of the debates.  I think he would have been more amused by Trump than concerned, but I also don’t believe he would have supported him.  I’m not sure how he would have felt about Hillary Clinton, but I am fairly certain he would have come up with an original thought and would not have merely repeated what the media feeds us, be it good or bad.

I believe he would have been very realistic and pragmatic about the seriousness of the problems facing us today, but I don’t think he would have had a doomsday attitude, instead an attitude that we needed to take a very different approach towards events unfolding or we would be in very big trouble.

Lastly, although I think he would have been disappointed in the direction the world is going, I think his approach towards history would have given him a certain degree of optimism not shared by everyone.  After all, if the world survived the evil of the Nazis, there is a reason to  believe it can survive the evil of today, maybe and  hopefully without the same degree of devastation and suffering as we saw during Hitler’s tyranny.

I wish I knew what he would have thought, and certainly he would have been proud of me in someone way, but instead today I just remember him and try to imagine what he would have thought.

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Open Letter to Marsha Levine; BDS supporter who snubbed an Israeli girl’s question about horses

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Dear Marsha,

It was recently suggested to me that when I write one of these letters I refrain from personal attacks.  While I acknowledged and have even tried to follow that advice, it is next to impossible to express my feelings towards you without doing so.  The reason being that your attack on my people is not only infuriating but very personal as well.  I could make this quick and easy, call you a stupid idiot and sign off, but I first wish to make some critical points. Once I am done I promise to make my personal feelings very clear.

As a Jew whose parents survived the terror of Nazi occupation while 6 million of their brethren were murdered all over Europe, I take serious offense to you saying that “Jews in Israel have become Nazis”. Consider this the educational portion of the letter “Dr.”  To properly address this I first need to thwart your contention that those persecuted and killed by Hitler’s Nazi Party are similar to the Palestinians in the territories.  The Nazis were never threatened by the Jews in Europe.   Jews in Germany, the land where the Nazi party was formed, and I state the obvious because you give no indication of having knowledge of the obvious, were law-abiding contributors to society.  Jews in Germany did not form terrorist organizations that murdered women and children.  They did not have elements within their midst with an ideology committed to the destruction of the German people.  They were not claiming land and using that claim as justification to murder innocent people.  The Jews never asked for half of Berlin.  Palestinian leadership has been offered significant portions of land and refused each offer, preferring to continue the cycle of violence instead.  So to compare the conditions of the Palestinians to the victims of the Nazis already shows your lack of wisdom and credibility.

Second of all, to compare the actions of Israel’s government to the actions of Nazis is not only factually incorrect, but an insult to the memory of all the Jews killed by the Nazi Party.  Does Israel have death camps created to solve the “Palestinian problem”?  Are there chimney stacks in Israel spewing ash that is the last remnant of exterminated Palestinian men, women and children?  Do Israeli doctors perform experiments and torture Palestinians?  Are Palestinian being shoved into cattle cars and shipped to hard labor and concentration camps where they are starved to death, worked to death, shot or gassed? Are Palestinians being publicly humiliated for the amusement of Israeli soldiers?

Do you have any understanding of how ridiculous your comments are? I am guessing you know fully well and are driven by your own personal emotional issues. I do not know you personally, and frankly I don’t care to, but I do know that anyone who has so much self-loathing that their response to a little girl asking about horses would be a political and verbal slap in the face is likely very scarred from events in their early life.  Frankly I don’t give a horse’s hind quarters what you went through in life, I just wish you would shut up and stop showing this juvenile enjoyment you seem to be getting from insulting my people.

I end with 2 things.  First of all I want to make it very clear that referring to the Jewish people as my people and not your people or our people is not an oversight.  As far as I am concerned there is nothing Jewish about you and we’re better off without you.  Second of all, as promised, I will end by saying that  you are indeed a stupid idiot who has traded decency and morality for your 15 minutes in the spotlight. Ironically that makes you more like a Nazi than the people you criticize.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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