Auschwitz asks visitors to stop balancing on rail tracks for photos

The rail tracks at Auschwitz, where more than a million Jews, Poles and other victims of the Nazi regime were murdered, have become a popular spot for selfies and other photos. "Balance beam" poses are especially popular. The museum would appreciate it if this would stop happening. The BBC:

The official account for Auschwitz Memorial said on Tuesday: "There are better places to learn how to walk on a balance beam than the site which symbolises deportation of hundreds of thousands to their deaths." One respondent, Francesca, wrote: "This is a very necessary post, our picture taking habits are completely out of control. I may be visiting in the summer. I will make sure I am aware of your photography policy. Thank you for the essential work you continue to do. Without our historical memory we are nothing." Moran Blythe said: "I don't understand why people use Auschwitz as a photo op or how they take cheerful selfies at a site that saw the murder of thousands of innocent people."

Photo: Nelson Pérez Read the rest

VP Mike Pence to visit Auschwitz death camp on Europe trip

“The vice president will essentially call out Iran for their actions. He will give a message to those groups that are there, that, you know, if you stand with us, we’ll stand with you,” a White House official said.

Famous racist does everyone a favor and dies

Racists, emboldened by the policies of populist far-right leaning governments, seem to be everywhere these days. They're having rallies, breaking up families at borders and beating folks in the streets. Happily, time is a wheel: as our lives our lessened by the emergence of fresh bigoted bullshit, we're also gifted with what I hope is the incredibly painful passing of those who made it their life's work to spew hate and kindle chaos.

From The New York Times:

Robert Faurisson, a former literature professor turned anti-Semitic propagandist whose denial of the Holocaust earned him multiple prosecutions, died on Sunday at his home in Vichy, France. He was 89.

Mr. Faurisson was regarded as a father figure by contemporary French exponents of Holocaust denial, the extremist fringe in a country with a long tradition of anti-Semitism. Contemporary far-right figures like the propagandist Alain Soral and Dieudonné, who calls himself a humorist, have followed in his footsteps, but none have had the long-range tenacity of Mr. Faurisson.

At least in death, he might finally be able to contribute to something useful--fertilizing palm trees to provide observant Jews with shelter from the elements during Sukkot, for example.

While things feel as permissive as hell here in North America, the French weren't willing to put up with Faurisson's holocaust denying nonsense. According to The New York Times, he became the first person in France to be convicted for saying that the Holocaust, a crime against humanity, never happened. More recently, the prick was fined 10,000 euros by the French courts for "propounding 'negationism'" in interviews published on the internet."

Good riddance. Read the rest

When Mickey Mouse was sent to a Nazi concentration camp

In 1942, Horst Rosenthal was sent to the Vichy concentration camp Gurs, where he drew a comic-book that survived him: Mickey au Camp de Gurs, it tells the story of Mickey Mouse being snatched from the street and sent to Gurs, and features a tour of Gurs that uses a brave face of humor to cope with enormous suffering. Read the rest

North Korean escapee makes heartfelt plea to Trump to hold Kim Jong-un accountable for his atrocities

When Yeonmi Park was just 13 years old, after suffering inhumanely under the North Korean regime, she and her family escaped to China (and eventually to South Korea).

She is now 24 years old and has become a vocal advocate for human rights in the country she once fled from. In this New York Times video, this brave young defector describes the terrible conditions for people in her home country and asks Trump to hold its dictator Kim Jong-un accountable for these human rights violations.

You may remember Park from a few years ago when she told her story at the One Young World Summit 2014 in Dublin, Ireland:

If her story interests you, give her powerful and inspiring 2016 memoir, In Order To Live, A North Korean Girl’s Journey To Freedom, a read:

Park’s family was loving and close-knit, but life in North Korea was brutal, practically medieval. Park would regularly go without food and was made to believe that, Kim Jong Il, the country’s dictator, could read her mind. After her father was imprisoned and tortured by the regime for trading on the black-market, a risk he took in order to provide for his wife and two young daughters, Yeonmi and her family were branded as criminals and forced to the cruel margins of North Korean society. With thirteen-year-old Park suffering from a botched appendectomy and weighing a mere sixty pounds, she and her mother were smuggled across the border into China.

I wasn’t dreaming of freedom when I escaped from North Korea.

Read the rest

"Dirty jokes" found in Anne Frank's diary

There was more to Anne Frank's diary than we once thought. Two pages, which were previously covered in a brown masking paper, have been revealed by researchers at Dutch museums. The pages contained "four risque jokes and candid explanations of sex, contraception and prostitution" written by the Jewish teen, according to The Guardian.

The Anne Frank Museum, the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands used digital technology to show the writing on the pages.

They photographed the pages, backlit by a flash, and then used image-processing software to decipher the words, which were hard read because they were jumbled up with the writing on the reverse sides of the pages.

In the passage on sex, Anne described how a young woman gets her period around 14, saying that it is “a sign that she is ripe to have relations with a man but one doesn’t do that of course before one is married”.

On prostitution, she wrote: “All men, if they are normal, go with women, women like that accost them on the street and then they go together. In Paris they have big houses for that. Papa has been there.”

Anne wrote her diary while she and her family hid for more than two years. The family was provided with food and other essentials by a close-knit group of helpers, until 4 August 1944 when they were discovered and ultimately deported to Auschwitz.

Only Anne’s father, Otto Frank, survived the war.

Read the rest

Holocaust survivor's death in Paris being investigated as a hate crime

As a child in 1942, Mireille Knoll escaped the capture of Jews by police in occupied France during The Vélodrome d'Hiver roundup. The majority of those arrested during the roundup were sent to Auschwitz, where they were killed. Her evasion of France's Nazi puppet police force during the second world war allowed her to survive the horrors of the Holocaust, unlike so many of her neighbors and relations. But she couldn't escape racism. Her time on earth came to an end this past week after she was stabbed 11 times and left to die in her burning apartment, in Paris, France. She was 85 years old.

According to the The Washington Post, Knoll's murder has French journalists and Jewish advocacy groups concerned that, given the area and brutality in which her life was ended, there could be reasonable grounds for the murder to be considered a hate crime. As in North America, Anti-Semitic hate crimes have been on the rise in France. In the past year, bigots and fascists who were once too afraid to show their hate in public have made their way into the mainstream, emboldened by the politics of our times.

From the Washington Post:

Jewish advocacy groups were quick to put the case within the context of rising anti-Semitism in France and to point out the similarities to another high-profile case being investigated as anti-Semitic: the April 2017 killing of Sarah Halimi, a 66-year-old Orthodox Jewish physician and kindergarten teacher who was beaten in her apartment and then thrown out a window.

Read the rest

This book explains how to tell when your country's going to hell and how to stop it

You may have noticed of late that things in America are becoming less, well, American.

A cruel misogynist with dangerously racist beliefs is running the show. Nazis and bigots of all stripes no long fear giving voice to their hatred in public. The nation's journalists and the free flow of information are under attack. The government is working hard to defund the healthcare apparatus designed to protect the country's most vulnerable citizens. Piece by piece, the country's institutions, its heart and soul are being torn asunder, paving the way for something new. After reading Timothy Snyder's most recent book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, I gotta tell you, if you're scared of the outcome of all of this, chances are you're likely not scared enough.

Snyder is a scholar who specializes in the history of the the 20th century and, more pointedly, the holocaust. His knowledge of how a country's slow slide into fascism at the whim of a tyrant can occur is beyond reproach, given his academic street cred: he's the Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale, a Committee on Conscience member at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. What I'm getting at is that he knows from bad shit, how it starts and historically, how it's gone down. With the current political and popular climate in a number of nations around the world, he's concerned that the ugliest parts of humanity are ready to rear their heads once again.

On Tyranny's only 126 pages long. Read the rest

As anti-Semitic bomb threats continue, ADL office evacuated in San Francisco

The terror attacks against Jewish folks in America continue. No one seems to care. Read the rest

Yolocaust: selfies taken at the Holocaust Memorial

Israeli author Shahak Shapira found a use for foolish and disrespectful selfies taken at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.

A newly unveiled online project called “Yolocaust” delivers a stinging message for those who not only act disrespectfully at a Berlin Holocaust memorial but capture their behavior and share it with their friends on social media. The project, which debuted on Wednesday, was visited by so many Germans that the computer server hosting it crashed, according to reports in the German media, where it was covered with great interest.

You only live once, but we die twice: once when the body fails, the second when we are forgotten.

[Haaretz, via] Read the rest

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, Nobel prize laureate and author, dead at 87

Elie Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize winner, a prolific author, and an outspoken activist for peace and human rights. He died Saturday, at 87 years old. Read the rest

The Day the Clown Cried: 35-minute fan-edit

Jerry Lewis called his unreleased 1972 movie "The Day the Clown Cried," about a clown in Auschwitz who convinces children to go to their deaths, an "embarass[ing] poor work" and said it would never be released. Read the rest

Auschwitz installs mist showers that (duh) remind visitors of Holocaust gas chambers

Poland's Auschwitz Memorial installed mist showers to cool down visitors at the former site of the Nazi's largest concentration camp. Somehow, management was surprised that some people found this insensitive. Read the rest

Long-lost diary of Nazi racial theorist and Hitler confidant recovered

Photo: ICE HSI. Click to enlarge.

In Washington today, US officials and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum representatives announced the seizure of a long-lost diary maintained by a close confidant of Adolf Hitler.

The recovery of this historical document was the result of an extensive investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The author of the so-called "Rosenberg Diary" was Alfred Rosenberg, a leading member of the Third Reich and of the Nazi Party during World War II.

Rosenberg was one of the intellectual authors behind key Nazi beliefs, including persecution of Jewish people, expansionist “lebensraum” (living space) ideology, the "master race" theory, and the rejection of modern art as "degenerate." He was tried at Nuremberg, sentenced to death, and hanged on October 16, 1946, after having been convicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The diary will eventually be displayed in the Holocaust Museum. More photos, video from the press conference where the seizure was announced, video of Rosenberg speaking, and more of the story behind this important historic artifact are below. Read the rest

The true story of the woman who performed mercy abortions at Auschwitz

Gisella Perl was Romanian and Jewish. She was a gynaecologist at a time and place where very few women went into the medical professions. In 1944, she and her entire family were shipped off to Auschwitz, where Perl was instructed to provide medical care for her fellow inmates — medical care that was supposed to happen without even the most basic medical supplies.

In this position, she was officially employed by Josef Mengele, and she saw what happened to women who entered Auschwitz while pregnant. The short answer was death. The long answer was that those deaths were often horrifying and drawn-out. So Gisella Perl gave herself a new job — protecting women by helping them hide evidence of pregnancy and by performing abortions with her bare hands.

I'd never heard Perl's story before. It's heartbreaking. And it's riveting. The Holocaust History Project has a long and well-cited version. Read the rest

What do astronauts and the Holocaust have in common? "An Article of Hope"

Filmmaker Dan Cohen is the guy behind "An Article of Hope," a feature film project seven years in the making. The documentary is done, but Dan's got a Kickstarter to raise funds to get it on television and into schools. Below, some words from Dan for Boing Boing readers about the film:

What could space shuttle Astronauts and the Holocaust possibly have in common? When I began my research into my documentary An Article of Hope, I thought I was making a film about a Holocaust story. But I soon unraveled a story that was much more than that. It is a story that crosses generations woven by the lives of three men, born at a different time, but brought together by a twist of fate.

At the center of the story were the Astronauts of the Space Shuttle Columbia. All from different backgrounds from around the world, magnificently diverse, yet threaded by a moment from the Holocaust, a horrific attempt to stamp out diversity.

Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon was a hero fighter pilot, a man who had the ability to rise to the moment. By the time he launched into space he was more than that, he was the representative of his country, his faith, and in his eyes perhaps, humanity. He searched for a symbol of this responsibility, and found a little Torah scroll given to a boy in a secret Bar Mitzvah in a Nazi concentration camp.

Read the rest

Anne Frank is a Mormon again

A leaked screenshot from a Mormon database shows that Anne Frank has been posthumously baptised into the Mormon faith, again, despite LDS church promises to the contrary. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

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