Articles from the ACJR Newsletter (2001)

Note: All these articles are Copyright © their respective authors. For permission to reproduce them elsewhere, please contact them or the ACJR.

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List of articles in this page:
Photography in the Holocaust
ACJR Seder - A Night to Remember
Auschwitz Commemoration in Amsterdam

The following article appeared in the Newsletter for February 2001

Photography in the Holocaust

Contrasting Views of Life in the Ghettos

An afternoon organised jointly by the Second Generation Network the ACJR and the Centre for German-Jewish Studies of Sussex University, and held at Yakar on 3rd December, was attended by over thirty people.

Rabbi Frank Dabba Smith, a professional photographer before studying for the rabbinate, is particularly fascinated by photography during the Holocaust. His lecture studied photographs taken by official German propagandists in the Warsaw Ghetto and snapshots taken by individual German soldiers and particularly by Mendel Grossman, a worker in the Lodz Ghetto. Rabbi Frank ended his talk with new material obtained from primary sources about the work of the Leitz family, founders of the Leica factory in Wetzlar. He cited Elsie Kuehn Leitz, daughter of Ernst Leitz, as a model of altruism. His book "My Secret Camera" on the work of Mendel Grossman is published by Frances Lincoln Limited. His forthcoming book on the part played in saving Jews by the Leitz family will appear in January 2002.

After answering some lively questions about his research, refreshments were served and Rabbi Frank was followed by the second speaker, Dr Deborah Schultz.

Dr Schultz has been cataloguing the work of the Rumanian artist Arnold Daghani for the last eighteen months at Sussex University. Daghani, who died in Hove in April 1985, left a substantial collection of work including drawings, paintings, collages, folios and albums, which were given to the university of Sussex in 1987. Daghani and his wife spent 1942-43 in Mikhailova forced labour camp and he produced complex and elaborate albums documenting his experiences there.

Dr Schultz's presentation gave a vivid and highly detailed account of the artist's wartime experiences illustrated by rather too few, I regretfully felt, of his works. Daghani's large body of work stands every chance of finding a wider field of interest now than at any previous time. He seems to be the compleat post-modernist in that his work is an illustration of his life not only in the media already mentioned but also in his diary, "The Grave is in the Cherry Orchard" which has been published in several languages.

Dr Schultz continues to catalogue his work and anyone interested in discovering more about Daghani's work is invited to contact her at the Centre for German-Jewish Studies, University of Sussex.

It was much appreciated by the members of the Second Generation Network and the Association of Children of Jewish Refugees attending the afternoon event that the joint venture was such a success. It was hoped that some other such event might be organised for the benefit of all members.

Hana Schlesinger
The following article appeared in the Newsletter for May 2001

The 12th ACJR Seder - A Night to Remember

The 12th ACJR Seder took place in Edgware on Sunday 8th April and was attended by thirty people.

The evening involved a combination of tradition and innovation. It was, naturally, based around the reading of the Haggadah, read in a mixture of Hebrew and English. This was thoughtfully supplemented with more modern readings linked to the concept of freedom, which included a prayer for captured Israeli soldiers and a celebration of acts of Jewish resistance during World War Two. The evening offered the opportunity to remember and reflect but was also full of humour. The choice of songs symbolised this, with a combination of traditional Seder songs in Hebrew (during which we were hugely helped by Ianís fine voice and knowledge of Hebrew) and more recent songs in English set to popular tunes.

The spirit of the evening was inclusive at every stage. Nearly everyone at the table read or contributed at some point in a way they were able to feel comfortable with and Oliver, as master of ceremonies, kept the whole thing together very competently.

For me personally, the evening was thoroughly worthwhile. It was only my third Seder and my first with the ACJR. Seders were totally absent within my family - all aspects of Jewish ritual were too apt to evoke painful memories linked to the Holocaust. As such I had a sense of triumph in the very fact of being there and a deep personal sense of gratitude to members of the ACJR who in various ways had made such an event possible.

There isnít space here to thank everyone who contributed in important practical ways, but thanks must go to Sally and Edwin who again kindly allowed us to make use of their house. In addition Linda did a huge amount behind the scenes as did Michelle, Jasmine and Janet. And to those of you who werenít there this year I hope you will consider participating and contributing to the next one.

Robin Cranmer

The following article appeared in the Newsletter for May 2001

Auschwitz Commemoration in Amsterdam

On Sunday 28th January 2001 I attended the forty-sixth commemoration ceremony of the liberation of Auschwitz in Amsterdam. This act of remembrance has been conducted annually on the last Sunday in January for many years, in complete contrast to our own Holocaust Day which was instituted only this year.

A large number of the fifteen hundred people who attended met in the Town Hall, and had a warm drink before setting off on the short journey to the Auschwitz memorial in the Wertheim Park. I noted that several people carried small bunches of flowers - roses, tulips chrysanthemums - some of which were tied with a ribbon of the Dutch national colours (red, white and blue), and were over-stamped with the name of the group represented.

I knew no-one, but from the buzz of conversation and the way people greeted each other, it was warming to know that here there was a large group of Jews - not just survivors of the horrors but also their children, grand-children and even great-grandchildren.

Fortunately I was able to speak to a woman (she spoke English well) who was carrying one of the special flower bunches, and I learnt from her that she represented the women's group whose task it was to remind people of the Resistance fighter, who was killed three weeks before the end of the war: Hannie Schaft. As we walked to the memorial, places of importance were pointed out to me, and also the proceedings were explained. This year was the first time that the massacred gypsies were recalled by gypsy music being played by the almost regal-like Gypsy orchestra Tata Mirando. The haunting music created within me both a sense of owe and fear. Standing in the park amid so many I felt partly as if I were one of the unfortunate Jews to be rounded up, as occasionally the rumble of a tram passing by just a few metres from the entrance to the park (this was closed to the public) reminded me of the tanks that must have rolled down the street. The silence except for the music, the occasional sob or sigh and the cry of a solitary gull overhead all added to the solemnity and dignity.

The new mayor or Amsterdam, Job Cohen, made a speech emphasising the necessity that there should never again be another Auschwitz. The memorial, a large broken glass mirror entitled "Nooit meer Auschwitz" by Jan Wolkers, was cordoned off so that we could walk past after the recitation of Kaddish which included the naming of all the death camps. The voice of the Rabbi gently floated over the gathered crowd, some of whom were under umbrellas. The sky had darkened and large raindrops fell softly onto the shoulders of people whose heads were bared in remembrance and pain. Representatives were present from the Dutch government, Israel, Poland, Germany and Austria, and I was just a solitary representative of my family many of whom perished in Auschwitz. The blue sky returned.

After the Kaddish we filed past the memorial which slowly became a larger and larger sea of colour, the bunches of flowers laid with dignity, pride and grace.

I thanked the kind lady who had helped me to be able to pay tribute to those who had liberated Auschwitz, to recall those who had perished, and for enabling me to participate more fully in something so unique which unites us Jews the world over - we may be a "people schooled in grief", (Gates of Repentance) but we are all able to understand one another. Seeing children amongst those present made me understand even more that evil cannot be allowed to triumph over good.

Therefore let us pray, that should be "Nooit meer Auschwitz" - "never again Auschwitz". Amen

Patricia J. Hinson (née Tausz)

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