mardi 13 octobre 2015


The System

Two new histories show how the Nazi concentration camps worked

One night in the autumn of 1944, two Frenchwomen—Loulou Le Porz, a doctor, and Violette Lecoq, a nurse—watched as a truck drove in through the main gates of Ravensbrück, the Nazi concentration camp for women. “There was a lorry,” Le Porz recalled, “that suddenly arrives and it turns around and reverses towards us. And it lifts up and it tips out a whole pile of corpses.” These were the bodies of Ravensbrück inmates who had died doing slave labor in the many satellite camps, and they were now being returned for cremation. Talking, decades later, to the historian and journalist Sarah Helm, whose new book, “Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women” (Doubleday), recounts the stories of dozens of the camp’s inmates, Le Porz says that her reaction was simple disbelief. The sight of a truck full of dead bodies was so outrageous, so out of scale with ordinary experience, that “if we recount that one day, we said to each other, nobody would believe us.” The only way to make the scene credible would be to record it: “If one day someone makes a film they must film this scene. This night. This moment.”

Le Porz’s remark was prophetic. The true extent of Nazi barbarity became known to the world in part through the documentary films made by Allied forces after the liberation of other German camps. There have been many atrocities committed before and since, yet to this day, thanks to those images, the Nazi concentration camp stands as the ultimate symbol of evil. The very names of the camps—Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Auschwitz—have the sound of a malevolent incantation. They have ceased to be ordinary place names—Buchenwald, after all, means simply “beech wood”—and become portals to a terrible other dimension.

To write the history of such an institution, as Nikolaus Wachsmann sets out to do in another new book, “KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), might seem impossible, like writing the history of Hell. And, certainly, both his book and Helm’s are full of the kind of details that ordinarily appear only in Dantesque visions. Helm devotes a chapter to Ravensbrück’s Kinderzimmer, or “children’s room,” where inmates who came to the camp pregnant were forced to abandon their babies; the newborns were left to die of starvation or be eaten alive by rats. Wachsmann quotes a prisoner at Dachau who saw a transport of men afflicted by dysentery arrive at the camp: “We saw dozens . . . with excrement running out of their trousers. Their hands, too, were full of excrement and they screamed and rubbed their dirty hands across their faces.”

These sights, like the truck full of bodies, are not beyond belief—we know that they were true—but they are, in some sense, beyond imagination. It is very hard, maybe impossible, to imagine being one of those men, still less one of those infants. And such sights raise the question of why, exactly, we read about the camps. If it is merely to revel in the grotesque, then learning about this evil is itself a species of evil, a further exploitation of the dead. If it is to exercise sympathy or pay a debt to memory, then it quickly becomes clear that the exercise is hopeless, the debt overwhelming: there is no way to feel as much, remember as much, imagine as much as the dead justly demand. What remains as a justification is the future: the determination never again to allow something like the Nazi camps to exist.

And for that purpose it is necessary not to think of the camps simply as a hellscape. Reading Wachsmann’s deeply researched, groundbreaking history of the entire camp system makes clear that Dachau and Buchenwald were the products of institutional and ideological forces that we can understand, perhaps all too well. Indeed, it’s possible to think of the camps as what happens when you cross three disciplinary institutions that all societies possess—the prison, the army, and the factory. Over the several phases of their existence, the Nazi camps took on the aspects of all of these, so that prisoners were treated simultaneously as inmates to be corrected, enemies to be combatted, and workers to be exploited. When these forms of dehumanization were combined, and amplified to the maximum by ideology and war, the result was the Konzentrationlager, or K.L.

Though we tend to think of Hitler’s Germany as a highly regimented dictatorship, in practice Nazi rule was chaotic and improvisatory. Rival power bases in the Party and the German state competed to carry out what they believed to be Hitler’s wishes. This system of “working towards the Fuhrer,” as it was called by Hitler’s biographer Ian Kershaw, was clearly in evidence when it came to the concentration camps. The K.L. system, during its twelve years of existence, included twenty-seven main camps and more than a thousand subcamps. At its peak, in early 1945, it housed more than seven hundred thousand inmates. In addition to being a major penal and economic institution, it was a central symbol of Hitler’s rule. Yet Hitler plays almost no role in Wachsmann’s book, and Wachsmann writes that Hitler was never seen to visit a camp. It was Heinrich Himmler, the head of the S.S., who was in charge of the camp system, and its growth was due in part to his ambition to make the S.S. the most powerful force in Germany.

Long before the Nazis took power, concentration camps had featured in their imagination. Wachsmann finds Hitler threatening to put Jews in camps as early as 1921. But there were no detailed plans for building such camps when Hitler was named Chancellor of Germany, in January, 1933. A few weeks later, on February 27th, he seized on the burning of the Reichstag—by Communists, he alleged—to launch a full-scale crackdown on his political opponents. The next day, he implemented a decree, “For the Protection of People and State,” that authorized the government to place just about anyone in “protective custody,” a euphemism for indefinite detention. (Euphemism, too, was to be a durable feature of the K.L. universe: the killing of prisoners was referred to as Sonderbehandlung, “special treatment.”)

During the next two months, some fifty thousand people were arrested on this basis, in what turned into a “frenzy” of political purges and score-settling. In the legal murk of the early Nazi regime, it was unclear who had the power to make such arrests, and so it was claimed by everyone: national, state, and local officials, police and civilians, Party leaders. “Everybody is arresting everybody,” a Nazi official complained in the summer of 1933. “Everybody threatens everybody with Dachau.” As this suggests, it was already clear that the most notorious and frightening destination for political detainees was the concentration camp built by Himmler at Dachau, in Bavaria. The prisoners were originally housed in an old munitions factory, but soon Himmler constructed a “model camp,” the architecture and organization of which provided the pattern for most of the later K.L. The camp was guarded not by police but by members of the S.S.—a Nazi Party entity rather than a state force.

These guards were the core of what became, a few years later, the much feared Death’s-Head S.S. The name, along with the skull-and-crossbones insignia, was meant to reinforce the idea that the men who bore it were not mere prison guards but front-line soldiers in the Nazi war against enemies of the people. Himmler declared, “No other service is more devastating and strenuous for the troops than just that of guarding villains and criminals.” The ideology of combat had been part of the DNA of Nazism from its origin, as a movement of First World War veterans, through the years of street battles against Communists, which established the Party’s reputation for violence. Now, in the years before actual war came, the K.L. was imagined as the site of virtual combat—against Communists, criminals, dissidents, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Jews, all forces working to undermine the German nation.

The metaphor of war encouraged the inhumanity of the S.S. officers, which they called toughness; licensed physical violence against prisoners; and accounted for the military discipline that made everyday life in the K.L. unbearable. Particularly hated was the roll call, or Appell, which forced inmates to wake before dawn and stand outside, in all weather, to be counted and recounted. The process could go on for hours, Wachsmann writes, during which the S.S. guards were constantly on the move, punishing “infractions such as poor posture and dirty shoes.”

The K.L. was defined from the beginning by its legal ambiguity. The camps were outside ordinary law, answerable not to judges and courts but to the S.S. and Himmler. At the same time, they were governed by an extensive set of regulations, which covered everything from their layout (including decorative flower beds) to the whipping of prisoners, which in theory had to be approved on a case-by-case basis by Himmler personally. Yet these regulations were often ignored by the camp S.S.—physical violence, for instance, was endemic, and the idea that a guard would have to ask permission before beating or even killing a prisoner was laughable. Strangely, however, it was possible, in the prewar years, at least, for a guard to be prosecuted for such a killing. In 1937, Paul Zeidler was among a group of guards who strangled a prisoner who had been a prominent churchman and judge; when the case attracted publicity, the S.S. allowed Zeidler to be charged and convicted. (He was sentenced to a year in jail.)

In “Ravensbrück,” Helm gives a further example of the erratic way the Nazis treated their own regulations, even late in the war. In 1943, Himmler agreed to allow the Red Cross to deliver food parcels to some prisoners in the camps. To send a parcel, however, the Red Cross had to mark it with the name, number, and camp location of the recipient; requests for these details were always refused, so that there was no way to get desperately needed supplies into the camps. Yet when Wanda Hjort, a young Norwegian woman living in Germany, got hold of some prisoners’ names and numbers—thanks to inmates who smuggled the information to her when she visited the camp at Sachsenhausen—she was able to pass them on to the Norwegian Red Cross, whose packages were duly delivered. This game of hide-and-seek with the rules, this combination of hyper-regimentation and anarchy, is what makes Kafka’s “The Trial” seem to foretell the Nazi regime.

lundi 12 octobre 2015


The Ghetto Is Here

On the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Warsaw ghetto,

 the author of the new Holocaust history ‘Black Earth’ 

reads the writing on the wall

In the center of Warsaw, on Grzybowski Square, the history of the Holocaust was written in the walls. A deserted building facing the Church of All Saints, at the address Empty Street No. 14, recalled the ghetto. Surrounded by Communist and post-Communist construction, it represented, in red brick and wrought iron, an altogether different time.

Before the war, Grzybowski Square was a hub for the Warsaw trams; from here its residents could go anywhere in the city. When I lived here last summer, I looked up each day to see the giant sepia photographs that covered the windows of the abandoned apartments on the upper floors of the building: men posing awkwardly, half smiles and best suits; women walking arm in arm. Jews.

On the ground floor of Empty Street No. 14, where the shops once were, graffiti engaged in a confused discussion. On the interior walls of an empty shop, seen through open and broken doors, were biblical quotations, written in different hands. To one side of the doors, someone spray-painted on the wall “ONR,” which stands for “Obóz Narodowo-Radikalny,” which was the right wing of Polish fascism before the war and is again today. The letters were drawn over by a number of hands so that they were barely visible. Even the most careful seeker of evidence of Polish anti-Semitism would have been unlikely to decode this. And yet it was there.

Just under it someone painted the word “Pamiętasz ?” “Do you remember ?”

On the other side of those doors were two sprayscreen images, next to each other, evenly placed, unmistakably in dialogue. On the right was an image of Jesus, with a single word, prawdą: “truth.” Thanks to the case system of Slavic grammar a single Polish word can cover the meaning of several in English; in this case, what is conveyed amounts to “is the truth.” This might be understood in various ways, but what was invoked was John 14:6, where Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” The darker implication comes in the next sentence, where Jesus maintains that no one can attain the Father but through him. Immediately to the left of this image, the next page if we are reading in the Jewish way, was a map of the ghetto, Grzybowski Square visible at the southernmost tip.

The Hebrew caption read: “The ghetto was here.”

One day in August 1942 the people who lived on Empty Street were taken from their homes to the Umschlagplatz, forced onto trains, transported to Treblinka, and gassed to death. Grzybowski Square was then added to what everyone then called the Aryan side of Warsaw, where, in some sense, it remains. When the entire ghetto was burned by the Germans in 1943, the building at 14 Empty Street was outside its borders. When the entire city was burned after the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, most of the edifice somehow survived, as did a few others here and there.

One Sunday last summer, a family walked across the square after church: a girl, a boy, a father, a mother, a grandmother. The boy held his mother’s hand, half-skipping, happy that services are over. He looked up for a moment at the giant photographs. His eyes, behind glasses, took a moment to focus. He tilted his head ever so slightly, considering. Above him hung a giant image of boy, a bit younger and blonder than he, posing on a chair. “Mamo, co tam wisi?” “Mommy, what is hanging there?”

“Obrazy …” “Pictures …”

This summer, I found children playing in the water of the fountain in the middle of Grzybowski Square. At Empty Street 14 the walls are under restoration, behind a white screen bearing a company logo. The brick that recalls old Warsaw hides behind a white façade awaiting change from within; only a few balconies protrude to recall the rude beauty of old iron. The outer walls of the ground floor have been whitewashed, but one of the graffiti duels has returned. Someone has, once again, painted Jesus and the word “truth.” And someone else has, once again, painted a map of the ghetto next to it. And underneath another word has been added, presumably by the same hand: “boli,” “hurts.”

So, now, in summer 2015, the caption reads: “The truth hurts.”

With the renovation, the giant sepia photographs are gone. An even 75 years after the the establishment of the ghetto, we struggle to remember, seeking support in each round anniversary, imagining that one day or another in 2015 can reveal to us, by some alchemy of arithmetic and longing, the lesson of the past. We grieve the deaths of the last survivors of the Holocaust, the living resources of our culture of commemoration, the source of what we like to call memory. Yet alive or dead they cannot save us. Memory cannot save us. Pictures cannot save us. Understanding might.


Buried Nazi tunnels ? Polish province drills down after explorer’s claim

WARSAW, Poland – Workers hired by local authorities are drilling in southwestern Poland in search of hidden Nazi tunnels that an explorer claims are in the area.

The provincial governor in Walbrzych, Jacek Cichura, said Saturday that small cameras will be inserted in the holes to get a better look. The findings are to be announced on Thursday.

An explorer, Krzysztof Szpakowski, claimed last month that he has located a system of underground Nazi tunnels and shelters near the city of Walbrzych.

He believes they can hide technical appliances or armaments, but not the legendary gold train.

Local lore has it that in 1945, the Nazis hid an armoured gold train from Soviet troops near Walbrzych. Military experts have checked the alleged site for safety ahead of possible search work.

Global News

dimanche 11 octobre 2015


Salvaged Pages : Young Writers Diaries of the Holocaust, Second Edition

In the best of scenarios, when a book is reissued in a second edition, it’s because so much new scholarship has been created around the topic that the first set of pages just cry out for expansion and even reinvention. This is certainly the case with Salvaged Pages, a readable, informative, and enlightening collection of essays by young writers who came of age in the poisoned air of the Holocaust years.

Winner of the National Jewish Book Award in its first edition (published in 2002), this set of first-person narratives contains eyewitness reportage by young people between the ages of 12 and 22. Scholars often ask how we can best understand the enormity of the Holocaust, and some answer, rather convincingly, that it is through deeply taking in the observations, impressions, emotions and activities experienced in the day-to-day lives of individual people.

Salvaged Pages, issued both in print and as an e-book, serves many purposes: the full revision and updating of its contents reflects new ideas about survival and genocide and is designed to serve a range of readers, from academics to serious students of the Holocaust to lay people who want to be fully informed about the era. In addition, the second edition also incorporates a variety of media, so that it can be used as a classroom tool along with the interdisciplinary curriculum in history, literature, and writing that has been developed to support the teaching of the Holocaust in both middle- and high-school classrooms. These new media include photos of the writers and their diaries, original artwork, maps, survivor testimonies, and historical documents.

Because of these attributes, the new edition stands out as an educational tool. Alexandra Zapruder, who collected and edited the essays, has wisely collaborated with experts in a variety of disciplines and technologies, including the well-respected educational nonprofit Facing History and Ourselves. In a demonstration of the value of the book, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has adopted it as one of its foundational texts.

The essays are parts of real diaries and journals kept by the young people as their daily lives unfolded. They are filled with emotion that rings true, illuminating their experiences at home, in hiding, in transit camps, ghettos, and concentration camps. Despite fear and cold, displacement and loss, these writers continued to find scraps of paper and pencils on which to record what was happening to them. Time and again they ask why—why they are hungry, why they are losing their families, why they are forced to live in hell. And while we imbibe these extraordinary stories, what we mostly find is that we have no answers, only more—but perhaps better—questions.


The Warsaw ghetto uprising : Armed Jews vs. Nazis

During World War II, 30,000 Jewish partisans fought in Eastern Europe, in their own combat units. In Western Europe, where anti-semitism among the conquered gentile population was less severe, Jews were able to participate as individuals in the national resistance, rather than having to fight in separate units. For example, in France, Jews amounted to less than one percent of French population, but comprised about 15 to 20 percent of the French Resistance. One of the most successful battles of the Jewish resistance was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Nearly every Jew who participated was eventually killed — but they were going to be killed anyway. By choosing to stand and fight, the Warsaw Jews diverted a significant amount of Nazis resources from battlefields elsewhere, thus hastening the Nazi defeat.
The following is a based on my forthcoming book “The Morality of Self-Defense and Military Action: The Judeo-Christian Tradition,” which will be published in 2016 by Praeger.
Before the war, about 10 percent of Poland’s population was Jewish. In the Middle Ages, Poland had been a welcoming, tolerant and free nation, and many Jews emigrated there. But when Poland regained its independence in 1919, thanks to the Versailles Treaty, the nation degenerated into a military dictatorship which encouraged anti-semitism.

vendredi 9 octobre 2015


Svetlana Alexievich's Nobel Prize Is Tribute to Her Fight 

Against Anti-Semitic Belarus Tyrant

vetlana Alexievich, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature October 8, is a banned author in her homeland of Belarus, as she explained in a 2013 interview with Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster.

Her books are neither published nor discussed in the media there. Due to government persecution, she left Belarus from 2000 to 2011, returning to be close to her remaining family and to hear her native language spoken. She admitted to Deutsche Welle that “as far as the dictatorship is concerned, it’s something we’re going to have for a long, long time.” This sober, if realistic assessment is particularly bad news for the remaining Jews of Belarus.

In 1995, Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, told Russian NTV television : “The history of Germany is a copy of the history of Belarus. Germany was raised from the ruins thanks to firm authority, and not everything connected with that well-known figure, Adolf Hitler, was bad. German order evolved over the centuries and under Hitler it attained its peak.”

In 2007, Lukashenko followed up this encomium of the well-known figure by blaming poor conditions in the city of Babruysk in eastern Belarus on its Jews. On government radio he declared: “This is a Jewish city, and the Jews are not concerned for the place they live in. They have turned Babruysk into a pigsty. Look at Israel – I was there and saw it myself … I call on Jews who have money to come back to Babruysk.”


Paris to Unveil Memorial for Infant Victims of the Holocaust

On Friday, October 9, a commemorative plaque will be unveiled in a small city park called “Les Jardins des Rosiers,” which is located in the Marais district of Paris.

The plaque contains the names of 101 infants of the fourth arrondissement in Paris, who were arrested by French police of the Vichy Regime and handed over to the Nazis for extermination — simply because they were born Jewish.

They were all too young to attend school. (If they had been old enough, their names would already have been placed on plaques at the schools they attended at the time of their arrest.)

The youngest was 27 days old.

The five lines at the top of the plaque set out their common fate:

Arrested by the police of the Vichy government, accomplice of the Nazi occupation forces, more than 11,000 children were deported from France and murdered  in Auschwitz because they were born Jewish. More than 500 of these children used to live in the fourth arrondissement. Among them, 101 were so young that they didn’t have a chance to go to school.

These lines are followed by a message to passersby, who will pause to glimpse into the ugly past:

Passerby, read their names. Your memory is their only tombstone. We must never forget them.

This is the latest plaque installed under a program initiated by former students of a school on Rue de Tlemcen in Paris, to pay respect to their friends who did not come back.

Calling themselves “Comité Tlemcen,” they installed their first plaque outside of a school in April 1997, and inspired the growth of similar committees elsewhere in Paris.

Finding the names of the children who were taken away was no easy task.

The Comité poured through school records and then cross-checked these names with extraordinary, painstaking research into the deportation of 76,000 Jews from France, which had been conducted by famed Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld.

The Comité uses the plaque campaign as an opportunity to educate students about the truth of the Holocaust, and to ensure that “les enfants” will never be forgotten.

The location of the latest installation is significant, as Jews have inhabited the Marais district for hundreds of years and many of its residents were deported to the concentration camps.

The garden is named in honor of Joseph Migneret, the principal of a school in the area, who was recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations” for his efforts to save Jews, including his students.

The plaque is being installed in front of the former site of a popular restaurant called “Chez Jo Goldenberg” — the target of an infamous terrorist attack on August 9, 1982.

The timing of the installation is significant because of recent violent incidents against Jews, which once again have French Jews worried about the security of  their children.

Three “enfants caches” (hidden children who were saved from the Holocaust) representing various organizations will be present at the ceremony to be led by Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris.

André Panczer managed to find his way to Switzerland after a difficult and perilous passage, where, separated from his parents, he avoided the fate of so many of his fellow students.

Rachel Jedinak, an orphan of the Shoah who has been honored by the French government for her unceasing efforts to combat racial hatred, says she finds it “unbelievable” that in France, after what happened in the war, “the same human being could fear for the second time in a lifetime that one could be killed just for the reason of being Jewish.”

Régine Lippe says she plans to speak about the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis and the French Vichy government on the 1.5 million Jewish children assassinated in Europe during the war, among them the 101 children named on the list. She says that 70 years after the Shoah, she would not have imagined fearing again for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

jeudi 8 octobre 2015


Inside the Paris Department Store where Nazis Shopped for Stolen Jewish Belongings

When Paris was liberated from the Nazi occupation in 1944, an album of 85 photographs was found in a shop that had been used by German soldiers assigned to the “Furniture Operation” (Möbel Aktion), the official name for pillaging apartments that had been inhabited by Jews. The snapshots reveal furniture and everyday household goods displayed almost as if it were an Ikea supermarket, merchandised to catch the shopper’s eye. Except in this case, the “shopper” was the Nazi, the “sales assistants” were Jewish prisoners and the “product” on sale had been looted from their Parisian homes.
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Most of these photographs were taken inside a Parisian department store called Lévitan, opened by a Jewishman called Wolf Levitan in the 1930s to specialise in furniture. Located at 85-87 Rue Faubourg Saint Martin in the 10th arrondissement, the building was confiscated from its former owner by the Nazis. Below is a photo of how the store looked before the Nazis moved in.
Everything had been left behind, even down to the cash registers. But not only did Lévitan become a place for Nazi worthies to browse stolen Jewish household goods, picking out things for themselves before being sent off to Germany, the former furniture store also became one of the several Nazi forced labour camps inside occupied Paris, known as the Lévitan camp…
While the first three floors were used for the stock, the fourth was used as a rudimentary dormitory for the 795 Jewish prisoners who were “employed” there between 1940-1944, selected from the Drancy internment camp in the northern suburbs (the last stop before being sent to an extermination camp).
Mostly women, but also a specialised workforce of craftsmen, clockmakers seamstresses, potters, restorers and such, were forced to sort, repair, classify, stack and pack the furniture that had been mercilessly plucked from the very homes of their friends, families, neighbours and community who had been sent to their deaths.
So much was pillaged from Jewish homes that it wouldn’t have been unlikely that the internees at Lévitan could have come across items from their own home.
They had taken everything, not just the expensive stuff. The displays of the most everyday objects such as kitchen saucepans, household tools, even bedsheets, show it was as much “a process of destruction and anonymization” as it was of greed.
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The Furniture Operation’s archives and records were destroyed at the end of the war, but not this one. The German soldiers tasked with photographing seized Jewish art and furniture had done such a good job at documenting it all for inventory reasons, it was a “taxonomic look at spoils to be restored”, serving like an administrative document, witnessing the pillaging work being carried out. After the war, the discovered album of photographs was brought to Munich by one of the famous ‘Monuments Men’ James R. Rorimer (who inspired Matt Damon’s character in the film) as part of a mission to collect documents and information potentially useful for retracing German-seized artwork in the French capital.
The album is kept in the German Federal Archives in Koblenz, and in a new book by sociologist Sarah Gensburger, all 85 images have been published with fascinating background analysis in Witnessing the Robbing of the JewsThe album also includes some unique photo coverage of the Louvre Museum as a place for the looting, hoarding and theft of the Jews.
Gensbrger speaks about how one photograph in particular shows how the mission of the Nazi “Furniture Operation” was not so much about making a profit as it was to erase and destroy…
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“Approximately seventy paintings are visible in the image, taken in one of the rooms of the Louvre Sequestration area. That only the backsides of the paintings appear in the photograph suggests that as a whole the images were meant as proof of the administrative work accomplished… the photographs were not intended to display the quality of the art. Here the administrative value of the paintings is nothing but the mass they represent, and the quantity of objects reflects … the quantity of individuals concerned by the racial extermination process.”
Of the 795 Jewish prisoners forced to work in the Nazi supermarket of their stolen belongings, 164 were deported to death camps. The former department store on Rue Faubourg Saint Martin is now the seat of an advertising agency on. A small plaque on the building’s facades commemorates what happened there.

Sarah Gensburger’s book, Witnessing the Robbing of the Jews: A Photographic Album, Paris, 1940-1944 is available to buy on Amazon. 


Unearthing Hitler's Secret Stash of Booze

Willkommen, can we pour you a drink ?

We have a lovely Hitler cognac that will blitz your socks off !

Restauranteur Silvio Stelzer just found bottles of French cognac and Champagne belonging to history’s most hated man, one Adolf Hitler, under his restaurant — Zum Dreispitz — on the grounds of Moritzburg Castle , a mere 30-minute ride from Dresden, Germany.

Seltzer purchased a villa on the grounds of the historic site back in 2007, but it was only during a recent renovation that the discovery of six interconnected underground cellars — and the bottles — dating back to World War II was made. On Hitler’s commands, and as Europe starved in 1944, the S.S. hid war-time delicacies like alcohol, cheese, biscuits, tins of butter, salami sausage, coffee, chocolate and cigarettes in cellars that somehow escaped the post-war pillaging of the Red Army.

Though Hitler neither drank nor smoked, he kept his highest ranking officers happy with the best delicacies the Nazis could loot.

Now the question is, who gets to keep the newly-discovered bottles ?

It’s definitely not going to Hitler’s heirs — and there are a few, some living in Long Island , New York — Bavaria seized all of Hitler’s estate after the end of WWII in 1945.

Read more:

mardi 6 octobre 2015


Thomas et son ombre

« Je n’ai connu Thomas que mort. C’était mon oncle, membre des FTP-MOI. En 1944, il a été fusillé à dix-neuf ans avec ses camarades du groupe Manouchian, deux ans avant ma naissance. Mais mort ou pas, dieu sait si je l’ai connu : je suis né dans les pleurs de sa mère, le chagrin des siens, le culte de l’Affiche Rouge sur laquelle il figure. On m’a donné son prénom et j’ai même porté son nom. Son ombre n’a cessé de me suivre, moi le vivant, lui le fantôme.

Ce livre est écrit pour que Thomas reprenne vie. Pour que s’approchant de vous, il s’éloigne de moi. »

"Thomas Stern  : « Mon oncle fut un fantôme protecteur »

Avec Thomas et son ombre (Grasset), Thomas Stern signe son troisième livre et son premier roman. L’auteur a en effet choisi d’alterner faits véridiques et faits romancés pour rendre hommage à son oncle, Thomas Elek, fusillé au mont Valérien comme membre du groupe Manouchian, à qui il est intimement lié.

« Mes grands-parents sont arrivés de Hongrie en 1930. Lycéen à Louis-le-Grand, leur fils aîné Thomas refusa en 1942 de porter l’étoile jaune et s’investit dans ­l’action clandestine. Au lieu de le dissuader, Hélène, sa mère, l’incita à rejoindre un réseau de résistance. À 17 ans, Thomas s’enrôla dans les FTP-MOI (Francs-tireurs et partisans - Main-d’œuvre immigrée). Il sera fusillé par les nazis à 19 ans avec ses amis du groupe Manouchian en février 1944."