jeudi 30 octobre 2014

Histoire

Le musée de Wiesbaden a mis au point un nouveau plan 

de rachat d'un tableau volé à un collectionneur juif pendant la période nazie.





A museum in Germany has come up with a novel plan to buy back a painting stolen from a Jewish collector during the Nazi era.

The Wiesbaden Museum has hung the 19th century painting by Hans von Marées backwards, in a bid to raise public awareness and also the $118,000 it needs by Nov. 5 to buy the painting from its rightful heirs, museum director Alexander Klar announced in late October.

The amount to be raised covers one third of the value of the painting plus the cost of the fundraising campaign, according to an online report from Hessische Rundfunk radio and TV.

The painting, titled “Die Labung” (Sustenance), was part of the collection of Jewish industrialist Max Silberberg of Breslau. He was forced to sell the collection to the Nazis in 1934. Silberberg and his wife, Johanna, were later killed in Auschwitz.

The rightful heir to the collection is the Israel-based Gerta Silberberg Discretionary Trust. In 1980, a local collector bequeathed the painting to the museum.

HR Online reported that Wiesbaden Museum was a repository for art robbed from Jewish owners during the Third Reich. The museum has been researching the provenance of works in its collection, with an aim to providing restitution. It already has returned two paintings to their proper heirs, or bought them back, HR reported.



Read more : http://forward.com/articles/208194/german-museum-hangs-nazi-looted-painting-backwards/#ixzz3HemWWsMf


Mémoire

L'historien israélien Otto Dov Kulka raconte 

l'histoire d'une famille tchèque à Auschwitz qui n'a jamais existé




Why Holocaust accounts - and their fictions or omissions - 

can be a threat to the history of a complicated, tragic human reality


In 2013 the Israeli historian Otto Dov Kulka published a recollection of his childhood in concentration camps, Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death. Historians and general audiences praised the poetic and reflective tone of the book. Deported at 11 years of age from Theresienstadt, Kulka spent a year and half at Auschwitz and is one of the very few children of his age who survived. Quite unlike most other survivors’ accounts, Kulka’s book has little narrative: It is a collage of impressions, dreams, and metaphysical musings about the world of Auschwitz.

Yet this style masks the fundamental omission of a complicated family history, including adultery, bitter divorce, and a paternity suit. In short, what Kulka wrote was a book about a family that never was.

Beyond the poetic observations of death and mass killing, Landscapes tells a story of a Jewish boy, Otto, born in 1933, whose father, Erich, was deported as a political prisoner in 1939. Otto and his mother Elly are deported together with their relatives to Theresienstadt and then join his grandmother to be sent to Auschwitz in September 1943. In the Family Camp in Birkenau, they meet up with Erich, who conceives with Elly a second child. Elly and Otto survive the murder of the first transport in March 1944 due to being registered as sick. In July 1944, when the Family Camp is closed, they pass a selection and are separated; Elly is sent to Stutthof. In the emotional heart of the book, Elly parts with Otto, a modern Eurydice who walks away to save her unborn child. She gives birth to a boy, but her fellow prisoners kill the baby in order not to endanger their own lives. Elly dies in January 1945, during the evacuation of the camp, having contracted typhus. Erich and Otto survive.

The real story of Erich Kulka’s life, which I was able to reconstruct on the basis of the custody file, secret police files, survivor testimonies, and various other records, is more complicated and less poetic—and much more interesting and illuminating. For reasons I will explain below, Kulka writes his little sister Eva and his first father, Rudolf, out of his family history. We could speculate whether he wrote his family members out because their very existence would point out that the love story between his parents, Elly and Erich, happened in a way he wouldn’t like to acknowledge.

Perhaps unconsciously, Landscapes of Metropolis of Death is a search for a normal family, defined by a conventionally acceptable love between two parents. Yet Kulka’s omissions present a troubling gap. Nothing is left of Eva and Rudolf; they were murdered immediately upon arrival in Treblinka; they don’t have a grave. Like most victims of the Holocaust, they were not famous people remembered for their lives. This is why Holocaust survivors in their testimonies speak about their family members who perished: to remember them by their faces, characters, commemorating people of whom nothing—nothing at all—is left. In writing Rudolf and Eva out of his account, Otto Dov Kulka essentially wrote them out of history, and out of existence.

Eva Deutelbaumová was, at 11 years, the same age as the Berlin Jewish girl Marion Samuel, whose name was randomly selected as the name for a German prize for works that contribute to the fight against forgetting National Socialism. One of the recipients was Götz Aly, the eminent German historian of the German perpetrators. In 2003, he set out and researched the life of the girl Marion Samuel, found her photo, family, friends, addresses, her last days, and wrote a short, important book about her. It is in this context that the treatment that Kulka, the Israeli historian of Jewish history, gave to his sister appears ungenerous.

Kulka carefully framed his book as a non-memoir and a non-autobiography, “fragments of memory and imagination that have remained from the world of a wondering child,” based on 10 years of tape monologues. The associative, poetic, vague text of Kulka’s book has a double function: It allows him to erase the uncomfortable parts of his true family history while situating his book in the context of great literary Holocaust memoirs written by children survivors such as Ruth Klüger’s Still Alive, or Gerhard Durlacher’s Stripes in the Sky (both of whom were with Kulka in the Family Camp), which see the horrors of the Nazi extermination project from the a child’s fragmentary point of view. But Klüger and Durlacher—as well as Ida Fink, Primo Levi, Charlotte Delbo, Fred Wander, Liana Millu—were not only great writers; they based their writing on real-life events with which they struggled mightily to come to terms. Kulka’s poetic, meandering style enabled him to write a book about his childhood without telling uncomfortable truths, which he instead omits and actively erases.

Kulka’s literary forgetting of his sister is also a part of another disturbing trend in the field of wartime memory. Scholars such as Bonnie Smith and Karen Hagemann have pointed out that men and women historians tend to write different kind of histories: Men often wrote official, and often conservative, histories of important men and their important decisions. Women historians included social and cultural interpretations and the lives of average people, resulting in histories written against the grain. A small but critical part of this trend is that when the 19th-century male historians wrote autobiographies, they often did not mention their women colleagues; they simply erased them and instead focused on their own, “more important,” lives. It seems fair to say that this practice has continued and now colors our historical memory of the Second World War. The autobiography The Memory of the Czech Left, written by my own grandfather—the resistance fighter, historian of the Third International, and dissident Miloš Hájek—is full of important men in his life: František Kriegel, Václav Havel, Jan Křen. But his first wife, my grandmother, Alena Hájková, who was with him in the resistance, an eminent historian herself—to this day the expert of the Czech Jews in the resistance—is mentioned only in passing. Don’t get me wrong: I love my grandfather. But we should think critically about this way of memoir writing, because it is a distortion of personal histories, which are inextricably and inexorably linked to distortions of the larger ones.








mercredi 29 octobre 2014

Mémoire

Augmenter les revenus des survivants de la Shoah : 

une course contre la montre


Une organisation qui aide les survivants à recevoir des indemnités, de plus en plus débordée … et pressée







En juin dernier, la Knesset a approuvé le « Plan national d’aide aux survivants de l’Holocauste », soit une augmentation d’un milliard de shekels annuels des prestations aux survivants de l’Holocauste en Israël.

Une bénédiction, mais aussi un impératif, pour les 200 000 survivants en Israël, en particulier pour le tiers d’entre eux qui vivent dans la pauvreté.

Selon le nouveau plan, les survivants, notamment les plus démunis, verront leurs allocations mensuelles augmenter de manière significative.



Mémoire

Differdange: Les années brunes de la Cité du fer





Hier, quinze Stolpersteine ont été scellées dans le sol de la commune, devant le dernier domicile de personnes déportées et assassinées par les nazis pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale.

L'artiste allemand Gunter Demnig a scellé hier quinze pavés dans les rues de Differdange. Chacun d'entre eux porte le nom, la date de naissance, l'année et le lieu du décès d'une personne que les nazis ont envoyée à la mort.

Regarder en arrière n'est pas un exercice facile car on ne sait jamais vraiment ce que l'on va trouver, enfoui sous les évènements et les actes que l'on a décidé d'oublier, sciemment ou inconsciemment.

Differdange a le mérite d'avoir fait ce travail et le résultat de ces recherches scrupuleuses menées par l'historien Cédric Faltz permet de lever le voile sur les heures sombres de la commune. «Ce ne sont pas de belles choses, mais il est nécessaire de les connaître», a expliqué le bourgmestre, Roberto Traversini.

« Le sort des juifs importe peu »

Dressons le tableau. En 1939, à la veille de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, Differdange est déjà une petite commune industrielle particulièrement cosmopolite de 16 000 âmes. La sidérurgie et les mines ont amené nombre de Polonais, Italiens, Allemands, Belges...

Les premiers juifs, eux, sont arrivés d'Alsace-Lorraine. En 1907, ils étaient 38 dans une commune qui n'a jamais compté de synagogue. Ceux-ci, pour la majorité commerçants, étaient parfaitement intégrés. Certains étaient même des personnalités importantes de la vie de la cité, à l'image de Mayer Bonem, qui était élu au conseil municipal et président de la commission des Finances de la commune.

Ce multiculturalisme, cette intégration sans fausse note... autant d'informations qui pourraient faire croire à un rejet naturel des idéologies nazies. Ce serait pourtant faire une terrible fausse route, comme l'ont prouvé de nombreux documents retrouvés par Cédric Faltz. «L'antisémitisme était très présent à cette époque, relate-t-il. À tel point que l'on se rend compte que le sort des juifs importait peu à la population.»

Differdange s'est même montré particulièrement zélée dans l'exercice qui consistait à répertorier les juifs et, de manière plus générale, tout ceux que les nazis ne supportaient pas de voir vivre autour d'eux. «La première liste des juifs de la commune a été signée dès 1940 par le bourgmestre Pierre Gansen, qui était pourtant socialiste. Le Gauleiter venait à peine de prendre ses fonctions», apprend l'historien.

Quand le bourgmestre part avec la caisse

À Differdange, une colonne était régulièrement annotée : celle des remarques. «Ceux qui ont réalisé les listes indiquaient de nombreuses précisions concernant la famille et les amis des personnes inscrites, explique Cédric Faltz. Il y avait beaucoup plus de renseignements que ce que demandaient les nazis. Et c'est assez inhabituel. À Dudelange ou à Esch, les informations étaient le plus souvent lacunaires. Comme si les autorités voulaient gagner du temps...»

Les conditions de vie des juifs et des minorités ne se sont pas arrangées avec l'arrivée au pouvoir en mai 1941 d'un bourgmestre très ouvertement nazi, portant fièrement le brassard à la croix gammée : Hermann Friedrich Schrader. Entre le 16 octobre 1941 et le 17 juin 1743, sept convois ont été envoyés du Luxembourg vers des ghettos et des camps allemands. Parmi ceux qui ne sont jamais revenus, on comptait 32 Differdangeois.

En 1944, lorsque les Américains viendront libérer le pays, Schrader s'enfuira en Allemagne avec les trois millions de deutsche marks que comptait la caisse communale, les camions de pompiers ou encore les machines à écrire de la mairie.

Lors de son procès, le juge britannique estimera qu'il n'était pas au courant de la persécution des juifs et ne le condamnera qu'à trois ans de prison. «Mais c'est faux, s'indigne Cédric Faltz. Il y a dans les archives communales des documents qui prouvent le contraire, dont un procès-verbal signé de sa main qui sanctionne un juif qui ne portait pas le brassard jaune à l'étoile de David.» Ces archives n'ont toutefois pas été sorties lors du jugement.

Depuis la Carte blanche de l'historien Denis Scuto sur les ondes de RTL, où il expliquait que l'État luxembourgeois avait fourni aux nazis une liste de 280 élèves juifs dès septembre 1940, le Luxembourg commence à oser regarder le passé avec objectivité. Grâce aux travaux méthodiques et scientifiques d'une génération de jeunes historiens dont l'apparition n'est pas étrangère à celle de l'université, aujourd'hui, les disparus retrouvent enfin la mémoire.



Histoire

Des élèves nazis font scandale en Allemagne





La petite ville de Landsberg dans l'Est de l'Allemagne se retrouve sous les feux de la rampe. Des élèves se sont pris en photo avec le salut nazi et ont échangé des propos racistes sur les réseaux sociaux.

La ville de Landsberg était jusqu'à peu une petite ville sans histoire de Saxe-Anhalt dans l'Est du pays, avec un peu plus de 15'000 habitants. Mais depuis quelques jours, toute l'Allemagne sait que certains d'entre eux sont des nazis déclarés et toujours sur les bancs du gymnase de la ville.

Comme l'explique le quotidien Bild, les élèves d'une quinzaine d'années se saluent chaque matin avec le salut hitlérien. Et s'échangent des propos racistes sur les réseaux sociaux, notamment via WhatsApp où ils ont créé un espace de discussion privé.

Avec une moustache à la Hitler

Le groupe d'une trentaine d'écoliers est constamment relié par l'application et en profite pour échanger des propos et des slogans du Parti national-démocrate d'Allemagne (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands, NPD) , un parti néo-nazi aux idées clairement racistes, antisémites et révisionnistes.

Sur la page Facebook du groupe, deux jeunes font le salut nazi, arborant la moustache typique du dictateur. Des comportements qui inquiètent la communauté juive dont certains enfants étudient dans le collège en question.

Autorités et direction veulent agir

L'un d'entre eux se trouve même dans la classe incriminée. Eli Gampel explique au magazine Focus ce que son fils a découvert sur WhatsApp. Et de raconter comment un inconnu a collé sur la veste de son fils un autocollant du NPD alors que tout le monde sait dans la classe que son fils est juif.

Les autorités ont ordonné une enquête et la direction de l'établissement entend convoquer parents et élèves. Mais pas tout de suite car les écoles du Land sont actuellement en vacances d'automne. La rentrée lundi risque d'être animée.


mardi 28 octobre 2014

Mémoire

Treblinka's 'Last Witness' Keeps Alive Camp's Memory





Samuel Willenberg, the last known living survivor of the notorious Nazi extermination camp Treblinka is nearing the end of a life’s mission to tell of the horrors that he saw there.

Now 92, his remarkable story, featured in a documentary film produced by Miami public TV channel WLRN, is spurring efforts to fulfill that mission by building an educational museum at the camp’s site in a remote pine forest in eastern Poland.

“Treblinka’s Last Witness,” airing on Tuesday, tells the story of how Willenberg, a Polish Jew, became a forced laborer at Treblinka where his two sisters were among the 900,000 Jews sent to their deaths. He later escaped during a camp revolt, one of barely 100 Jews to survive the place.

A history professor he met in the camp told him: “You’re not like other Jews, you have blonde hair, you know how to survive,” Willenberg recalled in an interview during a visit to Miami for a premiere of the film last week before a packed audience, many of them relatives of Holocaust victims.

“You have to run away from this,” the professor told him. “It will be your mission to tell people about what happened here.”

Willenberg, who after World War Two moved to Israel, married and worked for 40 years as a civil servant, has dedicated his retirement to memorializing what happened by creating a series of 15 haunting bronze sculptures, each capturing a scene from the camp, as well as leading educational visits there.

On Tuesday Willenberg will also be a guest of honor alongside Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the opening of the main exhibition at Warsaw’s newly built Museum of the History of Polish Jews, a project that sets out to recall not just how Jews in Poland died, but how they lived.

Of Poland’s pre-war population of 3.5 million Jews, only a few tens of thousands remain, their place in the nation’s history and culture having been largely eradicated.

Only recently has Poland started to re-connect with its role in history as a home for 1,000 years to one of the world’s biggest Jewish communities.

LARGELY UNTOUCHED

Polish Jews have also played a major role in American history, with an estimated 80 percent of U.S. Jews able to trace their roots back to ancestors in Poland.

Unlike other Nazi concentration camps such as Auschwitz, Dachau and Buchenwald, where efforts have been made to educate visitors, the Treblinka site has been left largely untouched after the Nazis demolished it near the end of the war in a desperate effort to cover up their deeds.

All that exists there today are some railroad ties leading up to the remains of a station platform set among large stones.

“It’s a very moving place, but there’s nothing to tell the story,” said the film’s British-born director, Alan Tomlinson.

“I have heard a lot of stories in my career, but no-one has ever told me a story like Samuel’s,” Tomlinson, 66, told the audience at the premiere. “And Samuel is such a great story-teller,” he added, crediting Willenberg’s lucid passion and vivid memory with providing the film’s powerful impact.

Experts say that much more could be done at the current site to help visitors understand the monstrosity of Treblinka. Historians have called it the Nazis’ most efficient death camp which, operating like a factory assembly-line, they killed almost 1 million people in barely 13 months in 1942-1943.

“It’s an intuitive, emotional understanding that concentrates beautifully the sense of loss, but it’s wordless and doesn’t articulate what was lost there,” said Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum.

“You experience the presence of absence and the absence of presence,” he added. “Treblinka is a place where a crime is not manifest.”

Berenbaum said an anonymous donor has already committed $1 million to the museum project. During his Miami visit Willenberg met with a number of wealthy Polish immigrants who pledged to see the museum built.

“Thanks to Samuel’s extraordinary persistence, the project now has real life,” said Tomlinson.
After the film airs on Oct. 28 on WLRN in south Florida, it will be distributed nationally through the PBS network.





Mémoire

Austria’s Case Against Holocaust Survivor’s Son Falls Apart

Architectural historian faced one-year prison sentence over resitution claim




Austria’s efforts to jail the son of a Jewish Holocaust survivor for trying to reclaim family property seized by the Nazis appear to have fallen apart, after a senior government official said the Austrian state has no claim against the man, Stephan Templ, a 54-year-old journalist and architectural historian.
“The Republic makes no claims against your client,” Martin Windisch, the senior prosecutor at Austria’s finance ministry wrote to Christof Dunst, a Vienna attorney who had represented Templ, in a letter dated Sept. 9 and reviewed Oct. 26 by Tablet.
Templ was accused of deceiving a state panel into awarding his mother a larger share than she was entitled to of a central Vienna palace seized from a relative when the Nazis took control of Austria in 1938. Even though the Austrian state renounced its claim to any Holocaust-looted property in a treaty with the United States, Templ was sentenced earlier this year to a year in prison for allegedly costing Austria its share of the palace.
After learning that a German bank was seeking heirs to the property, now worth as much as 60 million Euro, Templ filed a claim for his mother, without noting his mother’s estranged sister might also be an heir. Though the bank and its Austrian advisors also failed to name the aunt, and Austrian law doesn’t require claimants to look for other heirs, Templ was the only person tried.
Even as Austria has begun returning looted artwork to heirs, the country has dug in its heels on returning real estate. A comprehensive survey of all of Austria’s real estate, cataloguing what had been seized and was still held by the state, was completed several years ago but has not been published. (Seized property that has been sold to private individuals is excluded from restitution in most cases.)
Temple, however, believes he has been targeted for political reasons. He and his partner, Tina Walzer, raised the ire of Austrian nationalists with the publication of their 2001 book, Our Vienna: Aryanization Austrian-style, which catalogued more than 300 prominent Vienna landmarks and properties that had been taken by the Nazis from Jews. Most of the properties were never returned to the heirs of their rightful owners.
Robert Amsterdam, a London-based human rights lawyer who has taken up the case, this weekend published an open letter to Austria’s chief prosecutor calling on the country to drop its case, and arguing that Templ has been “singled out for retaliatory treatment,” because of the book.
“How the Republic can lay claim to property that is acknowledged to have once been stolen and has been then given back to the heirs of the rightful owners is a fundamental error in the entire logic of the prosecution of Mr. Templ,” Amsterdam wrote in the 22-page letter. The prosecution is “a grotesque violation of historical memory,” and the finance ministry’s letter is proof that there’s no case, wrote Amsterdam.
“I’m just one Jew, and I always thought it was just a book,” Templ said Sunday in a telephone interview from Vienna. “Now I think it’s some kind of vendetta against restitution in general. They hate the idea of restitution and I’m a small fly to them, so it’s easy to punish me.”
Templ, whose prison sentence was already postponed until next September, said he feels “abused” by the way his country treated him. “And how do you think my parents feel,” he said. “My mother lived through all this and now this horror comes again.”

Histoire

Des nazis recrutés comme espions par la CIA pendant la " guerre froide "





If last week’s revelation that the United States government has been paying millions of dollars in social security to suspected former Nazis over the past 50 years wasn’t enough to rile you up about the cozy relationship between the U.S. and the former S.S. (don’t worry, legislation has been proposed to end the practice), a new book alleges far more surprising U.S. activity after World War II. An excerpt of Eric Lichtblau’s new book, The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men, published in the New York Times Monday, the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies turned to an unlikely demographic for help during the Cold War: Nazis.
“At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, law enforcement and intelligence leaders like J. Edgar Hoover at the F.B.I. and Allen Dulles at the C.I.A. aggressively recruited onetime Nazis of all ranks as secret, anti-Soviet ‘assets,’ declassified records show,” Lichtblau writes. “They believed the ex-Nazis’ intelligence value against the Russians outweighed what one official called ‘moral lapses’ in their service to the Third Reich.
Their plan, alas, wasn’t airtight: Nazis, apparently, don’t make the best spies.
But many Nazi spies proved inept or worse, declassified security reviews show. Some were deemed habitual liars, confidence men or embezzlers, and a few even turned out to be Soviet double agents, the records show.
Still, not only were Nazis—real, actual Nazis—being employed and paid by the U.S. less than a decade after the Holocaust, their intelligence agency benefactors protected them fiercely, often interfering with investigations into suspected war criminals. According to newly available documents, there’s evidence that requests for information on former Nazis living in the U.S. were routinely evaded by the CIA and FBI into the 1990s.
You can read the full excerpt here.



Related : In Argentine Haven for Fugitive Nazis, April Means Chocolate Eggs and Hitler Parties


De nouveaux documents déclassifiés le confirment: le gouvernement américain a protégé et utilisé d’anciens nazis pour espionner l’URSS.

Au moins 1.000 anciens nazis ont été employés par la CIA et d’autres agences du gouvernement américain comme espions et informateurs pendant la Guerre froide. Et certains vivent encore aux Etats-Unis. Eric Lichtblau est journaliste au New York Times et auteur du livre The Nazis next Door. Il révèle dans le journal que de nouveaux documents confirment ce que beaucoup pressentaient depuis les années 1970. Selon le journal, la CIA et le FBI estimaient que «la valeur de renseignement des anciens nazis contre les Russes outrepassait ce que certains appelaient “les défaillances morales” sous le troisième Reich.»

Ainsi, certains nazis, pourtant responsables de crimes de guerre, ont été protégés par les agences du gouvernement américain. En 1980 par exemple, le FBI a refusé de livrer aux chasseurs de nazis du département de la Justice ce qu’ils savaient de 16 personnes suspectées d’être d’anciens nazis vivant aux Etats-Unis. Tom Soobzokov, que beaucoup accusent d'être un ex-nazi, a longtemps vécu dans le New Jersey. The Atlantic, toujours d'après le livre d’Eric Lichtblau, explique que certains en Russie l’appelaient le «Hitler du Nord Caucase». «Soobzokov répétait à qui voulait l’entendre qu’il était innocent et victime de mensonges», explique l’article, qui rappelle que son nom sera cité à plusieurs reprises dans les journaux à l'époque, créant chez lui une grande inquiétude.

Certains même avaient des postes très importants pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Un ancien officier SS, Otto von Bolschwing, était le mentor et un grand soutien d’Adolf Eichmann, l’architecte de la «Solution finale». Après la guerre, la CIA l’a embauché et l’a installé avec sa famille à New York. Il y vécu tranquillement jusqu’en 1981, année où il dû abandonner sa citoyenneté américaine. Il mourra quelques mois plus tard.

Au cœur de ces embauches particulières dans les années 1950, deux hommes: Allen Dulles et John Edgar Hoover, respectivement patrons de la CIA et du FBI. Selon des documents d’archive, le premier pensait que «les nazis modérés» pouvaient être «utiles» aux Etats-Unis, et le second a personnellement approuvé l’emploi de certains anciens criminels de guerre.

Pour l’instant, face à ces révélations, ni la CIA ni le FBI n’ont souhaité faire de commentaires. Le livre d’Eric Lichtblau sort mardi 28 octobre aux Etats-Unis.


Histoire

La Suisse accepte le legs de Cornelius Gurlitt





The Swiss art gallery named as the sole heir of reclusive German art collector Cornelius Gurlitt is to accept his bequest of masterpieces which include works looted by the Nazis from Jews, a Swiss paper reported on Sunday.

Gurlitt, who died in May aged 81, had secretly stored hundreds of works by the likes of Chagall and Picasso at his Munich apartment and a house in nearby Salzburg, Austria.

The collection, worth an estimated 1 billion euros (1.26 billion US dollars), contains an as yet undetermined number of works taken by the Nazis from their Jewish owners during World War Two.
The Berne Art Museum will accept the bequest, but only pieces for which restitution claims can be ruled out will come to Berne, the Sonntagszeitung reported.

“According to well informed sources, the meeting of the museum’s board of trustees on November 26 will just sign off on the already detailed agreement,” the paper wrote.

A spokeswoman for the museum said it was still in talks with Germany and the German state of Bavaria, and that “current speculation” about the collection was to a significant extent inaccurate.

“The talks are proceeding constructively, but are not yet concluded,” she said. “In light of this, it is unnecessary to comment on the speculation, which is in significant parts incorrect.”



lundi 27 octobre 2014

Histoire

Un documentaire sur un crime nazi méconnu primé à Waterloo





Le Festival international du film historique de Waterloo s’est achevé ce 19 octobre. Parmi les œuvres sélectionnées, le prestigieux jury a remis le Clion du meilleur documentaire 2014 à Au nom de la race et de la science, Strasbourg 1941-1944.

Un documentaire réalisé par Sonia Rolley, Axel et Trancrède Ramonet, qui, en 55 minutes, emmène le spectateur à la découverte de l’un des pires crimes nazis quasiment absent des livres d’histoire.

Strasbourg, novembre 1944. Quatre-vingt-six corps sont découverts dans le sous-sol de l’Institut d’anatomie. Des corps affreusement mutilés, rendus méconnaissables. Des cadavres de déportés juifs conservés dans du formol par le 3e Reich.

Un projet de collection anatomique

Le 23 novembre 1941, dans l’Alsace fraichement annexée, est inaugurée la Reichuniversität de Strasbourg. Cette toute nouvelle université du Reich est censée démontrer aux Français comme au reste du monde occidental la supériorité de la science allemande qui jusqu’en 1939 se voit attribuée la plupart des prix Nobel. Parmi les professeurs recrutés, August Hirt, un anatomiste de renommée européenne, qui a rejoint la SS, la garde personnelle d’Hitler, dès son accession au pouvoir en 1933. Alors que la solution finale a déjà été décidée en haut lieu, il devient primordial pour August Hirt de conserver une trace de ce peuple que les nazis sont déterminés à exterminer. Pour la beauté de la science et de la connaissance, raconte l’un des intervenants du documentaire Au nom de la race et de la science.

C’est au cours de l’inauguration de la Reichuniversität qu’August Hirt se voit offert l’opportunité de réaliser son ambition. Le professeur d’anatomie y rencontre des proches d’Heinrich Himmler, bras droit d’Hitler et chef de la SS, qui est lui-même piqué de science et a créé une fondation dont le but avoué est de prouver la supériorité de la race aryenne.

August Hirt parvient sans difficulté à convaincre le chef de la SS de l’importance de son plan. Un projet qu’il expose dans une lettre adressée à Heinrich Himmler, intitulé « Conservation des crânes de commissaires judéo-bolcheviques aux fins de recherches scientifiques à la Reichsuniversität Strassburg » : « Il existe d’importantes collections de crânes de presque toutes les races et de presque tous les peuples. Cependant, il n’existe que très peu de spécimen de crânes de la race juive, permettant une étude et des conclusions précises. La guerre à l’Est nous permet de remédier à cette absence et d’obtenir des preuves scientifiques et tangibles en nous procurant les crânes des commissaires juifs bolchéviques qui personnifient une humanité inférieure, repoussante, mais très caractéristique. Après la mort de ces juifs dont on prendra soin de ne pas endommager la tête, on séparera la tête du tronc et on l’enverra à l’université de Strasbourg. Des recherches d’anatomie comparée et des recherches sur la race pourront alors commencer ».

Tous les moyens sont mis à la disposition d’August Hirt qui très vite décide de ne pas se limiter à une simple collection de crânes mais exige qu’on lui remette des sujets non seulement entiers, mais vivants. Le documentaire Au nom de la race et de la science expose non seulement ce projet qui prouve – s’il en était encore besoin – l’intentionnalité de la Shoah mais aussi les hommes qui ont permis ce crime.

Un projet « inachevé »