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Toby Axelrod
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Survivors return to Auschwitz determined to share their stories

WorldPublished: 30 January 2015

KRAKOW, Poland— What kept you alive?

Did your non-Jewish friends reject you?

Could you ever forgive?

Those were some of the questions Jewish young adults posed to Holocaust survivor Marcel Tuchman on Monday at the Galicia Jewish Museum here.

“What kept me alive was having my father with me,” said Tuchman, 93, a physician from New York who was born in Poland and survived several concentration camps, including Auschwitz. “And another thing was the hope I had that one day I will be able to tell the story to the likes of you, so you can tell it to the next generation.”

His meeting with young Jews was one of many such encounters taking place in and around Krakow on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet army’s liberation of Auschwitz, where an estimated 1.1 million people were murdered, many of them gassed.


For one Holocaust survivor, Siemens was a roadblock to his story

Yom HashoahPublished: 05 April 2013

BERLIN — I was 23 when I first met my cousin Gilbert Michlin.

He was sitting at a brasserie near his office in Paris, wearing a dark suit with a folded handkerchief poking out of the breast pocket. His short dark hair was combed perfectly.

He said, in charmingly accented English, “There is one thing I must tell you. I was in Auschwitz.”

Of course, I already knew. But I had never met a survivor before, let alone our French cousin, who had been a slave laborer for Siemens at the death camp.


German students debate the merits of ‘Mein Kampf’ classroom readings

WorldPublished: 13 July 2012

BERLIN – Does Mein Kampf belong in German high schools?

With Adolf Hitler’s book due to emerge from wraps here in 2015, freed after decades under copyright protection that prevented its publication in Germany, it’s a question that is being debated in classrooms and on German TV talk shows.

The discussion has not eased since Bavaria’s Ministry of Finance, which owns the rights, announced plans earlier this year to prepare annotated excerpts for German schools. Scholars at Munich’s Institute for Contemporary History are working on the official annotated edition of the approximately 900-page book.


Norway killer espoused right-wing philosophy claiming to be Zionist

WorldPublished: 26 July 2011

BERLIN – The confessed perpetrator in the attack in Norway that killed at least 76 people espoused a right-wing philosophy against Islam that also purports to be pro-Zionist.

Anders Behring Breivik is charged with detonating a car bomb outside Oslo’s government headquarters, which houses the office of Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, that killed eight people and of shooting and killing at least 68 mostly young people at a political summer camp on nearby Utoya Island. The July 22 massacre reportedly was the the worst attack in Norway since the end of World War II.

In numerous online postings, including a manifesto published on the day of the attacks, Breivik promoted the Vienna School or Crusader Nationalism philosophy, a mishmash of anti-modern principles that also calls for “the deportation of all Muslims from Europe” as well as from “the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”


Israeli expats flocking to Berlin for the culture and the passport

LocalPublished: 08 July 2011

BERLIN – Aviv Russ stands behind a console with his headphones on and speaks into a large microphone.

“We’re here: ‘Kol Berlin,’ the German-Israeli radio program. Shabbat shalom!” says Russ, 34, an Israeli expatriate.

Russ has been on the radio in Berlin nearly every Friday for about three years hosting an hourlong program in a melange of Hebrew and German that offers an often irreverent take on being Israeli in Germany.

The market for his program is growing.


Demjanjuk conviction hailed as long-awaited victory for justice

WorldPublished: 16 May 2011

BERLIN – The guilty verdict pronounced May 12 against John Demjanjuk in a Munich courtroom was a long time coming.

Following a trial that lasted a year and a half — capping more than three decades of legal drama — the 91-year-old former Ohio autoworker is now officially recognized as a war criminal. He was found by the court to have been complicit in at least 27,900 murders at the Sobibor death camp, one of the most horrendous killing grounds in the Nazi genocide against the Jews.

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How Eichmann trial and TV changed perceptions of Holocaust

WorldPublished: 22 April 2011

BERLIN – The face, with its twisted mouth, receding hairline, and dark-framed glasses, is familiar around the world today.

But 50 years ago, when Adolf Eichmann — former head of the Nazi Department for Jewish Affairs — first sat in a Jerusalem courtroom to face war crimes charges, his visage was known to very few.

Television changed that. For West Germans, the impact was profound. Twice a week, for four months, entire families — and sometimes neighbors, too — gathered in living rooms to watch the reports from Jerusalem.

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20 years on, Russians in Germany flocking to big cities

WorldPublished: 04 February 2011

BERLIN – When Yuri Rosov immigrated to Germany from Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 1997, the city in which he ended up, Rostock, had no synagogue, no infrastructure, and virtually no money.

Rosov now heads that Jewish community in the former East Germany, which has about 700 members, nearly all of them Russian speakers.

“We have a synagogue and a strong community,” said Rosov, 50, who works for the Maccabee sports association.

In recent years, however, a new challenge has emerged that threatens the future of the Rostock Jewish community and many other similar ones across Germany populated mostly by Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants and their families: Young people are leaving.

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Not wild about Wilders?

Anti-Islam message has European Jewish leaders worried

WorldPublished: 29 October 2010

BERLIN – Geert Wilders, the rock star of European politics, is riding the crest of a populist tsunami.

The pro-Israel founder of Holland’s Party of Freedom shouted that Islam is a threat to Germany’s identity, democracy, and prosperity, while his audience of 500 reacted with evangelical zeal, offering big-time applause and standing ovations.

“Stand by the side of those who are threatened by Islam, like the State of Israel and its Jewish citizens,” he exhorted the crowd.

This was not a Jewish event, though former Israeli Knesset member Eli Cohen of the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu Party was a guest speaker.

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Hitler exhibit opens in Berlin, to Jewish applause

WorldPublished: 22 October 2010

BERLIN – The image of Hitler is still arresting, 65 years after his suicide and the end of World War II.

Now the German Historical Museum has dedicated an exhibit to the fascination Hitler held for the “Volk,” the ordinary German citizen.

It marks the first time a German museum has ventured into such territory, and the curators say they have taken great care to avoid glorifying the man behind the Third Reich, which in Germany would not only be distasteful but illegal.

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