Arnona View

Monday, March 27, 2006

Too old indeed

Algimantas Dailide convicted for arresting 12 Jews trying to escape from Ghetto Vilna. Court's says he is 'not a danger to society'
(image placeholder)An 85-year-old Lithuanian was convicted for cooperating with the Nazis and persecuting Jews but he will not serve jail time because of his age, according to a BBC report.
Algimantas Dailide was convicted for the arrest of two polish nationals and 12 Jews while he served in the police during World War II.  At that time, the local police was controlled the Nazi regime.
A court in Vilna ruled that Dailide will not go to jail "because he is very old and does not pose danger to society."
Officials at the Wiesenthal Center said they regret the court's decision.

Men who are “too old” and no longer a danger to society, create a comfortable cushion on which contemporary German society, and their former collaborators, can withstand the slight pressure being exerted here and there. We should take a note old age, a legal evasive device, eliminates the last of the criminals. And leaves generations to ponder the everlasting disease they left behind.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Danying the Holocaust

Right-wing British historian David Irving .
was sentenced to three years in prison in Austria on Monday for denying the Holocaust, which is illegal in the country.

Irving, who pleaded guilty and insisted during his one-day trial that he had a change of heart and now acknowledged the Nazis' World War II slaughter of 6 million Jews, faced up to 10 years behind bars for the offense.

Holocaust-deniers from the West play a key role in attempts by Iran to
cast doubts on the veracity of the Holocaust, according to documents that have appeared on an Internet site.

The documents reveal Iranians have consulted with well-known Holocaust-deniers from Western countries as part of the Iranian initiative to hold a conference about the Holocaust.

Israeli citizens launch criminal lawsuit against Ahmadinejad in German court.

A group of Israeli citizens is set to file an unprecedented criminal lawsuit in a German court against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, accusing him of Holocaust denial, harming the memory of Holocaust victims, incitement to hatred, racism, and violation of U.N. conventions and resolutions.

The submission of the lawsuit obligates Germany's chief prosecutor to launch criminal proceedings against the Iranian president, Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday.

The lawsuit was brought by a Ramat Gan lawyer and the Civil Coalition (a human rights organization working both in Israel and abroad), and submitted to the constitutional court in Karlsruhe court, considered the strongest constitutional court in Europe.

The lawsuit was submitted in the wake of a series of statements made by the Iranian president where he denied the Holocaust and incited hatred against Israel.

Denying it happened – how could such a thing have happened? – has become a fashionable form of pernicious anti-Semitism. Having quoted these newspaper items, we now consider the connection, the manner in which Holocaust deniers, like Irving and the Iranians, are joining forces in an international campaign.

At this stage, it is our responsibility to track these developments, make sure they are understood and teach intellectual illiterates to read the writing on the wall.  As recorded so vividly on our website, Hidden Roots – - it has happened before. The warnings, the writing on the wall, were ignored.

Monday, January 16, 2006

What the Pope saw

.This article from Haaretz daily, starts to uncover  concrete suspicions of the cover-up, exploitation and manipulation that may have cost many Jews their lives. The Holy See has sought forgiveness. As in all other matters, transparency does not heal, in hardly eases the pain.

Tied up in the Rat Lines

By Yossi Melman

It is possible that within a short time a court in the United States will prohibit the publication of the account before us. In the meantime, Haaretz has obtained the testimony given last month by William Gowen, a former intelligence officer in the United States Army, at a federal court in San Francisco. The testimony contains historical and political explosives. It links Giovanni Battista Montini, who later became Pope Paul VI, to the theft of property of Jewish, Serb, Russian, Ukrainian and Roma victims during World War II in Yugoslavia. Many studies and stories have already been written about the thundering silence of Pope Pius XII, who reigned in the Vatican during World War II. Now the former intelligence officer's testimony has revealed that after the war, Montini, who during the war served as the Vatican's deputy secretary of state under the pope, helped hide and launder property that had been stolen from, among others, Jews and was involved in the sheltering and smuggling of Croatian war criminals, such as the leader of the Ustashe movement, Ante Pavelic.

The smuggling and hiding of Croatian war criminals was part of the extensive network known as the Rat Lines. Senior officials at the Vatican were involved in hiding and smuggling Nazi war criminals and their collaborators so they would not be arrested and tried. Hundreds of war criminals were provided with church and Red Cross papers that enabled them to hide in safe houses and then flee from Europe, mainly to the Middle East and South America. Among them were Klaus Barbie ("the butcher of Lyon"), Adolf Eichmann, Dr. Josef Mengele and Franz Stengel, the commander of the Treblinka death camp.

The Vatican network was also used by leaders of the Ustashe - the nationalist Croatian Catholic movement that was active in Croatia and collaborated with the Nazi occupation. "The Reverend Dr. Prof. Krunoslav Draganovic seemed to be in cooperation with the Ustasha network. And he was given a Vatican assignment as the apostolic visitator for Croatians, which meant he reported directly to Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini," states an American document based on a report from the Italian police; the document was recently placed in evidence at the court in San Francisco where Gowen testified.


The leaders of the Ustashe headed by Pavelic are the ones who stole the victims' property: art and jewelry - silver and mostly gold. After the war they fled with the treasure and laundered it with the help of Vatican institutions. According to Gowen's testimony, Montini, who in 1964 became the first pope to visit the State of Israel, was also involved in the Vatican's help in laundering the wealth.

Still terrified

In 1999 a suit was filed at a court in San Franciso against the Vatican Bank (Institute for Religious Works) and against the Franciscan order, the Croatian Liberation Movement (the Ustashe), the National Bank of Switzerland and others. The suit was filed by Jewish, Ukrainian, Serb and Roma survivors, as well as relatives of victims and various organizations that together represent 300,000 World War II victims. The plaintiffs demanded accounting and restitution.

One of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs is Jonathan Levy. "Many of the plaintiffs have been reluctant to be pictured, after all these years," says Levy. "Many are still terrified of the Ustashe, the Serbs particularly. Unlike the Nazi Party, the Ustashe still exist and have a party headquarters in Zagreb."

The Ustashe was founded in 1929 as a Croatian nationalist movement with a deep connection to Catholicism. From the day it was founded the movement made its aim the establishment of an independent Croatian state and declared to fight the monarchy in Yugoslavia. The movement was banned and its founders, Pavelic and Gustav Percec (who was later murdered at Pavelic's orders) were condemned to death in their absence. The Ustashe was linked to the assassination of Yugoslav King Alexander and French foreign minister Louis Barthou in Marseilles in 1934.

Upon the occupation of Yugoslavia, the German Nazis and the Italian Fascists formed an "independent" state in Croatia, which was basically a Nazi puppet state. Pavelic was appointed poglovnik, the leader of the country. He hastened to meet with Hitler and allied himself with the Fuehrer. When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, Pavelic sent Ustashe units to fight alongside the Nazis and then joined the declaration of war against the United States. Ustashe leaders declared they would slaughter a third of the Serb population in Croatia, deport a third and convert the remaining third from Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism. Anyone who refused to convert was murdered.

Immediately upon the establishment of its puppet government, the Ustashe set up militias and gangs that slaughtered Serbs, Jews, Romas and their political foes. Catholic priests, some of them Franciscans, also participated in the acts of slaughter. The cruelty of the Ustashe was so great that even the commander of the German army in Yugoslavia complained.

Himmler of the Balkans

Under the leadership of Pavelic's right-hand man Andrija Artukovic, who earned the nickname "the Himmler of the Balkans," the Ustashe set up concentration camps, most notably at Jasenovac. According to various estimates, about 100,000 people were murdered at the camp, among them tens of thousands of Jews (it is interesting to note that some of the heads of the Ustashe were married to Jewish women). Throughout Croatia about 700,000 people were murdered. The partisans, led by the Croat Communist Josip Broz Tito, and the Chetniks - Nationalist Serb royalists - fought the Ustashe.

After the war, Pavelic and other Ustashe heads fled to Austria and, with the help of the British intelligence and their friends in the Vatican, found refuge in Italy. They hid in Vatican monasteries and were provided with false documents that gave them a new identity. Secret documents that were disclosed at the court in San Francisco show that at the end of the war, British intelligence took Pavelic under its wing and allowed him and a convoy of 10 trucks that carried the stolen treasure to travel to the British occupation zone in Austria. The British did this with the intention of using him as a counterweight to the Communist takeover in Yugoslavia.

The Ustashe brought the treasure convoy to Rome, where they put it into the hands of the Croatian ambassador to the Vatican, Rev. Krunoslav Draganovic. Draganovic also saw to hiding Pavelic and his aides in Vatican institutions and safe houses in Rome. American military intelligence located Pavelic's hiding place. But according to a secret document Gowen wrote in July 1947, that was submitted to the court, Gowen's unit received the instruction: "Hands off" Pavelic.

This was an order from the American Embassy, stressed Gowen in his testimony. It is also stated in the document, which is classified as top secret, that Pavelic, via his contacts with Draganovic, was receiving Vatican protection. From Italy, Pavelic was smuggled on the Rat Lines to Argentina, where he served as a security adviser to president Juan Peron (Peron granted entry visas to 34,000 Croats, many of them associated with the Ustashe and Nazi supporters).

In 1957 there was an attempt to assassinate him, in which he was wounded. The operation was attributed to Tito's Yugoslav intelligence, although the possibility that this was an attempt at revenge by a Chetnik activist was not dismissed. Pavelic had to leave Argentina and found refuge with the Spanish dictator Franco. Two years later, in 1959, he died as a result of complications caused by the wound. The Ustashe has continued to exist over the years and until the 1980s its operatives were involved in acts of terror against diplomats and other Yugoslav targets abroad.

Montini complains

The suit filed at the court in San Francisco is based on earlier investigations and reports from American government agencies, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and committees of historians who researched the matter of the Jewish property in Swiss banks. The case was preceded by successful legal battles by attorney Levy and his colleagues against the CIA and the American Army to obtain secret documents. The defendants, on their part, led by the Vatican Bank and the Franciscan order and others, deny the charges against them and made every effort to have the charges dismissed. So far, the court has rejected these efforts outright and determined that the deliberations would continue. But the defendants are tenacious and now they are demanding that publication of Gowen's testimony be prohibited.

After the end of the war Gowen served as a special agent, meaning an investigations officer in the Rome detachment of American counter-intelligence. This unit's role was to track down, among others, Italian Fascists, Nazi war criminals and their collaborators, including the Ustashe leaders (Gowen said another mission included, at the request of British intelligence, surveillance of Irgun and Lehi activists). The code name for the unit's actions was "Operation Circle."

Parallel to the counterintelligence unit, other American army intelligence units, and mainly the Office of Strategic Services (OSS, from which the CIA developed) and British intelligence were engaged in contradictory actions. They made contact with Nazis and with the Ustashe people and enlisted them in their service as agents, collaborators and informers, with the intention of forming a front against the Soviet spread into Eastern Europe and the Balkans. "To try and find Pavelic you had to discover how the Ustashe network in Italy was constituted, how it operated, what were its bases," testified Gowen.

A key person in the Pontifical Croatian college was Rev. Draganovic, the Croatian ambassador to the Vatican. Draganovic and the college issued false papers to Croatian war criminals, among them Pavelic and Artukovic. "I personally investigated Draganovic - who told me he was reporting to Montini," emphasized Gowen.

Gowen related that at a certain stage Montini learned, apparently from the head of the OSS unit in Rome, James Angleton, who nurtured relations with Montini and the Vatican, of the investigation Gowen's unit was conducting. Montini complained about Gowen to his superiors and accused him of having violated the Vatican's immunity by having entered church buildings, such as the Croatian college, and conducting searches there. The aim of the complaint was to interfere with the investigation.

In his testimony, Gowen also stated that Draganovic helped the Ustashe launder the stolen treasure with the help of the Vatican Bank: This money was used to fund its religious activities, but also to fund the escape of Ustashe leaders on the Rat Line.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Unlikely Heroes

Unlikely Heroes

Shown at the Jewish Film Festival, Jerusalem December 30th, 2005
Tears welled in our eyes as we watched unsung heroes in this fine documentary film.
The New York Times critic had this to say when it was first screened in the United States.

There was Pinchas Rosenbaum, a Hungarian rabbi's son who disguised himself as a Nazi officer and managed to save a thousand Jews; Anna Heilman, the only survivor of the successful plot to blow up Crematorium No. 4 at Birkenau; and Willy Perl, an Austrian man who persuaded leaders in Berlin to let him "deport" Jews, making it possible for thousands to escape safely to Palestine.
The title characters of "Unlikely Heroes," which opens today in New York, were ordinary people who, during World War II, resisted and defied the Nazis in remarkable ways. They also include Recha Sternbuch, who, over time, hid 30 people in her home in neutral Switzerland; Leon Kahn, a young Lithuanian who fought with the partisans there and in Russia and Poland; and Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, a Bauhaus artist who taught children in the Theresienstadtin - concentration camp to deal with their pain through art before she (and many of her young students) were put to death in Auschwitz (related article, Page 23).
There is even a familiar face among these heroes. Robert Max Weiderman, a French singer who took a grave risk in secretly entertaining his fellow camp inmates on a regular basis ("Bei Mir Bist du Schön" was a favorite song), changed his name to Robert Clary after the war. In one of those odd life-and-art parallels, Mr. Clary, who is now retired, became a cast member of the 1960's-into-70's sitcom "Hogan's Heroes," set in a German prisoner-of-war camp. He played the lovable Cpl. Louis LeBeau.
Much of the time, unfortunately, the responsible, institutional filmmaking of "Unlikely Heroes," from Moriah Films, an arm of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, does not do full justice to these stories. It is difficult for moviegoers to make a full emotional connection with the seven men and women, partly because of what seems to be a thin supply of photographs of them. Still, Richard Trank's direction and screenplay; his co-writer, Rabbi Marvin Hier; the historians who contributed expertise and reflections; and of course the subjects themselves should be commended.
Every one of these people deserves a stirring film of his or her own, and if there is any moral justice, those films will be made someday. It is easy to imagine Julianne Moore as Anna Heilman.

These extraordinary people stood up to be counted while others turned their backs. Victor and Josephine Guicherd, who saved Betty, Jacques and other Jews in distress, were also unexpected heroes. The unlikely aspect is the fact that most of them chose to live in the United States after the War – and they did very well.
Perhaps it was their special character, which drove them to act during the Holocaust that induced them to live not, somewhat surprisingly to Israel, the most obvious haven, but with financial and public success in America.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A thought on publishing a biography

As I sit here in Jerusalem contemplating the coming year, I feel in many ways that the work we have undertaken could lead to the exciting developments for us, our children, grandchildren and relatives in many parts of the world.

The fact that we have been able to publish  personal stories on the Internet and not necessarily wait for a publisher to put them out in book form , means that the immediacy and instant publication has become a great, rewarding incentive.

From my desk at home, facing large a large photographs .of Albert Einstein – to remind me, jokingly, that everything is relative - Betty and I intend to delve deeper into our personal histories to make sure – to the extent that we are able - that the lessons will not be forgotten. These stories are not sad by any means, they do not seek to upset or depress. We are sure they are tales worth telling and tell them we shall . Whoever enters this is invited to join us at hiddenroots to learn more

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Why Iranian view - an intersting analysis

(image placeholder)
No. 155                                                        December 21, 2005


David Menashri
Center for Iranian Studies

President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad of Iran persists in his almost obsessive hate speech against Israel, including declarations that border on Holocaust denial.  While his first statements might have been attributed to political inexperience, continued and even more extreme rhetoric suggests some calculated policy, even if its true purposes are not easy to decipher.
Since Iran’s central objective now is apparently to buy time until it acquires a nuclear capability, these sorts of declarations and the international focus on Iranian extremism they attract would seem to contradict the central goal.  It might have been expected that a leader who was elected on the promise to improve the lot of the masses would have concentrated on domestic affairs rather than on an anti-American, anti-western or anti-Israeli campaign.  But Ahmadi-Nejad has instead taken every opportunity to voice extremist views.
On October 26, he presented his vision of a world without Israel or the United States and urged that Israel be wiped off the map.  On December 8, during the Islamic Conference Organization meeting in Mecca, he complained that since the west was responsible for what some describe as “the Holocaust,” no one should demand that the Palestinians pay the price.  “Some European countries,” he said, “insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in gas chambers, although we don’t accept this claim.  If the Europeans are honest, they should give some of their provinces in Europe – like in Germany, Austria or other countries – to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe.”
On December 15, he went even further in propagating arguments raised by Holocaust deniers, even if not fully supporting them, and claimed that the Jews have invented "a legend" under the name "Massacre of the Jews" and that "they hold it higher than God himself, religion itself and the prophets themselves."  "Why," he asked the rest of the world, "does the innocent Palestinian nation have to pay the price of this heinous crime you committed?  … If you have committed a crime, then you have to pay the price.  I propose that if you have committed a crime, it’s good if you allocate a part of your country or Europe, America, Canada, or Alaska to them so that they can establish a country for themselves.”
How can such extremist rhetoric be explained?  The first possibility is simply a sincere belief in the need to destroy Israel and an assessment that Iran can lead such an historic mission.  Ahmadi-Nejad in fact is reviving early revolutionary slogans mouthed by Ayatollah Khomeini himself.  And even if Khomeini became a bit more circumspect in his rhetoric after seizing power, anti-Jewish literature, including the infamous “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” continued to be published by state agencies; Persian-language editions were even displayed recently at the Frankfurt Book Fair.  Prominent Holocaust deniers are invited to Iran by regime leaders and offered a platform to spout their views.  And the press is full of reports in a similar vein.  The Tehran Times seems especially obsessed with the Holocaust.  “Perhaps the biggest lie in history,” claims one article, “took a formal shape during the Nuremberg trials, when a confession obtained by means of torture turned into the cornerstone of the official Auschwitz version.”  “No one,” charges another article, “has ever asked the Jewish swindlers who present themselves as ‘gas chamber witnesses’ any critical question.  Yet, ‘the terrible accusation’ of genocide is based only upon the lies of a handful of Jewish swindlers like Rudolph Vrba, Filip Mueller and Elie Wiesel and confessions obtained through torture."
A second explanation may lie in the mystical belief in a divine mission and heavenly oversight.  A leading website in Iran has published a transcript and video recording of Ahmadi-Nejad claiming to have felt "a light" while addressing world leaders at the United Nations in September.  According to the transcript, he said that someone there, possibly from his entourage, subsequently told him “When you began with the words ‘In the name of God’ … I saw a light coming, surrounding you and protecting you to the end [of the speech].”  Ahmadi-Nejad said that he sensed a similar presence.  “I felt it myself, too, that suddenly the atmosphere changed and for 27-28 minutes the leaders could not blink,” the transcript continues.  “I am not exaggerating…because I was looking.  All the leaders were puzzled, as if a hand held them and made them sit.  They had their eyes and ears open for the message from the Islamic Republic.”  He concluded his speech at the General Assembly with a call to God to hasten the return of the Twelfth – hidden – Imam in order to fill this world with peace and justice.  His government has also approved significant sums to reconstruct and maintain sites associated with the Twelfth Imam, such as the well in Jamkaran, from where the Imam was believed to have disappeared.
Ahmadi-Nejad may also believe that he can promote his “solution” through the use of force.  As one whose world-view was largely formed by the experience of the Iran-Iraq War, he apparently thinks that war can accomplish the aims that diplomacy fails to achieve.  American problems in Iraq and rising oil income may have reinforced this sense of potency.
In addition, Ahmadi-Nejad may hope to consolidate his political position at home by giving voice to widely-held views on Israel.  Although he was elected on a platform of domestic reform, problems at home continue to proliferate.  Diverting attention away from economic issues and toward an external enemy may serve to mollify public opinion.
Finally, he may expect to strengthen Iran’s standing in other parts of the Islamic world by voicing popular opinions on Israel and taking the lead in supporting the Palestinian cause and even to soften suspicions among neighboring Muslims about Iran’s nuclear program.  No less important, such declarations may consciously or unconsciously be intended to transform Iran’s nuclear program into an Israeli problem and thus hopefully induce Europe and the rest of the world to be more indulgent of Iran's nuclear ambitions.
All in all, Ahmadi-Nejad’s hate rhetoric seems to emanate from some combination of inexperience, political calculation and genuine animus grounded in mystical belief.  But whatever the precise mixture of these elements, the last seems to be the most powerful explanation, and the most ominous.
Tel Aviv Notes is published  by
The Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies
&  The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
through the generosity of  Sari  and  Israel  Roizman, Philadelphia


Friday, December 09, 2005

Time doesn't tell

A reflection on three men of our time: Mel Gibson, whose father denies the Holocaust, the Iranian President, who doubts it, happened and Alois Brunner, Eichmann’s assistant, who did it.

In the news, we read these two items:

(image placeholder)”Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday expressed doubt that the Holocaust occurred and suggested Israel be moved to Europe.”

“The Brazilian police are investigating whether a suspect living in the country under an assumed name is the most-wanted Nazi criminal, Alois Brunner.The Austrian-born Brunner, who is 95 if he is still alive, is believed to have spent the past 40 years in Syria under the assumed name of Dr. Georg Fischer before moving to South America. During World War II, Brunner was Adolf Eichmann's assistant.”

Mel Gibson, the Australian actor and producer whose films on Scotland’s hero and Christianity’s son has much in common with these two gentlemen and their philosophy, is a microcosm of who we are as the communications age and visual impact penetrates and calls the tune in a bewildered, oblivious modern society. Oblivious, because historic truth – in the case of the Holocaust – is too frequently consumed and digested like a fast-food pizza, tasty but void and transient

Gibson’s horrendous images of William Wallace, hung strung and quartered for his mutinous nationalist cause, and of Christ’s agony on the cross, for being a Jew in essence, suggest that his proposed mini-TV series on hidden children may also distort and pervert the facts as we know them only too well.

Brunner, in his dotage now, although the Syrian air may be stimulating and therapeutic for a geriatric Nazi has certainly heard of Ahmaninejad’s proposals, to move Israel to Europe and wipe the Israelis off the earth (sounds familiar) and Gibson’s understanding of the Holocaust. Raised on his father’s weird and obtuse insistence that the Holocaust never happened – after all, there are atrocities in every war, he said – Gibson will no doubt varnish and embellish the tale of a hidden child to suit this philosophy, the Iranian oracle’s Islamic taste and the old German’s immoral Aryan principles.

Ironically, as we investigate and recall the story of hidden children, Brunner – if the news is true – has been found in his Syrian comfy cubbyhole, savoring, distilling and cherishing his nefarious wartime achievements, chuckling at us all, hoping, no doubt, that the Iranian, his neighbor, will pull it off. And that Mel Gibson, who distorted Scots and Christian history for his box-office affluence, will also pervert the remarkable, wondrous story of the children, brave and resilient, who outlived the Nazis.

Brunner after all is said and done, is symbolically important but essentially an irrelevant fragment of an iniquitous historical interjection.

Gibson is the modern myth maker who would have had a lot in common with Paul Joseph Goebbels, Reichminister for propaganda and national enlightenment in the Nazi regime. By telling the true story, we here can outlive all three and set the record straight.
“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”

Karl Marx