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On the ground at Auschwitz on this International Holocaust Remembrance Day

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Doug Emhoff, the second gentleman of the United States, and Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, visited Auschwitz and Birkenau Friday morning. “The bigotry that fueled the Holocaust did not end when the camps were liberated,” they wrote in a new essay. “Antisemitism may be considered one of the oldest forms of hatred, but its insidious impact and its deep dangers are not relegated to the past.”

 

Our opinion editor, Laura E. Adkins, is covering their trip. “As our motorcade twisted past spindly clusters of birch and pine,” she thought on the ride to the camps where 1.1 million Jews were murdered, “I couldn’t help but wonder: how many Polish Jews survived these forests?” 

 

The highway leading to Auschwitz was gray in the early morning light, Laura said, matching the group’s somber mood. “During the ceremony, it began snowing.”

Related: “I have nightmares from the memories,” Harry Olmer, a Holocaust survivor, told our Nora Berman as they walked the two miles from Auschwitz to Birkenau last year. “But I’m not scared of anything anymore.”

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How many monuments honor murderers of Jews? You’ll be shocked.

 

It’s been two years since the Forward published our initial investigation of streets and statues honoring Nazi collaborators around the world. On that International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2021, contributor Lev Golinkin documented 320 such monuments in 16 countries on three continents.

 

We thought we were publishing a comprehensive accounting, complete with country by country lists. But we soon discovered we’d only scratched the surface — thanks to tips from researchers and readers, and Lev’s relentless reporting, the project now has more than 1,652 instances of honoring collaborators in 30 countries across five continents. This includes some three dozen in 16 U.S. states and, added just this week, new lists of monuments in Bulgaria and Argentina.

 

Since we began this project, it’s been gratifying to see a handful of streets renamed and monuments removed.

 

“One thing I’ve learned,” Lev writes on this Holocaust Remembrance Day, “is that, for millions of people, especially in Europe, it seems World War II never ended. I’m not talking about old veterans reminiscing of old trenches. I mean unfinished business that needs finishing.”

 

Read Lev’s essay and see hundreds of Nazi monuments around the world ➤

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Our new podcast, Playing Anne Frank, tells the untold story behind The Diary of Anne Frank, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play and Oscar-winning film. Adam Langer, our executive editor, is your guide through archives and interviews that paint a rich cultural history of this iconic work, and how it shaped the lives of the people who made it. 

 

Among many other treasures, you’ll hear the actors who played Anne and Peter van Dann in more than 100 American cities be reunited after 60 years and read a pivotal scene — as well as meet four teenage girls who played Anne in productions around the country just last year.

Listen now to the first two of seven episodes, and subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform. Let us know what you think with a rating and review!

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Opinion | I work as a guide at a former concentration camp. This is why it’s important to remember the non-Jews who died in the Holocaust: Paige Harouse spends much of her time telling the overlooked stories of the the Sinti and Roma, the Poles, Ukrainians, Russians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the gay men and political prisoners, and the people with mental and physical disabilities who died alongside 6 million Jews. “We must understand the world that made Auschwitz possible,” she writes, “and not just focus on the history of the place itself.” Read her essay ➤

 

How film brought Nazis to justice at Nuremberg: In 1945, in a race against the clock, brothers Stuart and Budd Schulberg searched Europe for evidence of the Holocaust. They found film footage of the unspeakable, and presented it at Nuremberg. But the film they made about the Nuremberg trial was suppressed for decades. A new documentary Filmmakers for the Prosecution, tells the story. Read the story ➤

 

‘A Holocaust Memorial Day Macy’s sale’: A group of Jewish faculty and local synagogue members boycotted a Holocaust commemoration event Thursday at James Madison University in Virginia because they found the planned music too celebratory. The group complained that Jewish members of the event’s organizing committee had been kicked off, and about one of the speakers, who had written on social media while visiting Israel that Jesus had parted the Red Sea. Read the story ➤

 

Watch: Here’s how to talk about the Holocaust in Yiddish, the language spoken by many of its victims.

From our archives: Meet the world’s first 3-D interactive Holocaust survivor.

ALSO FROM THE FORWARD

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Rep. George Santos, Republican of New York, has not had the best week. (Getty)

Rep. George Santos posted offensive remark about the Holocaust and made jokes about Jewish stereotypes: A local Long Island news site reported Thursday on social media posts from the congressman’s now-deleted Instagram and Facebook accounts that include offensive and racist remarks, including a suggestion Jews and Blacks would take revenge on people who make Hitler jokes. The site, Patch, said the posts were from 2011 and had been screen shotted by a former friend of Santos. A spokesperson for the congressman did not respond about whether he would attend any of the events marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Read the story ➤

 

Opinion | The assault on Jenin only serves Israel’s far-right government: Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians, including a 60-year-old woman, while searching for three militants. Dozens of cars were flipped over and crushed during the raid, homes were heavily damaged, and patients had to run away from tear gas shot at the Jenin hospital. “The damage was like nothing Jenin has seen in over two decades,” writes Muhammad Shehada, our contributing columnist from Gaza, who argues that this was an “excessive show of brutality and disproportionate violence.” Read his essay ➤

 

Bad timing: A New York protest against the new government of Israel planned for Saturday afternoon prompted complaints from Shabbat-observant Jews. The organizers said they wanted to hold the event at the same time as the weekly post-Shabbat demonstrations in Israel, which is seven hours ahead. Read the story ➤

Stream it or skip it? You People drops on Netflix today. It’s a love story starring Jonah Hill trying to impress his future father-in-law, played by Eddie Murphy. The romantic comedy has jokes about both the Holocaust and Louis Farrakhan, but is it funny? Read our review ➤

WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

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A quote from Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner, was removed from a library window. (Getty)

🤦  A Pennsylvania high school principal told a school librarian Wednesday that the Elie Wiesel quote he displayed violated the district’s new policy against staff advocating for partisan, political or social issues. The quote read in part, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.” The principal on Thursday reversed his decision. (Philadelphia Inquirer

 

🎵  Gene Simmons, the KISS frontman whose mother survived a Nazi death camp, suggested a “Never Again” concert series at Holocaust memorials featuring the likes of U2, with profits going to Yad Vashem and other organizations. (Times of Israel

 

👪  About a third of parents with children under 18 in the United States say it is extremely or very important to them that their children share their religion when they grow up, according to a new survey. (Pew Research Center)

 

🎤  Modern Orthodox comedian Modi Rosenfeld is a hit with frum audiences, with his bits about Passover cruises and the differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. What they may not have known until a recent article in Variety is that Rosenfeld is gay. (JTA)

 

✡️   Israel’s Bar-Ilan University is planning a research institute to advance the teachings of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of Britain who died in 2020. About a quarter of a million people still receive emails of Sacks’ sermons on each week’s Torah portion. (eJewishPhilanthropy)

 

Long weekend reads ➤  The Israeli village on the Lebanon border that is now a tourist hotspot … Strongman Zishe Breitbart was a real-life Jewish Superman … The Arab photographer casting his lens on Holocaust survivors.

SHABBAT READING

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In this weekend’s edition of our print magazine: Scrub Daddy, known as the “thirstiest” sponge in the world, now comes in a kosher pack with color-coded sponges for meat, dairy and pareve. Why did the brand, known for sexy social media marketing, target observant Jews? Our Mira Fox investigates. Plus: Stories for Holocaust Remembrance Day, a look at the most Jewish movie not nominated for an Oscar, and why a celebrated Yiddish poet wrote a 1915 article about a stage actress’s amputated leg. Download your copy now ➤

ON THE CALENDAR

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On this day in history (1982): Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opened on Broadway. The musical retelling of the Bible story ran for 747 performances and was adapted into a 1999 movie starring Donny Osmond. Songs such as “Close Every Door” and “Any Dream Will Do” earned Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice a firmer foothold in Jewish community theater than their previous biblical musical, Jesus Christ Superstar.

Last year on this day, our colleagues at JTA reported that a Tennessee school board removed Maus, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Holocaust graphic novel, from its curriculum. Its author, Art Spiegelman, called the decision “Orwellian.”

VIDEO OF THE DAY

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Rabbis and Jewish organizations are helping lead lawsuits across the country against abortion bans and restrictions that they say violate their religious freedom, since Jewish law permits abortions. The documentary Under G-d, which debuted this week at Sundance, details that legal fight. Watch the trailer above, and read more about the movie here ➤

 

Thanks to Laura E. Adkins, Samuel Breslow, PJ Grisar, Lauren Markoe, Rebecca Salzhauer and Talya Zax for contributing to today’s newsletter. You can reach the “Forwarding” team at editorial@forward.com.

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