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>Israel Faxx
>JN June 2, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 100

Yad Vashem Begins Insurance Policies Review

Israel Faxx Staff Report

Yad Vashem officials have begun to check the names of Jewish insurance-policy owners who were insured before the Holocaust by the Generali Insurance Company. Generali officials sent Yad Vashem a CD-ROM containing the names of the insured, as they promised Yad Vashem director Avner Shalvi last year.

Nazis Used Looted Gold to Pay for War

Israel Faxx Staff Report

A U.S. government report by historians concludes much of the gold looted by the Nazis went through Switzerland to pay other neutral nations for supplies to sustained Hitler's army in the World War 2's final years.

The New York Times reports says the much-anticipated report to be made public Tuesday doubles the U.S. estimate of how much gold was in a Nazi account that received valuables of Holocaust victims. The report also details for the first time the important role that looted gold played in securing a huge share of Nazi war needs purchased from Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.

The Children of Terezin

By Carolyn Weaver (VOA-Washington)

In 1943, when she was 11 years old, Zuzana Justman and her family were ordered to leave their home in Prague for a Nazi concentration camp in the Czech town of Terezin -- a way station for most before the death camps.

The Nazis used Terezin for propaganda -- cleaning it up and hiding the sick when an international committee visited. They even staged a film that portrayed the camp as a happy place full of healthy children, singing in a children's opera. Some of the footage from that propaganda film survives today, and Justman, who is now a documentary filmmaker in New York, has incorporated it into her new film, "Voices of the Children."

The film begins with old black and white photographs, faces of children sent to Terezin. Then it cuts to a contemporary scene. "That is a modern production of a children's opera called Brundibar. It has a special meaning for me. I saw it for the first time more than 50 years ago, in Terezin. Brundibar was staged for the thousands of children in the camp by Terezin artists and musicians. They tried to protect us by helping us escape into a special world of art and imagination."

Of 15,000 Jewish children who lived for a time at Terezin, most were later sent to Auschwitz -- where only about 100 survived. Some of the footage Justman uses is from the Nazis' own propaganda film about Terezin, "The City the Fuehrer Gave to the Jews." It includes film from the last performance in the camp of Brundibar -- about two children who defeat an evil organ-grinder. At one point, the camera pans over the faces of the children in the audience. The children look unwell -- exhausted and too thin, but they concentrate intently, as if willing themselves to be lost in the story. After the Germans finished filming the next day, most of the children at the performance were sent to Auschwitz.

Unlike other concentration camps, people at Terezin had paper and pencils. The Nazis made the adult prisoners keep records, and the adults -- who included many artists, musicians and scientists -- tried to give the children a refuge in art and the life of the mind. Helga Hoskova, who is now an artist, still has the colored drawings of life at Terezin she made there as a child. One shows a little dark-haired girl seated on a bunk bed. She was Francka, Helga Hoskova's friend.

Hoskova reads her diary entry from the day Francka was sent to Auschwitz. "Francka's in a transport. It's so quiet here it hurts. On the empty bunk above me, nobody plays or jumps. Dear God, let Francka get out of the transport."

Zuzana Justman directed "Voices of the Children," which is being shown by public television stations around the United States.

Site of Jesus's Baptism May Reopen for Tourists

Israel Faxx Staff Report

The Jordan River spot where Jesus is believed to have been baptized may reopen to the public after more than 30 years off limits. Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper said Monday that Tourism Minister Moshe Katzav told parliament he would like to reopen the site, closed since Israel captured it along with the rest of the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war.

Many Christians believe the place is that referred to in the New Testament. Officials said they hope overall tourism to Israel will double from its current annual average to between four million and 4.5 million visitors in two years because of the millennium and a possible breakthrough in peacemaking.

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