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Israel marks annual Yom Hashoah
DEBKAfile April 27, 2014, 8:32 PM (IDT)
Six Holocaust survivors lit six torches Sunday night to mark the start of the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day for the Six Million victims of the Nazis taking place in Israel and Jewish communities around the world. The ceremony was attended by Israel's president, prime minister, Knesset Speaker, supreme court president, chief rabbis and IDF commanders. The theme this year is "Jews On the Edge 1944: Between Annihilation and Liberation," commemorating the continuing mass transfer of Jews to the death camps and the beginning of rescue operations. President Shimon Pres said that the Israel State is the buttress against another holocaust and the rising tide of anti-Semitism. Monday morning, a siren signals two minutes of silence, followed by wreath-laying at Warsaw Ghetto Square in Yad Vashem. The reading of names of the Holocaust victims will then begin.

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Never Again

Netanyahu at Yad Vashem (Photo: Gil Yohanan) Photo: Gil Yohanan
Netanyahu at Yad Vashem (Photo: Gil Yohanan) Photo: Gil Yohanan
Netanyahu warns world of Iran Photo: Gil Yohanan
Netanyahu warns world of Iran Photo: Gil Yohanan

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Netanyahu issues Iran warning in Holocaust memorial speech 'Has the world learned a lesson from the mistakes of the past? Today we are again faced with clear facts and before a real danger. Iran calls for our destruction,' prime minister says in main Holocaust memorial service.

News agencies, Ynet
Published:      04.27.14, 22:35 / Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened the country's annual memorial day for the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust by issuing a stern warning Sunday to the world to learn the lessons of the past and prevent another Holocaust.

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At the opening ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, Netanyahu linked the Nazi genocide to Iran's suspected drive to acquire nuclear bombs and its leaders' repeated references to the destruction of Israel and its denial of the Holocaust. Netanyahu said that just like before World War II, there were those in the world today who refused to face uncomfortable truths.

Netanyahu at Yad Vashem (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Netanyahu at Yad Vashem (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

"In this place I have said many times that we must identify an existential threat in time and act against it in time and tonight I ask 'why in the years before the Holocaust did most of the world's leaders not see the danger ahead of time?' In hindsight, all the signs were there," he said.

"Has the world learned a lesson from the mistakes of the past? Today we are again faced with clear facts and before a real danger. Iran calls for our destruction, it develops nuclear weapons."

Sunday night's main ceremony at Yad Vashem included six survivors who lit six symbolic torches to commemorate the 6 million dead. A video segment on each one's personal story was presented.

The Israeli flag flew at half-staff and a military honor guard stood at one side of the podium as poems and psalms were read and the Jewish prayer for the dead was recited.

In his comments, President Shimon Peres spoke of his own family's destruction in the Holocaust and said Israel was the deterrence against another one happening.

"We must not ignore any occurrence of anti-Semitism, any desecration of a synagogue, any tombstone smashed in a cemetery in which our families are buried. We must not ignore the rise of extreme right-wing parties with neo-Nazi tendencies who are a danger to each of us and a threat to every nation," he said.

"A strong Israel is our response to the horrors of anti-Semitism but it does not excuse the rest of the world from its responsibility to prevent this disease from returning to their own homes."

Justice Minister Livni said: "The Jewish people has gone through a transformation: From a yellow badge in the shape of a Star of David to a Star of David engraved in the metal that went into the making of Air Force aircrafts, tanks and IDF ships."

Livni further said: "Israel of 2014 is still a threatened country, and there are those who refuse to acknowledge our existence and work to remove us from the world map, but Israel is an independent country, and is strong enough to cope with the threats."

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, who also spoke at the Holocaust memorial service in Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak said: "The IDF is the proof of the revival of the Jewish people and its move to independence."

Gantz added that "in the time the Jewish people struggled to survive in Europe, they sowed the seeds of optimism. They taught one another bravery to stand up and fight the Nazis. The legacy they left is the lighthouse guiding our way."

Hours before the opening ceremony, an annual report by Tel Aviv University on worldwide anti-Semitism said violent attacks against Jews worldwide dropped in 2013, but anti-Semitism was becoming more widespread in Europe amid a rise in popularity of extremist parties

Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, an umbrella group representing Jewish communities across Europe, expressed concern over the increasing popularity of far-right parties, especially in France, Hungary and Greece, where they are expected to make big gains in European Parliament elections next month.

He also mentioned the situation in Ukraine, where Jews are caught in the middle of the conflict between nationalists and Russian separatists, with both sides using anti-Jewish rhetoric while accusing each other of harboring anti-Semitic supporters.

The stated links between the Holocaust and Iran showed how more than six decades later, the mass murder of Jews during World War II is still a central part of Israel's psyche. The nation was created just three years after the end of the war, and hundreds of thousands of dazed survivors made their way to Israel.

Six million Jews were killed by German Nazis and their collaborators in the Holocaust, wiping out a third of world Jewry. Today, fewer than 200,000 elderly survivors remain in Israel.

The annual memorial day is one of the most solemn on Israel's calendar. Restaurants, cafes and places of entertainment are shut down, and radio and TV programming are dedicated almost exclusively to documentaries about the Holocaust, interviews with survivors and somber music.

On Monday morning, Israel will come to a standstill as sirens wail for two minutes. Pedestrians typically stop in their tracks, and cars and buses halt on the streets while drivers and passengers stand with their heads bowed.

Further ceremonies include the public reading of names of Holocaust victims at sites around the country, including Israel's parliament. Schoolchildren dress in white and stop their studies to hold memorial ceremonies.

Associated Press, Raanan Ben-Zur and Noam (Dabul) Dvir contributed to this report

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'Hamas denies Holocaust while trying to facilitate another one'
Iran, Hamas top list of those trying to destroy Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day - Official state ceremony to be held at Yad Vashem Sunday evening - March of the Living to take place Monday.

Shlomo Cesana, Yori Yalon, Avi Cohen and Israel Hayom Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on April 27, 2014 | Photo credit: Reuters

"This evening we will mark Holocaust Remembrance Day and the State of Israel will remember the six million victims of the Holocaust," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at the weekly cabinet meeting, stressing that "the main difference between the Jews' helplessness during the Holocaust and their situation now, is that we now have a sovereign state with a strong military that protects us from those who seek to harm us.

"Iran is at the top of the list of those who seek to destroy us," Netanyahu said. "Aside from its own nuclear ambitions, Iran finances, arms and trains Hamas and the other terror groups lurking on our borders. Hamas denies the Holocaust while trying to facilitate another one by destroying the State of Israel.

"This is the Hamas Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] has chosen to align himself with last week. Instead of making statements meant to appease the international community, Abu Mazen has to choose between his pact with Hamas -- a terror group that urges the destruction of Israel and denies the holocaust -- and true peace with Israel. We hope he resumes the path of true peace," Netanyahu said.

Sunday's cabinet meeting also addressed a recent report by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel, which found that some 50,000 survivors living in Israel experience dire financial hardship.

The ministers approved a plan proposed by the Finance Ministry to appropriate some 1 billion shekels ($288 million) to the welfare of Holocaust survivors. Some 200 million shekels ($57.6 million) are expected to come from the budgets of the Education and Welfare ministries.

The measures approved include allocating a NIS 3,600 ($1,036) stipend to Holocaust survivors who meet certain criteria, as well as making Holocaust survivors eligible to receive various services and drugs included in the health basket for free.

Other measures include increasing the benefits paid to victims of Nazi persecution to a minimum of NIS 2,200 ($633) a month; making survivors who immigrated to Israel after Oct. 1, 1953 eligible for full benefits; paying the spouses of Holocaust survivors who passed away special death benefits; and offering Holocaust survivors who do not receive special benefits mental healthcare.

The government also approved the transfer of NIS 20 million ($5.75 million) from the Finance Ministry in favor of welfare projects catering to Holocaust survivors' needs.

Foundation Chairman Avi Dichter was quoted by Army Radio Sunday as saying that while the additional funds would surely benefit the various aid organizations, "The issues of aid to survivors should be anchored in legislation, so it can become independent from the government."

Army Radio further noted that a survey held by the Consortium of Holocaust Survivors' Organizations in Israel last week, found that one-third of the survivors living in Israel do not feel the government is doing enough to assist them.

The findings echoed a those of a poll held by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel, which found that 55 percent of survivors believe the government was falling short in its efforts to assist them.

The various aid organization welcomed the news about the impending measures, expressing hope that they will be implemented soon after the Knesset begins its summer session.

The state ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day is scheduled to be held at 8 p.m. at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are expected to speak at the ceremony.

This year's ceremonies' theme has been named "1944: Between Elimination and Liberation -- Jews on the Borderline."

The traditional March of the Living will be held in Poland on Monday. Thousands of Jews from Israel and around the world, including hundreds of teenagers, will participate in the march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp complex built during World War II.

An Israel Police delegation numbering 185 policemen, officers and cadets will participate in this year's march, led by Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino.

"Policemen who participate in the march come back as changed individuals. They are much more sensitive to people and they have a new understanding of how important the work they do is," Police Human Resources Division head Maj. Gen. Yaron Be'eri said.

Joining the police delegation will be survivors of the Nazi atrocities and their descendants, led by Holocaust survivor Mickey Goldman, as well as dozens of bereaved families and the survivors of terror attacks.

Netanyahu Vows: No Second Holocaust
'Unlike our situation during the Holocaust, now we have great power to defend ourselves, and it is ready for any mission.'

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By Arutz Sheva staff
First Publish: 4/27/2014, 10:31 PM

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu compared the existential danger posed by Iran to Israel with the Nazi war machine, and vowed that a Holocaust will not take place again.

This is the text of his speech at the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem on Sunday:

"The last time I visited Yad Vashem was with the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper, a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people. We went through the exhibition rooms which present heartbreaking documentation of the destruction of European Jewry.

"Today in my office, I met Felah, an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor. It was important to her to tell me, on this day of all days, how her memories as a child of seven who was forced to leave her two year old sister behind to die, how those memories are always with her. She told me, 'I don't remember what happened yesterday or the day before that, but as is the way of memories from that age, I remember the tearing, sad eyes of my two year old sister.'

"I met Shalom, an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor, who told me how he left home at 13. He was 13 and the conditions in the ghetto were deteriorating so he, a young boy, decided to leave. He said, 'Mother objected and wailed and Father was quiet. He stood and put his hand on my heart and blessed me and told me to save myself.'

"All the exhibition rooms here are filled with such heartbreaking stories. When we left Yad Vashem, I told the Canadian Prime Minister that the primary duty of the Prime Minister of Israel is to ensure that there will be no more memorial sites like this, that there will never be another Holocaust.

Identifying an existential threat in time and taking action

"I have said many times in this place that we must identify an existential threat in time and take action in time. Tonight, on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, I ask myself: why, in the years preceding the Holocaust, did the overwhelming majority of world leaders and Jewish leaders fail to detect the danger in time? In retrospect, all the warning signs were there: the strengthening of the Nazi regime year after year; the horrific anti-Semitic propaganda which grew stronger with each passing month; and the murderous attacks on Jews which began as a trickle and transformed into a huge wave.

"In retrospect, there is a direct line connecting the racial laws and the gas chambers.

"Very few world leaders understood the enormity of the threat to humanity posed by Nazism. Churchill was one of them. Few among our leaders, primarily Jabotinsky, warned against the imminent destruction facing our nation, but they were widely criticized and their warnings were disregarded, and they were treated as merchants of doom and war mongers.

"So I ask: How is it possible that so many people failed to understand the reality? The bitter and tragic truth is this: it is not that they did not see it. They did not want to see it. And why did they choose not to see the truth? Because they did not want to face the consequences of that truth.

"During the 1930s, when the Nazis were gaining momentum, the influence of the trauma of the First World War was still fresh. Twenty years earlier, the people of the West experienced a terrible trench war, a war which claimed the lives of 16 million people. Therefore, the leaders of the West operated on the basis of one axiom: avoid another confrontation at any cost, and thus they laid the foundation for the most terrible war in human history. This axiom of avoiding conflict at any cost, this axiom was adopted not only by the leaders. The people themselves, primarily the educated ones, shared it too.

The West's feeble attitude vis-à-vis the rise of Nazism

"In 1933, for example, the year Hitler rose to power, there was a meeting of the Oxford University student organization – an institute from which generations of British leaders had emerged. Following a heated debate, the students voted for a resolution stating that they "would under no circumstances fight for their King and Country". This resolution passed by an overwhelming majority only ten days after Hitler entered the Chancellery of Germany.

"And believe me: that message reverberated in Berlin.

"This example illustrates the West's feeble attitude vis-à-vis the rise of Nazism.

"Month after month, year after year, more and more information was received in London, Paris and Washington regarding the capabilities and intentions of the Nazi regime. The picture was becoming clear to everybody. However, 'they have eyes, but cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear' [Psalms 115].

"When you refuse to accept reality as it is, you can deny it. And this is precisely what the leaders of the West did. They dismissed the murderous Nazi rhetoric as internal German politics; they downplayed the seriousness of the danger of the military build-up of the Nazis, claiming that it was the result of the natural will of a proud nation, that it should be taken into consideration, that it should be accepted.

"The reality was clear, but it was cloaked in a bubble of illusions. This bubble was burst by the stealth attack by the Nazis on Europe. And the price of the illusion and desire was very heavy because by the time the leaders of the West finally acted, their people paid a terrible price. World War II claimed the lives not of 16 million people, the unimaginable number of victims during World War I, but of 60 million, including one third of our people, who were butchered by the Nazi beast.

Iran is calling for our destruction

"Citizens of Israel, my brothers and sisters,

"Has the world learned from the mistakes of the past? Today, we are again facing clear facts and a tangible threat.

"Iran is calling for our destruction. It is developing nuclear weapons. This is the reason it is building underground bunkers for the enrichment of uranium. This is the reason it is establishing a plutonium-producing heavy water facility. This is the reason it continues to develop inter-continental ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads to threaten the entire world.

"Today, just like then, there are those who dismiss Iran's extreme rhetoric as one that serves domestic purposes. Today, just like then, there are those who view Iran's nuclear ambitions as the result of the natural will of a proud nation – a will that should be accepted.

"And just like then, those who make such claims are deluding themselves. They are making an historic mistake.

"We are currently in the midst of fateful talks between Iran and the world powers. This time too, the truth is evident to all: Iran is seeking an agreement that will lift the sanctions and leave it as a nuclear threshold state, in other words, the capability to manufacture nuclear weapons within several months at most.

"Iran wants a deal that will eliminate the sanctions and leave their nuclear capabilities intact. Such a deal, which will enable Iran to be a nuclear threshold state, will bring the entire world to the threshold of an abyss.

"I hope that the lessons of the past will be learned and that the desire to avoid confrontation at any cost will not lead to a deal that will exact a much heavier price in the future.

"I call on the leaders of the world powers to insist on a full dismantling of Iran's capability to manufacture nuclear weapons, and to persist until this goal is achieved.

'I do not hesitate to speak the truth to the world'

"In any event, the people of Israel are strong. When faced with an existential threat, the situation of our people today is entirely different than it was during the Holocaust.

"Today, we have a sovereign Jewish state. As Prime Minister of Israel, I do not hesitate to speak the truth to the world, even when faced with so many blind eyes and deaf ears. It is not only my right, it is my duty. It is a duty I am mindful of at all times, but particularly on this day, in this place.

"On the eve of the Holocaust, there were Jews who avoided crying out to the world's nations out of fear that the fight against the Nazis would become a Jewish problem. Others believed that if they kept silent, the danger would pass. The kept silent and the disaster struck. Today, we are not afraid to speak the truth to world leaders, as is written in our Bible: 'I will speak of your testimonies before kings, and I will not be ashamed…listen, for I will speak noble thoughts; the opening of my lips will reveal right things' [Psalms 119].'"

"Unlike our situation during the Holocaust, when we were like leaves on the wind, defenseless, now we have great power to defend ourselves, and it is ready for any mission. This power rests on the courage and ingenuity of the soldiers of the IDF and our security forces. It is this power that enabled us, against all odds, to build the State of Israel.

"Look at the remarkable achievements we have made in our 66 years of independence. All of us together – scientists, writers, teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs, employees, artists, farmers – the entire people of Israel, each one in their own field – together we have built a glorious state. The spirit of the people of Israel is supreme, our accomplishments tremendous. Seven decades after the destruction of the Holocaust, the State of Israel is a global wonder.

"On this day, on behalf of the Jewish people, I say to all those who sought to destroy us, to all those who still seek to destroy us: you have failed and you will fail.

"The State of Israel is stronger than ever. It is a state that seeks peace with all its neighbors – a state with a will of iron to ensure the future of its people."

He ended his speech with a quote from the Book of Numbers, Chapter 23: "The people will arise like a lion cub and raise itself like a lion; it will not lie down until it consumes prey, and drinks the blood of the slain."

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Abbas Calls Holocaust `Heinous Crime'

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, middle, speaks during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council, a top decision-making body, at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, April 26, 2014.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, middle, speaks during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council, a top decision-making body, at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, April 26, 2014.

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Abbas Says He Still Seeks Talks Extension Israel Suspends Peace Talks With Palestinians Divided Israelis, Palestinians Share Skepticism Over Peace Talks TEXT SIZE
Robert Berger
April 27, 2014 11:52 AM

JERUSALEM — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has described the Holocaust as "the most heinous crime ... against humanity in the modern era."

Abbas issued the written statement on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, an annual Israeli observance in memory of the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II.

It was an unusual comment for an Arab leader and appeared to be an about-face for Abbas. Israeli officials have accused him of playing down the scope of the Holocaust in a doctoral dissertation in the 1970s.

Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, appeared to be reaching out to the Israeli public following the collapse of nine months of peace talks last week. Israel suspended the negotiations after the Palestinian leader agreed to form a unity government with the Islamic group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

"Designed to placate"

Hamas refuses to renounce violence or recognize Israel, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would never negotiate with a terrorist group that denies his country's right to exist.

At the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu also dismissed Abbas' comments on the Holocaust, saying they were "designed to placate global public opinion."

He accused Abbas of joining forces with Hamas, describing it as a group that both denies the Holocaust and wants to bring about "a second Holocaust" by destroying the State of Israel.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat believes a unity government would actually benefit the peace process, so he says Israel's position does not make sense.

"I do not know how Israel is thinking anymore," Erekat said.

Erekat told Israel's Army Radio that Abbas has been crystal clear: Hamas will have to accept his policies on peace.

"He said, `I will form a government with my program recognizing Israel, accepting the two-state solution, accepting agreements signed, and not accepting violence.' So what does Israel want?" Erekat asked.

For Netanyahu, the answer is fairly simple.

Referring to Abbas by a traditional form of address in Arabic culture, Netanyahu said, "Abu Mazen must choose between his alliance with Hamas...and making a true peace with Israel."

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Sense of Responsibility

The saved cutlery set. 'It doesn't belong to us'
The saved cutlery set. 'It doesn't belong to us'
Kurt Bielefeld, his wife Marion and their daughter Hella
Kurt Bielefeld, his wife Marion and their daughter Hella
Traute Olsen remains the only person who knew the Bielefelds personally
Traute Olsen remains the only person who knew the Bielefelds personally

Kurt Bielefeld
Kurt Bielefeld

The Hamburg house where the Bielefelds had lived
The Hamburg house where the Bielefelds had lived
The silver set. 'We believe it was a family inheritance'
The silver set. 'We believe it was a family inheritance'

The porcelain lamp. 'Very expensive'
The porcelain lamp. 'Very expensive'

The 'stumbling blocks' commemorating family's name at the entrance to the building
The 'stumbling blocks' commemorating family's name at the entrance to the building
The Bielefeld family: Alfred, Kurt, Marion and Helen
The Bielefeld family: Alfred, Kurt, Marion and Helen

German guardians of holocaust victims' treasures searching for heirs Hamburg family looking to return valuable items left behind by Jewish friends when they were sent to their death in Nazi concentration camp in 1941.

Polina Garaev
Published:      04.28.14, 00:25 / Israel Jewish Scene

A silver cutlery set lies in a safe place in the Olsen family home in Hamburg, Germany. These knives and forks are not used, not even by the most distinguished guests. Although this valuable set has been in their possession for more than 50 years, the family members still see themselves as the temporary guardians of the treasure, and nothing else.

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"It doesn't belong to us," explains Theda Olsen, whose grandparents were asked to watch the items by their Jewish friends, the Bielefeld family, just before they were deported to a concentration camp. They believed that they would return to their home one day, but despite the evidence that they were all killed – the Olsen family is still waiting for the day one of their relatives will arrive to claim the inheritance.

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Social media help track Shoah assets / Associated Press Israel-based genealogy company using Internet to help match property stolen by Nazis to victims' heirs. Full story
"My brother and I don't have any memories from the Bielefeld family because they died before we were born, but for us it was always a story passed on in the family," Theda recalls. "We were very touched by what happened to the Bielefelds, and the uncertainty surrounding their fate always raised an interest among us."

Her mother, Traute, who was a child during the Holocaust, remains the only person who knew the Bielefelds personally. Her parents opened a small fish store near their apartments in Hamburg, and her father befriended Kurt Bielefeld, whose father ran the opposite electronics store.

The saved cutlery set. 'It doesn't belong to us'
The saved cutlery set. 'It doesn't belong to us'
Traute Olsen remains the only person who knew the Bielefelds personally
Traute Olsen remains the only person who knew the Bielefelds personally

"Before the Nazis' rise to power, my parents didn't even know that the Bielefelds were Jewish," says Traute. "It didn't even matter. Only when the persecution began, they told my parents about their difficulties."

Traute's parents did not settle for a show of empathy, but insisted on helping their friends, even at the cost of risking their own lives.

"The Jews at the time found it difficult to buy food in regular stores because they wouldn't serve Jews anymore, while my parents had the possibility of helping and giving them something to eat," she recalls.

And so Kurt Bielefeld and his father, Alfred, began visiting the store frequently, and Traute's father would sneak packages of fish into their hands. The Bielefelds would hide the yellow patch on their clothes and try not to raise the other customers' suspicions, while little Traute was warned by her parents not to tell anyone about their Jewish friends.

"My grandfather and grandmother took a risk, because what they did was against the law of course," adds Flemming Olsen, Theda's brother. "But they felt responsible for the Bielefelds, who were their neighbors and friends."

Flemming stresses that "my grandparents were against the Nazi regime, but there was nothing they could do. They were also forced to hide this fact from the customers and the rest of their friends. The only thing they felt they could do was help the Bielefelds by sticking to the friendship with them and feeding them."

He says the Bielefelds tried to protect their German friends as well, urging Flemming's grandfather to join any organization which could help him evade suspicions and hide the fact that he was the enemy of Nazism.

"None of them imagined how much things would still deteriorate," Flemming admits.

'Take care of the items until we return' The turning point in their understanding of the Nazi regime's dangers was after the assassination of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath, which also led up to Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass riots.

The Gestapo in Hamburg arrested dozens of Jews, including Kurt Bielefeld, and sent them to a concentration camp near Berlin. Kurt later told his friends how they had been forced to stand in a field for two days: "People dropped like mosquitoes," he described it to Traute's parents. "The weak ones collapsed and died."

At the end, for an unknown reason, those who survived were allowed to return to their homes.

"After this incident, the Bielefelds became very alert," Flemming adds. "They realized that the situation in Germany was about to become very difficult for them."

Kurt Bielefeld
Kurt Bielefeld

The Hamburg house where the Bielefelds had lived
The Hamburg house where the Bielefelds had lived

The Bielefelds even mulled the option of leaving Germany. The family of Marion Bielefeld, Kurt's wife, had a shipping company in Hamburg and they considered using one of the ships to flee to Britain, where her distant relatives lived.

"They didn't do it in the end, mainly because they couldn't imagine how serious their persecution was about to become," Flemming explains. "Kurt was a decorated soldier who had fought for German in World War I, and he felt German for all intents and purposes. The entire family felt that way. They didn't want to leave."

But in November 1941, the entire Bielefeld family was required to "evacuate" – Kurt and his wife Marion, his parents Alfred and Helen, and his daughters Hella, 3, and Mathel, six months. Their fate remained unknown, until decades later Traute Olsen found out that they had been sent to a concentration camp in Minsk and shot to death weeks after arriving there.

"Kurt hoped he would be sent to a place where he could work, so he took his work tools with him," says Flemming. "They also exchanges blankets with my grandparents – they gave them light summer blankets and received warm and thick woolen blankets in return, which they took along with them."

The silver set. 'We believe it was a family inheritance'
The silver set. 'We believe it was a family inheritance'

The porcelain lamp. 'Very expensive'
The porcelain lamp. 'Very expensive'

Kurt asked his German friends for one more thing: To take care of their most valuable items until the day they return.

"He gave them an 18-piece silver cutlery set and a Meissen porcelain lamp, which is considered very expensive. The letters HB, the symbol of the Bielefeld family, are engraved on the cutlery, so we believe it is a family inheritance," Flemming adds.

"They didn't reveal the story behind these items and they didn't say what should be done with them while they were away. They just asked our grandparents to take care of the items until they returned and took them back – which never happened."

A needle in a haystack
"When my grandmother died," Theda goes on, "the items were transferred to my mother's house and have been here since then, waiting."

Traute took the items out of their hiding place in order to share the story of Bielefelds with them. "Mother told us the whole story when we were children," Flemming recalls, "but decades went by before we came up with the idea to try to locate the Bielefeld family's distant relatives in order to return the items to them."

The 'stumbling blocks' commemorating family's name at the entrance to the building
The 'stumbling blocks' commemorating family's name at the entrance to the building

According to Theda, this hope began to rise in them only in 2009, after her parents were exposed to the "stolpersteine" project – "stumbling blocks" laid at the entrance to houses where Jews lived across Europe. Traute told the project initiators about the Bielefeld family and made sure to have such a commemoration cobblestone placed at the entrance to Kurt's house and at the entrance to his parents' store.

"I am 82 years old, and I still cry often when I think about those days," she says today.

Her daughter adds, "My mother still feels bad about that period, about what happened to the Bielefelds and about the fact that they failed to help their friends. To this very days, it's still something she feels bad about. It's a story which is passed on in our family and which touches us, and we are glad that we are trying to do something else now.

"There may still be a chance, even if it is slim, that we'll meet a relative of the Bielefeld family and give back those items. Then we'll be able to share our memories from them and talk about everything that happened at the time."

So far, the Olsen family tried to enlist the help of Hamburg's Jewish community, but was unsuccessful. They also turned to the Ghetto Fighters' House Museum and to the Yad Vashem Archives, but the only information they received was that the family members had died in Minsk, based on a list of murdered German Jews found in the national German archives.

Now the family is interested in turning to the international tracing service operated by the Red Cross for that purpose.

The Bielefeld family: Alfred, Kurt, Marion and Helen
The Bielefeld family: Alfred, Kurt, Marion and Helen

"There may still be distant relatives of Marion Bielefeld in Britain, for example," Flemming assumes. "We never tried to find them because we didn't know where to start. We feel that it's like looking for a needle in a haystack."

And yet, the Olsens refuse to give up. "The story is deeply rooted in our family. Although my sister and I were born decades after the Bielefelds died, we feel some kind of connection to them."

"There has always been a sense of responsibility in my family," Theda adds. "I, my brother and sister were not born yet at the time, we didn't take part in all the horrible things the Nazis did and it's not our fault, but because we are Germans we felt somewhat responsible for what happened and this is our small part in the attempt to atone for it."

Theda promises that even if the Bielefelds' property is returned to its rightful owners one day, the family's story will still be passed on from generation to generation in her family.

"My sister has two daughters and my mother has already told them about the Holocaust and about the Bielefelds. My daughter is one year told today, but when she grows up I will tell her about it of course. There's no doubt about it."

Do you have any information which may help the Olsen family's search? Please write to

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Anti-Semitism on the rise in Europe, report finds
Tel Aviv University report says that anti-Semitic attitudes are becoming more acceptable, particularly among European youth, amid a rise in popularity of extremist parties in Hungary, Greece and elsewhere.

The Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff

Anti-Semitism is becoming more widespread in Europe, Tel Aviv University report finds | Photo credit: AP

An annual report by Tel Aviv University researchers shows that violent attacks around the world against Jews dropped in 2013 but warns that anti-Semitism is becoming more widespread in Europe.

The report, released Sunday, recorded 554 violent anti-Semitic acts in 2013, including attacks on people and vandalism against synagogues, cemeteries and other Jewish institutions.

The figures showed a 19 percent reduction compared to 2012, when a deadly shooting at a French Jewish school sparked a series of copycat attacks.

It said that anti-Semitic attitudes are becoming more acceptable, particularly among European youth, amid a rise in popularity of extremist parties in Hungary, Greece and elsewhere.

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Report: Hamas not ruling out recognition of Israel
Adviser to Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh says Hamas is not ruling out the possibility of recognizing Israel as part of efforts to form Palestinian unity government - Finance Minister Yair Lapid: If Hamas accepts Quartet's conditions, talks with it are possible.

Israel Hayom Staff

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh | Photo credit: AP

An aide to Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh said that Hamas has not ruled out the possibility of recognizing Israel, but noted that such a step would have to be discussed as part of the efforts to form a unity government with Fatah, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

The statement was attributed to Taher al-Nunu, a media adviser for Haniyeh.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, the head of the Yesh Atid party, told Israel Radio on Sunday that if Hamas were to accept the Quartet conditions -- recognizing Israel, ceasing all rocket fire and terrorism, and upholding past agreements -- then it would be possible to hold talks with the group. But Lapid added that he does not foresee Hamas undertaking such a step.

In a separate interview with Army Radio on Sunday, Lapid said that Yesh Atid would not quit the government over the current impasse in the peace talks with the Palestinians. Lapid said time was needed to see how the situation would evolve.

"Hamas and Abbas will not decide whether Yesh Atid sits in the government or not," Lapid said.

Lapid criticized Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett's Habayit Heyehudi for its conduct during the peace talks with the Palestinians, accusing Habayit Hayehudi of trying to thwart progress in the talks by announcing settlement construction tenders. Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel is a member of Habayit Hayehudi.

Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid) expressed similar sentiments on Saturday during an appearance on Channel 2, saying there is a "vast gap" between the views of Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi on the peace talks.

In response to Peri, Habayit Hayehudi said Saturday, "The Left needs to keep its cool during times of distress."

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Next Phase in Israeli Water Revolution Makes Drinking Water from Air by Staff | 04.27.14 12:20 pm

According a report on CNN, an Israeli company, Water-Gen, has developed a device that uses an extremely efficient process to remove the humidity from the air and store it as clean, drinkable water—in other words, creating water out of thin air.

"The clean air enters our GENius heat exchanger system where it is dehumidified, the water is removed from the air and collected in a collection tank inside the unit," says co-CEO Arye Kohavi. "From there the water is passed through an extensive water filtration system which cleans it from possible chemical and microbiological contaminations," he explains. "The clean purified water is stored in an internal water tank which is kept continuously preserved to keep it at high quality over time."

The device was originally developed for the Israeli Defense Forces, and has been sold to militaries in seven other countries. The technology for capturing humidity isn't new, but the advantage of Water-Gen's device is its efficiency. According to Kochavi, "it uses two cents' worth of electricity to produce a liter of water."

Kochavi also observed that his company's technology would be very useful in India, and that "Water-Gen's units can produce a liter of water for 1.5 Rupees, as opposed to 15 Rupees for a liter of bottled water."

A nation with 60 percent desert, Israel has established itself as an international leader in water technology. Israeli advances in technologies such as desalination, monitoring, recycling, and irrigation have helped Israel "beat the drought." Israeli water technology and irrigation techniques are used around the world to extend the utility of existing water supplies and improve agricultural yields. Earlier this year, when he visited the United States, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a highly publicized trip to California and signed agreements with Governor Jerry Brown to provide Israeli know-how to help alleviate that state's water crisis. Israeli technology is employed in a number of other states too, to help them make the most of their water supplies.

Though many refuse to acknowledge it, Israeli water technology has also benefited the Palestinians, as Akiva Bigman demonstrated in The Myth of the Thirsty Palestinian in the April 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine.

[Photo: Arye Kochavi / YouTube ]

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Pro-Palestinians 'evict' Jews from NYU dorm
Fake eviction notices posted on doors of dorm believed to house many of New York University's Jewish students warn of destruction of property - Pro-Palestinian group says seeks to raise awareness of Palestinian hardships.

Yoni Hirsch and Israel Hayom Staff

The eviction notice posted at an NYU dorm: "Forced evictions are arbitrary, racist and humiliating" | Photo credit: No credit

Eviction notices posted by a pro-Palestinian activist group on the doors of dorm rooms housing Jewish students at New York University last week stated that "if you don't vacate the premise by midnight on April 25, 2014 we reserve the right to destroy all remaining belongings. We cannot be held responsible for property or persons remaining inside the premises."

The notices were distributed by a group named "Students for Justice in Palestine" in efforts to draw attention to what the group said were similar eviction notices issued by the Israeli government to Palestinians.

"Eviction notices are routinely given to Palestinian families living under Israeli occupation for no other reason than their ethnicity. Forced evictions are arbitrary, racist, humiliating and in violation of Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention," read the notice, which also included a disclaimer reading "this is not a real eviction notice. This is intended to draw attention to the reality that Palestinians confront on a regular basis."

According to The New York Post, a spokesman for NYU said the prank had crossed a line. "It is disappointingly inconsistent with standards we expect to prevail in a scholarly community," spokesman John Beckman said. "Our Residence Life and Housing Office will be communicating with the students in the dorm, looking into the matter, and following up appropriately."

Beckman said further that it was not clear why the group targeted the Palladium dorms, but "were it to be the case that the fliering was done there because it was perceived to be a dorm with a higher proportion of Jewish students, that would be troubling, dismaying and a matter of deep concern for our community."

The fliers caused a bit of a stir in the dorm. "We thought we were being evicted. We were panicking a little bit," Gabrielle Doria told The New York Post.

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Rabbis approve guide for HIV prevention
First-of-its-kind booklet, with introduction written by rabbi, aims to guide religious homosexuals on how to avoid contracting HIV virus.

Yaron Kelner
Published:      04.27.14, 00:33 / Israel Jewish Scene

The number of new HIV infections in Israel has been on the rise in the past few years, including among men from the religious sector. A new first-of-its-kind booklet for religious homosexuals aims to guide them on how to avoid contracting the virus.

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The introduction to the booklet, called "Venishamrtem" ("Get Protected"), was written by a rabbi and approved by other Jewish religious leaders.

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Some 500 people were infected with HIV in Israel in 2012, and the numbers grow every year. About 150 of the infected patients are homosexual men, some of whom are religious people who are not taught in the religious educational system about sexual intercourse, contraceptives and the risks of unprotected sex.

'Silence has its price'
The Israel AIDS Task Force has decided to try to explain to the religious population about the risks, and launched the information and prevention booklet in collaboration with the Havruta organization for religious members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

"We must understand in the clearest manner that silence has its price. When we fail to talk about a certain issue – it basically doesn't exist in our consciousness, and when it happens – the way to risky behavior is very short," the booklet's introduction says.

The guide explains the meaning of HIV and AIDS and elaborates on the high risk groups, the ways of contracting HIV, the ways to protect oneself, how to use a condom correctly and where one can get tested.

"The information is conveyed in the booklet in a way adjusted to the religious public. In other words, there are no revealing photos and the language is relatively subtle, although it does show men walking hand in hand," says Adir Yanko of the Israel AIDS Task Force.

"The absence of a discourse does not prevent infection. In a place where sex is not discussed, safe sex is not discussed either, and men and women who come from a religious background are not immune to infection. We hope that this move will cause other systems in the religious public to break the circle of silence."

"It's time for the religious public, its leaders and rabbis to look reality in the eye and start talking about sexual relations between men and about the way to avoid diseases," adds Havruta Chairman Eli Kaplan-Wildmann.

The booklet will be launched at a party of the Gavra religious gay line and will be distributed in religious centers which will allow it and among rabbis who will be able to offer advice and provide information to religious members of the LGBT community.


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Clippers owners: In Israel, blacks treated like dogs

Extended recording of Donald Sterling sees him make additional racist remarks, belittling 'black Jews' and claiming they are worth less than 'white Jews' during conversation with girlfriend. Ynetnews

On the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, the Jewish owner of the LA Clippers continued to get himself ensnarled in a race related scandal.

After a recording in which he made racists comments about NBA players surfaced caused a storm, an extended version had him belittling "black Jews" and claiming they are worth less than "white Jews" in a conversation with his girlfriend has emerged.

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In a recording attained by Deadspin, Donald Sterling expresses ideas similar to the ones he did in the original recording obtained by TMZ, but also adds comments about Israel and race relations within the Jewish state.

In the recording attributed to Sterling, a male voice questions his girlfriend's association with minorities. TMZ reported the woman, V. Stiviano, is of black and Mexican descent. In the extended version Sterling responds to claims of racism by Stiviano, referencing Israel along the way.

Sterling: It's the world! You go to Israel, the blacks are just treated like dogs.

V. Stiviano: So do you have to treat them like that too?

DS: The white Jews, there's white Jews and black Jews, do you understand?

V: And are the black Jews less than the white Jews?

DS: A hundred percent, fifty, a hundred percent.

V: And is that right?

DS: It isn't a question – we don't evaluate what's right and wrong, we live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture.

The conversation then moves on to invoke Hitler comparing Sterling's viewpoints to ideology that led to the Holocaust, Deadspin reported:

V: It's like saying, 'Let's just persecute and kill all of the Jews.'

DS: Oh, it's the same thing, right?

V: Isn't it wrong? Wasn't it wrong then? With the Holocaust? And you're Jewish, you understand discrimination.

DS: You're a mental case, you're really a mental case. The Holocaust, we're comparing with.

V: Racism! Discrimination.

DS: There's no racism here. If you don't want to be... walking... into a basketball game with a certain... person, is that racism?

President Barack Obama on Sunday described comments reportedly made by the Jewish owner of the Los Angeles Clippers "incredibly offensive racist statements," before casting them as part of a continuing legacy of slavery and segregation that Americans must vigilantly fight.

"When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk," Obama said when asked to respond to Donald Sterling's reported comments.

The firestorm over Sterling's comments has quickly engulfed the NBA. Obama cast the comments through a broader prism of racism in America, adding that "we constantly have to be on guard on racial attitudes that divide us rather than embracing our diversity as a strength."

"The United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race and slavery and segregation, that's still there, the vestiges of discrimination," Obama said during a news conference in Malaysia, where he was traveling.

"We've made enormous strides, but you're going to continue to see this percolate up every so often," he added. "And I think that we just have to be clear and steady in denouncing it, teaching our children differently, but also remaining hopeful that part of why statements like this stand out some much is because there has been this shift in how we view ourselves."

Obama said he's confident NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will address the matter. He said the NBA has "an awful lot of African American players, it's steeped in African American culture. And I suspect that the NBA is going to be deeply concerned in resolving this."

Silver had said the NBA needs to confirm authenticity of the audio tape and interview both Sterling and the woman in the recording. He called the tape "disturbing and offensive" and promised to investigate quickly.

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