An elderly man who served as a guard in the Stutthof concentration camp during the final two years of World War II was convicted on July 23, 2020, for his crimes. As he was only seventeen when the offenses were committed, a juvenile court served as the venue for his trial this past week. Specifically, he was accused and convicted as an accessory to the murder of over five thousand people. When his involvement initially was questioned, the defendant had freely admitted to having served as an SS guard at this camp near his hometown. In testimony, he claimed that he had been compelled to these heinous actions and had had no other recourse.
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A dear friend who survived the Holocaust as a child, including the murder of both his parents, and labored diligently to build a new life outside his homeland is currently experiencing health challenges. Ironically, as he has grown weaker, the power of his work ethic, love of life, and determination to carve out a fresh legacy have risen to the surface. In remembering the Holocaust, we often associate the term hero with rescuers and liberators who defied all odds to assist those who were persecuted and tortured by the Nazis. Those individuals were certainly heroic, as it took obedience (in some cases to military commands) and tremendous personal courage to undertake the right course of action in defiance of the Nazi regime.
In other camps, inmates took wood and aluminum foil, and using grease and cotton wicks, created their own candles and menorahs. Their bodies may have been held captive, but their spirits were not in chains.
I was impressed when my granddaughter expressed her desire to learn more about her Jewish identity after reading The Diary of Anne Frank in middle school. I had also read it in school, and we all wondered, “What if it had been me?” I hadn’t given the subject much more thought until I began working with Rozalie Jerome, daughter of Holocaust survivors.
Tisha B’Av is Hebrew for the Ninth of Av, meaning the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av. Tisha B’Av is mentioned as “the fast of the fifth month” in Zechariah 7:3,5 and 8:19. Today, Tisha B’Av is a day of fasting and mourning for Jewish people throughout the world.
A Bay City Junior High language arts teacher took a trip of a lifetime this summer as a participant in the Holocaust studies program sponsored by the Jewish Labor Committee.…
Although my words may initially serve to educate others, report on an event, or even explain my position on a given subject, those words also reveal much about the state of my own heart and mind. In fact, my words are truth-tellers regarding my attitudes and opinions