James Edward Johnson

my thoughts from right to left

Posts Tagged ‘holocaust

The Ghetto … worse than the films.

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A Film Unfinished is showing now at the Bijou Theater at the University of Iowa.  The Israeli documentary covers the known and lost footage taken by the Nazis of the Warsaw Ghetto.

I saw it last night and it is a very powerful film that makes even those familiar with the Holocaust pause in consideration of the terror of Naziism … well before the Jews were sent to the gas chambers.

Here is a preview:

Go watch it at the Bijou … between now and Thursday.


Written by JamesEJ

Sunday, October 24, 2010 at 5:44 am

Losing all of his hatreds – my column in the Press-Citizen.

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My column on Frank Meeink’s autobiography, Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead, is in today’s Iowa City Press-Citizen.  Here is the opening:

Losing all of his hatreds

Frank Meeink grew up in South Philly doing things that one would hope could not happen anywhere. The power of his story is its demonstration of how easily dejected kids can be radicalized into terrorists.

“Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead” is the story of Meeink’s journey from a rough life in the streets of South Philly … and his sometimes rougher life at home. Most centrally it is a story about his radicalization into the top neo-Nazi skinhead recruiter on the East Coast and his recovery from hatred. More generally the reader is drawn through a variety of problems from which Meeink learns that he must recover.

Read the rest of Losing all of his hatreds.

Meeink will be speaking tomorrow, Tuesday, July 13 at 7pm at Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City.  I spoke with him over the phone a few weeks ago; he is a colorful speaker and has an interesting personality.  It should be an excellent event and if you are in the Iowa City area, I hope to see you there.

Written by JamesEJ

Monday, July 12, 2010 at 6:11 pm

A Yiddish manuscript …

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I am a fan of the Bielski Brothers – they were Jews who saved about 1,200 Jews while fighting Nazis in the forests of Belarus.  Indeed, my Jewish identity is tied much more to the experiences of the Bielski partisans, the Warsaw Ghetto fighters, and the Jewish partisans in France than to the other experiences of the Holocaust.  When I was young, my mother introduced me to a co-worker of hers who was a Holocaust survivor.  He had fought as a partisan and had silently witnessed the murder of his family.  I was too young to fully understand, but it left an imprint on me.

When the movie about the Bieskis, Defiance, came out in January 2009,  I had already read much about them.  Indeed, I wrote a column for the Iowa City Press-Citizen dealing with the movie, based in part on my earlier reading of the full history.

Now, it seems, my “full history” is not so full.  There is a newly discovered manuscript written by Tuvia Bielski:

The newly discovered manuscript — about 60 hand-written pages longer than the one Duffy used [for his book, The Bielski Brothers], which was 333 pages — had been sitting in YIVO’s archives, untouched, for more than 50 years. It was one of 3,000 Holocaust testimonials held by YIVO, but since the center’s catalogue was not digitized until 2008, it was nearly impossible to find. You would have needed to sort through thousands of documents to stumble upon it.

via Bringing Bielski Memoir To Print – The Jewish Week.

There is only one problem for me … it is written in Yiddish and I don’t know any more Yiddish than what is embedded in American culture.   The article did say the manuscript was digitized, so maybe we can just use Google’s English-Yiddish translator?

Written by JamesEJ

Monday, July 12, 2010 at 8:01 am

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Satloff’s ‘Among the Righteous’ – bookletized.

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I am a fan of Robert Satloff’s book, Among the Righteous.  It provides an important opening into a serious discussion of the history of the Jewish experience in Muslim lands.  A booklet promoting such ideas, therefore, is a good idea in my opinion.

However, as Bataween, over at Point of no return points out:

Laudable though this initiative is, one cannot help feeling misgivings. As Lyn Julius wrote in her review of Robert Satloff’s book, Satloff has himself failed to convey a sense of the almost universal tide of sympathy the Arab world felt for the Nazis. Between 150,000 and 300,000 Muslims fought on the side of the Axis. The scholar Jeffrey Herf has researched the huge impact of Nazi propaganda on the mostly illiterate Arab World.

via Point of no return: Booklet on Muslim Holocaust heroes can mislead.

Bataween’s point is well taken.  If you are unfamiliar with this viewpoint, subscribe to Point of no return.  It, more than any other blog, is an excellent resource for understanding oppression and loss suffered by Jews in Muslim lands.

Written by JamesEJ

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 8:30 am