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100 Auschwitz Survivors to Attend 70th Anniversary Ceremony of Camp's Liberation

NEW YORK, More than 100 Auschwitz survivors from at least 17 countries will travel to Poland to participate in the observance of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz on 27 January 2015, on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The official event will be organized by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the International Auschwitz Council. The World Jewish Congress and the USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education will be among the organizations supporting this commemorative event.

The main commemoration will take place in front of the infamous Death Gate at Birkenau. The ceremony will be under the high patronage of Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski and begin at 15:30 local time. Countries from around the world will be sending official delegations, some of which will include Auschwitz survivors.

“This anniversary is crucial because it may be the last major one marked by survivors. We are truly honored that so many of them, despite their age, have agreed to make this trip,” said Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress. “Few moments in the drama that was World War II are more etched in our collective memory then the day Red Army troops came upon, perhaps, the greatest evil of our time,” he said.

“We have to say it clearly: It is the last big anniversary that we can commemorate with a significant group of survivors,” said Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywiński, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. “Until now, it has been them who taught us how to look at the tragedy of the victims of the Third Reich and the total destruction of the world of European Jews. Their voices became the most important warning against the human capacity for extreme humiliation, contempt and genocide.”

“On this special day we want to show the survivors and the whole world that we, the post-war generation, have matured to our own responsibility for remembrance,” Marek Zając, secretary of the International Auschwitz Council, declared.

Ronald Lauder praised the efforts to preserve the site where at least 1.1 million people, most of them Jews, were murdered within less than five years. “Twenty-five years ago, when I saw the stunning truth of Auschwitz for the first time, every part of the former camp was disintegrating. Now, after a monumental effort, it has been preserved for future generations, and that is important in an age of Holocaust deniers.”

Twenty years ago, Ronald Lauder, along with Kalman Sultanik and Ernie Michel, raised $40 million from 19 countries in order to ensure that what remained in Auschwitz-Birkenau forever be preserved and bear witness for future generations. Lauder also financed the creation of the conservation laboratory at the Auschwitz Memorial, which preserves every shoe, every document, and every building that remained at the site.

The financing of the long-term preservation is continued by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. It was created in 2009 to collect €120 million ($151 million) for the Perpetual Capital which will finance conservation work and preservation of all authentic remains of the former Auschwitz camp. To date, 32 countries have contributed over €102 million ($128 million). The Foundation has started the ’18 Pillars of Memory’ campaign to raise the remaining €18 million and it hopes to be able to announce the completion of the project on the day of the 70th anniversary of liberation.

Ahead of the event, the World Jewish Congress has located Auschwitz survivors from at least 17 countries who are willing to travel to Poland, especially from countries from which Jews were deported to Auschwitz during the war and from countries where significant numbers of survivors settled after the Shoah.

With the help of archivists from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, USC Shoah Foundation has identified the children from the historic photo (left) taken by Red Army photographer Alexander Vorontsov who in 1945 documented the liberation of the death camp. The surviving children are now between the ages of 81 and 86 and have been also invited to participate in the official commemoration.

“Faced as we are with the loss of living witnesses,” said Stephen Smith, USC Shoah Foundation executive director, “it is imperative we honor them and take their stories with us into the future so those who come after us will have no excuse to let such atrocities happen again. Survivors speak not only for themselves, but for the millions whose voices were violently silenced.”

Pope Francis wants to open Holocaust-era Vatican archives as quickly as possible

WJC, Pope Francis has reiterated his position to open the secret Vatican archives covering the period of World War II to allow researchers to assess the role played by Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust.

In an extensive interview with the Israeli newspaper 'Yediot Ahronot', Francis said there was "an agreement between the Vatican and Italy from 1929 that prevents us from opening the archives to researchers at this point in time. But because of the time that has passed since World War II, I see no problem with opening the archives the moment we sort out the legal and bureaucratic matters."

The pope expressed worries that the current debate about Pius XII was not fair. "One thing worries me, and I'll be honest with you – the image of Pope Pius XII. Ever since Rolf Hochhuth wrote the play The Deputy in 1963, poor Pope Pius XII has been accused of all sorts of things (including having been aware of the extermination of the Jews and doing nothing). I'm not saying he didn't make mistakes. He made a few. I get things wrong often too. But prior to the release of the play, he was considered a big defender of the Jews.

"During the Holocaust, Pius gave refuge to many Jews in monasteries in Italy. In the Pope's bed at Castel Gandolfo, 42 small children were born to couples who found refuge there from the Nazis. These are things that people don't know. When Pius XII died, Golda Meir sent a letter that read: 'We share in the pain of humanity. When the Holocaust befell our people, the Pope spoke out for the victims.' But then along came this theater performance, and everyone turned their backs on Pius XII.

"And again, I'm not saying that he didn't make mistakes. But when you interpret history, you need to do so from the way of thinking of the time in question. I can't judge historical events in modern-day terms. It doesn't work. I'll never get to the truth like that. Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, once gave me a copy of the book he wrote about the Inquisition. I read it studiously. I'm not saying we should justify the actions of the Inquisition, but we need to investigate this period with the right tools and only then pass judgment.

"Did Pius XII remain silent in the face of the extermination of the Jews? Did he say all he should have said? We will have to open the archives to know exactly what happened. But to judge the actions, we will also need to understand the circumstances under which he was acting: Perhaps it was better for him to remain silent because had he spoken, more Jews would have been murdered? Or maybe the other way around? I don't want to sound petty, but it really gets my goat when I see that everyone is against the Church, against Pius XII – all those detractors.

"And what about the Allies during the war? After all, they were well aware of what was going on in the death camps and they were very familiar with the railroad tracks that led Jews to Auschwitz. They had aerial photographs. And they didn't bomb those tracks. I'll leave that question hanging in the air, and say only that one needs to be very fair in these things."

Holocaust survivors born after 1927 to get one-time payment

WJC, The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany has reached an agreement with the German government for additional financial assistance for child survivors of the Holocaust.

The Finance Ministry in Berlin reportedly agreed Wednesday to one-time payments of € 2,500 (US$ 3,270) for Jewish children who were in concentration camps, ghettos or in hiding for at least six months.It was not immediately clear how many victims would qualify for the payments and the Finance Ministry made no immediate statement. “Child survivors” are defined as Nazi victims born on or after 1 January 1928.

The agreement comes as part of annual negotiations on who should receive funds. It still needs German parliamentary approval.

“The joint fund will recognize survivors worldwide who were in camps, ghettos, hiding and false identity for psychological and medical trauma caused during their deprived childhoods,” said Claims Conference President Julius Berman.

“Jewish children were in constant fear of death during the Holocaust. As you can imagine, this distress and the horrors of the Shoah have permeated so many aspects of their lives,” added the former US deputy secretary of the Treasury, Stuart Eizenstat, who serves as Claims Conference special negotiator.

The fund is expected to become operational on 1 January 2015, and details will be made available after approval by the German Bundestag and the Claims Conference.

Hungarian Jews vote to stay away from events marking Holocaust Memorial Year

WJC, Hungary's main Jewish umbrella organization voted on Sunday to boycott official Holocaust commemorations this year unless the role of locals in the Nazi deportation and killing of Hungarian Jews is made clear. The Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) decided to stay away from events marking the 70th anniversary of the deportation of 437,000 Jews from Hungary to the Nazi death camps.

András Heisler (standing) and other Mazsihisz leaders vote in Sunday's assembly
President András Heisler saidMazsihisz objected to plans for a Holocaust monument and memorial center in Budapest as well as the appointment of a new history institute director who seemed to excuse the Holocaust deportations. "If we do not get a real answer from the government on these issues, our decision will become final," he told journalists, adding he expected a reply within a few days.
A lack of consultation about the projects had upset Jewish communities, Heisler said, adding: "The unity that Hungarian Jews showed in that respect is unprecedented since the war."
Peter Feldmajer, Mazsihisz vice-president, said.“We will not attend the commemorations organized by the government in the future until the position of the government changes,” “The memorial year should be an open and real memorial, not whitewash the Hungarian fascist regime.”
In a letter read out at the Mazsihisz General Assembly meeting on Sunday, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said the WJC would "support whatever decision Mazsihisz sees fit to take in this respect." Lauder also expressed hope that the "controversial issues can be resolved by dialogue between Mazsihisz and the Hungarian government."
Almost seven decades since the end of World War II, anti-Semitism remains a sore point in Hungary, whose 120,000-strong Jewish community is one of the largest in Europe. Jewish leaders feel the country has not fully faced up to its wartime past.
The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who at the World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly in May 2013 pledged zero tolerance for anti-Semitism, is proposing the installation of a monument that depicts all of Hungary as a victim of the German occupation, which took place on 19 March 1944. However, Hungary was a close ally of Nazi Germany prior to this event, and deportations of Jews took place even before German troops entered the country. Germany only occupied the country after discovering that Budapest was secretly negotiating with the Allies to surrender.
Mazsihisz has also criticized an official memorial center under construction at a Budapest train station that was once a hub for the deportations to the death camps. It argues that the center plays down Hungarian collaboration in the Holocaust. The Jewish community also wants the government to remove the director of a new history institute because he called a 1941 deportation of tens of thousands of Jews "a policy procedure for foreign nationals."
Hungarian Jews say Budapest had stripped Jews of nearly all their rights even before the Nazi occupation. "It wasn't the Germans who locked me up in the ghetto, but Hungarian soldiers and fascists," Mazsihisz Executive Director Gusztav Zoltai, a Holocaust survivor, was quoted by ‘Reuters’ as saying.
Jobbik plans to hold rally at former synagogue
Meanwhile, the Hungarian government defended the right of the extreme-right Jobbik party to hold a political rally in a former synagogue in the city of Esztergom, despite protests from Mazsihisz and other Jewish groups.
The International Communications Office told the 'Jerusalem Post' that the government “does not comment on party rallies” and that Jobbik had a legitimate right to hold its rally wherever it wanted. “Official parties have the right to hold events at venues where the owners of the venue allow them to. In this case, the community center [which was a synagogue until 1945] in Esztergom is owned by the municipality,” the government spokesman said.
Mazsihisz said last week that it intended to block Jobbik from holding the rally by physical force, if necessary.


International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2014

January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in 1945, was declared International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust by the United Nations in 2005. The memorial day this year is built around the theme "Journeys through the Holocaust".

On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, discovering the largest Nazi killing center in Europe. Auschwitz has become a symbol of the Holocaust, representing the depths of man's inhumanity to man.
In November 2005, the United Nations passed a resolution to mark January 27 as an international day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Holocaust, and urged member states to develop educational programs to impart the memory of this tragedy to future generations. Over 60 governments have legislated January 27 as an annual Holocaust Memorial Day and Holocaust remembrance ceremonies will be organized on the international, national, regional and local levels, including in universities and schools.
The theme "Journeys through the Holocaust" recalls the various journeys taken during this dark period, from deportation to incarceration to freedom, and how this experience transformed the lives of those who endured it. These are stories of pain and suffering, yet ultimately also of triumph and renewal, serving as a guiding force for future generations.

Sixty MKs and ministers, accompanied by 24 Holocaust survivors, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira, Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, Chief Rabbi David Lau, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev and some 250 other public figures are scheduled to arrive in Poland on January 27, 2014 – Holocaust Remembrance Day – for a one-day visit. This is the largest delegation of MKs to be sent since the Israeli parliament's establishment.

Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein: ”The elected parliament of the nation in Israel is travelling to the valley of the killings in order to feel part of the pain and allow the memory to be engraved in our hearts. The significance of this difficult journey is huge, and I hope and believe that it will leave an impression that will honor the survivors and the memory of the Holocaust. I am proud of the Knesset, its members and the dignitaries who are accompanying them for their impressive undertaking.”

The delegation will march to the Birkenau concentration camp, followed by a memorial ceremony in which some 1,000 people, including members of the Polish parliament (the ”Sejm”), are expected to take part. Later, an inter-parliamentary gathering will take place in Krakow with the participation of MPs and prominent figures from Israel, the United States, Poland, Canada and other countries.

Yad Vashem "I Remember Wall"

When you join the "I Remember Wall", your Facebook profile will be randomly linked to the name of a Holocaust victim from the Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names. Your profile will then be posted to the wall together with the photo and name of the Holocaust victim.

At the United Nations headquarters in New York, a Holocaust Memorial Ceremony on January 27, 2014 will feature a message from the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and remarks by H.E. Mr. John W. Ashe, President of the 68th Session of the General Assembly; H.E. Mr. Ron Prosor, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations; H.E. Ms. Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations and Holocaust survivor Rena Finder. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg will deliver the keynote address.

A panel discussion on "The Rescue of Jews in Albania" will explore the circumstances and values that led Albanians to bravely save the lives of the innocent during the Holocaust. In extraordinary contrast with much of the rest of Europe, Albania - a Muslim-majority nation occupied by Nazi Germany in 1943 and 1944 - proved a place of refuge for virtually its entire Jewish population and others who sought haven there. In all, some 2,000 Jews were rescued from the Nazi genocide in this small country.

In addition, a new exhibit entitled “A Remembrance of the Holocaust in Hungary” will open, presenting a historical account of the Holocaust in Hungary in observance of the 70th anniversary of the deportation and extermination of the Hungarian Jews.

Promoting the role of education in preventing genocide, UNESCO will commemorate the genocide of the Jewish people and the millions of victims of the Nazi regime with an international seminar on “The impact of Holocaust education: how to assess policies and practices?” This seminar, organized in partnership with the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research and the International Bureau of Education of UNESCO, with the support of the Delegation of Hungary, will discuss the content and quality of Holocaust education in several countries of the world. It will be followed by a ceremony in memory of the victims.

UNESCO will also present several exhibitions on that day: “Journeys through the Holocaust”, testimonies of Jewish refugees by the USC Shoah Foundation and UNESCO; “In the Footsteps of the Lost”, photographs by Matt Mendelsohn with the Shoah Memorial; “The World Knew: Jan Karski’s Mission for Humanity”, by the Permanent Delegation of Poland and “Les Rescapés de la Shoah: courage, volonté, vie”, paintings by Alain Husson-Dumoutier, UNESCO Artist for Peace.


First Exhibition of Former Soviet Jewish Artists works on the Holocaust to be displayed in Jerusalem

Jerusalem, Israel, A moving first-of-its-kind exhibition showcasing the works of Jewish artists from the Former Soviet Union memorializing the Holocaust, will be on display and open to the public free of charge in Jerusalem for one month beginning December 29, 2013.

The idea for the exhibit was born during the Limmud FSU Jerusalem festival, which took place last month with the support of the Israel-based Hashava Company and the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, which is hosting the exhibition.

Entitled, “Becoming a Witness,” the exhibit features works commemorating the Holocaust by Jewish artists from the Former Soviet Union. They were inspired by the writings of Elie Wiesel, particularly his well-known book "Night", the distribution and reading of which were banned in the Soviet Union.

The exhibit appears to be the first time Jewish artists from the Former Soviet Union are presenting works about the Holocaust on this scale. The Soviet regime intentionally focused public memory of the Second World War period on the bravery and victory of the Soviet Army and not the horrors of the Nazi genocide.

Following the war Soviet Jews were not permitted to publicly discuss the Holocaust and there was no education or access to information about the atrocities.

The seven artists participating in the exhibition are: Julia Shulman, Liora Barstein, Michael Morgenstern, Igor Ganikovsky, Lea Zarembo, Lev Saksonov, and the late Meir Axelrod. The exhibit is being curated by Axelrod’s grandson, Michael Yakhilevich.

“This is not an easy exhibition to visit. A world that was once vibrant and very much alive is no more, stamped into oblivion by the forces of a modern Dark Age,” said Chaim Chesler, founder of Limmud FSU, who initiated the exhibition. “The artists represented here have been exposed to the writings of Elie Wiesel, perhaps the world’s foremost chronicler of the Holocaust. And their reactions to the world he described will be, in part, displayed here. The works reflect on this bleakest of times where despite overwhelming destruction, humanity endured.”

“Though he was never in a concentration camp himself, the trauma of the Holocaust haunted Menachem Begin throughout his life as a Jewish leader, whether in his struggle against German reparations or in his dedication to the Jewish homeland and its defense, which he viewed as preventing a second Holocaust,” said Herzl Makov, who heads the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. “These works serve as a living memorial to those who suffered through those dark times, and are important in the preservation of the heritage of those who were lost during the Holocaust.”

US Holocaust Museum ‏acquired Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg's diary from 1936 to 1944

The Alfred Rosenberg's diary

Museum staff first surveyed Kempner’s collection in August 1997 and made a detailed report of the documents they had been able to examine. After a dispute regarding the estate was resolved almost two years later, Museum staff returned to reassess the collection in July 1999. They discovered that many documents had been removed from Kempner’s home.
Some of the missing documents were located in 2001, when Kempner’s home was emptied and items were found that had not been there when the Museum took possession of the collection. Still more documents were located in 2003 in another private home.
None of these collections of documents included the diary of Alfred Rosenberg, an influential Nazi ideologue. The author of The Myth of the Twentieth Century (1930), which embodies a dichotomist worldview pitting the “Aryan” and Jewish “races” against each other, Rosenberg reached the apex of his political career when Hitler appointed him Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories in July 1941. During the war years, he operated the most successful Nazi organization involved in the looting of artworks, books, and archival materials in German-occupied Europe.

After the war, Rosenberg was found guilty by the International Military Tribunal on counts of conspiracy to commit aggressive warfare, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. He was hanged on October 16, 1946.
It was well known in academic circles that Rosenberg had kept a diary. The US National Archives has sections of the original diary and copies of other sections. Excerpts have been published in German. In articles, Kempner quoted from parts of the diary that no one else had ever seen. However, the diary was not among any of the Kempner document caches that Museum staff had seen.
Following clues about its location, the Museum worked for more than a decade to locate the diary. In early 2013, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents in Wilmington, Delaware, located the diary with an individual in upstate New York. HSI special agents later seized it. As a piece of evidence gathered for the Nuremberg trials, the diary belongs to the US government, which has deposited it with the Museum.
The Museum’s senior advisor on archives, Henry Mayer, said he feels a sense of fulfillment after years of searching for the diary. “To have it in safe hands, that is a great victory,” he said. As part of the Museum’s collections, the diary would be accessible to scholars and the public. While Museum scholars have yet to fully study its contents, Mayer said, “It does give details that one would never know about the politics within the top leadership of the Nazi party and the state.”

The Alfred Rosenberg's diary online

The Museum’s acquisition of the diary enables its contents to be made available online for the first time. This expanded access will provide new insight into the politics of Nazi leaders and the mindset and behaviors of perpetrators, helping us understand how the Holocaust happened.
View scans of individual pages of the diary alongside a transcript of the original German.
Please note: The transcript comprises the German text of Alfred Rosenberg’s diary entries from 1936 to 1944. It does not include his entries from 1934 to 1935, held at the National Archives and Records Administration, or related documents, annotations, or references to already published portions of the diary. Deletions and emphases in the transcript resemble the original; square brackets enclose transcriber comments on legibility and style. The transcript has not been finalized for spelling ambiguities (especially regarding names) and other peculiarities of the original.
The Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, in cooperation with the Zentrum für Holocaust-Studien at the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Munich, is preparing a comprehensive, annotated, and contextualized German-language print edition of Alfred Rosenberg’s diary entries from 1934 to 1944; publication is expected in fall 2014. An English-language edition is under consideration.
The Alfred Rosenberg's diary


900 early Holocaust interviews available online. Digitized Holocaust interviews: A resource for researchers and educators

Marking 75 years since the Kristallnacht attacks of November 9-10, 1938, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Oral History Division launched a new website where the public can search and access 900 previously unavailable Holocaust-related voice recordings and transcripts. 
One of the earliest-recorded oral history archives of the Shoah, this new resource will provide educators with an invaluable teaching tool and will benefit the study, research and production of materials relating to the Shoah. The public can access the materials online, through a new website created with the assistance of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Multimedia Department.

Even before the website's formal launch, several families were surprised to discover in the collection their relatives’ Holocaust testimonies, which in some cases they didn't know existed.

• The Nordlicht family discovered the testimony of Tova Gusta Nordlichtand for the first time heard her account of the resistance in Poland. Her grandson Gal wrote to the Oral History Division: “I never heard this story before, and it was incredible to hear it after all these years.”

• The descendants of Laslo Samushi discovered his testimony concerning the rescue of Jewish children in Hungary from 1944 until the liberation.

• The Even Dar family discovered an interview with their grandfather Simcha Even Dar. This is the only recorded documents the Even Dar family has of Simcha’s involvement in the Bricha (the underground organized effort that helped Jewish Holocaust survivors escape post-World War II Europe to pre-state Israel) and Aliyah Bet (immigration by Jews to pre-state Israel in violation of British restrictions).

Interviewees of particular interest to the Israel Foreign Ministry includeAsher (Arthur) Ben-Natan, Israel's first ambassador to Germany, andEhud Avriel, one of Israel's early ambassadors to Africa.

Prof. Dalia Ofer, the Max and Rita Haber Prof. of Holocaust and Contemporary Jewry, Emeritus at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry: “These on-line testimonies are an outstanding contribution that will help spread knowledge and understanding of the Jews’ daily lives and their struggle to survive during the dark period of the Holocaust. It represents the dedication of the Oral History Division of the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry to enable the public, who often sought out the university's' collections, to use the testimonies as part of their regular study and interest in the life of the Jews during this period.”

The Oral History Division is part of the Hebrew University’s Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry. The Holocaust collection has been made available through the generous support of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

About the Oral History Division:

The Oral History Division archive contains the memories of individuals from Israeli and Jewish society throughout its modern history. The archive contains rare testimonies from Holocaust survivors, key individuals in the Zionist movement, organizations such as the United Jewish Appeal, men and women who grew up under the British mandate in Palestine, under Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, or in various Jewish communities throughout the world.

The Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry [ICJ] began collecting oral histories for the purposes of historical research in 1959. These early interviews, covering a wide range of subjects and conducted according to highly professional standards, granted the ICJ the distinction of being the most important academic collection of oral documentation in Israel. The Oral History Division’s collection of more than 10,000 interviews in 20 languages constitutes a unique treasure of Jewish memories that will provide future researchers with an invaluable social history of the Yishuv, the State of Israel and Jewish communities in the Diaspora. Researchers can visit the Division to read transcripts and listen to recordings. Digitized interviews are also being made available on the web.


Holocaust-themed video game for smartphones developed

WJC, The developer of a Holocaust-themed game rejected in 2008 by Nintendo has now announced plans to release his work for smartphone users. Luc Bernard, 26, announced his plan on the website ‘Indiegogo’, a platform which helps developers and inventors find funding for their products.
Bernard created a stir in 2008 with his game ‘Imagination is the only escape’ which he had developed for Nintendo and which looked at the events of the Holocaust through the eyes of a child. The gaming giant eventually rejected to market the game because it was deemed unfit for children, according to the ‘New York Times’.
Now Bernard announced that he would raise funds online with a plan to release the game next year, according to a report by the news website ‘The Verge’. Bernard’s mother is Jewish and his grandmother in Britain looked after orphaned Jewish children after World War II, he told the ‘New York Times’.
The game features a young boy named Samuel during the Nazi occupation of France in 1942. When Jews are rounded up for deportation to the Nazi death camps, Samuel spends much of his time in a nearby forest, and retreats into his own mind to shield himself from the reality of what'is happening. In this fantasy world he befriends a talking fox named Renard who takes him on a series of adventures. Much of the game takes place in this fantasy realm, which Bernard believes will heighten the emotional impact of some of the more powerful scenes that take place in the real world. "Every time reality comes back, it sort of just slaps you in the face."
The developer, who grew up in France, told ‘The Verge’ that the game was meant to inspire players to read more on the history of the Holocaust.


Jewish News - Museum of the History of Polish Jews to open Friday

This complex coexistence is laid out in a 43,000 sq foot core exhibition with eight themed halls

WJC, In Warsaw, a museum on the history of Polish Jewry will be inaugurated on Friday, on the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against Nazi Germany in World War II. The Museum of the History of Polish Jews aims to reclaim the rich 1,000-year heritage which has been overshadowed by the Holocaust. The glass building stands on the site of the former ghetto, where 200 poorly-armed Jews rose up in Europe's first urban anti-Nazi revolt.

Jews first emigrated to Poland from western Europe to escape 11th Century pogroms. According to Jewish legend, the refugees heard a voice from heaven say "Po lin" or "rest here" in Hebrew -- and Poland was given its name. "For centuries, Poland hosted the world's largest Jewish Diaspora," museum director Andrzej Cudak said. While Jewish culture flourished, religious tolerance had its limits.

This complex coexistence is laid out in a 43,000 sq foot core exhibition with eight themed halls. Funded by private donors, German foundations, the Polish government, the city of Warsaw and the EU, the entire project cost PLZ 200 million (US$ 65 million). Finnish architects Rainer Mahlamaeki and Ilmar Lahdelma beat out more than 100 competitors to design the structure, which took four years to complete. The space is defined by a glass facade split by a wide fracture directly opposite the imposing monument to the Jewish ghetto fighters.

"The design refers to the 1,000 years of Jewish presence in Poland, a presence that was broken by the Holocaust," said Mahlamaeki.

Ninety percent of Poland's pre-war Jewish population of 3.3 million was wiped out in the Shoah. By the end of World War II only around 300,000 Polish Jews remained. Many of them emigrated to the United States or Israel, either immediately after the war or during waves of anti-Semitism driven by Poland's communist regime in the 1950s and 1960s.

In the 2002 census only 1,133 people claimed Jewish roots, while last year the number had grown to around 8,000 people. But according to various estimates, the true number could be as high as 20,000 to 50,000. "We don't know (the exact figure) but tomorrow it'll be more," Poland's Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich told the news agency AFP.

The museum, whose main exhibition will be ready early next year, launches a roster of cultural events this weekend. "The Germans attempted to wipe out the Jewish community of Poland, they almost succeeded, and here this museum is a tribute to those who created Jewish life for over a millennium," Schudrich said. "And in some ways also to show the continuity, that it still goes on."

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