Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. Parliament Hill Ottawa. A Wordpress Production

Canada – Totem stories

The Flow of Things …

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I have always admired the way others see the world and what it represents to them and their children. So I am cross posting an excerpt from Cooper’s Blog so that you can share in the wonder and beauty of a father and his son. Read the entire post at Cooper’s Corridor.

A discussion between father and son, Dario 6 years old…

“…I am not a religious man. Nor am I a Christian. I am, however, spiritual. My own personal beliefs are perhaps a mixture of First Nations and Celtic druidism … the keen bond between nature and creation, the power of protection, the presence of mentors and healers, the use of music, storytelling, dance, and art as expressions of life, appreciation for the beauty and power of the sea, symbols such as light and darkness, a sacred relationship with trees, fire, stones, and other elements of nature, and an ability to move back and forth between this world and an “otherworld”.

When your heart and mind are open, very real portals exist to the unknown. Sweating, which is something I do yearly, is part of my spirituality, and helps me to reconnect my internal and external being as I experience what the Celtics referred to as the “thin places”, that wonderful sphere, unbounded by time and space, where all is possible.

I told Dario that heaven was the most beautiful place that each person could imagine in their mind, and that it was different for everyone. I explained the soul as “the part of you that makes you, YOU … that makes your mind think and your heart love.” I had also explained to him, that when you get very old, the parts of your body slowly stop working and you die and become a part of the earth again, and this is what happens to every living thing.”


Labels … Let us Reflect on them …

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Krystalnacht – The Night of the Broken Glass…
The Beginning of The Holocaust

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Work Makes You Free …

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A Survivor from Buchenwald

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Yad Vashem – Jerusalem Holocaust Memorial

 

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Auschwitz – Concentration Camp

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Red Ribbon

The Red Ribbon – Synonymous for AIDS

Pride Flag

The Pride Flag – Proud Symbol for all things Gay

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The Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt – For all those who died from AIDS
My friends,My family, My brothers and sisters…

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The JEW – The Star of David used during the Holocaust …
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You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.

Primo Levi

Survival in Auschwitz

 

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The Homosexual – Also Used during the Holocaust …

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A Young Man – Hungarian Jewish Boy –
From Fateless, the Motion Picture

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The Label Chart Used By the Nazi Party within
the Death Camps and Concentration Camps to
Identify people…
Location, Ethnicity, Area, Orientation, Religious Affiliation

 

There weren’t only Jews in the Camps…

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The ACT UP slogan for Gay and AIDS circa 1980

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What Would Jesus Do???

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This is my Label – I earned every hour of it, with Pride…

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We Should Be Proud, but we should remember what labels have done to millions world wide over the Decades. I think it is time to move past them, to stop labeling and Outing people. I think we need to learn to live together PEACEFULLY in order to stop the killing of ALL people around the world…

THAT WE SHOULD REMEMBER – SO THAT WE NEVER FORGET!!


Sunday writings…

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I really don’t know what to write tonight, I really don’t feel like writing because I’ve not prepared anything really. The last holiday weekend before the grind begins with a bang this week. I’ve been banking on sleep as of late – trying to steal away hours here and there, I love to sleep.

I’ve been on these new medications now for 3 months.

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I have to say that throwing up is right up there on my most hated activities during my day. I have morning sickness once or twice a week. This morning it woke me up out of a sound sleep, as if I had spent the night prior drinking until I could not drink any more.

I didn’t even have a drinking dream to go with the morning sickness. I mean it would have meant so much more if I could put throwing up into context! Alas, I was exhausted afterwards and it took me an hour to calm down and get my breathing under control because my body was in that “post vomit” stage of recuperation… UGH!

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It was a beautiful day today. I sat out on the lanai enjoying the sunshine. The days are starting to get shorter and the sun will begin to set earlier and earlier. I can’t wait for the trees to start turning.

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I spent the past couple of nights reading Elie Wiesel’s  “Night.” I found the read to be as cathartic as Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz. Both men were boys when they were taken to the camps. I knew the story, even before I read the first page. Though the two stories are different, they share the common thread:

“You are in a concentration camp. In Auschwitz…” 

“Remember,” “Remember it always, let it be graven in your memories. You are in Auschwitz. And Auschwitz is not a convalescent home. It is a concentration camp. Here, you must work. If you don’t you will go straight to the chimney. To the crematorium. Work – or crematorium – the choice is yours.”

Reading Elie’s account as he moves from camp to camp, trying to stay with his father, to keep his father alive, through the worst of conditions was amazing. Where Elie tells us his story on a great scale, describing seasons and changes, his visions of babies being killed and burned in ditches was exceptionally brutal.

“Poor devils, you are heading for the crematorium.” Not far from us, flames, huge flames, were rising from a ditch. Something was being burned there. A truck drew close and unloaded its hold: small children. Babies! Yes, I did see this, with my own eyes…children thrown into the flames. (Is it any wonder that ever since then, sleep tends to elude me.)  

How was it possible that men, women and children were being burned and that the world kept silent? No. All this could not be real. A nightmare perhaps…

Night, ppgs. 32-33, 38-39…

Primo Levi tells another story of the same conditions but from a different point of view. Those reviews of that text are in my Holocaust files in Categories, you can read them there. Both writers are important to know, to read and to respect.

 

It is interesting that I was reading this text over the weekend, and during Saturday night’s Coast to Coast, with Ian Punnet, a caller called in – it was an off topic call – this man said that he had studied in Germany and knew people who were alive during WWII and he told the listeners that in Germany during that time, people were told and it was later understood that on certain days, one just did not go to the train stations at all…

To address the question about “the world not knowing what was going on, it is said that Germans learned not to explore outdoors or go to the train stations on certain days while the extermination of the Jews was being carried out.

Any read of the Horrific stories of the Holocaust are important so that these memories do not go unheeded, that the warnings are not passed on the future generations.  “That we should remember, so that we should never forget.” I highly recommend these two texts for those who are interested in Holocaust studies, ‘Night’ by Elie Wiesel and ‘Survival in Auschwitz’ by Primo Levi. These stories must be passed on…

I’ve made some minor changes to the blog, and I’ve added and deleted some of my bookmarks on the side bar. People are returning from hiatus and from vacations over the summer, so go read them, each blogger on my blog list is worth the time.

I hope all of you are well and thanks again for your readership.

 


The Totem

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Tonight I am proud to present the last of the three very special writers who were commissioned to write for me during my birthday week. This is from Cooper – from Coopers Corridor out in B.C. He is a truly gifted writer and a father of two young boys. Without further ado, I give you Cooper and his writing on the Totem.

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I stand in the great hall of the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, head bent back, gazing up forty feet to where precise images have been carved into cedar totem poles by craftsmen whose art has been almost entirely erased by time. Near the bottom of a nearby pole, a smooth-shouldered wolf rests in the shadow of a killer whale. The eye of the whale is a shadowed well.

This wood, these bones, trace the nature and purpose of a vast awareness, a living spirit in the grain, each knot and every growth-ring a secret hieroglyph worked carefully into many layers of meaning. The echo of leaves is here, the resonance of damp fields half submerged in twilight, of dark soil and tales of night. And long, interwoven strands of time knitted together by wood and human hands.

The wood has been coaxed into shape … whittled, chiseled, sculpted with broad, incising strokes … by tools of utmost antiquity, by weapons, by stones, by countless forms oiled by brown muscled skin.

The focus of the collections is northwestern …hundreds of examples … an eagle with a five-foot, intricately carved beak, a tenebrous skull shape, moons and ravens and wild spirits of the forest. There are objects of great power here. The spirit of creative work calls to whomever will listen, and as I gaze at these ethereal faces staring back from a lost age, their muted colors hiding a secret flame, once again I hear that whisper spiraling out from the primordial source of things.

This is my spiritual heritage.

The instant I reach my hand to the wood and sense a silent energy thrumming inside, I become aware of being pulled into an elemental state. The stillness of that source lies behind the dream of an ancient, verdant grove that sometimes wakes me in the night.

Dark sky, cold rain, and a ground made bright by the sinuous shapes of wood sawn fresh from the tree … ivory of birch, faded porcelain of maple, linen of alder. There is some cypress, too, its scent of lemons reaching to sting me with exhilaration. A black, rough walnut rests alongside the opened bole of a Douglas fir, its orange grain glowing from a sunrise heart. I reach down to touch the alder, and in the moment of reaching, of touching the silent wood with its living core of mystery, I become acutely aware of the life-blood of my ancestors within me.

I acknowledge that the wood’s redemption … its escape from dissolution … is also my own. We are bound now, fragments of becoming. We share the journey of the totem. The faces of the figures are hidden in my own hands and heart. The totem is a spiritual heraldry. It describes, through a vast shorthand, the indications of the unfathomable. It is a finger pointing to the beginning, a wind blowing from a pristine field of possibility. It relates the tale of meteoric iron birthed as companion to the sun. Totems are reminders to remember, and to act.

I step into the landscape of my own totem. I see my Nana, the falcon, her brow etched like the grain of rough cedar, weathered by pain, made bright with love. I hear the voice of my mother, the wolf … first a clear call, then a tremor, and finally a sorrowing wail. I feel the hands of my unknown father, the ghostly raven that I sometimes watch, looking for myself.

I am the eagle ….the one who carries and sustains, whose touch is redolent with solace.

My oldest son, to whom I gave the second name Cedar … the swift little deer … blueberry stains on his chin, shouting with joy as he runs through green fields. And my baby boy Rowan, the seal, cradled by wonder, darting into the light with luminous eyes.

I wonder what indelible traces I will leave … and they … what teeth marks from carved mouths? I reach toward a horizon of prophecy, to mentors and unknown guides, the gods and goddesses of an unbroken cord of lineage secured at the source by invisible hands.

This is where I begin.

Totem Poles – The Story of a Nation carved in Cedar (website)

 


We Have Failed to Remember …

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Writing along the lines starting at my last post, “Custodians of a Living Earth,” we take a more serious look at the past for guidance for the future. With all the wars in the world and all the conflict in many areas of the world like the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Iraq and Afghanistan:

“We have Failed to Remember and We have Failed in Never letting this Happen Again.” 

I have updated my header with images from that period of time. I happen to have spent an entire semester last Fall 2006 studying the Holocaust. We watched film after film, looking at raw data and Nazi history. I read “Night” by Elie Wiesel and “Survival in Auschwitz” by Primo Levi and I visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum here in Montreal and these numbers come from research notes from our class. My goal here is to remind you that we may not call it Holocaust today, Some use the term “Genocide” and millions of people are dying all over the world by war, conflict, division, famine, disasters and so forth and so on…

It Falls to Us to make a Difference, I Wonder if We are Able???
And do We care to even Try? We Must DO there is no Try !!!

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Auschwitz-Birkenau

The largest Nazi extermination camp.

  • Location: Oswiecim, Poland
  • Established: May 26th1940
  • Liberation: January 27th, 1945, by the Soviet Army.
  • Estimated number of victims: 2,1 to 2,5 million (This estimated number of death is considered by historians as a strict minimum. The real number of death is unknown but probably much higher, maybe 4 millions)

Belzec
From march 1942 until early 1943, it is estimated that about 600,000 Jews were murdered in Belzec extermination camp.

Chelmno:
C
helmno, also known as Kulmhof, was a small town roughly 50 miles from the city of Lodz, Poland. It was here that the first mass killings of Jews by gas took place as part of the ‘Final Solution’.

Majdanek
The killing operations began in Majdanek in April 1942 and ended in July 1944. Majdanek also provided slave labor for munitions works and Steyr-Daimler- Puch weapons factory. The estimated number of deaths is 360,000, including Jews, Soviet POWs and Poles.

Sobibor
Sobibor was the second extermination camp to come into operation in the Aktion Reinhard program. Estimated number of deaths: 250,000, the majority being Jews.

Treblinka
Opening for “business” on July 23, 1942, with the beginning of the evacuation of the Warsaw ghetto, some 245,000 Warsaw Jews and 112,000 Jews from other places in the Warsaw district were murdered in Treblinka by September 21. 337,000 Jews from the Radom district, 35,000 from the Lublin district and 107,000 from the Bialystok district also met their death in Treblinka with 738,000 Jews who had been residents of the General Gouvernement. From outside Poland many thousands of Jews were transported to and killed in Treblinka: 7.000 from Slovakia, 8,000 from Theresienstadt concentration camp, 4,000 Jews from Greece, and 7,000 Jews from the Macedonia portion of Bulgaria. In addition to the Jews, some 2,000 gypsies were killed in Treblinka.

 


Custodians of a Living Earth …

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I’m reading again, “I Heard the Owl Call My Name” and I am in the mindset to write about the custodianship of the living earth. The earth is in a shift, I think we can all agree on that – and attention is now on prevention and maintenance of the earth as it exists today. I have written recently about the fact that many people in my own community are not “Being Maintained” by anyone, they are lost among the crowd, banished to sidewalks, doorways and shelters. What can I do to change that? Write…

What if the governments of the world decided to stop warring and fighting amongst themselves? How much money would we have to spend on other things like food, shelter and water? I heard a comment on late night radio last night that

“There will be wars fought over drinking water!”

I am sure that there are some who think about the Order who seek to bring down the number of earths inhabitants by the millions. There is a surplus in population in certain areas of the world, and for some that is too much, and they would rather see them eradicated than to house and feed them.

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The earth is sputtering on its axis. Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Hurricane, Oceanic changes to salinity and food source and the cooling of warm water fisheries all over the globe are causing catastrophic changes to major areas of the worlds oceans. How many more signs do we need from Mother Earth to tell us that something is wrong? And if we don’t stop with our preoccupation with war, division, killing and ignorance, that when “IT” happens we will not survive whatever IT will unleash.

I know better than to sit in my what if’s and coulda, woulda, shoulda! I can look out my windows from here and see trees and grass and the mountain off to the North. We can look out at our world and know that there are forests and people and animals who live amongst that forest. Forests are burning – trees are dying – infestations of beetles are killing swaths of forest across Canada, borne on the winds moving West to East. But I wonder what haven’t we done as custodians of the earth to try and mitigate these things from happening.

What if, The Almighty came down from heaven and told warring factions to lay down their arms, and those in power were removed and power was granted to the masses to govern themselves and the wars stopped all over the earth, not just in certain areas. All the warring areas on the globe. What if we heard from on high that “they” believe that wars fought over ideologies and factions needed to end today, right now, for us to stop killing each other and become custodians to one another. How would that change the face of the earth?

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Is there a way for the world to get up and state unanimously that the wars should end? Can we impeach presidents around the world, in countries that are sponsoring, funding and are waging wars on other peoples? Do you see what I am asking here?

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We truly need to depose several key world leaders, and the American President AND his entire cabinet need to be removed from office, sooner than later. Because America has been hijacked and “Nazi Control” is becoming an adjective to explain George W. Bush.

Mr. Bush, we are not With you –
And We Stand Against You!! It is time to leave Office…

 

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DO WE want to maintain another Hitler in office? Do we want this man making law and imposing unconstitutional amendments upon his people and the world? Because if he does it – the world is watching and you know, the only reason Hitler was so successful at what he did in the Holocaust, was because the people listened to him, and if the American President can do what he is doing, that gives free reign to other leaders to do the same!!! Bush still has the ears of many world leaders, who are not MAN or WOMAN enough to say NO! We will not follow you. So what do we do?

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There are some in power who would see people determined to be locked down and subjugated. That is already happening all over the globe, in many countries. Darfur, Sudan and in other areas of Africa, people are corralled into camps, with no water, electricity or better yet SHELTER. People are being slaughtered by militia men. We need to stop them and the killing needs to end. Genocide is happening in OUR time once again, and on many fronts, we must stop the genocide because:

 

 

 

“We Have Failed to Remember
and We Have Failed to Never
Let It Happen Again”

In the Middle East, the most contentious area of the globe, not to mention Iraq and the Fertile Crescent area of the world including Afghanistan, the militias and the Taliban are trying to eradicate (on a mass scale) entire peoples akin to the likes of Adolf Hitler. If we prayed for the savior to come again and save us, this would be the time and the place.

We must now act, decisively and verbally. We need to lobby those who are in power to do the right thing. We need to Impeach the President. We need to stop the killing in Darfur, we need to stop the wars in the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan. We need people on the ground who can be trusted to help reconcile the factions that are fighting with each other and those factions who have fighting going on within themselves. We need ambassadors to get in the game and negotiations must be made to end the worlds strife and wars. If we don’t start this now, WHO is going to take our place later to hold those in office accountable for

“Crimes Against Humanity”

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It’s not about who – but What is in this photo, read on…

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There are too many people around the globe, being ignored. There are entire continents and nations of people that need to be cared for, not to forget those people in warring countries who need to be fed, re-housed and repatriated back to where they came from, those who had to flee to save their own lives. Rich countries sit back and say “we are doing all we can for those inside our borders.”

Yet on the European continent we know for a fact that there are disenfranchised peoples, in the millions, who are not being cared for properly because of the arrogance of status, ethnic superiority and ignorance to accept everyone for who they are not what form of dress or religious affiliation they identify with.

It comes down to the people to start the tide of Anarchy and Dissension. It is time to take back our land and our government from those who have taken it from us. They have been poor stewards of the land, the environment and of peoples. We must stop this – there is too much conflict in the world, so much that any “other” needs are being ignored at the expense of the whole, for a chosen few.

It Is Time to:

Bring the Soldiers Home – Stop the Wars. You either follow certain prescriptions here: (1) You bring ALL warring leaders to Justice, (2) Let them kill each other and save us the headache, or (3) You bring ‘Just’ Diplomatic Solutions to Warring Factions and Areas – and Sit Down and HAMMER out Peace Agreements and Co-Existence Clauses.

Isn’t it time to sit down and think and come to the realization that what war has done for the last 4 years has NOT worked, so let’s allow the Diplomats to work on Peace.

The Mission is NOT Accomplished.

Peace and Democracy has not been attained and WON’T be attained with the present course of action. WAR does not create Democracy – it Breeds Contempt, Rancor, Hatred and brings Division instead of creating Unity.

In Stopping Wars, Governments Agree to Equal care to all Soldiers repatriated home and for their families. And Agree to Rebuild war torn areas with the funds used to carry out war, and Care for those most affected by the war in their Respective regions.

This applies to Canada and the United States and All Countries involved in wars worldwide. It is NOT Unpatriotic to stand against WAR!! It is NOT Unpatriotic to stand against a President or a sitting Prime Minister.

 

 

Democracy is built on the premise of government for the people by the people !! Well People need to start speaking out for Change…

 

 

The ‘People’ are being AND have been hugely ignored, save those who support the puppet in office and his cronies he protects. The Ship is Sinking – and is Going down. Who is going to save us? It comes down to us, those of us who are writing around the world, to speak up and ask each and every one of our readers to join this movement. To call your leaders and rulers to task, to make them accountable not only to you the citizens of the country that you reside in, but also to the immigrants who have resettled there as well. Leaders need to be accountable to the earth as well.

Or We Shall Pay when Catastrophe Occurs

 

We cannot remain self absorbed and self centered. We must step beyond the borders of nationalism and ethnic superiority. We all must be made equal, in that we must begin to love and take care of each other and to become custodians of the world at large, and it begins with me. It begins with you. It continues with US. We must, with a resounding voice say “we have had enough of this…” It is time to end this.

Before We Kill Each Other Trying to create Peace !!!

 

 

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We must become better custodians to the earth. If we stop the raping and pillaging of the land, we must stop the wars, we must stop the killing of innocents. We must stop the tide of suicide bombers. West and East must come together. The West and The East must agree NEVER to wage war again, however possible that is… We must find peaceful and RIGHT means to the future sustaining of the worlds populations. We MUST find an earthly solution, if we must, a heavenly solution.

“We Have Failed to Remember
and We Have Failed to Never
Let It Happen Again”

 

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You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.

Primo Levi

Survival in Auschwitz


Buchenwald marks 70th anniversary

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WEIMAR, Germany – Holocaust survivors on Sunday marked the 70th anniversary of the Buchenwald concentration camp’s founding by honoring more than 38,000 victims whose identities had previously been unknown.

Buchenwald researchers spent the past decade scouring archives from the United States to Israel and across Germany in an attempt to identify tens of thousands of the estimated 56,000 prisoners who lost their lives at Buchenwald between 1937 and 1945, but had been known only by their camp-assigned numbers.

Archivists at the camp, perched on a hillside overlooking the eastern city of Weimer, were able to identify 38,049 victims and enter their names into a memorial book.

“The Nazis tried to reduce humans to numbers, to rob them of their identity,” said Jens Goebel, culture minister for the state of Thuringia, upon handing copies of the book to representatives of survivor groups. “That should not be the last word.”

About 8,000 Soviet prisoners of war, as well as some 9,000 who died in death marches as the Nazis tried to evacuate the camp late in World War II, remain unknown.

Most of the early inmates at Buchenwald were political prisoners. But following Kristallnacht — Night of the Broken Glass — in 1938, some 10,000 Jews were sent to the camp. Over the course of World War II, criminals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roman and German military deserters were also interned at the main camp and its many sub and labor camps.


UNESCO committee renames Auschwitz

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By RAY LILLEY, Associated Press Writer 21 minutes ago

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – UNESCO officially renamed the Auschwitz death camp in Poland Thursday to reflect the German Nazi role, and added seven new sites to its world heritage registry, including ancient ruins in Iraq.

The U.N. agency’s World Heritage Committee did not mention the war in Iraq but said it had listed ruins in the city of Samarra as “in danger.” Considered a holy city by Shiite Muslims, Samarra has been the target of attacks. Earlier this month insurgents blew up the minarets of its Askariya shrine.

Auschwitz now will be known as “Auschwitz-Birkenau. German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945),” said Roni Amelan, a spokesman for the committee. Previously the camp was listed on UNESCO’s world heritage registry as the “Auschwitz Concentration Camp.”

Poland requested the change to ensure that future generations understand it had no role in the camp established by Adolf Hitler‘s forces during their brutal occupation of the country.

Polish officials have complained that Auschwitz is sometimes referred to as a “Polish concentration camp,” a phrase they fear may be misleading to younger generations who may not associate the camp with Nazi Germany.

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The Nazis killed more than 1 million people at the camp outside the city of Oswiecim and nearby Birkenau, the site of the main gas chambers and crematoriums.

Most of those killed were European Jews, although Poles, Gypsies and others also were gassed or died from starvation, disease and forced labor during its roughly five years of operation.

The camp was made a World Heritage site by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 1979.

The ruins in Samarra stretch along the eastern bank of the Tigris river and include the 9th century Great Mosque with its 170-foot-tall spiral minaret.

Measuring about 26 miles long and 5 miles wide, the huge site “testifies to the architectural and artistic innovations that developed there and spread to the other regions of the Islamic world and beyond,” the committee said.

The other sites include the Lope-Okanda landscape of Gabon, the Richtersveld mountainous desert of South Africa, the rock carvings of Namibia’s Twyfelfontein region and 1,800 fortified tower houses in China’s Guangdong province.

Three natural sites — the Teide National Park on the island of Tenerife, ancient beech forests in central Europe and Switzerland’s high Alps site of Jungfrau-Aletsch Bietschhorn — also were named.

The committee, meeting this week in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, was considering dozens of other applications for additions to its list of natural and cultural treasures.

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On the Net:

http://www.unesco.org

http://www.auschwitz.org


Holocaust survivors say archives ignored

By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer 

VIENNA, Austria – U.S. Holocaust survivors expressed dismay on Thursday that documents found in Vienna were not used to help settle insurance claims by descendants of Jews whose families had property seized by the Nazis.

Part of the document cache — which includes World War II-era deportation lists, emigration documents, letters and photos found in Vienna in 2000 — will be included in an exhibition that opens in the Austrian capital next month.

The Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA issued a statement demanding to know why the materials apparently were not brought to the attention of groups trying to win compensation for Holocaust victims and their relatives.

“We do not understand how this valuable and pertinent documentation on Austrian Jewry was ignored,” the Miami-based U.S. foundation said, adding that the find might have changed the outcome of settlements with insurance companies reached earlier this year.

“Each brittle page tells a story about real lives, real losses. … We also recognize these documents as a crucial resource in current efforts to secure justice for survivors and heirs,” it said.

“Life insurance policies looted by the Nazis that remain unpaid to their original owners are estimated to be valued in the billions of dollars. Yet the recently concluded claims process administered by the International Commission on Holocaust-Era Insurance Claims resulted in just 3 percent of these policies being settled or compensated.”

Neither the Washington museum nor the Vienna-based Holocaust Victims’ Information and Support Center immediately returned phone messages left by The Associated Press on Thursday, a national holiday in Austria.

Digital images of some of the discovered documents were to be screened at a panel discussion Thursday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

“The institutions responsible for bringing these archives to light also have an obligation to support survivors,” the survivors’ foundation said. “We do not understand how the major institutions working on processing and digitizing these Austrian materials … failed to bring their contents to the attention of the public in a timely fashion so that a greater number of insurance cases might be settled.”

Since 2002, Vienna’s Jewish community and the Holocaust Memorial Museum have been working together to preserve the material on microfilm for a wider collection to include about 1.5 million documents from Vienna currently stored at the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem.

The latest documents were uncovered in 2000, when Jewish community members preparing to turn an apartment over to new owners stumbled upon about 800 dusty boxes and dozens of wooden cabinets packed with about half a million documents detailing the life of Viennese Jews during Nazi times.

In February, a federal judge in New York approved a settlement involving Holocaust victims, their relatives and Italian insurance company Assicurazioni Generali, ending a decade-long legal battle by families seeking restitution.

Under the deal, Generali — which already had paid $135 million to settle previous claims — agreed to accept new claims until March 31. However, lawyers involved in the fight for compensation have been arguing for an extension, contending any new insurance records could bolster some claimants’ cases.


Mass grave found of Jews killed by Nazis

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By NATASHA LISOVA, Associated Press 

KIEV, Ukraine – Pipeline diggers unearthed a mass grave believed to contain thousands of Jews slaughtered in Ukraine during World War II, a Jewish community spokesman said Tuesday, a grim finding in a nation that one Holocaust expert described as “an enormous killing field.”

The grave was found by chance last month when workers were laying gas pipelines in the village of Gvozdavka-1, about 110 miles northwest of the Black Sea port city of Odessa, said Roman Shvartsman, a spokesman for the regional Jewish community.

The Nazis established two ghettos during World War II near the village and brought Jews there from Odessa and what is now the nation of Moldova, Shvartsman said.

In November 1941, Nazi officials set up a concentration camp in the area and killed about 5,000 people.

“Several thousand Jews executed by the Nazis lie there,” Shvartsman told The Associated Press.

The Jewish community was aware of the mass murder at the time, but no one knew where the bodies were buried, he said.

Yitzhak Arad, a Holocaust scholar and a former director of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, said the area was known to be a site of mass killings of Jews during the Holocaust. He said he found that 28,000 Jews were brought there from surrounding towns and that 10,000 died — murdered at a rate of around 500 a day.

Holocaust expert Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said the discovery was not unexpected.

“I’m not surprised that, even in these days, there are discoveries such as these. It underscores the enormous scope of the plans of annihilation of the Nazis and their collaborators in Eastern Europe,” he said.

Hundreds of mass graves exist in Ukraine, and many have not yet been discovered, Zuroff said. “Ukraine was an enormous killing field, hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered,” he said.

Anatoly Podolsky, director of the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies, said there are believed to be some 250 to 350 mass grave sites dating from the Nazi occupation, during which some 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews are believed to have been killed. The number includes those massacred near their homes and those transported to death camps elsewhere.

Podolsky said most of the sites were located after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, but there were still some left to find.

Ilia Levitas, the head of Ukraine’s Jewish Council, put the number of mass Jewish graves in the country at more than 700.

According to Shvartsman, the names of 93 Jews killed at the Gvozsdavka-1 site have been established. He said Jewish community members planned to conduct studies to identify victims.

“We must figure out their names. It is our debt to the victims and survivors,” he said.

Odessa’s chief rabbi, Shlomo Baksht, wants to erect a fence around the site and put up a monument to the victims there this year.

Some 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War II. Babi Yar, a ravine outside the capital, Kiev, where the Nazis slaughtered some 34,000 Jews over two days in September 1941, is a powerful symbol of the tragedy in Ukraine.

About 240,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis in the Odessa region, which was occupied by the German-allied Romanians, according to Shvartsman. He said a mass grave with remains of about 3,500 Jews was found in the region last year.


Construction To Start On Berlin Memorial To Gay Victims Of Nazis

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A very good film about the Nazi’s and the Homosexual Story see
Paragraph 175

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: June 4, 2007 – 1:00 pm ET

(Berlin) After nearly four years of delays construction will begin this year on a monument to honor gays and lesbians persecuted by the Nazis. Final approval of the design was made on Monday the government announced.

A government committee approved the design by Danish-born Michael Elmgreen and Norwegian native Ingar Dragset last year but until now could not agree on minor changes for the memorial.

It will be a gray concrete slab, with a window allowing visitors to view a film projected inside showing gay men and lesbians kissing.

The statement said that the memorial will be completed later in the year at a cost of slightly over $800,000.

It will sit on the edge of Tiergarten Park near the memorial to the six-million Jews who died in the Holocaust.

The exact number of gay killed by the Nazis may never be known. Adolf Hitler declared homosexuality an aberration that threatened the German race. Some 50,000 homosexuals were convicted and an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 gay men were deported to concentration camps, where few survived.

The Nazi law against homosexuality remained on the books in West Germany until 1969.

In 2002 the German parliament issued a formal pardon for gays convicted under the Nazis.

There also is a monument to gay holocaust victims is in San Francisco.

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©365Gay.com 2007


Nazi archive reveals panorama of misery

By ARTHUR MAX, Associated Press Writer

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BAD AROLSEN, Germany – Looking back at the first weeks after World War II, a French

lieutenant named Henri Francois-Poncet despaired at ever fulfilling his mission to establish the fate of French inmates of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

For the living skeletons who survived the Nazi terror, the Displaced Persons camp set up two miles away offered little relief from misery.

A bleak picture springs with stark immediacy from typewritten reports by the Allied officers, found in the massive archive of the International Tracing Service in the central German town of Bad Arolsen. The Associated Press has been given extensive access to the archive on condition that identities of victims and refugees are protected.

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People still died at the rate of 1,000 to 1,500 a day. Corpses were stacked in front of barracks, to be carted away by captured SS guards. “Bodies frequently remained for several days in the huts, the other inmates being too weak to carry them out,” Francois-Poncet wrote in a report for the Allied Military Government.

“As most of the survivors could not even give their own names, it was useless trying to obtain information as to the identity of the dead,” he wrote. He reported a meager 25 percent success rate.

When the Third Reich surrendered in May 1945, 8 million people were left uprooted around Europe. Millions drifted through the 2,500 hastily arranged DP camps before they were repatriated.

Far from scenes of joyful liberation that should have greeted the end of Nazi oppression, the files reveal desperation, loss and confusion, and overwhelmed and often insensitive military authorities.

Many had nowhere to go, their families among the 6 million Jews consumed in the Holocaust, their homes destroyed or handed out to new occupants. Those who wanted to get to Palestine were shut out by a British ban on Jewish immigration to the Israeli state-in-waiting.

“Owing to ill treatment by the Germans, most DPs have a distrust and fear of the Allied authorities,” said a September 1945 report signed by British Lt. Col. C.C. Allan. “Many DPs have sunk into complete apathy regarding their future.”

Liberated concentration camps were transformed into DP camps. Food was still scarce — often just coffee and wet black bread — and medical care was insufficient, said a report written for President Harry Truman.

Inmates were kept under armed guard to maintain order. They still wore their old striped, pajama-like concentration-camp-issue uniforms and slept in the same drafty barracks through a bitter winter.

Compounding their misery, they could watch through barbed wire fences and see German villagers living normal lives. In some places, those villagers were forced to tour the camps and help with the burials or at least face up to what their Fuehrer had wrought. But it was scant comfort to the victims.

“As things stand now, we appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them, except that we do not exterminate them,” wrote presidential envoy Earl G. Harrison in his famously quoted report to Truman after visiting that summer.

Known for its unparalleled collection of original concentration camp papers, the ITS, a branch of the International Committee of the Red Cross, also safeguards the world’s largest documentation on postwar DP camps. It has nearly 3.4 million names on its card index of those who sought designation as refugees eligible for aid.

Until now, the documents have been used only to trace missing people and verify restitution claims. But now the full breadth of the archive, filling 16 miles of shelf space, is to be opened to historians for the first time. At a meeting last week in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the archive’s 11-nation supervisory commission agreed to begin transferring electronic copies this autumn to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

Within weeks after the war, U.N. agencies and volunteer charities took over the DP camps, processing applications for relief and emigration. By 1947, a quarter million Jews — a piteous remnant of European Jewry — shared space with displaced Eastern Europeans fearful of return to what was now the Soviet bloc.

Also among the DPs were ex-Nazis.

Adam Friedrich’s 1949 application to the International Refugee Organization to join relatives in St. Louis, acknowledges that for three years he belonged to the Waffen SS, the combat arm of Hitler’s dreaded paramilitary organization. He also noted he had been imprisoned for 20 months after the war.

An IRO official scribbled on his form, “The applicant was forced to report to the SS in Jan. ’42. Served in the infantry and took part in fighting.”

Friedrich was rejected.

But U.S. authorities did not have that information four years later when he applied again through the U.S. Refugee Relief Act. Then, Friedrich reported he had been in the German army but said nothing about his SS service.

Decades after he obtained citizenship, the Justice Department uncovered Friedrich’s past. He was stripped of his citizenship in 2004, lost a Supreme Court appeal, and was due to be deported when he died last July.

At Bad Arolsen, questionnaires and affidavits are stuffed into 400,000 envelopes which, including families, refer to 850,000 displaced people, and fill binders spreading over several rooms of floor-to-ceiling shelves.

The last DP camps were closed in 1953, so “when you feel the paper tug as you try to pull it out, that means no one has opened it for 40 or 50 years,” said Rudolf Michalke, head of the archive’s postwar section.

Some files contain detailed histories of survivors and the tortures they endured. Refugees relate their futile struggle to resettle after the war, and their hopes of rebuilding their lives far from Europe.

An Austrian pastry chef recounts the hostility he found when he returned to Vienna. “Given the large and increasingly negative climate against Jews, I have not been able to get a job and am forced to emigrate,” he testified, seeking passage to Australia.

Others describe their tormentors, hoping they will be prosecuted.

A Polish Jew writes about “Workmaster Batenszlajer,” one of about a dozen guards he named as particularly cruel.

“He made selections. Those who lost their strength because they were exhausted and looked bad were picked out and shot down,” he wrote. Batenszlajer would pick four girls at a time and hold them for several days. “He raped them and afterward he took them into a wood and shot them down.”

In a world where racism was rampant, finding a new home was not easy, as one Yugoslav-born man with Asian features learned. “Being a Kalmyk of Mongolian race, (he) is ineligible for most Anglo-Saxon countries,” authorities scrawled on his form.

“The doors are closed to unmarried mothers,” said a note from strongly Catholic Ireland.

Lining up employment in a new country was critical for obtaining a visa. Yugoslav-born Nikolai Davidovic, a mathematics professor who spoke seven languages and authored two textbooks, left for America in 1950 with his wife Larissa — but only after she had been promised a job as a maid.

Friedrich was not the only war criminal to slip through the screening process. Dieter Pohl, of the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, estimates that up to 250,000 Germans and Austrians had participated in the Holocaust, but only 5 to 10 percent were ever punished — most of them in the Soviet zone. Altogether, an estimated 500,000 to 1 million people committed crimes against humanity, he said.

But no one knew who the perpetrators were. “More than 90 percent of files on Nazi war crimes were destroyed,” Pohl said in a telephone interview.

The U.S. zeal in pursuing former Nazis came late. In the war’s aftermath, the Americans were more concerned about the looming threat from Stalin’s Soviet Union.

In 1979, the Justice Department created the Office of Special Investigations to pursue ex-Nazis who committed visa fraud by lying about their past. Since then, it has won 104 prosecutions and denied entry at the U.S. border to 175 people from its watch list of 70,000 suspected persecutors.

“We are still very busy with World War II cases,” said OSI director Eli Rosenbaum. “We have always routinely checked Arolsen’s DP holdings when we’ve been investigating someone,” he told the AP.

But the ITS files are far from complete, and unlike Friedrich, most former SS members concealed their crimes with lies or half-truths.

John Demjanjuk, a Ukranian-born camp guard who became an auto worker in Cleveland, reported in his refugee papers, seen in Bad Arolsen, that he had been a “worker” in Sobibor. Although Sobibor later became infamous as a death camp in occupied Poland, few people had heard of it after the war because it had been dismantled in 1943. Demjanjuk was awarded DP status.

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In 1977, the U.S. government moved to revoke his citizenship, misidentifying him as “Ivan the Terrible,” a notorious guard at Treblinka extermination camp. He was extradited to Israel tried and sentenced to death in 1988. The sentence was overturned on appeal and Demjanjuk returned to the U.S., where his citizenship was restored — only to be taken from him again for concealing his work for the Nazis. He is now fighting deportation.

The file on Valerian Trifa, who became the U.S. archbishop of the Romanian Orthodox church and who once gave the opening prayer for the U.S. Senate, sheds light on the deceptions he deployed to win a ticket to the U.S.

Trifa, a leader of Romania’s fascist Iron Guard, told refugee officials he had been interned in Dachau and Buchenwald, but he said nothing about the privileges or protection he received from the Germans, according to Paul Shapiro, who investigated the Trifa case in the late 1970s for the Justice Department. Shapiro is now director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Shapiro saw Trifa’s file at ITS for the first time when he visited Bad Arolsen last year with an AP reporter. “I knew the facts that are in here, except for the manner in which he was treated in terms of his Displaced Persons status,” he said, flipping through aging pages in the manila folder. “It’s quite shocking when you actually see it.”

Trifa relinquished his citizenship in 1980 after it was discovered he gave a speech in 1941 in Bucharest that unleashed a pogrom in which more than 150 Romanian Jews were killed. He left the United States in 1984 for Portugal, where he died three years later.

“To see someone receiving citizenship based on lies is not a great thing,” Shapiro said. “If this stuff had been available then (in the 1970s), his case would have been resolved earlier. He would have lived fewer years in the United States.”

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AP correspondent Melissa Eddy in Bad Arolsen and AP investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report.

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Methods of opening Nazi archive weighed

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By ARTHUR MAX, Associated Press

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – As the Third Reich headed to defeat in World War II, the Germans burned millions of records to cover up history’s worst genocide. But the fraction that survived was enough to make up the largest Nazi archive in existence.

This week, efforts to lift the 52-year-old blanket of secrecy from this historical treasure are likely to take a big step forward.

The 11-nation commission governing the International Tracing Service, an arm of the International Committee of the Red Cross, meets in Amsterdam Monday and Tuesday to decide when and how to make electronic copies of its files available to researchers.

So far the archive of 30 million to 50 million pages in Bad Arolsen, Germany, has been used only to help reunite families and verify restitution claims. The files were closed in 1955 because it was feared that unfettered access could violate the privacy of Holocaust victims, both living and dead.

But survivors have been pressing for direct access, unsatisfied with the formalistic and partial answers to questions about the persecution they suffered. So a year ago the commission decided to unlock the vast storehouse for research.

As the survivor generation dwindles, the decision to digitally scan the documents and make them available will shift the archive’s primary function from a humanitarian service to a historical resource.

“We have been living in splendid isolation all these years. Now we have been told we must be part of the system,” said the archive’s director, Reto Meister.

“If we can network, our worth multiplies,” Meister, a former Swiss diplomat, said in a recent interview. “You have to share your wealth.”

The Associated Press has visited the archive four times since October and has written extensively about its contents on condition that the identities of victims are protected.

But the overall opening-up has taken longer than expected. All 11 governments have to ratify the decision. The United States, Israel, Poland, Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium have completed the process. Luxembourg, Greece, Italy and France have yet to endorse it.

The U.S. delegation says it will press the meeting on Monday to allow scanned material to be distributed immediately, even before ratification is finished.

“Everyone’s expectation is the vote to distribute the stuff will sail through,” said delegate Paul Shapiro, director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Shapiro said once the raw material is in hand, it will take several months to prepare it for academic use. By that time, the legalities might be complete.

The collection takes up 16 linear miles of space filling six buildings. By the end of next month some two-thirds of it will be ready for transfer to authorized national institutions in the 11 countries, Meister said.

The Nazis destroyed 90 percent of their files, said Dieter Pohl, of the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich. The office headed by Adolf Eichmann, who orchestrated the transport of millions of Jews to the gas chambers, began burning its records in February 1945, nearly three months before Germany surrendered.

Eichmann’s office had 3,500 employees working over six years, Pohl said. “Imagine the number of files it had.”

Among the documents that survived are millions of pages of death registers, concentration camp records, transport lists, and internal Nazi communications, such as Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler’s command to evacuate the concentration camps before they were captured.

“No prisoner must be allowed to fall into the hands of the enemy alive,” it said.

The last files to be prepared will be postwar records from displaced persons camps — hundreds of thousands of envelopes containing applications for immigration visas by people whose homes and families were consumed in the Holocaust.

Three out of four envelopes have never been opened since they were first processed, said Bad Arolsen archivist Rudolf Michalke.

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Over the decades, the Tracing Service has responded to some 11 million inquiries from survivors or families, but it has rarely allowed anyone to view the actual records. However, the U.S. National Archive and Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial were allowed to copy some of them in the early 1950s.