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Tuesday … Renewal … Spring … And that Little Voice

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Courtesy: Special Archives

The weather held for the day and into the evening. Still a little chilly for me, but nothing an extra layer did not take care of.

We here at the blog have been renewed for another year. This IS the best medium for blogging, and I am always happy to be here, a part of the WordPress community.

It was a busy day running errands and shopping and paying bills and preparing for my trip to Vermont in a couple of weeks. It is called the Mad River Barn Men’s Retreat in Waitsville Vermont.

It is quite the expense in the end. $120.00 for a fresh passport, $120.00 for the fees, and spending money on the side. I am told it will be fun, it better be for the price I paid for it.

I was off a little early, and my coffee mate did not turn up on time, but she got there to chair the meeting. I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout. Baby mama is making her goodbyes – she leaves on Saturday night. It is bittersweet, but we will be connected via phone and email. And it is all good because of the familial support she has and really needs, something she does not have here.

A bunch of friends I don’t get to see often came as well. And we talked about a reading from the Daily Reflections, and Step 2. The whole notion of coming to believe, and becoming aware of that still small voice.

One of my friends hit the nail on the head, and I had just spoken of it to our chair before the meeting. We all have that little voice. Most people know of it, some don’t. Those who do usually listen to it, but most don’t.

I guess it was there when I put down the drink. There was something there telling me what I needed to do, and the fact that the way things came together was simply, divine …

I followed that voice to it’s next destination.

In early sobriety we faced multiple issues, that I needed to step up and be present for and to take care of. And we got through them. And that’s the way it has been for some time.

But the voice crystallized for me when I turned 40, and the years that followed. That little voice became more pronounced. It was like, wisdom speaking to me. I knew what it was. I just wasn’t sure what to do with it.

We spend inordinate amounts of time imbibing or using, and that damage, does damage to our souls and that voice within. I did my share of damage and I am sure it took years to heal and renew. They say it takes seven years to renew a liver. And my 40th birthday would have been seven years later after I got sober this time.

I go to meetings to listen for the voice. Of God. I want to see my friends, people I look up to, men and women I respect. I want to hear what they have to say. That’s why we keep coming back, because of the communal nature of recovery. We can’t do this on our own.

Our slippers prove that to us.

They come a few times and they leave and don’t return, and they just fade away until something brings them back for another round.

I trust my intuition. And when I don’t I talk to someone who can help me. And in turn I get to share life with my guys.

May is going to be an exciting month. It is going to be great.

There will be more to come, stay tuned …


2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 47,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 11 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.


Flipped the Switch …

Courtesy: Logontoboys

Sunday 9 p.m.

I spoke to the service team here at WordPress over the weekend about switching my domain from the old site to this one, and voila they got the job done for me. We also got word from several of the generator sites over the weekend that the blog has been approved across the board and traffic has spiked in the last 24 hours up to numbers that we used to get on the old site.

We are now operating at optimum speed and everything is up and running across the board. All my link sites are connected, the domain is redirecting traffic to this site and I could not be more happy.

Last night I got showered and dressed and bundled up for a trip to Verdun for a meeting, walking all the way to the train station and taking a train down into Verdun only to find when I got there that the meeting was canceled. That was a waste of time and effort.

Tonight I got out to Sunday Nighter’s for the literature discussion meeting and that went well. We read from Living Sober, and eliminating self pity. We had a lively discussion on the topic.

I decided not to stay for the speaker meeting. I instead had to stop by the store to get dinner for tonight, the IGA doesn’t stay open after 9 so I got that done on the way back.

Another week is about to begin. Yay …


A Holocaust mystery finds some answers

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By ARTHUR MAX and MONIKA SCISLOWSKA, Associated Press Writers 

BAD AROLSEN, Germany – Deep in Shari Klages’ memory is an image of herself as a girl in New Jersey, going into her parents’ bedroom, pulling a thick leather-bound album from the top shelf of a closet and sitting down on the bed to leaf through it.

What she saw was page after page of ink-and-watercolor drawings that convey, with simple lines yet telling detail, the brutality of Dachau, the Nazi concentration camp where her father spent the last weeks of World War II.

Arrival, enslavement, torture, death — the 30 pictures expose the worsening nightmare through the artist’s eye for the essential, and add graphic texture to the body of testimony by Holocaust survivors.

“I have a sense of being quite horrified, of feeling my stomach in my throat,” Klages says. Just by looking at the book, she felt she was doing something wrong and was afraid of being caught.

Now, she finally wants to make the album public. Scholars who have seen it call it historically unique and an artistic treasure.

But who drew the pictures? Only Klages’ father could know. It was he who brought the album back from Dachau when he immigrated to America on a ship with more than 60 Holocaust orphans — and he had committed suicide in 1972 in his garage in Parsippany, N.J.

The sole clue was a signature at the bottom of several drawings: Porulski.

Klages, 47, has begun a quest to discover who Porulski was, and how her family came to be the custodian of his remarkable artistic legacy. The Associated Press has helped to fill in some of the blanks.

What unfolds is a story of Holocaust survival compressed into two tragic lives, a tale with threads stretching from Warsaw to Auschwitz and Dachau, from Australia to suburban England, and finally to a bedroom in New Jersey where a fatherless girl makes a traumatic discovery.

It shows how today, as the survivors dwindle in number, their children and grandchildren struggle to comprehend the Nazi genocide that indelibly scarred their families, and in the process run into mysteries that may never be solved.

This is Shari Klages’ mystery: How did Arnold Unger, her Polish Jewish father, a 15-year-old newcomer to Dachau, end up in possession of the artwork of a Polish Catholic more than twice his age, who had been in the concentration camps through most of World War II?

None of the records Klages found confirm that the two men knew each other, though they lived in adjacent blocks in Dachau. All that is certain is that Unger overlapped with Porulski during the three weeks the boy spent among nearly 30,000 inmates of Dachau’s main camp.

“He never talked about his experiences in the war,” said Klages. “I don’t recall specifically ever being told about the album, or actually learning that I was the child of a Holocaust survivor. It was just something I always knew.”

As adults, she and her three siblings took turns keeping the album and Unger’s other wartime memorabilia.

The album begins with an image of four prisoners in winter coats carrying suitcases and marching toward Dachau’s watchtower under the rifles of SS guards. It is followed by a scene of two inmates being stripped for a humiliating examination by a kapo, a prisoner working for the Nazis.

One image portrays two prisoners pausing in their work to doff their caps to a soldier escorting a prostitute — intimated by the seam on her stocking. Another shows a leashed dog lunging at a terrified inmate.

The drawings grow more and more debasing. Three prisoners hang by their arms tied behind their backs; a captured escapee is paraded wearing a sign, “Hurray, I am back again”; an inmate is hanged from a scaffold; and, in the final image, a man lies on the ground, shot dead next to the barbed-wire fence under the looming watchtower.

The album also has 258 photographs. Some are copies of well-known, haunting images of piles of victims’ bodies taken by the U.S. army that liberated the camp. Others are photographs, apparently taken for Nazi propaganda, portraying Dachau as an idyllic summer camp. Still others are personal snapshots of Unger with Polish refugees or with American soldiers who befriended him.

Barbara Distel, the director of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, said Porulski probably drew the pictures shortly after the camp’s liberation in April 1945. He used identical sheets of paper, ink and watercolors for all 30 pictures, she said, and he “would never have dared” to draw such horrors while he was still under Nazi gaze.

“It’s amazing after so many years that these kinds of documents still turn up,” Distel told the AP. “It’s a unique artifact,” and clearly drawn by someone with an intimate knowledge of the camp’s reality, she said.

Holocaust artwork has turned up before, but Distel and Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum, who is with the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, say they are unaware of any sequential narrative of camp life comparable to Porulski’s.

“I’ve seen two or three or four, but never 30,” said Berenbaum.

In Coral Springs, Fla., where she now lives, Klages showed the book in 2005 to a neighbor, Avi Hoffman, executive director of the National Center for Jewish Cultural Arts. Hoffman immediately saw its quality and significance. The two became determined to uncover its background and find out if the artist had created an undiscovered body of work.

In August, Klages, Hoffman and Berenbaum went to Germany to begin their hunt. They hired a crew to document it, hoping a film would help finance a foundation to exhibit the book.

They began chipping away at the album’s secrets at the Dachau memorial, outside Munich, where they found an arrival record for Michal Porulski, which listed his profession as artist, in 1941.

They learned that Unger hid the fact that he was Jewish when he reached Dachau three weeks before the war ended. “That probably saved his life,” Hoffman said. They also discovered a strong likelihood that the album’s binding was fashioned from the recycled leather of an SS officer’s uniform.

Unger, an engaging youngster, became an office boy and translator for U.S. occupation authorities at Dachau, which was turned into a displaced persons camp, and obtained a U.S. visa in 1947.

Research by Klages’ group and the AP has begun to pull together the scattered threads of Porulski’s life from long forgotten records at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, a tiny museum in Warsaw, Auschwitz and Dachau, the International Tracing Service of the Red Cross, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial archives in Jerusalem, Australian immigration records and data from England.

Porulski enrolled in the Warsaw arts academy in 1934 after completing two years of army service. Attached to his neatly written application is a photograph of a good looking young man with light hair and dreamy eyes.

It says he was a farmer’s son, born June 20, 1910, in the central town of Rychwal, although in later records Porulski said he was born five years later.

Chronically poor, he left the academy after failing to secure a loan for his tuition but was later reinstated. After Germany invaded in 1939, he made some money painting watercolor postcards of Nazi-occupied Poland, two of which have survived and are now in the Warsaw Museum of Caricature.

In June 1940, he was arrested in a Nazi roundup “without any reason,” he wrote many years later in an appeal for help from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Two months later, he and 1,500 others were the first Poles to be shipped from Warsaw to Auschwitz. He spent eight months there, then was sent to the Neuengamme camp and finally to Dachau, near Munich, in May 1941.

In Dachau, according to a brief reference in a Polish book on wartime art, he painted portraits, flowers, folk dance scenes and decoration for a clandestine theater.

In 1949 he sailed to Australia and tried to work as a painter and decorator but mostly lived off friends. He returned to Europe in 1963 and lived in England and France. He visited Poland in the early 1970s for several months, and stayed with his sister, Janina Krol, in Gdynia on the Baltic coast, and another relative outside Warsaw, Wanda Wojcikowska.

He brought his sister paintings of Dachau, his niece, Danuta Ostrowska, now 75, recalls. But her mother threw them away, saying “I can’t look at them.” The family still owns 10 of his mostly prewar paintings.

He was robbed of his money and passport, and Poland‘s communist authorities wanted Porulski out of the country, Wojcikowska’s daughter, Malgorzata Stozek, recalls. “My mother even found a woman willing to marry him, to help him stay in Poland,” she said. But he already had borrowed money from his sister and left.

His letters from England said he found work maintaining bridges, Stozek said. “He wrote that the moment he finished painting a bridge over some river, he had to start again.” It could have been a metaphor for a life going nowhere.

“One day I came to see my mother and she was crying because he wrote to her that he had no money, he was hungry and was sleeping on park benches. He lived in terrible poverty,” Stozek told the AP.

He was so lonely, she said, he had considered suicide.

In 1978 he sent a request for war compensation to the International Tracing Service in the central German town of Bad Arolsen, which houses the world’s largest archive of concentration camp records and lists of Holocaust victims.

“I have no occupation of any sort. I was unable to resume my studies after all those years in the camps,” he wrote. “I am just by myself, and I live from day to day.”

The ITS replied that it had no authority to give grants, but was sending confirmation of his incarceration to the U.N. refugee agency to support his earlier reparations claim.

Unger also shows up in the Tracing Service, in a 1955 two-page letter he wrote recounting his ordeal that began when he was 9.

Unger’s father had a prosperous furniture business near Krakow. “Then the infamous horde of Nazis overran our town, disrupted our life, murdered my parents and little sister, and robbed us of all we had.” He was the only survivor of 50 members of the Unger family.

Christian friends hid him for a while, but he ended up imprisoned inside the Krakow ghetto, then was moved to a series of concentration camps.

His daughter says that after he immigrated to America, he told a cousin with whom he lived in New Jersey that his job at Dachau had been to tend the ovens. The Nazis commonly used inmates for such purposes — it was one of the few ways of surviving.

Newly arrived in America, Unger spoke to Newark newspapers of his years of torment, saying he escaped three times during marches between camps but was always recaptured.

At one point, he told the Newark Evening News, he was herded into a gas chamber at Natzweiler camp with 50 other prisoners, but they were spared at the last minute because some of them were electricians whom the Nazis needed for their war effort.

The two lives, briefly intertwined by the Holocaust and an album of photos and paintings, ended 17 years apart — Unger by hanging himself in 1972, Porulski in 1989 in St. Mary’s Hospital near Hereford, England, of pneumonia and tuberculosis.

The death certificate gives his age as 74 and his profession as “painter (retired).”

Shari Klages was 12 when her father died.

He had just been laid off from his 18-year job in the aeronautics industry, and his wife had been diagnosed with brain cancer. His suicide is given added poignancy by the image of the hanged inmate in the album, and Klages believes it was his Holocaust experience that weighed most heavily on him.

“I have no doubt it was the most significant contributor to his death,” she said.

___

Associated Press investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report. Arthur Max reported from Bad Arolsen, Germany, and Monika Scislowska from Warsaw.

On the Net:

National Center for Jewish Cultural Arts

Dachau

International Tracing Service


What is your definition of History???

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“May I speak freely Miss?”

“It’s just one fuckin’ thing after another…”

Rudge…


Pope speaks of Europe’s tragic past

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By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer 

VIENNA, Austria – Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged Europe‘s tragic past and warned of its uncertain future Friday as he honored Jews killed in the Holocaust and urged the continent to accept its Christian heritage.

Abortion must never be considered a human right, Benedict said, and urged European political leaders to encourage young married couples to have children and the continent’s graying population “not to become old in spirit.”

“Europe cannot and must not deny her Christian roots,” the pope declared, saying that Christianity has “profoundly shaped this continent.”

Benedict opened a three-day pilgrimage to Austria, once the center of a Roman Catholic-influenced empire and now a wealthy but small nation that has seen considerable dissent against the church, as in much of Europe.

In an evening address to Austrian officials and diplomats in the former imperial Hofburg Palace, Benedict spoke of the “horrors of war” and the “traumatic experiences of totalitarianism and dictatorship” that Europe has undergone.

The pope, born in neighboring Bavaria, Germany, began his visit by paying tribute to Holocaust victims.

He stepped out of his popemobile in a driving rain and joined Vienna‘s chief rabbi, Paul Chaim Eisenberg, in prayer before an austere stone memorial honoring the 65,000 Viennese Jews who perished in Nazi death camps and others burned at the stake in the 1400s after refusing to convert.

He made no public remarks during the seven-minute stop but told reporters aboard his plane from Rome that he wanted to extend his sense of “sadness, repentance and friendship to the Jewish people.”

In 1938, the city’s vibrant Jewish community numbered 185,000 members. Today, there are fewer than 7,000.

Alluding to the nation’s past complicity with the Nazis, President Heinz Fischer conceded in a greeting to the pope that Austria had “dark hours in its history.”

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Austria’s top churchman, noted Christianity’s roots in Judaism and urged his countrymen never to forget the atrocities committed against the capital’s Jews.

“It is part of the tragedy of the city that here, of all places, this root was forgotten — even denied — to the point where godless will destroyed the people to whom God gives his first love,” he said.

Benedict, who visited and vacationed here often as a cardinal, faced a challenge: Many Austrian believers, disgusted by clergy sex scandals and deeply resentful of a government-imposed church tax, have grown cold — and tens of thousands have left the church altogether.

Benedict’s trip underscored the difficulties the Vatican confronts across Europe, where cathedrals are empty as disillusioned believers question the relevance of faith in the postmodern era.

The pope defended the vitality of Christianity today, saying Christians throughout history have been examples of “hope, love and mercy.”

In his condemnation of abortion, Benedict said he was speaking out “for those unborn children who have no voice.”

He also urged Europeans to ensure humane care of the elderly, assailing “actively assisted death,” a reference to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In a reflection of anti-pope sentiment held by some Austrians, about 300 young demonstrators marched through central Vienna on Friday to protest the pontiff’s conservative stance on homosexuality, gay marriage and other issues.

“I think the pope represents a system that has repressed people and other religions for hundreds of years. It’s simply antiquated,” said Ludwig List, 19, holding a banner that read: “Papa Don’t Preach.”

Security was heavy for Benedict’s visit, with more than 3,500 police officers and soldiers and 50 aircraft deployed to protect him. The Interior Ministry said the measures were taken even before this week’s thwarted terrorist plot in Germany.

On Saturday, the pope holds an open-air Mass to commemorate the 850th anniversary of the founding of Mariazell, a famous shrine to the Virgin Mary about 60 miles southwest of Vienna.

The Vienna Archdiocese said 33,000 pilgrims had received tickets for the event and that 70 bishops, mostly from Eastern Europe, would join in. Benedict called the anniversary “the reason for my coming” and said he would go as a simple pilgrim.

Benedict’s visit concludes Sunday with a Mass at Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral and a visit to the Heiligenkreuz abbey outside the capital.

___

Associated Press Writers William J. Kole and Veronika Oleksyn contributed to this report.


Pope speaks of Europe's tragic past

capt4bd015a8a6c14b13901156475e6cc741austria_pope_papa102.jpg

By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer 

VIENNA, Austria – Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged Europe‘s tragic past and warned of its uncertain future Friday as he honored Jews killed in the Holocaust and urged the continent to accept its Christian heritage.

Abortion must never be considered a human right, Benedict said, and urged European political leaders to encourage young married couples to have children and the continent’s graying population “not to become old in spirit.”

“Europe cannot and must not deny her Christian roots,” the pope declared, saying that Christianity has “profoundly shaped this continent.”

Benedict opened a three-day pilgrimage to Austria, once the center of a Roman Catholic-influenced empire and now a wealthy but small nation that has seen considerable dissent against the church, as in much of Europe.

In an evening address to Austrian officials and diplomats in the former imperial Hofburg Palace, Benedict spoke of the “horrors of war” and the “traumatic experiences of totalitarianism and dictatorship” that Europe has undergone.

The pope, born in neighboring Bavaria, Germany, began his visit by paying tribute to Holocaust victims.

He stepped out of his popemobile in a driving rain and joined Vienna‘s chief rabbi, Paul Chaim Eisenberg, in prayer before an austere stone memorial honoring the 65,000 Viennese Jews who perished in Nazi death camps and others burned at the stake in the 1400s after refusing to convert.

He made no public remarks during the seven-minute stop but told reporters aboard his plane from Rome that he wanted to extend his sense of “sadness, repentance and friendship to the Jewish people.”

In 1938, the city’s vibrant Jewish community numbered 185,000 members. Today, there are fewer than 7,000.

Alluding to the nation’s past complicity with the Nazis, President Heinz Fischer conceded in a greeting to the pope that Austria had “dark hours in its history.”

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Austria’s top churchman, noted Christianity’s roots in Judaism and urged his countrymen never to forget the atrocities committed against the capital’s Jews.

“It is part of the tragedy of the city that here, of all places, this root was forgotten — even denied — to the point where godless will destroyed the people to whom God gives his first love,” he said.

Benedict, who visited and vacationed here often as a cardinal, faced a challenge: Many Austrian believers, disgusted by clergy sex scandals and deeply resentful of a government-imposed church tax, have grown cold — and tens of thousands have left the church altogether.

Benedict’s trip underscored the difficulties the Vatican confronts across Europe, where cathedrals are empty as disillusioned believers question the relevance of faith in the postmodern era.

The pope defended the vitality of Christianity today, saying Christians throughout history have been examples of “hope, love and mercy.”

In his condemnation of abortion, Benedict said he was speaking out “for those unborn children who have no voice.”

He also urged Europeans to ensure humane care of the elderly, assailing “actively assisted death,” a reference to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In a reflection of anti-pope sentiment held by some Austrians, about 300 young demonstrators marched through central Vienna on Friday to protest the pontiff’s conservative stance on homosexuality, gay marriage and other issues.

“I think the pope represents a system that has repressed people and other religions for hundreds of years. It’s simply antiquated,” said Ludwig List, 19, holding a banner that read: “Papa Don’t Preach.”

Security was heavy for Benedict’s visit, with more than 3,500 police officers and soldiers and 50 aircraft deployed to protect him. The Interior Ministry said the measures were taken even before this week’s thwarted terrorist plot in Germany.

On Saturday, the pope holds an open-air Mass to commemorate the 850th anniversary of the founding of Mariazell, a famous shrine to the Virgin Mary about 60 miles southwest of Vienna.

The Vienna Archdiocese said 33,000 pilgrims had received tickets for the event and that 70 bishops, mostly from Eastern Europe, would join in. Benedict called the anniversary “the reason for my coming” and said he would go as a simple pilgrim.

Benedict’s visit concludes Sunday with a Mass at Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral and a visit to the Heiligenkreuz abbey outside the capital.

___

Associated Press Writers William J. Kole and Veronika Oleksyn contributed to this report.


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.

 


In pictures: Germany’s biggest synagogue

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Germany’s biggest synagogue, on Rykestrasse in Berlin, has reopened after a lavish restoration.

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Rabbi Chaim Roswaski, who presided at the ceremony, described the reconstruction as “a miracle”.

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Friday’s inauguration saw rabbis bringing the Torah to the synagogue, in a ceremony witnessed by political leaders and Holocaust survivors from around the world.

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The synagogue was set ablaze on Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, in 1938.

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The synagogue, with a 1,200-person capacity, has been described as one of the jewels of Germany’s Jewish community.


In pictures: Germany's biggest synagogue

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Germany’s biggest synagogue, on Rykestrasse in Berlin, has reopened after a lavish restoration.

_44089736_rabbis_ap416.jpg

Rabbi Chaim Roswaski, who presided at the ceremony, described the reconstruction as “a miracle”.

_44089737_torah_carry_afp416.jpg

Friday’s inauguration saw rabbis bringing the Torah to the synagogue, in a ceremony witnessed by political leaders and Holocaust survivors from around the world.

_44089858_interior_crowd_ap416.jpg

The synagogue was set ablaze on Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, in 1938.

_44089731_inauguration_afp416.jpg

The synagogue, with a 1,200-person capacity, has been described as one of the jewels of Germany’s Jewish community.


Skool Daze …

skools-out.gif

Today was a busy and exciting day for students across Montreal, as I am sure, in many other cities across Canada. It is Frosh week here in Montreal. Students are moving into dorms and the stores all over the downtown core are busy.

We spent the afternoon shopping like mad women. I started at skool to buy textbooks which are never cheap, but this semester a few of my books I was able to buy used which saved me a chunk of cash.

Theo 204/AA Christian Ethics:

1. Living with Other People – Melchin
2. Reason Informed by Faith – Gula
3.  Course  Pack – not available yet

Reli 398P/AA Religions of Tibet:

1. Religions of Tibet – Samuel
2. Tibetan Civilization – Stein
3. Religions of Tibet in Practice – Lopez

Theo 206/A – XT Origins:
Texts not available yet…

I noticed that there were many Holocaust texts on the shelves so I found a new copy of “Night” by Elie Wiesel, Elie is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. I have wanted to read this text to put into my collection of Holocaust writings on my bookshelf, since I took Holocaust Studies last fall.

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Hubby and I set out for a shopping trip to Alexis Nihon Plaza, which is pictured above, the mall is just up the street from home. I wanted to get some new clothes, since we’ve been wearing the same duds for months. I have to say that Zellers is a great store – which is where we get a lot of clothing for the year. $85.00 bought us 5 new shirts in assorted colors and prints, which was fine with me. We also needed folders, pens and paper.

Don’t you love – back to skool shopping?

We bought a new printer for our computer, The HP Desk Jet 4160 model. It is sleek and quiet and really nice. It has all these great printer capabilities with bells and whistles. It came with an extended warranty which was on sale, all in total the printer cost $70.00.

We have all that we need for skool now, hubby still needs to get some books, and next week classes begin. I have resigned from The Common Ground and shut down the blog, because I’m not going to deal with school girl drama. So that’s that for today. Maybe I will write some more later tonight, I haven’t done my reads yet today.


Babette's Feast …

babettesfeast_pub04-copy.jpg

The film, Babette’s Feast was a dichotomy of opposites. Those being, good and evil, rich and the poor, the sacred and the profane, of want and satisfaction what is right and what is wrong, and in the end it speaks of hope and redemption.

Babette, a once famous chef at the Café Englais comes to this seaside village having been sent there with nothing but the clothes on her back, from her riches she ends up poor like those she was sent to serve. The two sisters have a decision to make, they can either take Babette in or send her away, and with that decision, they must ponder that they will have to give from what meagre means they have to support and sustain Babette.

They decide together to take Babette in, and a relationship forms, with three women coming together to make ends meet, Babette moves from being a poor servant to becoming a woman of great richness, and in the beginning I don’t mean material or monetary richness, she cares for the sisters, she learns that her gift of cooking can make its presence known in this simple colony.

There is an expressed tension and trouble amongst the people who live in this religious colony of believers, who have next to nothing, but they have their faith, which at times is the only visible glue that holds this squabbling colony together.

There are more problems than solutions it seems. But through the vehicle of communion, sharing, music and a meal, the issues that seem to separate and confound, seem to fade away when the group is seated together focused on one goal, that of praising God or eating a meal at table.

I think that Babette looks forward to leaving her simple life to return to her rich past and the café where she worked and was famous. Alas, this does not come to pass, yet she receives a letter informing her of a great windfall of money from a lottery win.

Once again, she has a choice to make, she can either take the money and run, or she can make good use of her lottery win, to enhance the lives of the people and community she is now part of. She chooses the latter and sets out to cook a feast of her own choosing with her own money for the good and care of her community. This movie, for me was a vision of “right choices” and the importance of community unity.

This community of meagre means, of fish and gruel becomes a land of plenty with a feast provided by Babette. Babette becomes the teacher, a figure of salvation to those who are seated at her table. She becomes a point of memory and reconnection for some, and a provider for others. There is the speculation by the group that she is a temptress comes to force her sinful ways upon them at this meal, and the group sets out to “not pay attention” to their tongues, to remember the Lord and not be taken in by sinful food or drink.

Course by course Babette has planned out a gastronomic fantasy of food, texture and taste. Brought together are the many members of this colony and the general and his mother. Babette spends every penny she made in the lottery win to bring this feast to her friends.

It is a very selfless act, one of compassion and understanding, and for Babette it is her salvation. For she gives of herself without abandon to the community, who had seen her in bad light and as a temptation? In the beginning we see that she was a burden to her keepers, who had to portion more of what they had to feed another, and now, Babette has the means to repay that kindness ten fold.

She turns a simple kitchen into that of a Master Chef. She lives her past in her present in providing this feast for her guests. She imports food and drink to rival that of a feast fit for a king or queen. It is a remarkable vision to see this dinner set out for her guests, it is fantastic and almost orgasmic. Watching this feast being enjoyed by so many at table, you get caught up in the moments as they pass, and you partake in the amazement of taste and texture.

A transformation occurs through the means of this meal for the people at the table. The mood changes, the people are transformed and for a brief couple of hours, a well decorated general is taken back to another time in his life, when he recounts the story of a Master Chef who was a woman who once cooked the dinner that he was presently eating. Witnessing a spiritual transformation is salvific for the viewer, because it gives us a chance to partake in that saving feast.

In the end the people are grateful and thank their hostess, as the sisters wonder if Babette will return to Paris, and I think we are all surprised when she decides to stay amongst the colony, broke as they are, having spent her every penny on sharing that feast with them and their special guests. Everyone in the movie realize what are really important, life and the living of that life, and those you share that life with.

Not all the great food in the world and truly all the money in the world will not make one happy if one has lost their soul to material things of this world. Babette’s feast was a fantastic movie and has a wonderful moral message and spiritual truth. It speaks of transformation of lives and souls, namely that of Babette and the two sisters. Not to mention the other members of the religious colony.


Babette’s Feast …

babettesfeast_pub04-copy.jpg

The film, Babette’s Feast was a dichotomy of opposites. Those being, good and evil, rich and the poor, the sacred and the profane, of want and satisfaction what is right and what is wrong, and in the end it speaks of hope and redemption.

Babette, a once famous chef at the Café Englais comes to this seaside village having been sent there with nothing but the clothes on her back, from her riches she ends up poor like those she was sent to serve. The two sisters have a decision to make, they can either take Babette in or send her away, and with that decision, they must ponder that they will have to give from what meagre means they have to support and sustain Babette.

They decide together to take Babette in, and a relationship forms, with three women coming together to make ends meet, Babette moves from being a poor servant to becoming a woman of great richness, and in the beginning I don’t mean material or monetary richness, she cares for the sisters, she learns that her gift of cooking can make its presence known in this simple colony.

There is an expressed tension and trouble amongst the people who live in this religious colony of believers, who have next to nothing, but they have their faith, which at times is the only visible glue that holds this squabbling colony together.

There are more problems than solutions it seems. But through the vehicle of communion, sharing, music and a meal, the issues that seem to separate and confound, seem to fade away when the group is seated together focused on one goal, that of praising God or eating a meal at table.

I think that Babette looks forward to leaving her simple life to return to her rich past and the café where she worked and was famous. Alas, this does not come to pass, yet she receives a letter informing her of a great windfall of money from a lottery win.

Once again, she has a choice to make, she can either take the money and run, or she can make good use of her lottery win, to enhance the lives of the people and community she is now part of. She chooses the latter and sets out to cook a feast of her own choosing with her own money for the good and care of her community. This movie, for me was a vision of “right choices” and the importance of community unity.

This community of meagre means, of fish and gruel becomes a land of plenty with a feast provided by Babette. Babette becomes the teacher, a figure of salvation to those who are seated at her table. She becomes a point of memory and reconnection for some, and a provider for others. There is the speculation by the group that she is a temptress comes to force her sinful ways upon them at this meal, and the group sets out to “not pay attention” to their tongues, to remember the Lord and not be taken in by sinful food or drink.

Course by course Babette has planned out a gastronomic fantasy of food, texture and taste. Brought together are the many members of this colony and the general and his mother. Babette spends every penny she made in the lottery win to bring this feast to her friends.

It is a very selfless act, one of compassion and understanding, and for Babette it is her salvation. For she gives of herself without abandon to the community, who had seen her in bad light and as a temptation? In the beginning we see that she was a burden to her keepers, who had to portion more of what they had to feed another, and now, Babette has the means to repay that kindness ten fold.

She turns a simple kitchen into that of a Master Chef. She lives her past in her present in providing this feast for her guests. She imports food and drink to rival that of a feast fit for a king or queen. It is a remarkable vision to see this dinner set out for her guests, it is fantastic and almost orgasmic. Watching this feast being enjoyed by so many at table, you get caught up in the moments as they pass, and you partake in the amazement of taste and texture.

A transformation occurs through the means of this meal for the people at the table. The mood changes, the people are transformed and for a brief couple of hours, a well decorated general is taken back to another time in his life, when he recounts the story of a Master Chef who was a woman who once cooked the dinner that he was presently eating. Witnessing a spiritual transformation is salvific for the viewer, because it gives us a chance to partake in that saving feast.

In the end the people are grateful and thank their hostess, as the sisters wonder if Babette will return to Paris, and I think we are all surprised when she decides to stay amongst the colony, broke as they are, having spent her every penny on sharing that feast with them and their special guests. Everyone in the movie realize what are really important, life and the living of that life, and those you share that life with.

Not all the great food in the world and truly all the money in the world will not make one happy if one has lost their soul to material things of this world. Babette’s feast was a fantastic movie and has a wonderful moral message and spiritual truth. It speaks of transformation of lives and souls, namely that of Babette and the two sisters. Not to mention the other members of the religious colony.


France mourns former archbishop

BBC News Online

 

Funeral of Cardinal Lustiger at Notre Dame, Paris

President Sarkozy flew home especially for the funeral

A funeral service including Jewish prayers has been held at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris for Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger. The former Archbishop of Paris, who died on Sunday aged 80, was born Aaron Lustiger to Polish Jews who had settled in France before World War I.

The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, interrupted his summer holiday in the United States to attend the funeral.

Cardinal Lustiger became a Catholic at the start of World War II.

The ceremonies at Notre Dame began with a reading of a Jewish psalm, followed by the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead.

Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger

Cardinal Lustiger worked to improve Catholic-Jewish relations

Arno Lustiger, a cousin and 83-year-old Auschwitz death camp survivor, read the Kaddish before a crowd of some 5,000 mourners.

President Sarkozy described Cardinal Lustiger as “a great man, a man who was important to the French, believers and non-believers alike, a man of peace, unity and reconciliation”.

Cardinal Lustiger was an outspoken opponent of racism and anti-Semitism, who appeared frequently on television as a commentator on current issues.

He was buried in the cathedral’s crypt, like most former archbishops of Paris since the 17th Century.

His successor, Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois, praised the late cardinal’s role in “the development of relations between Jews and Christians, with the encouragement and support of [former Pope] John Paul II”.

Cardinal Lustiger died on Sunday in a clinic in Paris, where he was admitted in April.

The cleric was archbishop of Paris for 24 years before stepping down in 2005 at the age of 78. He was made a cardinal in 1983.

His mother Gisele was deported and killed by the Nazis at Auschwitz during the war.