Monday, February 11, 2008

Representative Tom Lantos (1928-2008)

Representative Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo, San Francisco), 80, passed away this morning due to complications from esophageal cancer.

The only Holocaust survivor who has served in the United States Congress, Representative Lantos spoke at the 2004 Kindertransport Association (KTA) national reunion, which was held in Burlingame, California. Born in Budapest, he escaped a forced labor camp and served in the anti-Nazi underground. Many of his family members perished in the Holocaust.

Here Lantos is pictured visiting a federally funded shelter for homeless women and children.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

"German Students Confront the Holocaust"

Kind Selmar Hubert recently recounted his experiences to young people from the German School and other Westchester, NY schools, as reported in "German Students Confront the Holocaust," a February 10, 2008 New York Times article by Joseph Berger. The students attended a traveling exhibit about Anne Frank. Excerpts from the article:
The students were also spellbound by a talk given by Selmar Hubert, 82, of Rye Brook, who described the brutality he experienced growing up in the 1930s in the Bavarian village of Cronheim. He told of the day his schoolmates pounced on him and his sister, cursing and spitting at them, while the teacher, a Nazi, egged them on. The school forced him to shout slogans like "Kill all Jews."

"Imagine what it feels like to shout 'Kill all Jews' when you’re Jewish," Mr. Hubert said.

Mr. Hubert held the students riveted, like a counselor telling a ghost story around a campfire. On Kristallnacht in 1938, Nazi vandals ransacked his home; his father was taken to Dachau, then released as inexplicably as he had been arrested. Finally, his father put the boy — just 13 —on a train that would take him to England in the Kindertransport program that saved 10,000 Jewish children.

"I looked in his eye and he looked in mine and we both knew we would never see each other again," Mr. Hubert said. In fact, they did not.

But Mr. Hubert also wanted students to know about the English people who safeguarded him and his sister and about his return seven years ago to Cronheim, where he was warmly greeted by children from the very village that had once scorned him.

He echoed Anne Frank.

"You have to have faith in the goodness of people," Mr. Hubert said. "I would not be sitting here if not for that."

Mr. Hubert like to tells [sic] young Germans troubled by guilt over atrocities they did not perpetrate that he suffers from survivors’ guilt. "Neither your feelings nor my feelings make any sense," he will say. "How can we overcome that guilt? That’s one of the things we do here — help each other."
Thanks to Joseph Haberer for the lead.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Returning to NYC: Kindertransport, The Play

The play Kindertransport, by Diane Samuels, is scheduled to be performed at the historic Provincetown Playhouse (133 MacDougal Street, New York, NY) on various dates and times from February 22 through March 2, 2008, in a production offered by the Steinhardt School of New York University (NYU).

Admission is $15 ($5 with NYU ID). Call 212-998-5281 for info and reservations.