January 20, 2012 – Seventy years ago today, on January 20, 1942, the Wannsee Conference was held to coordinate the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.” Hitler had previously authorized the mass murder of the Jews, and large-scale slaughtering in German-occupied areas of the Soviet Union and Serbia by the Einsatzgruppen and others was well underway. At Wannsee, fifteen Nazi Party and German government officials met not to decide the fate of Europe’s Jews—that had already been determined—but to work out details for their annihilation.
In commemoration of this terrible day in history, Targum Shlishi is releasing a list of selected current and recent Holocaust-related projects it has supported, some with modest grants, and is urging readers of this document to reflect not only on what the Final Solution meant but on what each of us as individuals might do to promote Holocaust awareness and ensure that the world community never forget or repeat the travesty of the Holocaust.
In the past, Targum Shlishi focused much of its Holocaust support on initiatives related to justice for Nazi war crimes such as Operation Last Chance and the recently launched Operation Last Chance II, in Germany, which offers financial rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Nazi war criminals. A press release on the recent initiative, Operation Last Chance II, will follow in the coming weeks. Recently the foundation has broadened its support to include a range of projects in the areas of Holocaust education, awareness, documentation, and scholarship. “Our support for these very different projects is to make certain that the masses, particularly the younger generations of Jews and Gentiles alike, understand the impact and tyranny of the mass murder of the Jewish people, to counter the Holocaust deniers, and to ensure that the murder of the Jews never be repeated,” says Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi.
The following is a selected list of current and recent initiatives related to the Holocaust that Targum Shlishi has supported.
Education/Awareness—Documentary film, L’Chaim
Award-winning filmmaker Elkan Spiller is at work on a feature documentary about the relationship between a Holocaust survivor and her adult son, who after years of world travel and various successful (if eccentric) business ventures, devotes his life to caring for her. The film is both a particular story about altruistic love and deep humanity and a larger commentary on ways in which the trauma of the Holocaust affects the next generation, the children of survivors. Spiller spent years shooting the footage for the documentary, much at his own expense. A short film drawn from this material, Mama L’Chaim, won several awards internationally, including first prize from the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust short film festival. He is in the process of post production on the documentary, for which he has received a matching grant from the FFA (German film fund); he also has an international distributor lined up. He is currently raising funds for the matching grant. Targum Shlishi has pledged to help support post production work. For further information, a trailer, and a pledge page, go here.
Education/Awareness—Summer Holocaust Institute at the University of Miami
This week-long program to be held during the summer of 2012 will educate approximately seventy-five teachers from Miami-Dade County Public Schools (teachers from elsewhere can also attend). The Institute’s goal is to provide knowledge and a framework for teachers in a variety of disciplines to teach the lessons of the Holocaust using literature, history, and primary documents effectively throughout the curriculum to encourage students to learn, think, feel, and reflect and to develop character, compassion, and civility in their daily lives.
Scholarship—Research support for master’s thesis examining repatriation of Nazi looted art through the case of Sachs v. the German Historical Museum
While the lifespans of Nazi war criminals are coming to a rapid end, “there remains the issue of property crimes. And ultimately, those crimes have to be resolved,” explains Henry S. Hacker, who is researching a complicated court case involving Nazi looted art for his thesis for a master’s of liberal arts degree in museum studies at Harvard University Extension School. Hans Sachs, a Jewish dentist in Berlin and major collector, assembled what many believe to be the world’s most extensive and significant poster collection, with over twelve thousand posters from the period 1880 to 1930. His collection was seized by Nazis in 1938. Sachs escaped to the U.S., where he lived until his death in 1974. Under the assumption that the posters had been destroyed, he received compensation from the West German government. However, a portion of the collection, about four thousand of the posters, later surfaced in a museum in East Germany and is now part of the German Historical Museum (GHM) in Berlin. His son, Peter Sachs, sought return of the posters in the mid-2000s, which has led to a case with many twists and turns. In February 2012 the case goes before the highest court in Germany. The case is significant, in part because in issues of repatriation there is a lack of precedent, law, and protocol. Hacker, who is a lawyer and business executive, received a grant from Targum Shlishi to help support his trip to Berlin to attend the court hearing and, while there, to further research background about the collection.
Education/Awareness—Adult Education Course through the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School: “The Holocaust As Reflected In Diaries And Memoirs: Inspiring Voices From Our Past”
Targum Shlishi is sponsoring an adult education course that runs from February through May 2012, with classes held at Temple Sinai of North Dade, Miami. Through a unique curriculum of first-person diaries, memoirs, journals, poetry, literature, and extensive multi-media resources, eyewitness voices of the Holocaust speak. Who were these people? How did they survive? This course focuses on topics of spiritual and physical resistance, Jewish and non-Jewish rescue, making moral choices in immoral circumstances, and more. The course is taught by Miriam Klein Kassenoff, Ed.D., a renowned Holocaust educator locally and nationally. For more information, go here.
Education/Awareness—Miami Jewish Film Festival presented by the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education
Each year for the past several years, Targum Shlishi has sponsored a film on a subject related to the Holocaust for the Miami Jewish Film Festival. In 2012, Targum Shlishi is sponsoring the drama In Another Lifetime (director Elisabeth Scharang, Austria, 2010, 94 min., German, Hungarian with subtitles). The film, in its Miami premiere, screens on Saturday, January 28 at 8:30 pm at the Intracoastal 8 Cinema. In Another Lifetime centers on a group of Hungarian Jewish prisoners on a forced march to Mauthausen at the end of World War II who become stranded in an Austrian farming village and are hidden in a barn. One prisoner is an opera singer whose singing touches both the other prisoners and a farmer and his wife. For more information, go here.
Education/Awareness—Co-sponsorship of two lectures by Alan Rosen, author of The Wonder of Their Voices: The 1946 Interviews of David Boder
During February 2011 Targum Shlishi co-sponsored, with the FIU Judaic Studies Program, two lectures by scholar Alan Rosen on the topic of his book on David Boder’s 1946 displaced person interviews, likely the earliest audio recorded accounts. Rosen’s book is the first full-length case study of early postwar Holocaust testimonies. For more information, go here.
Education/Awareness—Documentary Film, Elusive Justice: The Search for Nazi War Criminals
Elusive Justice is a documentary film that comprehensively explores Nazi hunting from postwar Europe to the present. The film premiered on PBS during November 2011. Targum Shlishi was an early supporter of the documentary, produced and directed by Jonathan Silvers, an Emmy-award winning journalist. For more information, go here.
About Targum Shlishi
Targum Shlishi is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. For more information on the foundation, visit its website at www.targumshlishi.org.