Entries in Holocaust (4)


Family of Holocaust Survivor Ordered to Return Artifact

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Brooklyn court has ordered the family of a Holocaust survivor to return a 3,200-year-old artifact to a German museum.

The Assyrian artifact is a golden tablet about the size of a passport photo that was looted from the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin during World War II, according to court papers.

The tablet was discovered in 1913 by a group of German archeologists in Iraq, court papers read. It was placed in the Berlin museum in 1926, but when an inventory was conducted in 1939, the tablet was missing.

The looter has been pegged as Auschwitz survivor Riven Flamenbaum.

“He was at Auschwitz for a period of almost five years,” Flamenbaum’s daughter, Hannah Segal, told ABC News. “The Germans put him into forced labor and he walked out of there by some miracle.

“The tablet represented his ability to survive,” she said. “It represented a dark period in my parents’ lives and lives of Jewish people.”

Flamenbaum left Auschwitz in 1945, when he was sent to a camp in Germany.

It was not clear how he obtained the tablet, but when he and his wife immigrated to the United States four years later, the tablet was one of his most prized possessions.

“This was never something that was going to make him rich or he was going to sell,” said Segal, 60. “It was a memento, a legacy. I never knew a grandfather, aunt, uncle or cousin. No family. The tablet is our legacy.”

When Flamenbaum died in 2003, his children found the golden square in his estate.

The museum sued for its return in 2010, but a Nassau County Surrogate Court judge ruled in favor of the Flamenbaum family, saying the museum never reported the tablet as stolen.

“The museum sat on their rights for 60 years and now they say they’re entitled to it,” Segal said.

A recent appellate court ruling reversed the Nassau County decision, ordering the tablet to be returned.

The family’s attorney, Seth Presser, said most similar cases involve a Holocaust victim trying to reclaim stolen property taken by the Nazis, not a museum going after a survivor.

“The time frame is a huge factor, as is the emotion of the case,” Presser said. “This tablet was one of the first things he had in his hands when he came to this country. He raised three children. He started a new life here, and now they’re being chased down by his past.”

But attorney Raymond Dowd said otherwise.

Dowd, who represented the museum and has served family members of Holocaust survivors in the past, said having the tablet returned to Germany is a “victory for the museums of the world.”

“This a public treasure for scholars of the world,” Dowd said. “It’s a rare artifact, and the world scholars deserve to study it. It doesn’t belong in private hands.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Teacher Arrested After Grabbing Student During Anti-Semitic Rant

BananaStock/Thinkstock(BLUFFTON, S.C.) -- A South Carolina teacher is accused of grabbing a student and shoving him under a table last Wednesday as she delivered an anti-Semitic rant in her classroom, one her lawyer said was part of an interactive history lesson on World War II and the Holocaust.

Police in the town of Bluffton said Patricia Mulholland, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Bluffton Middle School, grabbed a 12-year-old student by the collar as he was getting up to sharpen his pencil, dragged him 10 feet to the back of the classroom, and shoved him under a table, saying, "This is what the Nazis did to Jews. Burn Jew." Police would not say whether the student was Jewish.

The rant came after what police had described as unusual behavior by Mulholland last week. Four students in the class caught the teacher on cellphone videos talking about an upcoming talent show, using obscenities, and falling over as she attempted to sit down on a desk. But the anti-Semitic rant and grabbing of the student was not caught on video.

"There is evidence and indication that she may have been under the influence of drugs of some type," Chief David McAllister of the Bluffton Police Department told ABC News. "Even after the incident, she walked away from the student and ignored him when he asked to return to his seat."

McAllister said the student's parents came to the police department the next day to press charges against Mulholland. She was placed on administrative leave by the school district and turned herself in early Monday morning on misdemeanor charges of assault and battery and public disorderly conduct, but was released later that day.

In a statement released Tuesday, Mulholland's attorney claimed her actions "were intended as an interactive demonstration and not as an insult or intentional assault."

Jim Foster, public relations officer for the Beaufort County School District, told ABC News there had been a lesson on the Holocaust the day before the anti-Semitic rant.

While the student's parents proceed with legal action, the school district is conducting an internal investigation into Mulholland's actions to determine if she broke any professional conduct standards. McAllister said the student's parents did not learn about Mulholland's actions from school officials but were told by their son when he returned home from school.

On Tuesday, two school counselors conducted chat sessions with each classroom at Bluffton Middle School to explain to students why the incident was getting so much attention and why it was a sensitive matter. Foster said the superintendent had also reached out to Jewish community leaders to make certain they had the same facts as the school board and to assure them the board was taking the allegation seriously.

"This is not something that happens anymore," Foster told ABC News. "This is not something that happens in this community anymore, and I think the attention it's getting shows how exceedingly rare it is."

Mulholland has a hearing scheduled for May 22 and could face a maximum 30 days in prison and $500 fine. Foster said the internal investigation by the school board will not be complete until after the end of all legal proceedings.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Coincidence? Bin Laden News Comes Amid Significant Anniversaries

CNN via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Timing is everything.  But what about coincidences of timing?

May 1, 2011 will be noted in the history books as the date President Obama announced that Osama Bin Laden had been killed.

It is eight years to the day from another significant date in the United States’ so-called war on terror.  It was on this date in 2003 that former President George W. Bush delivered a speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, with a large banner announcing “Mission Accomplished” hung over the aircraft carrier.

Bush was announcing what he then called the end of combat operations in Iraq.  But the speech was soon followed by an increase in violence from the Iraqi insurgency, and many thousands more casualties followed the speech, which was quickly considered a major political misstep.

The coincidences of timing do not end there.  History notes that Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, but the news was not announced until May 1 and newspaper headlines did not report his death until May 2 -- 66 years ago to this day.

And finally, Monday is Holocaust Remembrance Day.  In Israel it is also a federal holiday to commemorate the memories of the six million Jews and six million others killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.  That date was selected to honor the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, where Jews unsuccessfully fought against their Nazi oppressors in Poland.

As Israel follows the Hebrew, or lunar, calendar, the holiday falls on a different date every year.  This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day is Monday, May 2.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Seventeen Charged in Scamming Holocaust Survivors Out of $42 Million

A concentration camp in Munich, Germany. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Federal authorities have charged 17 people for ripping off more than $42 million intended to help survivors of the Nazi Holocaust.  The fraud scheme, which had been running for over a decade, involved two funds and six employees from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany in New York.

Janice Federcyk, an assistant director of the FBI, says of the employees, "Each played a role in creating, filing and processing fraudulent claims on behalf of nine qualifying applicants and dividing up the spoils."

Speaking on the nonprofit organization behind the fraud, Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, says, "If ever there was a cause that you would hope and expect would be immune from base greed and criminal fraud, it would be the Claims Conference."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio