Entries in Holocaust (7)


Auschwitz Survivor Using Facebook to Search for Twin

Courtesy Menachem Bodner(JERUSALEM) -- A 72-year-old Auschwitz survivor has taken his search for his twin brother to Facebook.

Menachem B., who wants to keep his last name private, last saw his brother 68 years ago when he was 4 years old. Menachem B.'s given name was Elias Gottesmann. He changed his name after surviving the concentration camp.

If his brother Jeno Gottesmann is alive, he could be anywhere with any name. The only definite link between the two is the "A7734" tattooed on their forearms from the concentration camp.

Memories from the time are few, but Menachem remembers that he had a twin brother. He also has a distinct memory of being outside playing in the yard and knowing his brother was asleep in bed when Nazi officers came to the house to take them. They lived in an area of Hungary that is now part of Ukraine. After surviving the Holocaust, the twins were separated.

Menachem, who now lives in Israel, recounted the memories to Ayana KimRon, the Israeli genealogist who is helping him look for his brother.

After months of research and dead ends, KimRon turned to Facebook for the world's help.

She posted a black and white photo of 5-year-old Menachem after the war and a photo of him now. The photo of him as a child has been shared more than 50,000 times and the Facebook page has more than 12,000 supporters from around the world.

KimRon said they have both been surprised and "overwhelmed" by the outpouring of support from around the world. "In general, he feels lucky with the support and prayers and hope from all over the world," KimRon said. "I'm updating him at least once a day, if not twice."

KimRon said that the draw to Menachem and his story is stronger than just wanting to solve a mystery. She hopes helping him find his brother could "help him have a different state of mind and more emotional freedom in his life." "It's a tough mission, but we'll get there," she said confidently. "I gave him a promise," KimRon said. "I'm going to find his brother dead or alive, even if it takes me my whole life. I'm not going to stop."

Anyone with information about Jeno is asked to email

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Nazi War Criminal Laszlo Csatary Taken Into Custody in Budapest

ABC News(BUDAPEST, Hungary) -- The past may have finally caught up with a 97-year-old Nazi war criminal who was taken into custody Wednesday in Budapest, Hungary.

Laszlo Csatary, who has been convicted in absentia and sentenced to death, was picked up early Wednesday by authorities, Bettina Bagoly, a spokeswoman for the Budapest prosecutor, told ABC News.

The elderly former Nazi was charged with war crimes and will be taken before an investigative judge later on Wednesday.  The judge will determine whether Csatary is to remain in jail. Still, Bagoly said that it was "likely" that he would be placed under house arrest.

In a statement issued on Monday, the prosecution said that they're still investigating allegations against Csatary  because the crimes are complex and were committed long ago and in another country.

"It took place 68 years ago in the region that is under the jurisdiction of another country -- which also raises several investigative and legal problems," the prosecutor's statement said.

Csatary has lived openly under his own name in Budapest in recent years and the Simon Wiesenthal Center alerted authorities earlier this week of his location.  Nevertheless, when police visited his two homes in Budapest earlier this week, Csatary was not there.

According to the Wiesenthal Center, Csatary played a "key role" in the deportation of 300 Jews to Kamyanets-Podilsky in Ukraine where they were killed, and also helped organize the deportation of 15,700 Jews to the concentration camp in Auschwitz, Poland.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Sadistic' Nazi War Criminal Laszlo Csatary Lived Openly in Hungary

ABC NewsUPDATE: Laszlo Csatary was taken into custody in Hungary on Wednesday, according to multiple reports.

(BUDAPEST, Hungary) -- One of World War II's most "sadistic" Nazis lived openly in Budapest, Hungary, in recent years, but has apparently slipped into hiding as an international manhunt closed in on him.

Laszlo Csatary, now 97, has been convicted in absentia and sentenced to death for his role in sending nearly 16,000 Jews to their deaths.

"He was particularly sadistic," said Peter Feldmajer, the president of the Jewish community in Hungary.  "He created a camp for torturing the rich so they would confess where they have hidden the money."

Laszlo Karsai, Hungary's top holocaust historian whose grandmother died in Auschwitz, Poland, said Csatary was "very sadistic."

"There are two testimonies of German officers in Kosice who had to stop him from torturing Jewish women.  He made women dig holes in the ground with their bare hands," Karsai told ABC News.

"But what do you do with a 97-year-old man who was very, very sadistic 68 years ago?" Karsai asked.

To his neighbors in Budapest, Csatary was a "quiet, nice, old man."  But Ladislaus Czizsik-Csatary was placed at the top of the Simone Wiesenthal Center list of most wanted war crime suspects.  

Csatary was not in hiding.  He had lived in Budapest under his real name in at least two addresses for many years.  His car is still parked in a garage on the posh Jagello Street.  But when police visited his homes this week, he was not found, according to press reports.

The Wiesenthal Center, which specializes in tracking down Nazi era war criminals, has told the Hungarian prosecutors that they believe it is the same man who was a police chief in 1944 of the ghetto in the Slovakian city of Kosice, then part of Hungary.  He played a "key role" in the deportation of 300 Jews to Kamyanets-Podilsky in Ukraine where they were killed and also helped organize the deportation of 15,700 Jews to the concentration camp in Auschwitz.  

Karsai concedes that Csatary was unusually sadistic, but disagrees with the Wiesenthal Center that he was a prominent Nazi, although he does feel Csatary should face justice for his crimes in Hungary.

Csatary arrived in Nova Scotia as a refugee under the false name, became a Canadian citizen in 1955 and worked as an art dealer in Montreal.  In 1995, the authorities discovered his real name and revoked his citizenship.  Before fleeing Canada, he admitted to Canadian investigators of his participation in the deportation of the Jews, but claimed that his role was "limited."

Pressure is now mounting on Hungarian prosecutors to take action.  In a statement issued on Monday, the prosecution said that investigating was complex because the crimes were committed long ago and in another country.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Writes Poland's President, Apologizes for 'Polish Death Camp' Flap

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama wrote a letter to the president of Poland in which he expressed regret for his words during the Medal of Freedom ceremony in which he referred to World War II-era “Polish death camp” instead of a Nazi death camp in Germany-occupied Poland.

“In referring to ‘a Polish death camp’ rather than ‘a Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland,’ I inadvertently used a phrase that has caused many Poles anguish over the years and that Poland has rightly campaigned to eliminate from public discourse around the world,” President Obama wrote. “I regret the error and agree that this moment is an opportunity to ensure that this and future generations know the truth.”

President Obama made the remarks while posthumously awarding Polish freedom-fighter Jan Karski with the Medal of Freedom.

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski in response said, “the events of the past few days and the US President’s reply may, in my opinion, signify a very important moment in the struggle for historical truth. With this letter Poland has gained an important ally in its battle against the misleading, wrongful and painful term ‘Polish death camps.’ I am convinced that Polish state authorities and institutions, with special emphasis on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will be able to take adequate stock of the US President’s declaration in their further (…) struggle for the eradication of confusing, painful and untrue qualifications found in public language outside Poland.”

President Komorowski received permission from the White House to post the entire letter on his website.


President Obama also noted,“As we all know, the Polish people suffered terribly under the brutal Nazi occupation during World War II. In pursuit of their goals of destroying the Polish nation and Polish culture and exterminating European Jewry, the Nazis killed some six million Polish citizens, including three million Polish Jews during the Holocaust. The bravery of Poles in the underground resistance is one of history’s great stories of heroism and courage. Moreover, there simply were no ‘Polish death camps.’ The killing centers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Treblinka, and elsewhere in occupied Poland were built and operated by the Nazi regime. In contrast, many Poles risked their lives – and gave their lives – to save Jews from the Holocaust.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


At Holocaust Memorial, Obama Unveils New Sanctions on Syria, Iran

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama announced new steps Monday aimed at preventing authoritarian regimes from using mobile phone and Internet technologies to perpetrate mass atrocities against their people.

In a somber address at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Washington, his first visit as president, Obama said he had signed an executive order authorizing new sanctions on Syrian and Iranian companies and individuals that use the tools to monitor, track and target dissidents.

“These technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them,” Obama said. “And it's one more step that we can take toward the day that we know will come, the end of the Assad regime that has brutalized the Syrian people, and allow the Syrian people to chart their own destiny.”

Obama also said he was extending the mission of a group of U.S. military advisers in Uganda who have been helping that country combat the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony.

The president also announced that he has directed U.S. intelligence agencies to prepare the first-ever National Intelligence Estimate on the potential for mass killings in countries around the world and the potential impact of the events.

The Atrocities Prevention Board, a new advisory panel which Obama established in August, will convene for the first time Monday, Obama said, and would play an integral role in indentifying and addressing what the White House calls “atrocity threats.”

The administration said it would also begin offering “challenge” grants to encourage the private sector to develop new technologies to allow citizens at risk of being victims of genocide or mass killings better share information and communicate with the rest of the world.  

“We need to be doing everything we can to prevent and respond to these kinds of atrocities, because national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people,” Obama said.

The president’s visit to the Memorial was billed as an opportunity to formally mark Holocaust Remembrance Day -- officially last Thursday – and to highlight the administration’s record on preventing a similar atrocity from ever happening again.

After touring the museum’s exhibits – an experience Obama described as “searing” – he outlined U.S. diplomatic and military efforts in South Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Libya and Uganda to stem human rights abuses and violence against groups of people.

“I made it clear that preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.  That does not mean that we intervene militarily every time there's an injustice in the world.  We cannot and should not,” Obama said.

“It does mean we possess many tools, diplomatic and political and economic and financial and intelligence and law enforcement, and our moral suasion.  And using these tools over the past three years, I believe, I know that we have saved countless lives.”  

Obama was introduced by Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Weisel, who joined Obama on a 2009 visit to the Buchenwald concentration camp, which Obama’s great uncle helped liberate.

“One thing we do know is that it could have been prevented. The greatest tragedy in history could have been prevented, had the civilized world spoken up, taken measures,” Weisel said. “In this place we may ask, have we learned anything from it? If so, how is it that Assad is still in power?”

For his part, Obama said he would keep up the pressure on Assad and other authoritarian regimes until they cease violence on their people.

“Awareness without action changes nothing,” Obama said, adding that the world must not allow the “seeds of hate” to take hold again.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nazi Secretary Breaks Her Silence on Hitler's Propaganda Chief

PhotoQuest/Getty Images(BERLIN) -- She kept a promise of silence and secrecy for 66 years.  A promise made to one of the vilest leaders of Nazi Germany.

Now, Brunhilde Pomsel, 100 years old, is talking about her time as secretary to Joseph Goebbels, propaganda chief for Adolph Hitler, a man who railed against Jews and once wrote, “Adolf Hitler, I love you because you are both great and simple at the same time.  What one calls a genius.”

All these years later, his secretary calls him something else.

“I will never forgive Goebbels for what he brought into this world,” Pomsel tells Bild, Germany’s most widely-read paper. “And the fact that he could murder his innocent children in this way.”

Pomsel worked for Goebbels from 1942 until May 1, 1945 -- a week before V-E Day -- when he killed himself in Berlin.

“He got away lightly with suicide,” she says.  “He knew he would be condemned to death by the Allies.  His suicide was cowardly, but he was also smart because he knew what was coming if he didn’t take that way out.”

Countless books have been written about Goebbels and his role in the war, but none had the benefit of a conversation with Pomsel, whose job was to take down Goebbels’ every word -- “The Jews must get out of Germany, indeed out of Europe altogether", "The Jews ought to please observe the laws of hospitality and not behave as if they were the same as us,” and so on.

Pomsel tells Bild she was asked to work for Goebbels because she was a fast typist.

“It was an order to be transferred to work for him. You couldn’t refuse,” she said.

And while Pomsel kept notes on all her boss’ hate-mongering, she also claims -- in colorful language -- to have never known about the horrors that were underway.

“I didn’t know about the Holocaust.  I was a stupid, politically uninterested little sausage of simple means.  I only learned about the Jewish extermination program after the war,” she recalled.

In 1945, Pomsel was in the cellars of the propaganda ministry in Berlin.  The city was being leveled by British and American bombers, and Russian artillery. Nazi Germany was in its death throes.

“On May 1 the news came that The Boss -- Hitler -- had committed suicide the day before,” Pomsel tells Bild.  “The Russians came shortly afterwards and dragged me from the cellar.  I spent the next five years as a prisoner of the Russians in special camps.”

Later, Pomsel learned about her boss’ final hours. Goebbels and his wife Magda had killed their six children by breaking cyanide vials in their mouths. Goebbels then shot his wife before shooting himself.  Their charred corpses were discovered by the Soviet Army.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


German Court Convicts Man for Role at Nazi Death Camp

Johannes Simon/Getty Images(MUNICH) -- A German court on Thursday found John Demjanjuk, a 91-year-old former U.S. auto worker, guilty of being an accessory to murder at the Sobibor Nazi death camp in Poland.

In 1943, he was a Nazi guard at the camp where an estimated 250,000 Jews were killed in gas chambers. Demjanjuk, who claims he is innocent, will appeal the verdict and the court has ordered he be released until that case is decided.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center in the U.S. and Israel's Holocaust museum are calling the verdict a victory for justice.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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